Q&A Scene: Shannon Bourne

Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?

My new album has been something that, unknowing to me I had been shifting towards for quite a while. For the last six years I’ve been spending a lot of time backing other people and helping others with their albums and when it came writing my own lyric based songs, nothing was happening, but I was playing more guitar than ever before and getting a great sense of deep satisfaction from doing so.. After prodding from a few trusted friends I decided to jump into the world of improvised music and it is a truly amazing place to hang… I’m not religious but it is the closest thing to “God” as I can imagine. Being completely present but also “somewhere else” at at the same time…


How long have you been playing guitar?

I have been playing guitar for 29 years and still love it like I did as a 10 year old!

Why did you first start playing?

I was 10  but really wanted to start playing from age eight. I’ve always been drawn to it.

Which guitarist most influenced your playing?

I go through phases.. Gary Moore was the first “guy” for me… But, having a Mother who was a big music fan I grew up hearing Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower, Roy Buchanan, Les Dude, David Gilmour and Neil Young… Then I started digging into the section of her record collection that she never touched, and that is how I found Frank Zappa.

Seeing and hearing Jeff Lang was a revelation and still is! And he is the man who recorded and mixed the new album! Local players that I adore are Jeff Lang, Matt Walker, Shane O’Mara… These were guys that I could go see!

Describe your favourite guitar.

My fave is probably my 1970 Gibson 335. Its like the hammer of the gods… Anyone who has heard that guitar has tallied about its sheer power and presence.

How do you prepare for a show?

I remove myself from the venue at a point just to focus. Some folks are happy to mingle with audience right up until show time, but I really need “go inner” and draw my strength together. It’s important for me. I can’t listen to music after a gig. Some folks get really bouyant before a show; not me… I get really quite depressed and full of self- loathing and have to talk myself back up from that point.

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

I remember playing at the Gympie Muster one year with Chris Wilson and The Spidermen, and I look over to one of the stage and Ian Moss was staining there watching us play! Of course I naturally got pretty nervous. Once we had finished the gig, I was putting my Telecaster into its case and “Mossy” walks up to me and says “That was great… I’m Ian”, to which i replied with a smirk “I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!”…

What, or who, inspires you?

Sounds. The power of sounds and how it moves you. Sound can be used as a weapon. The arrangement of sound can put you in a different time and place. It can make you think of a person, it can make you imagine a different part of the world. It can help you imagine your own world. Sound is such a powerful thing. And then there is the opposite; silence… It is just as powerful!

If i had to name an artist, it’d be Scott Walker. He has fearlessly trend his own path since the late 60’s. I discovered him at a time when I was surrounded by a lot of bitter artists and it got me into a real “ageist” frame of mind. I remembered thinking that some people had just given up on their artistic endeavour and here is Scott Walker at age 66 making an album like “The Drift”. Age is pointless thing to hang yourself on…Just do your art.. Work towards a silence where it can to you.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

Beeswing  by Richard Thompson

How would you describe your sound in food form and why?

At times, it could be a piece of rancid meat crawling with maggots, then it could be a grand feast. So many things… It’d be “rich” whatever it is…


What’s next for you?

My CD launch at MEMO Music Hall on Sat 14 July!! There’ll be visuals to accompanying the huge guitar sound I have been dreaming up!

I’d like to take my new album and approach to some different festivals. I’d just love to kick the walls out a little bit.

What’s your scene?

I hang with a varied crew of people, but above all, they are honest, act with integrity, sensitive, intellectual and a lot of fun. Not all musicians and artists as well… Dynamic.

Words Fail is the latest release from Australian guitarist, Shannon Bourne

A veteran of Melbourne’s music scene, Shannon Bourne’s career began as a sideman to blues legend, Chris Wilson. Since then he has collaborated with and accompanied some of Australia’s most highly acclaimed musicians, including John Schumann, Vika Bull, The Black Sorrows, Tex Perkins’ Band of Gold, Matt Walker, Broderick Smith, Jimmy Dowling, Kerri Simpson, Monique Brumby, Thomas Hugh and Checkerboard Lounge.

Career highlights so far have also included supporting Richard Thompson with Chris Wilson in 2001, being invited to attend SXSW in Austin, Texas (2010), and appearing in the Helpmann Award winning show, The Man in Black starring Tex Perkins. A lyricist and composer of note, Bourne worked as a studio musician and co-writer with Russell Morris on the ARIA Awardwinning blues trilogy; Shark MouthVan Diemen’s Land, and Red Dirt – Red Heart.

A departure from his previous solo releases Burn It Down (2005) and Dark Things (2009), Bourne has taken his greatest and most artistically courageous leap to date.  Words Fail is simply Shannon Bourne, his guitar and his improvised imagination – no-one and nothing else.

Words Fail was not initially recorded with the intention of becoming an album. Rather, it was an experimental process and personal journey that had long been an ambition for Bourne – a fan of free-form composition and improvisation. Informed by the likes of Scott Walker, Fripp & Eno, Robin Guthrie, John Martyn and Gavin Bryars, Bourne set out to use the instruments and equipment at hand to “break the rules” that stifle conventional approaches to long-form music expression and delivery.

Engineered and Mixed by celebrated Australian guitarist/writer/producer Jeff Lang, Words Fail is an album exploring the realms, edges and nuances of electric guitar. It is deeply powerful, moody, playful and at times unnerving – a journey guided by the intuition and prowess of the artist. Without hesitation, Bourne believes this to be his best and most honest work yet and it would be very difficult to disagree.

Words Fail will be physically released on Saturday 14 July

And available through iTunes from 28 June

Launch: Sat 14 July, Memo Music Hall,  88 Acland Street St Kilda 7.30pm (Guest: Fenn Wilson)

Tix and info http://www.memomusichall.com.au/memo-gig/shannon-bourne-album-launch/

About Mandy Hall 684 Articles
Mandy is a music photographer & writer. She runs Mandy Hall Media, which includes Social Media marketing, PR & Graphic Design for the music industry. She is also a web developer - she created and supports this website.

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