Star Scene: Alex Smith

Photo by Mary Boukouvalas. Click to see the full gallery.
Photo by Mary Boukouvalas. Click to see the full gallery.

Alex Smith’s scene is a balancing act. The Moving Pictures’ singer states: “My scene is strange high wire act which you have to balance the noise and the music and the company and the creativity with the love of peace and quiet at home, which is what Traveller’s Tale is about.”

Traveller’s Tale is the new track on Moving Pictures’ latest release, Picture This. Smith is genuinely excited and humbled by the resurgence of Moving Pictures, and has enjoyed re-recording their past material. He states, “Since 2011 we’ve been blown away and emotional charged by people. It’s a bit like a surprise party. I’m not really a technology person, or a computer person, but I’ve been blown away by the fact that people have websites dedicated to us. When Liberation approached us about an album, they said this is a series of releases we choose from your generation. You revisit your old stuff, maybe do a cover or a new one, and you get a chance to get this out there and see what happens. And we were blown away. We was so happy with it and the reaction to it has been amazing. We do an acoustic version of Born To Run. The record company threw lots of ideas around and we thought this is a challenge – how to make a brilliant song our own.  And we put a new song out: Traveller’s Tale.  And also included the song from Footloose, ‘Never’.  Everyone knows that story now. One of these days we’ll get the money.”

Smith laughs and continues to discuss the Springsteen cover and his influences. “Bruce Springsteen is one of a cannon of acts.  When I was putting Moving Pictures together the two artists I had in mind were Graham Parker and Ian Hunter because they were huge in the 70s. Artists like that and Springsteen was part of that whole thing. I admire him. He’s written some of the best songs to come out on the American catalogue and is an amazing live performer. So we all went okay.  I mean were doing it in the live set so why not. My two favourite bands of all time would be The Who and The Band. People like Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, of course, I don’t think anyone my age could not be influenced by Dylan, Mott the Hoople, who I thought were the most underrated band of all time but that’s Ian Hunter again of course, Leonard Cohen, lots of rock n roll bands, lots of power pop, lots of R&B, soul, huge old soul like Otis Reading, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, got me into those things that I love. I think it all went down to meddling it all.  Pictures, when I put it together, I’d been singing in bands in Sydney for quite a while and I started writing my own material and I had a sound in my head that was like a melting pot of all that stuff. From power pop you get something like Joni and the Romeo. Mott The Hoople has probably influenced Angel and the Madman and the RnB-side of Graham Parker & the Rumour. It all blends into the live studio when we started playing. With my songs, you could sit around and look for our perfection inside your head and never find it when you’re playing with guys with the caliber that they have, they have added so much to the work. The only songs funnily enough that I haven’t had input in writing are What About Me and Winners. The others, the lyrics just keep tumbling out.”  

I see songwriting as a series of mirrors – either a reflection of my life or of others.

This blend of music has worked well and Moving Pictures themselves became an influence on upcoming bands.The Australian musical landscape in the 1980’s was very heavily shaped and influenced by them.  Formed in 1978 by Alex Smith, Garry Frost, Charlie Cole, Paul Freeland, Ian Lees, and Andrew Thompson, together, they jumped out of the blocks with 1981’s #1 smash album Days Of Innocence and would go on to release three original albums from 1981 through to 1988.

The band then went their separate ways, still dabbling in music in their own way. Smith went into music education. Smith discusses his life away from the stage. “My wife is an artist, a sculptor, and I think the one thing that has always connected her and me is that we had this aesthetic feel. My art being lyrics and songs and hers being sculpture. When I’m in England, which is where I live, what I do, I still use music for special needs kids. That gives me the same kind of huge buzz as being on the stage singing with the band does.  I started out working in a school, which ranged from foundation through to college age. And that was for 11 years. Music interaction with special needs kids now I work as a consultant.  But one of the other teams I work for we work with preschool and foundation aged children who have just had it diagnosis or who are in the process of diagnosis for autism or complex communication difficulties. And that’s fantastic you feel like you’re right there helping the children, helping the parents and carers. It’s incredible stuff. That’s one of the things I’m coming here to do: http://www.thiswayintomusic.com/ Go the website and find a way to help by becoming either financially or personally involved in the project.”

Photo by Mary Boukouvalas. Click to see the full gallery.
Photo by Mary Boukouvalas. Click to see the full gallery.

Smith can’t be away from the stage for too long. In 2011, in order to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the release of Days Of Innocence, the circa ‘84 Moving Pictures line up of Cole, Frost, Lees, Meyer, Smith and Thompson reformed and performed a sell-out national tour.  This tour created a spark and energy that galvanised the band and although its members are scattered across the globe, the band are really keen to tour once more. He states: “It’s fantastic. I think mostly as a band we felt there was a lot of unfinished business, The legal wrangle with America and stuff which in the end caused us to stop touring, it left us with all with an ‘if only’ taste in our mouth. So when the opportunity arose, with the 30 year anniversary, everyone was asked, and everyone said the same thing: only if everyone else is in.  30 years! Which in itself is a scary thing. We’ve all lived a couple of lifetimes since then. Being on stage now, I feel great.  My wife says, when she sees videos and photos, ‘It’s what you do, you look so at home up there’. It’s what I do. It’s one of the things in the world that I can do that makes me real feel really good. That’s the way I feel. I love being up there making an idiot of myself. And the other thing is I love to sing. I’ve written those songs that have been in my head for two thirds of my life. And I love singing them and looking out at those faces and them singing back at me. It’s a feeling of connection. It’s a one thing that really surprised me on this tour. If you look at it on paper, people are really coming to see James and that’s great but then you look out there and they’re singing all the lyrics to our songs. We’re up there for 50 minutes, we whack out the songs to the best of our ability. We’re just having a great time.  The best thing for me is being up on the stage with those guys. I love it. Being back with these guys is fantastic. We’re working on new stuff. We’ve got a catalogue of new experiences to bring. It’ll be very different from the music made from guys in their early 20s to now guys in their …” Smith doesn’t finish the maths but continues with the music.“Busting Loose was not about me, it was about a collective observation of the Sydney suburbia I was growing up in when the Westies would meet the surf culture and it was almost this kind of Romeo and Juliet kinda thing.  I was never actually a surfie. I grew up with a lot of them and we did start up on the Northern Beaches.  I was never a very sporty person, in any way shape or form.

We  toured with Australian Crawl in 1980s which was great. We had a connection to Glen Wheatley. He managed them and he ran our label so that was the connection. And that was great because that got us in front of an audience almost straightaway and when  our album was released people said ‘Oh I like them’. We’re back touring with James now. It’s great. James combining his Australian Crawl catalogue with his solo catalogue, he has got such a range. His band is so good it’s a real pleasure everytime. They just slam it home.”

 

New album ‘Picture This’ OUT NOW through Liberation

 

Catch Moving Pictures with James Reyne tonight at Chelsea Heights Hotel. Details of this and other gigs below:

 

A DAY IN THE SUN TOUR Dates Presented by ARN

 

DECEMBER

 

Friday 4th                 CHELSEA HEIGHTS HOTEL, CHELSEA HEIGHTS

www.moshtix.com.au or 1300 762 545 or at the venue

 

Saturday 5th                        YORK ON LILYDALE, MOUNT EVELYN

www.moshtix.com.au or 1300 762 545 or at the venue

 

Friday 11th                           ROOTY HILL RSL

www.rootyhillrsl.com.au or (02) 9625 5500

 

Saturday 12th                      WAVES NIGHTCLUB, WOLLONGONG

www.moshtix.com.au or 1300 762 545

 

Friday 18th                SAWTELL RSL, SAWTELL

www.sawtellrsl.com.au or (02) 6653 1577

 

Saturday 19th            GRAFTON DISTRICT SERVICES CLUB, GRAFTON

www.gdsc.com.au or (02) 6640 3200

 

Saturday 26th            JUPITERS HOTEL & CASINO, GOLD COAST

www.ticketek.com.au or 1300 795 012

 

Sunday 27th              AUSSIE WORLD, SUNSHINE COAST

www.ticketmaster.com.au or 131 600
JANUARY 2016

Saturday 2nd            LAURIETON UNITED SERVICES CLUB, LAURIETON

www.laurietonclub.com.au or (02) 6559 9110

 

Sunday 3rd              BALLINA RSL, BALLINA

www.ballinarsl.com.au or (02) 6686 2544

 

Fri 8th & Sat 9th      THE GOVERNOR HINDMARSH – North Adelaide, SA

www.oztix.com.au   or 1300 762 545

 

Fri 15th & Sat 16th   DEE WHY RSL, DEE WHY

www.deewhyrsl.com.au or (02) 9454 4000

 

Friday 22nd               MOUNTIES, MT PRITCHARD

www.mounties.com.au or (02) 9822 3555

 

Saturday 23rd           METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY**

www.ticketek.com.au or 1300 795 012

 

Sunday 29th              DOYALSON RSL, CENTRAL COAST Tickets available from the venue

 

Saturday 30th            THE CUBE @ CAMPBELLTOWN CATHOLIC CLUB,

www.thecube.net.au or (02) 4625 0000

 

FEBRUARY

 

Friday 5th                  CASTLE HILL RSL, CASTLE HILL

www.castlehillrsl.com.au or (02) 8858 4800

 

Saturday 6th              CANBERRA THEATRE, CANBERRA

www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au or (02) 6275 2700

 

Fri 12th & Sat 13th    THE PALMS AT CROWN, MELBOURNE

Sun 14th                    www.ticketmaster.com.au or 131 600

 

Fri 19th                      TBC

Sat 20th                     TBC

Sun 21st                    TBC

 

Fri 26th                      ALEXANDRIA HILLS HOTEL – South Brisbane, QLD

www.oztix.com.au   or 1300 762 545

 

Sat 27th                     EATON HILLS HOTEL – North Brisbane, QLD

www.oztix.com.au   or 1300 762 545

 

www.moving-pictures-band.com

About Mary Boukouvalas 837 Articles
Mary is a music photographer and reviewer.

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