Andrew Farriss is releasing his debut country music offering, Come Midnight, from his forthcoming album slated for release in 2020. Considered one of the country’s best songwriters, Andrew is – and always has been – all about the music, and his varied body of work is testament to that. He actually penned Come Midnight back in the INXS days.
We chatted with Andrew about the new release, upcoming gigs, and the benefits of having family and bandmates
Hi Andrew, how are you doing?
I’m basically getting ready to, well, release the first single Come Midnight. We’ve also now got a full-length video that we shot for it and which hopefully will be coming out soon after. Then I’m also basically rehearsing with my band to get ready to do some live shows. I’m quite excited actually.
I heard that you started writing some of this material around about the time of Kick. Is that right?
Well, not some of it. It’s just the one song which is Come Midnight. Basically I wrote guitar riffs and things that you’ll hear in the song. I wrote the chord pattern and then I changed the arrangement more recently and finished off the vocal where I wanted it to be with the lyric. And dedicating to my wife, Marlina.
But the actual beginnings of it it was because back then, in ancient history, I was doing very different things musically. Well, I was working with more dance music synthesisers, funky guitar ruffs, programming, electronic drum machines, early samplers, with that kind of technology. Then I worked on this song, Come Midnight, and then I stopped because I thought it had absolutely nothing to do with the kind of work that I was doing at that time.
I’ve always been a fan of country music, or country rock especially. It’s just something that, I don’t know, I felt it was time to do it. A lot of people had encouraged me to do it which is really good. I always saw myself as a support structure for other people, as a songwriter or as a record producer or whatever. I never really saw myself as a front man guy, but now I definitely am doing that.
It’s feeling okay. I’ve got a lot of support from people, both in Australia and the U.S. Particularly in Nashville. Some of those guys have been fantastic, really helping me with a lot of things. I’m just, I’m feeling good.
And you recently played at The Bluebird?
Yeah, that’s right. I had fun. It was really good. I had Phil Barton and Bruce Wallace to thank for that, some co-writers that I’ve worked with in Nashville. Phil’s actually originally from Australia and Bruce is American, but they basically encouraged me to come do it with them and it was a really good night. I really wasn’t sure exactly what to expect because it was … it sold out very quickly and so I was nervous, but when I got in there it went really well. I had my family supporting me there too. My wife, Marlina and her sister and her niece were there as well. That really helped for me as well.
How did you feel about the biopic, having somebody play you on TV? That must have been weird.
Yeah, it was a little odd. I met Andy Ryan later on and we talked a little bit and joked around. I actually admire him as an actor.
Not necessarily because he played me. I thought he did a good job at playing me although he was a little bit flat. I’m not quite that serious. I think that was more the interpretation of some other people who figured, “Well, that’s all he’s about,” but I have a sense of humour and I can joke around too. That was my only thing. I think he did a great job though.
Who plays on this song?
That’s a good question. Actually, I was thinking about it the other day. There’s basically myself, obviously. I’m playing and singing on the track. Then I also … Larry Beard and his son. Larry played acoustic guitar and then, as well, and then there’s also his son, Eli, playing bass.
Well, Larry, like I said. Larry Beaird and Eli Beaird. Greg Morrow on drums. Troy Lancaster on guitar. And Jimmy Nichols on bass. Keys, yeah, Jimmy. And Scotty Sanders would have been pedal steel. I also had some very talented backing vocalists as well helping me out just subtly in the background. There’s not a lot of backing vocals on it though, they’re just subtle in the background.
Jimmy Nichols, I assume that’s not the same guy that played with The Beatles when they were in Australia?
No. I don’t think so, no.
Possibly a relative.
Yeah, maybe. I think he’s not that generation of people. How old are you talking? We must be talking, what? ’64 or ’65 or something?
He’d have to be by now, yeah. Well, he’d be in his 70s.
That’s not the same guy, no.
That’s interesting because I just never heard of him after he did that run with The Beatles and I wonder where he went.
You never know. When you get up close to something that’s very, very successful, it can actually be a bit scary.
Frightening to people too. They go, “Oh, I don’t know that I really want to do that or not.” Or then they want it passionately. One or the other usually. That’s a funny thing with success. Of course success is great and success is fantastic but it brings other things with it.
I’ll bet. I guess it would have been nice for you to have brothers and band mates together when you were at the height of your success.
That’s very true. I love my brothers and all guys in the group I have a lot of respect for. We went through a lot together. We worked in 52 countries in the end as a touring band and we spent a lot of time overseas breaking markets the hard way, by playing live. I have a lot of respect for those guys because I know what it took to do that. You’re right, the support of family especially and close friends becomes very, very clear as you go along. That’s your anchor. That’s your reality with it. But you’re right about that.
Also, the same goes in this here as well. I said to my wife, Marlina, I said, “Are we sure that I want to do this?” Because a lot of people have said, too, “You’re very brave.” That scared me more than anything, you know?
I’m like, “Brave? Don’t say that. That’s the wrong word.” I think they meant it nicely. I think it’s more … It’s probably, just probably more because I’ve already had one big ride. I think the difference with this era that I’m in now really … I don’t know how to explain this any better but I want to make sure that whatever I’m doing, I’m giving people a lot of entertaining value and good music, but also that I enjoy the ride.
That I actually enjoy it and not feeling like I’m being flogged on that work sense. So trying to pace myself a bit with it all and just try to enjoy the ride.
Where was it recorded?
Well, most of what will constitute my album so far has been either recorded at my farm studio where my family and I are based, I have a recording studio here I’ve had for many years and I worked a lot here, I also worked originally in Sydney when I was down there for awhile. And some of it in Nashville as well.
The recording of this, whole album or project for me has been really interesting. I’ve approached it in a way that I’ve always wanted to which is I’ve tried to, even though I’m talking about one of those songs being Come Midnight, it’s beginnings were a long time ago. Most of the rest of the album is not like that. A couple of songs, or, three or four of them actually, are written within the last two, three months. So some of it’s time travelled and some of it is very contemporary.
The way I wanted to record a lot of it, which was very important to me, was to keep the energy going in it. I didn’t want to get bogged down in perfecting everything and sterilising everything to make it perfect. I deliberately tried to make the recordings fairly … How can I put it? Just not labour them too much, you know?
Would you have played as a band then together, or did you do the parts individually?
Well, for example, Come Midnight, the guitar parts, I played them individually, but I didn’t play with them at the same time as I was doing the backing track with the band. I played them separately. I generally do a guide vocal with each runthrough live with the band. I would get the arrangements right first before we’d begin and then we basically tracked stuff. I’m pretty happy with where it’s gone thus far.
I’m feeling better though about the songwriting that I’ve managed put together. I began to live more with my songs. Some of them that I thought when I initially started this project, which is really about five years ago, I started writing and opening my songwriting partnerships up with a lot of different people. Different age groups. Some Australians, some Americans, Canadians, whatever. Just messed around with things to try and get a broader picture of my own writing and see what other people had in mind. In the end, about half my album I’ve written myself and half of it are co-writes.
Come Midnight’s unusual. A funny thing with Come Midnight is it was, my wife, Marlina, had it on her alarm on her phone for a couple years. Every morning if we had to get up at certain times, I’d always hear that song. It was at first driving me nuts, and then I realised it’s because she liked it. Then I thought, “Well, I’ll keep going with it then and we’ll …” I think it was always destined to be released. I don’t know why, it’s just what I think.
I hear you’re doing Gympie Muster soon.
Yeah. That’s right. Exactly. Andrew Farriss and my band, The Rainmakers, we’re playing at the Gympie Muster. I’m very excited as well because speaking of brothers and family, I have the Davidson brothers who are from Melbourne performing with me at Gympie. We’re rehearsing here in a couple of days time actually, for that event, and a couple little surprise warm-up show things that I’m doing as well.
Have you been there before?
I haven’t, to be honest with you. I was looking at the line-up yesterday of all the different artists and I … there’s a big cross-section of different styles of … as well within the country genre, which I thought was really good. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’ll be great.
Is there anything else you want to tell me about this new project?
I think the main thing I was going to say is I think that my inspiration for a lot of the songwriting – at first when I started the project I wasn’t quite sure, being me, if I was just going to have all these personal songs about whether I’m experiencing something great or bad or whatever it is. I thought, “Instead of that,” as it went along, “I’ll do something a little bit different, well, certainly than I’ve ever done.” And put myself in a different space where a lot of the stylization of what I’ve done is I’ve, obviously I’m working within country-rock roots, sort of folk genre, but I’ve tried to use those instruments like banjos and acoustic guitars, acoustic drums, acoustic wherever possible voices, to make up the sounds of the record, unlike a lot of electronic stuff that I used to do in the past. I’ve tried to keep it fairly organic in the construction of the album.
Not only that but try to choose my lyric ideas and direction, some of it is based on some modern social issues but a lot of it almost goes back to the 19th century. I wanted to think about as if putting myself in a completely different era. I’m not talking about 20th century, I’m probably talking before that and about how people looked at the world. That gave me inspiration to think more about how to make this album something that I could, I don’t know how to explain, but write my own storytelling, you know? Some of the characters are fictitious and some of them are real in the lyrics and just work it through like that.
Andrew Farriss’ debut single Come Midnight is released to radio on Friday 9th August 2019.