Rob Joass returns for city show
During an appearance on National Radio’s Friday Live, host Jim Mora called Rob Joass the hardest working musician in New Zealand. He writes, tours, teaches guitar, produces albums, and can be found behind a mixing desk live and in the studio when time allows.
Rob moved to New Zealand from his native Sydney more than 25 years ago. Since then he has maintained a high profile in folk music circles, having released 10 albums with his bands Hobnail, Too Many Chiefs and The Shot Band, and touring the country regularly. He has been a finalist at the NZ music awards three times (twice for best country song, once for best folk album) and has had songs covered by bands in New Zealand and Canada.
Last year proved to be busy, with Too Many Chiefs releasing and touring their debut album, and Hobnail recording, releasing and embarking on a national tour in support of their seventh album Blue Sky Songs.
Next year will be Hobnail’s 25th anniversary, with a national tour and “Best Of” album planned. This year was supposed to be one of planning, preparation and recuperation. But Rob had these songs that were demanding to see the light of day, so it was off to the studio again.
This Friday Rob is in Wanganui, showcasing songs from his new solo album, Pencarrow, plus playing highlights from across his career.
He will be playing at Lucky Bar + Kitchen with Hamish Graham and Murray Costello.
Paul Brooks asked Rob some questions:
■ You’re a busy man. Between your solo work, Hobnail and The Shot Band, you must be writing, recording and performing like a mad man. Do you intend to keep it up with all three or do you see a solo career as your future?
Hobnail is celebrating their 25th anniversary next year with a tour and ‘Best Of’ album, so that will be a big priority in the second half of the year. The Shot Band is on hiatus but I also work with fellow songwriters Andrew London, Laura Collins and Wayne Mason in a group called Too Many Chiefs and we’ll be doing some touring (including Whanganui) next year as well. Oh, and people in Whanganui with long memories might remember The Boys of Bedlam. That was the first band I joined when I moved to New Zealand from Oz in the early 90s. A few of us have gotten together with a couple of members of Banshee Reel to revisit the old days of hard out Celtic music in a band called County Hell. So I guess that answers your question, at least for the short term. Long term, who knows? I love solo work, but I love my bands as well, and the variety keeps things fresh.
■ There seem to be diverse influences in your writing as well as the obvious strong originality. Is there a particular style you like or a song writer you especially favour?
I’m primarily a singer/ songwriter, and I’m a fan of people like Paul Kelly, Steve Earle, Barry Saunders and Ryan Adams. But in Hobnail we came out of playing Irish bars and that gave me an appreciation of Celtic music, and in recent years Americana music has been a big influence, especially songwriters like Jason Isbell and John Moreland.
■ I love your song a great mix of good melody, strong lyrics and nice, driving guitar work. What can we expect from the rest of the tracks on the album —
Well thank you. I’d like to think the whole album is loaded with good melody and strong lyrics, as I do spend a lot of time on the songs in the writing and arranging process. The album is split between band songs and more acoustic arrangements, and I do love the sound of guitars (I’ve also been teaching guitar for many years) so most arrangements are strong on guitar.
■ Anything you want to add before your Whanganui gig?
The first gig I ever played in New Zealand was in Whanganui, and over the years I have probably played there more than any other town outside of Wellington. From the Upokongaro Hotel to The Castlecliff Club, The Celtic Arms, Barristers, The Grand Hotel, Moose McGillicuddy’s, The Red Lion, The Waitotara Hotel, The Savage Club, many private functions, and Hobnail even played in the square to about 8000 people for the millennium. So I love playing to Wanganui audiences, and Lucky is a great addition to that list. I’m looking forward to playing there.
Rob Joass comes to Whanganui this week.