DAWN AT DAY’S END
BERNARD FANNING ON LIFE, CONSEQUENCES AND EATING PIES AHEAD OF STARTING HIS CIVIL DUSK TOUR ON THE GC
Civil twilight is the brightest of the three twilight phases that occur when the sun both sets and rises each day. During it, the sun sits just below the horizon, still emitting enough light and warmth for things to be clearly seen, and situations easily interacted with.
For Bernard Fanning, this time of day was the inspiration for the name of his third solo album, Civil Dusk. A collection of 10 songs that “represent the dynamics and complexities that lie between the bookends of decisions and consequences”, the album dropped in early August and now Fanning is set to kick off a national tour to promote it – starting right here on the Gold Coast. Living in Byron Bay along with two of his band members, the Brisbane local says the Coast was the natural choice for the first show.
“We spent every Christmas and Easter at Nobbys when I was growing up,” he says.
“I’ve always loved the Gold Coast. We’ve played there a lot too. We used to play at The Playroom and The Patch, places like that, back when there used to be venues around the Gold Coast.”
This time around, Fanning will play to an already sold-out Arts Centre Gold Coast.
He says he had no real game plan going into the process of creating the new album but that the decisions and consequences theme presented itself naturally.
“That idea started to emerge after I’d written about half a dozen songs, I think. And I liked it. I realised I’d been writing stuff about memory and reflecting on how those decisions made in the past impact your life today,” he says. “And they’re not all decisions I’ve made in my life. Some of them are complete fiction as well. It’s just that concept of how choices roll through the years.”
Fanning penned most of Civil Dusk in Spain, from where his wife Andrea Moreno hails, and says the experience shed new light on the ideas he was exploring in the lyrics.
“It does do different things to your brain, in terms of words and communicating ideas,” he says. “In some ways being there and writing in English is a release, it’s natural. I can speak Spanish but not fluently; I can get my ideas across. It’s an incredible thing for your life and your mind, opening up to a whole other way of communicating (in a different language).”
Getting back to writing on guitar and piano “just felt natural” for Fanning, who recorded the album in his recently opened Byron Bay studios La Cueva, which means The Cave in Spanish.
A project with long-time friend, colleague and producer Nick DiDia, the studio environment also carried on this idea of light and warmth reflected in the album’s title.
“It’s a really beautiful location looking out over the coastal reserve and out to the lighthouse. It’s a pretty spectacular view. The actual room itself is really nice. Recording studios in general are dark, cooped up places. And we’ve converted what was really a pool house into a studio, so it’s got lots of light and just feels like a nice place to be. It’s really conducive to coming up with good ideas.
“Most of the time it was just Nick and I in there talking about prog rock, eating pies and looking at the view.”
The songs themselves are also characterised by a sense of warmth and space, made earthy with the use of timber-based instruments – acoustic guitar, piano, strings and violin.
So in naming the album, establishing a place to record it and creating this collection of songs, Fanning has kept this notion of light and warmth running throughout.
“It’s not so much that I set out to do that,” he says. “Maybe it’s just a reflection of where I’m at in my life. Or maybe it’s not - maybe that’s just a big, wanky, indulgent, arty bit of artifice.”
MOST OF THE TIME IT WAS JUST NICK AND I IN THERE TALKING ABOUT PROG ROCK, EATING PIES AND LOOKING AT THE VIEW
Bernard Fanning launched his latest album, Civil Dusk, by playing the whole record from front to back.