Bernard’s a fan of new di­rec­tions

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE ’N’ LOUD -

FOR­MER Pow­derfin­ger front­man Bernard Fan­ning’s sec­ond solo al­bum, De­par­tures, de­buted on the ARIA charts at No. 1 when it was re­leased last month.

As Fan­ning be­gins his six-week national tour – with plenty of re­gional dates – it’s still sit­ting in the Top 10. You’re pro­mot­ing De­par­tures, with a rel­a­tively young band. What’s it like go­ing from Pow­derfin­ger, where you’d been through so much to­gether, to work­ing with young guys who haven’t done all this be­fore?

Well I don’t want to be the wise old rock un­cle. That’s a bit sad. But it’s fun to be work­ing with new peo­ple. That was the whole idea for me. Have you missed play­ing with a band?

Yeah. It wasn’t like I was ly­ing in bed wish­ing there were peo­ple clap­ping me. It’s more that mak­ing a racket with your mates is re­ally fun. I even get the thrill from that re­hears­ing. Re­hears­ing is even more nat­u­ral. There’s no pos­tur­ing in­volved. It’s purely about the mu­sic not about the per­for­mance. A lot of peo­ple will tell you that that’s what their live gigs are about, but they’re ly­ing. They’re bulls--- artists. There’s a cer­tain aware­ness you’ve got an au­di­ence in front of you. Can you flick the pos­tur­ing switch on and off?

I think you can. I’m bet­ter at it now than I used to be, as far as un­der­stand­ing what’s re­quired of you in a live per­for­mance. Pow­derfin­ger came up through that whole anti-ev­ery­thing pe­riod in the ’90s with shoegaz­ing and no recog­ni­tion that the au­di­ence re­ally mat­ters. I’m glad that’s some­thing I’ve man­aged to move well past. Th­ese days when peo­ple don’t re­ally buy records, you have to ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple who bother to buy tick­ets and come and see you play.

And I mean a gen­uine ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the fans – not the new par­a­digm of the so­cial net­work ap­pre­ci­a­tion: ‘‘I love my fans, so I have to show them what I had for break­fast on Twit­ter.’’ It must be in­ter­est­ing tour­ing with­out those big Pow­derfin­ger an­thems to rely on?

It was the same on the last solo tour. That’s ex­cit­ing to me. It means there’s an im­per­a­tive on the band to re­ally make it work for peo­ple, with­out it just be­ing a bit of a rite of pas­sage. Be­cause that fi­nal Pow­derfin­ger tour was like that, it was tied up with a lot more than just the mu­sic. Peo­ple that had gone to Pow­derfin­ger gigs with their friends 15 years be­fore de­cided they’d do it again for those shows. There’s none of that sen­ti­men­tal­ity at­tached to this tour. And I ac­tu­ally re­ally like that. When you pro­moted your first solo al­bum, Tea and Sym­pa­thy, ev­ery­one asked ‘‘Are Pow­derfin­ger go­ing to split?’’ Was the most com­mon ques­tion pro­mot­ing this al­bum ‘‘When will Pow­derfin­ger re­form?’’

Pretty much. And the sec­ond most asked ques­tion was ‘‘Are you go­ing to play Pow­derfin­ger songs on this tour?’’ It doesn’t put my nose out of joint. I un­der­stand why peo­ple would like that. Purely by do­ing promo for this record I can see how much af­fec­tion there is for Pow­derfin­ger still. It looks like there prob­a­bly will be for a long time. There’s a brother­hood there for some peo­ple. And I to­tally ap­pre­ci­ate that. But I’d be on a hid­ing to noth­ing if I play them. There are ru­mours you will dust off some Pow­derfin­ger at Splen­dour in the Grass.

It re­ally doesn’t mat­ter how many times I say I will or I won’t, peo­ple will prob­a­bly al­ways hope that I do. Let’s just leave peo­ple hop­ing. For me it kind of de­feats the pur­pose. What I want to do if I play Pow­derfin­ger songs again, at some stage, is make it an ap­pro­pri­ate set­ting. If I was to res­ur­rect any of those songs I’d only present them the way I wrote them be­fore I even pre­sented them to the band. Play­ing an elab­o­rate cover of a Pow­derfin­ger song – you can go to the Royal Ex­change on a Sun­day af­ter­noon to see that. For me to do that would be kind of stupid. You have sung on Pow­derfin­ger mem­ber Dar­ren Mid­dle­ton’s new al­bum?

Yep, sang some back­ground (vo­cals) on one song. It was great fun. It’s so easy. It’s like old times. I just told him to boss me around, which he did.

– CAMERON ADAMS

Bernard Fan­ning plays The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast (with Vance Joy) on July 19 (sold out), Splen­dour in the Grass on July 27 (sold out) and A Day on the Green, with The Cruel Sea, Sarah Blasko and Bob Evans, at Sir­romet Wines, Mt Cot­ton, on Novem­ber 3.

Bernard Fan­ning

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