Mu­sic guru’s big in­se­cu­rity

50 years on, Mor­ris still doubts his ta­lent

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS | COLUMNS - MATT COLLINS

YOU would think af­ter 50 years in the mu­sic in­dus­try, a swag of hits and a truck­load of awards, ARIA Hall of Fame artist Russell Mor­ris would be con­fi­dent of his ta­lent. But as he shares with Matt Collins in their Cof­fee Chat, his doubts about his abil­i­ties re­main. Still tour­ing and mak­ing great mu­sic, Russell says he owes a lot to plain old luck and one Ian ‘Molly’ Mel­drum, who tapped him on the should as a teenager and asked to man­age Russell and his band. The rest, as they say, is his­tory. MATT COLLINS: How much of a part would you say luck played through­out your ca­reer?

RUSSELL MOR­RIS: I re­mem­ber our third show at the An­gle­sea Surf Life Sav­ing Club. We were sup­port­ing a band that Brian Cadd was in and af­ter the set this guy came up to us and said, “That was fan­tas­tic, guys. Do you have a man­ager?” That was Molly Mel­drum.

MC: The great Molly!

RM: Yeah, and back then he had no qual­i­fi­ca­tions what­so­ever, it was a to­tal fluke that he turned out to be such a fan­tas­tic record pro­ducer. So luck does come into play. MC: If Russell Mor­ris was talk­ing to that teenage boy when he first en­tered the mu­sic in­dus­try way back in the ’60s, what would he say to him?

RM: Don’t lis­ten to what peo­ple say about your gui­tar play­ing. There were quite a few peo­ple who re­ally gave me a hard time. I don’t have a re­ally good sense of time. A mu­si­cian lis­tens to mu­sic in fours. One, two, three, four and they hear the bars. I have never been able to do that. My mind fol­lows the melodies. And the mu­si­cians would re­ally give me a hard time and they would all snig­ger and laugh, so I stopped play­ing gui­tar.

MC: Did you learn from that and from then for­ward could you dis­re­gard a lot of the crit­ics?

RM: No, it ru­ined my writ­ing for quite a while ac­tu­ally. It re­stricted me cre­atively. It in­hib­ited my gui­tar play­ing and still to this day I carry those para­noias.

MC: Russell, you are an ARIA Hall of Fame mu­si­cian, surely you don’t care what some mu­si­cians think?

RM: Oh yeah, you al­ways do, and I have spo­ken to some of my friends in the mu­sic busi­ness about this as well. And a lot of singers I have spo­ken to all have that para­noia. They all ex­pect that some­one is go­ing to go up to them at some point and say “you’re a fake”.

MC: Get that tap on the shoul­der.

RM: Yeah, para­noia and in­se­cu­rity are a big part of the mu­sic in­dus­try. The more con­fi­dent peo­ple are, I find they are the most para­noid of all.

MC: I chat­ted to Ty­rone Noo­nan from the band Ge­orge and he said the num­ber of peo­ple who com­mit sui­cide in the artis­tic world is by far the high­est. That’s your singers, pain­ters, mu­si­cians.

RM: Yeah, they feel un­wor­thy. They don’t feel they are wor­thy of where they have gotten.

MC: Where does Russell Mor­ris sit in that equa­tion? RM: I still suf­fer from it. I have just done a new al­bum and even dur­ing that I was para­noid about cer­tain things.

MC: What sort of things were you para­noid about? RM: Writ­ing was one. Be­cause you al­ways think, have I writ­ten a good song here or are peo­ple just say­ing it is good?

MC: In 2008, you re­ceived an ARIA Hall of Fame award. Do awards give you the recog­ni­tion and val­i­da­tion to say “I de­serve to be here?” RM: It was a great hon­our and you do feel like I have qual­i­fied. But it is a two-edge sword. I felt like when they gave me that award it was their way of say­ing, “You have done your duty.”

MC: Did that feel con­de­scend­ing?

RM: Ahh, no, it wasn’t con­de­scend­ing be­cause the peo­ple were gen­uinely won­der­ful, but on the other hand you think, “Does this mean I have to now go and put my guns in the rack?”

PHOTO: GRA­HAM JEPSON

HALL OF FAME MEM­BER: Russell Mor­ris, Aus­tralian mu­sic roy­alty, has sat down for a chat and shared his self-doubts with Matt Collins.

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