Interview by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer.
Tex Perkins is without a doubt, Australian rock royalty. His musical career spans nearly four decades and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Music is in his heart and soul and he is not only a brilliant and talented musician, but he is also just a really nice guy with a great sense of humour to boot! A born performer, Tex has played in a long list of bands including The Cruel Sea, Beasts Of Bourbon, Tex, Don and Charlie, TnT (With Tim Rogers of You Am I) and more. He has hosted and performed on shows such as Rockwiz, Studio At The Memo and more (If you have never seen Tex’s spoken word version of Flock Of Seagulls ‘I Ran (So Far Away),’ then stop what you’re doing and go look that up on YouTube right now! But I digress, as much as I could go on for hours about all the awesome things he has done, I did actually get the absolute honour of chatting to him recently about his upcoming performance at the 2019 Gympie Music Muster. Tex is bringing the blues/swamp/groove to the Muster with Matt Walker and The Fat Rubber Band. Having never played the Muster before, Tex was happy to share his excitement of being part of the stellar line up this year.
You have had an amazing career in music for many moons and there are so many things I would love to talk to you about! But today we are here to focus on The Gympie Music Muster, you are playing this year with Matt Walker and The Fat Rubber Band! are you looking forward to that?
“That’s right. Finally, I get the invite to the Gympie Muster that I’ve been waiting for, for the last *laughs* 20 bloody years! So yeah, I am really looking forward to it actually. I have set my mind to constructing and designing and completely tailoring a set especially for the Gympie Muster and I think we’ve got the goods. The great thing about playing with Matt and the guys is that we can pretty much go anywhere we like on my back catalogue and they can learn a song just like that. So, I think we are going to bring something that people will really love, and we are really looking forward to it.”
When did The Fat Rubber Band first get together? How did this musical project come about?
“Well I have known Matt Walker since the mid 90’s. He used to support The Cruel Sea quite a bit. So, I have known him for a long time, and I have had my eye on him as a potential collaborator for a long time. He actually joined a line up for the ‘Man In Black’ show, one of the original guitar players left and Matt stepped in. So, I have been working with Matt with the ‘Man In Black’ for years now. But it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that we started to write songs together, original songs together. We do a duo show with two guitars, two vocalists. But we also play with a full band, which are now known as The Fat Rubber Band. We just played the (Byron Bay) Bluesfest and I think we delivered exactly the right sort of set for that festival. So, I am going to specifically design a set for the Gympie Muster. I am going to draw from all my history and even a few things that we haven’t even been to yet. A lot of classic material and a few surprises as well, I think. So, what we do at the Muster is going to be potentially a one off, never seen again. I want to do something especially for the Gympie Muster.”
The Gympie Muster has been going strong since the 80’s, it’s wonderful to see it still going strong. You would have played some great music festivals over the years, what’s one of the best music festivals you’ve ever played at?
“Some of those Big Day Outs were a lot of fun in the early days, in the early 90’s. Back before festivals of any kind where even around, maybe the Gympie Muster was going but as far as sort of large Festivals, I guess the Bluesfest was starting up around the same time too but on a very small scale. I did a lot of the early Big Day Outs; they were fantastic with really great mixed line ups of people including Iggy Pop and people that I have loved all my life. The Bluesfest is one that I really love and it is one that I feel really fortunate to be in amongst, such artists like Tony Joe White and people like that who I met at the Bluesfest’s in the early 90’s and we became good friends. So that was pretty special, becoming friends with Tony Joe White and maintaining that relationship. He, like a lot of my good friends, he left this earth last year. He was amongst the many great people and great musicians that I have known that are now gone… That is really how musicians should use these events; they are opportunities to connect with other people. I think often we are all off doing our own things, but with these festivals you can get together and show your respect and support for each other. I love that. I experienced that at Bluesfest this year, meeting people I had not met before and I walk away really impressed.”
Speaking of which, the line-up this year for the Muster is pretty special. Who are you keen to see and play alongside?
“I’d love to see Kasey Chambers. She is someone I met at the Bluesfest in the 90’s as well. She is literally a soul of the earth, Love her. I like her old man too; Bill is always good value.”
You’ve been creating music and playing in bands for a good chunk of time. With The Cruel Sea, Beasts Of Bourbon and more, you’ve collaborated with other amazing musicians as well as being a solo artist. You must have some amazing stories to tell! I know this is a loaded question, but what’s one of your fondest memories from your musical career?
“ I don’t know…I just really love…I do not take this for granted…My fondest memory I think… is still, my favourite thing to do is to go somewhere, do a show, pack up and then have drinks and laughs in a van as we drive through the night *laughs* with a bunch of half cut musicians. It’s still, it’s, you know, it’s my favourite part of the whole process. When you’ve done a good show, you’ve made people happy and you’re having a few drinks as you drive through the night, you’re listening to music. It’s what keeps me in the game really. I mean, my happiest memories, I remember traveling in vans when I was 17. Vans with no seats in the back, you know where you basically bring a blanket and you’re in the back with the amps and the drum kit. So, I don’t know, just the actual act of being a working and travelling musician and sharing that comradery is really what it’s about. I mean, I know you probably wanted some name dropping out of me then *laughs* but it’s the day to day satisfaction of working with other musicians and as I say, I don’t take that fact for granted, that I am a working musician. Most of us, our careers, Australian musicians especially, if you get 10 years of sort of being in the charts and all that sort of thing, selling records. Then after that point, when it all settles down then you just go to work and hopefully you’ve built enough of a fan base that you can go to work. And I feel very fortunate that I have. I still go out there and play and I still love it. I have been in the music thing for probably coming up 38 years. It is always sort of a stress (leading up to a show) and even though you are looking forward to it, there is a level of anxiety before you play. You cannot escape that. And I don’t think I want to escape that, it is part of the process, you have to sort of get a little bit worked up, even if you are playing in front of 100 people, and again, I do not take this for granted, I want every show to go well and I do give a shit! It’s not until you’ve completed the task and you can truly go ‘Phew! How awesome was that!?’ “
One of my favourite music projects of yours would have to be when you teamed up with Tim Rogers and created TnT. Do you still get to jam with Tim sometimes?
“Oh wow, yeah! Well you know what? I had known Tim for a long time and then we became close just before the TnT project, I had known him for 10 years before that and then we became close friends and then it sort of naturally turned into something. But actually, then we stupidly…if you ever want to test a friendship, go on a world tour for two months *laughs*. So we kind of, after that project we sort of took a step back for the sake of our friendship *laughs* Not that it went to sour, but it is a bit hard to find that sort of balance when you’ve got two lead singers *laughs*. But we are still very good friends, but no, we haven’t worked as closely as we did back in the TnT days. Geez that’s like 15 years ago or something now isn’t it? Maybe we will do another one without the world tour.”
Who is your musical hero? Is there a musician or band you really love and look up too?
“My hero is Willie Nelson. It’s not just because he seems like the coolest old man in the world, but I just love his music and I love the way he approaches music. I think we might have to play a couple of Willie Nelson songs at the Muster. I think I have just decided that is what I am going to do. Apart from everything else that we are going to do, I can promise some Willie.”
You’ve got your fingers in many musical pies right now, with the Fat Rubber Band, Beasts Of Bourbon, and other things, you are clearly a busy man, but what’s next for Tex?
“Well you know what? we are thinking of doing a 10th anniversary ‘Man In Black’ tour. It has been 10 years and it’s a bit irresistible not to celebrate that. I mean we haven’t been playing it consistently for 10 years but we started the show in 2009 and it just feels too irresistible not to celebrate that fact! I would say once Matt and myself and The Fat Rubber Band get a record out, that will sweep us away. The success of that album, we won’t be back for years, we will probably have to live in Hollywood or something *laughs* We will be trapped by our success. So, this ‘Man In Black’ Tour towards the end of the year maybe our last chance to sing some Johnny Cash for a while. So, I am looking forward to that.”
From Tex’s description of their set for the Muster and his sincere enthusiasm and excitement for playing the event, it would be crazy to miss this one! You can catch Tex Perkins, Matt Walker and The Fat Rubber Band at this year’s Gympie Music Muster with a long line up of other amazing bands. The Muster takes place from August 22-25 at Amamoor Creek State Forest near Gympie. Tickets are on sale now via www.muster.com.au.