Q&A Scene: Alec Brinsmead ~ THE GYPSY SCHOLARS

Tell us about your new singles.

This latest single “Cold Hands” is the first release off our forthcoming debut EP. The EP is something that we’ve been working towards for years now and we think this tune is the perfect way to build some anticipation for the bigger body of work. Having two lead singers/song writers is something we view as a unique strength and when Conagh brought the beginning of “Cold Hands” to rehearsal, we instantly connected with the message and the musicality of the song.

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

In October last year, we filmed a live clip with a very talented director/videographer by the name of Archie Chew for a series he was doing called A Street Parade. In the video we are by the lake in Canberra, playing a tune whilst walking across the bridge that heads over to Parliament House. We had just finished at show and were on a massive high and Archie managed to capture us in a way that is a really genuine reflection of us as musicians and as people too. (You can check it out on our Youtube channel!)

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

We once had a tour rule that we had to stop at every Hungry Jacks we drove past.  That ended pretty quickly after we had to drive up to Brisbane for one of the shows the band’s collective cholesterol count had escalated well beyond a natural level.

What, or who, inspires you? 

Great Australian artists who don’t compromise their artistic vision to cater to record labels or mainstream music consumption. The iconic Paul Kelly is certainly someone who does this for us, we were lucky enough to see him on the Opera House steps a few months ago – amazing show, amazing man and such a rich catalogue of songs which are uniquely Australian and so important to our culture.

Which song do you wish you wrote? 

Wagon wheel by Darius Rucker. It is our classic karaoke tune, musical pick me up and just an all time scholars anthem!

What’s next for you? 

We are hitting the road to support the release of Cold Hands, we’ve got 8 shows along the East Coast of the country from Brisbane all the way down to Melbourne. The first show is in Sydney on the 11th of Jan at the legendary Lansdowne Hotel, full list of tour dates are on our socials!

What’s your scene?

Noisey, dimly lit pub, Guinness on tap and a raucous band on stage. Pretty much The Phoenix Pub in Canberra. It is our spiritual musical home and local watering hole. Our first ever sold out show was at The Phoenix and have managed to pack it out every time since. If you’re ever in the capital and looking for a good time, The Phoenix is where you want to be!

If you check your rear vision mirror this summer don’t be surprised if you see an over flowing hatchback rolling up and down the coastal highways. The Gypsy Scholars are taking the first song from their debut EP, ‘Cold Hands’, on the road. Bringing with them their well known light hearted and warm ways, the boys have crafted an EP and show that presents a more refined style of their story telling tunes. The Gypsy Scholars will take you through young love, longing and laughs in a way only they can, with an invitation to have a good time always extended.

Formed in Canberra towards the end of 2014, The Gypsy Scholars met at the Australian National University and are made up of James Kelly, Conagh McMahon Hogan, Joel Shapero and Alec Brinsmead. With Conagh hailing from Bathurst and the remaining three from Sydney, the group move base between Sydney and Canberra with the nation’s capital remaining the spiritual home of the band.

Releasing their debut single “Looking Glass” later that year, TGS cemented their unique folky sound with a single that was a true embodiment of the band’s fun loving essence. “Looking Glass”spent over 10 weeks in the Triple J Unearthed Top 100 Charts reaching a top of #5 in the overall charting and #1 on the Indie Chart. This Unearthed interest led to an invitation to perform at Sofa Sounds Sydney. Cream, and Lost Paradise, playing along side Angus and Julia Stone, Jamie xx, and Jungle Giants at the Glenworth Valley festival. The Gypsy Scholars’ follow up single, “Daydream Author”, received air time on FBI radio, ABC 666 and several rural music stations. The band played residences at popular Sydney venues Hotel Steyne and Selina’s at Coogee Bay Hotel. Continued sold out shows in Sydney, Canberra and Wollongong while touring “Daydream Author” gave TGS further opportunities to play with, and learn from, talented Australian artists like Polish Club, Lime Cordiale, Wild Honey, Castlecomer, The Bon Scotts, Slow Turismo, Touch Sensitive, Tate Sheridan and Andrew Farris (INXS).

Over March and April 2017, the band toured their third single “1960s”. With an unforgettable horn riff and a nod to the party people of the past, “1960s” gave TGS the opportunity to branch out and reach audiences in Brisbane and Melbourne – as well as further cementing their name in the Sydney, Canberra and Woolongong music scenes. The tour ended with three shows at the National Folk Festival. With interest increasing as each show came and went, the final show had the performance tent bursting at the seams. The cherry on top of an already bumper year was the chance to perform in Conagh’s home town at the Inland Sea of Sound Festival. Taking the stage alongside Bernard Fanning, Meg Mac, Dan Sultan and Meghan Washington was a great way to welcome summer.

The Gypsy Scholars next step was into the renowned Rancom St Studios in Botany. Working with award winning engineer Ted Howard to record their self-funded EP to be released in 2018. ‘Cold Hands’ is the first single to be released from the EP, and The Gypsy Scholars are taking it up and down the East Coast. ‘Cold Hands’ is a tale that we all live, of a life made up of different twists, turns and trials which can build to be overbearing – only to remind us that solace can be found in warm memories. The track is delicately recorded and mixed which, alongside more refined writing style splattered with Scholar one-liners. So if you check your rear vision mirror this summer don’t be surprised if you see an over flowing hatchback rolling up and down the coastal highways blasting ‘Cold Hands’.


The Gypsy Scholars ‘Cold Hands’ Tour
19th January 2018 – Bar 303, Melbourne VIC
27th January 2018 – Ric’s Bar, Brisbane QLD
2nd February 2018 – The Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle NSW
9th February 2018 – Moonshine Bar @ The Steyne Hotel, Manly NSW
10th February 2018 – Untapped Festival, Goldcreek ACT  
16th February 2018 – Australian National University O-Week Canberra ACT
24th February 2018 – The Polish Club, Canberra ACT

About Mary Boukouvalas 1172 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.

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