Q&A Scene: Hugo Race


Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?
Hugo Race and The True Spirit have a new album about to be released – The Spirit, and a new single Elevate My Love. The True Spirit are the band in my heart, always present despite the different worlds we inhabit. We’ve all been close friends and collaborators for years and we knew when the time was right and our worlds collided together at the right time, in the right space, hopefully a great record would emerge! Many times, after I’d arrive back in Melbourne after touring Europe, we’d talk about making a new True Spirit album but we had no major plans. It had been five years since the release of our previous record, 53rd State. I had a few samples, some classic Spirit sounds that I’d recorded over the years, and some unfinished songs. So I asked everyone in the band to write material for the album – a song, a title, a reference, a tune, anything. I wanted it to be a band album written as a collective. Punk Rock had taught us all that there were no rules, we could play what we wanted and how we wanted and not to worry about being the new cool, we didn’t need that…. It was all about timing and listening to where each other was at.  It took around 4 years to record The Spirit. As I like to work on many projects at once, I think the guys wondered at times when the fuck we were going to finish. We all knew I needed to be in Melbourne for a longer period of time, find a space and discover the anchor which would hold us all down for a little while.  I wasn’t sure if we were up to the task as I’d been away so much but things turned out far better than we ever imagined.

We set up a studio on the outskirts of Melbourne where it was quiet and surreal. We learnt to focus all over again and often we’d just hang out and talk, the guys would play me ideas and I’d show them things and whenever we felt the time was right I’d just start singing or they’d start playing on whatever we thought would be exciting to work on that day. We’d work long into the night with the background buzz of cicadas and if it was cold we’d light a fire and drink warm wine…  And it was in these twilight hours that we all knew there was still that incandescent magic happening between us.  We had synthesizers looping, lead guitars howling and Bretts drumming that would wake the entire neighbourhood. We wondered if the explosion of the neighbour’s meth lab had anything to do with us recording drums in the garage! It was one of those easy records where everything worked, the sound was inspiring and we didn’t care about anything except making good music in our home made studio with the fire burning and harmonies echoing out into the night messing with the radar of the giant Melbourne bats that hung from the giant trees in the garden…

How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
Well, I’ll say Gumbo – Wiki defines Gumbo as: ‘The dish combines ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including West African, French, Spanish, German, and Choctaw. Gumbo may have been based on traditional West African or native dishes, or may be a derivative of the French dish bouillabaisse’. Dr John mentions Gumbo often on his Gris-Gris album, and if you substitute “Italian’ for ‘French’ we are pretty close to the truth…  I think the best way to describe the sound is a collision of influences that include the cosmic side of psychedelia , the razor blade attack of primal blues from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s as well as the soft sexy soul music of  the 70’s. My girlfriend says this music, if it were food, would be is Mexicarockitaliano Bomb Sherbet. (I’ve not tasted this dish but she says she will make it for me and I’ll know immediately what she means)?

Which song resonates most strongly and why?
I guess the single Elevate my Love is pretty close to my heart. “I see you standing in the doorway like a dream vision, where did the night go? I lose sense of time but time sped up when you walked in the room”.  It’s a love song with a dark edgy sadness about it – what to do with love, with time, with our dark thoughts and the beauty of a girl that captures your heart….I wrote this song in around two hours for my girlfriend as a present, and in the three years since I wrote the first draft it’s changed from a private demo to the first single off the new album! It was originally called Green Eyes but time changes us… Our moods elevate and shrink according to circumstances. The song is evocative, sexy and heartbreaking and the lyrics and sound came out of nowhere, finished before I even knew it … I have a deep respect and connection to all the songs but Elevate My Love was my song for someone I love which I hope, when people listen to it, understand that it’s written for all of us.

Any on the road anecdotes?
On the road anecdotes? I should say that I’ve written a book called Road Series to be published late this year or early next by an Australian publisher, Transit Lounge. It’s not an autobiography, but a trapdoor into some of the most bizarre and moving events of my life so far; the book travels everywhere, Eastern Europe, South America and deep into Mali, West Africa.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Inspiration is always close at hand – I draw it from real life. It’s important for me to keep travelling and moving and creating new projects with different artists in different places, it’s like oxygen to me. But you need to place yourself there where lightning strikes, nothing random about it.

What’s next for you?
I’m also working right now on a soundtrack for the artist and filmmaker George Gittoes, and I’ve got a few other album releases which I’m keeping secret for now…. I’m about to start a lot of touring and live performance; from May 2015 I’m solo across Italy and deep eastern Europe, then back to Australia to tour and promote The Spirit, then back to Europe to tour there with the band. After that, I’ll start work on the new Dirtmusic album with griot musicians from Mali – and in between all this I’ll try to finish some albums and the soundtrack.

What’s my scene?
It’s a delirium, really, but I like to live like this.

About Hugo Race

Hugo Race, formerly of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and The Wreckery and now an internationally based producer and performer, returns to the Flying Saucer Club after last year’s much adored performance of The Doors’ L.A. Woman album. Hugo now has a new show presenting the musical artists that influenced him. Hugo and his band, The True Spirit will explore the musical heritage of the delta blues, the psyche rock of the sixties and classic seventies selections including songs by Can, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, Roky Erikson, Leonard Cohen, Dr John, the Doors and many more! Also, on the night, special guest, Spencer P Jones will be performing. You don’t want to miss this one folks!

Friday 1st May

The Flying Saucer Club
Reserved Seating: $29 +bf
General Admission: $18 +bf
Door (GA): $20 (GA)

Doors Open: 6pm (seats), 8pm (GA)
Showtime: 8.40pm

The Roots of Hugo Race

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