County music favourites, the Wolfe Brothers this week their latest single hit #1 on CMC coinciding with the one year anniversary release of their third studio album, This Crazy Life. Gearing up to grace the stage alongside over 25 acts during the July 28-30 free Broadbeach Country Music Festival – I caught up with Tom Wolfe to chat about new music, touring with Lee Kernaghan and all things Broadbeach.
Last time we spoke you were on the This Crazy Life mini festival tour (alongside Gord Bamford, Caitlyn Shadbolt, Christie Lamb, Craig Heath, Troy Kemp and Jody Direen). Is it safe to assume you guys are working on new material at the moment?
We are putting a lot of new stuff together. What we’re trying to do at the moment is find a new sound that takes it into 2017 and to the next level. We’re not going to rush – we did three albums and a live DVD in four years and a hell of a lot of touring! We want to take our time, make sure we’ve got the right songs and make it our best one yet. We’re going back to Nashville in July for another writing trip and I can foresee us going back into the studio and doing more demos. We don’t really know how to stop. Once we stop, we get too bored. We get a week off and we’re like, “Let’s do something!” (laughs)
You’re currently on tour opening and playing with Lee Kernaghan on his Boys From The Bush – 25th Anniversary Tour as well – how are you juggling both?
We’ve been working on the road. The thing about technology now is you can do stuff pretty easy – take some mics and basic computer gear and you can record a demo track on the road. Because it can be a lot of downtime sitting in a hotel, we’d rather spend that being creative and working on some new music.
How has it been celebrating Lee’s huge industry milestone?
It’s great. They just announced a few new shows too, which will be fun. We just had a really awesome one up in Darwin too. They were a fantastic crowd. It was a rocking gig. There hasn’t been a bad gig on this tour. Everyone’s been really receptive – it makes our job really easy! (laughs) I know he doesn’t enjoy this title but he’s kind of the king of Australian country at the moment. Obviously, Slim [Dusty]’s the king, but [Lee]’s probably the holder of the throne, I guess, is the best way to put it (laughs). It’s so nice to see how much success he’s had, but also how he takes it in his stride. He’s a good bloke [and] really good to people. He wants to support young artists [and] get out and meet the people. It’s something we want to do [and] hope we can achieve that.
You also got to play on the album of the same name and sing on his latest single Damn Good Mates. My favourite thing about the track is that it’s a cover of Tyler Farr’s Damn Good Friends reworked with an Australian twist.
We really wanted to make it our own. We wanted to change little bits and pieces to bring it back home, to bring it back to us. I think we really did it. [We shot the] “Damn Good Mates” film clip down in Tassie. We were trying to get a good essence of what mateship is like in Australia. It doesn’t matter who you are – we’re all damn good mates basically.
Lee’s 25th Anniversary Album was really cool because we got to record the whole thing. We’ve toured a lot with Lee and sung a lot of music live together. He wanted to have us in the studio to record the album. It was an awesome experience to be in that setting with him and Garth Porter making music. On top of that, he wanted our input on it, what we thought of songs, how things went. It’s a lot of fun; just loved it.
You earlier mentioned Broadbeach Country Music Festival, where you’re performing as the Wolfe Brothers without Lee. Coming off headlining on This Crazy Life to opening for Lee and then back to doing your own show at Broadbeach – is it nice to mix things up?
Any opportunity to do that is fantastic. The whole industry is only going to grow if we’re all together – that was the whole idea of the This Crazy Life tour. We love working [and] being on the road with Lee, but it is nice when you get to a gig like Broadbeach and you’ve got a 50 minute to an hour set just The Wolfe Brothers. We can really go out and tear them a new one! We did [Broadbeach] two years ago. It was really awesome. It was one of my favourite gigs. I love every element and facet of this band and where it takes us – there’s always something different which is always really fun.
What is it about Broadbeach Country Music Festival that makes it so special?
I think #1 – where it is – it’s like playing country music in the middle of the city, heaps of people, awesome weather, it was fun as! It’s the type of gig where everyone wins. The punters win because it’s free, but on top of all that, we win because we get to play an awesome gig in an awesome location. It’s like giving back a little bit. Broadbeach wins out of it as well. If there were more festivals like this around Australia, it’d be great! I can probably say this safely – Broadbeach Country Music Festival, we might debut a couple of brand new songs. I love playing new music.
America are headlining too. Do you think they’ll have an impact on the overall festival?
It’s something different. It’s good for us Australian artists to have International acts on the bill because it makes us lift our game. Whether the artist knows that intentionally or subconsciously, everyone is going out there to give their best [and] it lifts the whole festival. It’s awesome.
Kasey Chambers, Caitlyn Shadbolt, Sara Storer, Shane Nicholson, Drew McAlister … the list goes on and on of how amazing artists will be performing alongside you at the festival. Are you planning on seeing any acts perform?
Hopefully! We always try and see one or two acts. I really want to see America, obviously. I’d like to see [Travis Collins as] I haven’t seen [him] play in a little while. I’d love to see Troy [Cassar-Daley] play. He’s probably one of my favourite artists so I want to try and get to that. But I think we just want to get out there and take in a bit of the atmosphere as well [and] just get a bit of a feel of it. At the end of the day, we’re all fans before we’re musos, so I always make an effort and get a bit of a sense of the festival. That’s why we do it, because we love it.
Can you walk around unnoticed or do fans get a little handsy?
When it’s at a festival we’re playing at you can get a bit hounded, but if people want to come up and say hello, that’s great. I appreciate that people are into the band and appreciate the music. I did have one lady once like, “Can I have cuddles?” And I was like, “Yeah, no worries.” [Then] she was like, “Can I have a kiss?” and I was like, “Yeah, no worries”. So I’ve given her a kiss on the cheek, but as I’ve done that, she’s tried to suck onto my face and top of my lips. It was a truly awful experience. There’s a memory for you! It’s not very glamorous. I’ve had a fan try and suck my face – be careful how you word that one! (laughs)