James Reyne on revisiting the past and why he’s a big fan of kaftans.
People may not be aware that you married your partner, Leanne Woolrich, in May. Congratulations on keeping it so quiet. We were on a friend’s property in the bush down on the Mornington Peninsula; there were a couple of paps trespassing about a kilometre away. A few young boys at the wedding got an old Land Rover, bailed them up and started questioning their morals – that was quite funny. They didn’t get one shot. I think they might have been there to get a couple of our guests. If I’m at something, I will always stand in front of them and they never take my photo. I tell friends who don’t want a photo to stand next to me. Leanne introduced you to kaftans, and you’ve said they’re the perfect attire for a 60-year-old man like yourself to wear about the house. Please explain. They are! It was my last birthday present from her. She sourced a pattern from the ’70s and went to a dressmaker. It is really comfortable and warm. When I’m having a night in, there’s a fire going and we’re watching something, I put on my kaftan. It is the most comfortable men’s apparel I have ever worn. You haven’t always been so keen to revisit your musical past. So why is your upcoming tour focusing on your hits with Australian Crawl? Why not give people what they want? It did so well last time. I think a couple of songs are a bit silly… ‘Hoochie Gucci Fiorucci Mama’ is crap, but we will do it. I was 17 or something when I wrote it. It is the sound of a young man trying much too hard. But people love it. Which Crawl songs do you love? Some we play all the time: ‘Errol’, ‘The Boys Light Up’, ‘Oh No Not You Again’. And since everyone started commenting about whether or not Guns N’ Roses ripped off ‘Unpublished Critics’ for ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, we do it with [that] riff. We’re hams, really. Your debut on Countdown with both arms in plaster remains one of the show’s most memorable moments. I remember us saying backstage: “Well, if the band never does more than one appearance on Countdown, at least we will be remembered for the singer with plaster on both arms!” It ended up being a gimmick… even though it wasn’t. Why do you think Crawl songs hold such affection in people’s lives? For people of a certain generation, it triggers things from a formative period. The music you listen to as a teenager tends to stick for the rest of your life. It’s the same when I hear Van Morrison’s Moondance or Neil Young’s Harvest. You’ve released more than 10 solo studio albums since 1987. Is there a desire for that music to be given the same recognition as your Crawl work? Part of me does… I accept and understand the nature of the industry. I carry on, anyway – because that’s what I do and I like doing it. I’ve been luckier than most; I’ve had two bites at the cherry. I have a great audience who sing
“For people of a certain generation, our music triggers things from a formative period”
along passionately to my solo songs. It can be frustrating that people don’t get to hear my newer work. I don’t have the sound radio wants to play. I don’t sound like Childish Gambino or Beyoncé or Ed Sheeran. Although, I’m not too far from Ed. But a 16-year-old isn’t going to relate to me. I don’t look like Harry Styles anymore – and I did used to have a luxurious mane. Has life on the road changed from when you were with Crawl? We certainly look after ourselves better. When we were 20, we were getting hangovers all the time. But I can’t deal with it now, so I don’t drink at all when I’m working. If we’ve done a few shows in a row, at the end of the last night I’ll have a couple of whiskeys back in the hotel. [But] water is better for the voice and the mind and the body. Your son JR is a singer and he was in the drama series The Secret Daughter. How do you feel about his decision to join the family business? My mum had an agent; she was an actress the whole time we were growing up, in plays and musicals. She still sings at 88. My father was quite a good, if frustrated, actor. So I’m not surprised the whole family is [involved] in it. Let’s go back to being a newlywed. How are love and marriage different at this age? Everything is different. Women are different, love affairs are different. They are unique, and have their own character – their own foibles and ups and downs. Mostly ups. I was quite happy to roll along; I was OK with my own company. It always happens when you least expect it. Like
``i don´t look like harry styles anymore´´