Q&A by Mikelangelo
Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?
The new album is called After The Flood – we always like epic titles. Its been 7 years since we released our last album, so we’re pretty damn excited about this album and tour. The whole group has contributed songs to the mix, and that’s a new thing for us. For the most part, I’ve been bringing the songs to the band over the last 15 years and previous 3 albums, and the closer collaboration on After The Flood is a great thing. We wrote most of the songs during an artistic residency in Cooma and the Monaro Plains in NSW, and the whole band were inspired by the spectacular landscape and the wild and wonderful tales of the migrant workers who came from war torn Europe to work the Snowy Mountains Scheme in the 50s and 60s.
My Dad was one of these men, he fled communist Yugoslavia as a refugee, and was able to come to Australia and work on the Snowy. It was a hard working and hard living time, and Cooma grew into a thriving multicultural town with delis, cafes, brothels and night clubs with amazing live music and shows 7 nights a week, like a wild west Kings Cross! As you can imagine, there were no shortage of stories to inspire us to write songs. We could have released a triple album…
What’s your favourite work at this point in time?
[pullquote]My Dad was one of these men, he fled communist Yugoslavia as a refugee, and was able to come to Australia and work on the Snowy.[/pullquote] I’m really happy with how the band have worked up my song The Sun Will Shine In. Its one of those songs that is gentle and robust at the same time, with a combination of sadness and hope that is strangely reassuring . When we play the song live, it feels like the air in the room changes and everyone comes in closer together. I think the recording has captured that feeling and we made a clip for the song with Mic Gruchy and Konrad Lenz and they did a great job, its sublime.
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
When the band were touring through the Northern Territory a few years ago, we decided to spend a day in our stage suits and ‘characters’. We arrived at a tiny pub in Daly Waters and our accordionist, Guido Libido, approached the bar in his tuxedo and sunglasses, looking like a mafia don, and in his husky, downright scarey voice, asked for a fluffy duck. The young backpacker barmaid looked alarmed and went to ask the boss. She came back and said “We don’t do cocktails, but we can give you a fancy straw”. The night just got better and better from there..
What, or who, inspires you?
After many years living in the city, I’ve moved to the coast with my love. We live in a big beautiful house on stilts amongst the tall trees looking out over the river with the rustle of the ocean in the distance. I am always writing songs and coming up with new ideas, it all flows. Love and nature are my inspirations.
Which song do you wish you wrote?
Ha ha, good question. I’m not an envious songwriter, so this would change each time you ask me. Today I’ll say Another Girl, Another Planet by the Only Ones, cos its the first song that came into my head, and my secret yet unashamed love is pop music.
How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
Soul Food. Many different ingredients thrown into a big black cooking pot over hot coals and left to simmer so that the flavours infuse and make a hearty and tasty stew that will both nourish you and give you strange dreams…
What’s next for you?
Launching the new album with the Black Sea Gentlemen. We head off on tour in May and it’ll be great to get the new songs out into the world. We did some album preview shows in February, and there’s a vitality to the new material thats exciting for us and for the audience.
What’s your scene?
My scene is no scene. I’ve always travelled and toured alot, so my friends are spread all over Australia and the world. I like dipping in and out of everyone else’s scenes, its fun and you don’t have to play by the rules.
About Mikelangelo & The Black Sea Gentlemen
From one of Australia’s most magnetic live acts – Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen – comes a compelling new album telling a forgotten story. These are the songs of the treacherous ghosts of our landscape,and the beauty and terror of a new world.
Written during a residency in Cooma and the Monaro high plains, After the Flood was inspired by the heaven and hell stories of the 100,000 men who travelled from across Europe after the war to work on the Snowy Scheme in one of the biggest engineering feats the world has ever seen, tunneling underground in unforgiving alpine country.
Led by the irrepressible Mikelangelo – crooner, troubadour and raconteur – songs of shattered dreams, illicit love and bittersweet hopes rise and fall. First comes the tender rousing lullaby of ‘The Sun Will Shine In’ , then the alt-country twang of ‘Way Down Below’ to the 6/8 Pogues-like swagger of ‘The Wages Song’, filled with drinking, dancing and prostitutes. In this new album The Black Sea Gentlemen also shine as formidable artists, songwriters and hilarious entertainers in their own right. There’s the visceral Euro-Bluegrass attack of Little Ivan’s Right Hand Man; the swinging 60’s nightclub call and response of Rufino’s Handsome and Highwired; The Great Muldavio’s charming absurdist call to arms Like A Wolf; and Guido’s chilling Hitchcock-esque epitaph, Guido’s Farewell.
From the Sydney Opera House to London’s West End to Budapest, the acclaimed Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen have dazzled them all, featuring at Sydney Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Darwin Festival and Auckland Festival and so many more since they began their world-wide take-over in 2000. Touting consistent rave reviews, sell out shows, a die hard international and national fanbase and multiple awards including the Green Room award and Time Out London critics choice, there is nothing quite like them in the world.
After the Flood is reminiscent of the whimsy, tragicomedy and surreal images of a film by Jean Pierre Jeunet etched with the dark underbelly of The Proposition. It’s all pure seduction, and just when their music touches the shadows, it then journeys to the quixotic and phantasmagorical, surprising you into peels of laughter. If Mikelangelo and the Gentleman show up in your town, all anybody will say is, make sure you get a seat.
After the Flood was funded by The Australia Council of the Arts and the Cooma residency was made possible with the generous support of arts and social change company Big hART, South East Arts, Cooma-Monaro Council, the Canberra Theatre Centre and the people of Cooma and the Snowy Mountains.
“These are performers at the top of their game, in complete control of their audience.” The Scotsman
Album Launch Tour Dates
Friday 6 & Saturday 7 May
Thornbury Theatre Ballroom
Thurs 12 & Fri 13 May
The Vanguard, Newtown
Sat 14 May
Hotel Gearin, Katoomba
Fri 10 June
Sat 11 & Sun 12 June