Interview by: Elize Strydom
He’s spent the last two months traipsing from the top of the country to the bottom but Josh Pyke is hungry for more. Charmingly unaware of the affect his music has had on her and hoards of others, Mr Pyke tells Elize Strydom about what’s coming up.
When the Aussie troubadour rides into Byron Bay for Splendour In The Grass next month he’ll be on familiar turf. Pyke may struggle to resist the urge to buy a carton of Tooheys New and head down to the beach front to skull ten beers. You see, he’s quite familiar with the place, our Josh. He celebrated the completion of 13 years of schooling here with a bunch of mates. Each year the guys regroup, rent a house and relive old times. Expect a laid-back, sun-drenched Pyke in holiday mode come July 25th, but don’t show up for his set if all you wanna do is chill.
“I’ve played Splendour twice before and it has a whole different vibe. I can play more upbeat songs which work for a big audience, that’s really fun. There’s less pressure. I get to rock up, have an hour to play my set and the crowd’s already there. It’s also cool to see all the other bands and catch up with friends. “
That’s something Pyke has had little time for lately. Since releasing Chimney’s Afire, the follow up to his ARIA Award winning debut Memories & Dust, the boy has toured like a madman, auctioned off a guitar-shaped boat, played Sound Relief and even managed a jaunt to both the US and UK.
“I’ve done lots of stuff in the UK and the last album culminated in playing Glastonbury (festival). In between the capital cities and the regional tours I did a couple more weeks in the UK, which was great. I really felt like things had been building since I was last there. Living there could definitely help raise my profile, but if I was going to move anywhere I wouldn’t go to UK. I like it and everything but Australia is much nicer!”
Phew, we wouldn’t want to lose the guy tipped as the ‘greatest Australian singer/songwriter going around’. They say Pyke writes classic albums, the kind we’ll be listening to 20 years from now. But he doesn’t do it on purpose.
“ I wouldn’t say it comes easy but I’d like to believe my song writing still comes from the same place it always has. I don’t write with an agenda. I don’t sit down and say I’ve got a new album so I have to write a few singles. I guess I’ve written enough songs to realise I’ve got a thing going on. Whatever that thing is, I think I’ve refined it!”
Despite his success – Chimney’s Afire has already gone Gold – Pyke is busy formulating a back-up plan.
“My dream from very, very early on was to have a house with a studio in the back and whenever I’m not on tour or recording my own stuff to just have this space to record other people. I definitely want to focus on that in the future. Being a working musician in Australia – well, even an artist such as myself, whose records have done alright, you still have to earn a living. As soon as I’m not on the road I have to do something else. That’s the reality. So producing is definitely something I’m thinking about in order to earn a living from doing what I love.”
So does he take time off? Or is his life an endless cycle of writing, recording and touring?
“Yeah, time off happens…well…no, not really. I don’t get time until the end of the album cycle and then you start thinking about the next one. But that’s fine, it’s what I would be doing if I wasn’t a professional musician. It s a pretty great situation that the thing that I would be doing anyway, ends up being my job. “
Josh Pyke plays the sold-out Splendour In The Grass Festival July 25th/26th at Belongil Fields, Byron Bay.