An Interview with Ian Moss

Blues on Broadbeach is one of the largest free music events in Australia. Held on May 18 to 21st, the festival is celebrating its sixteenth year, having started in 2002. Cold Chisel guitarist and successful solo artist, Ian Moss is one of almost 70 acts to perform over the four day festival including: Bonnie Tyler, Slim Jim Phantom Trio, Kevin Borich, Ray Beadle, Cash Savage And The Last Drinks, Jimi Hocking’s Blues Machine, Harts, Louie Shelton Bluesland, 19 Twenty and more!

Ian performed at the multi-award winning event once before and is keen to make his return. Playing Sunday, on the Surf Parade Stage, he plays ahead of Welsh songstress, Bonnie Tyler.

“It’s a great atmosphere. They do a really good job the way they space the bands out as the stages are separated. I’m playing back in the same hall that I played at last time, which is a really good sounding area of them all. It’s important, particularly if it’s free to get in, like this, [as it’ll] encourage a lot of people [to attend] – even if they’re walking by – but they’ll be plenty of dedicated followers as well.”

“You should always come out guns blazing no matter what! Having said that, you’ve got to come out with a nice edge and energy, but you’ve got to leave yourself somewhere to go. That’s the same policy whether I’m on first or last, whether there is two people in the audience or 20,000 people in the audience. It’s the same for any kind of business or trade – one bad job, the word gets around and it takes you another 10 or 20 to recover from that one bad effort. That’s my attitude/motto is always give it your best shot no matter where you are.”

Ian began his professional music career as the guitarist for legendary Australian band, Cold Chisel. As if fate, Ian answered an advertisement for a guitarist in a shop window in 1973 – and thus, the band was born. By 1980, Cold Chisel was renowned as one of the most dynamic live acts of their day and their hard-rock with a touch of blues sound made them one of the biggest bands in the country. To date, they’re ARIA Hall of Fame Inductees and have sold an impressive 6.7 million albums in Australia alone.

“When Cold Chisel were starting out and starting to head towards some pretty solid success, in those days, there was so many venues – we could work six nights a week all year. Bands like Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, The Angels, The Radiators – four massive bands of the late 70s; we could be all in different parts of the same suburb on a Tuesday night [and] they’d all be packed! They’d be turning people away. Those days are gone. Broadbeach is really well attended [so] it’s great exposure. The industry doesn’t get easier for bands and young musicians trying to make it.”

Blues on Broadbeach attracted more than 166,000 people last year, which is quite a departure from the year Ian had last year fulfilling a long-term dream to tour regionally around Australia.

“Last year I did something I’ve never done before. I’ve wanted for years to tour and we kept it to mostly regional areas, playing twice a week, Friday and Saturday – a couple of towns not too far apart. That was just myself and an acoustic guitar. To my amazement, constantly pulling up to 500 people! It went down really well; arguably, as well as when I get out there with the band with an electric guitar. Sometimes those more intimate shows, they might be a very small theatre to 100 people and then I might get up with Cold Chisel and I’ll play to 20,000 people. They’re both just as enjoyable as each other. Perhaps the thing with the acoustic shows, one of the things that makes it most enjoyable is when it works you think, “I killed it tonight and I did it all on my own!””

Ian’s vocals can be heard on many Cold Chisel songs including: Never Before, Bow River and a gorgeous rendition of Ray Charles’ Georgia. But he’s no stranger to solo success. He released his iconic debut single Tucker’s Daughter in 1989 off his debut album, Matchbook that same year. That same year he won five ARIA awards for Best Australian Debut Single and Best Australian Debut Album, Australian Song of the Year, Best Australian Album and Best Australian Male Artist. His second solo single, Telephone Booth, also did well.

He says blues is a strong part of his guitar playing and singing, and that’s evident in his music. He grew up in Alice Springs listening to the soul sounds of Wilson Picket, Odis Redding, Sam Cook and Aretha Franklin. When he started playing guitar, his strongest influences were Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

Currently at work on a new album, he’s been testing one of the tracks, Broadway on the road. The working title at the moment is Pictures in the Sand, taken from the title on one of the tracks on the album. This album is one Ian is proud of having a heavy hand in the majority of writing – more than he’s ever had before. He will be debuting up to three new songs at Broadbeach, although he has decided to keep most of the tracks a surprise until the album’s rumoured August release.

“It’s a great range of material, looking at 12 tracks on the album. There’s bordering on heavy metal through to soul, pop, funk, and straight rock. ‘Broadway’ is one song I’ve been doing a lot. That’s probably my favourite song on the record. Somehow it just sums it all up. I’m amazed by the crowd reaction to that – I sing the first phrase and the crowd just goes quiet – they’re all ears – so very happy to have had a major part in writing that song.”

Ian Moss performs at Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival (May 18th-21st).
For more on Ian and tour dates, visit www.ianmoss.com.au

[Originally posted on the AU Review]

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