Off the back of releasing his greatest hits album ‘The Best of Josh Pyke + B Sides and Rarities,’ Josh Pyke has set off on his 10 Years Of Memories & Dust regional tour of Australia. We got to chat to him about taking a break from music to pursue other creative fields and that phase that we all went through where we thought we were too cool to keep on learning instruments.
How would you say your approach to music has changed over the last 5 albums?
My song writing has evolved and developed over the years and I think I’m a lot better at it now, my instincts are quite honed in terms of knowing instinctively when a song is worth pursuing. I think I write less songs now but the songs I do write I love. I love all of them as opposed to writing twice as many songs but half of them wouldn’t end up on anything. So I think trusting my instincts has been a big thing and just coming to realise instinctively what it is that I as an artist want to say and translate. After 20 years of writing songs I just know what is right for me. As for the actual song writing process, it is more or less the same. It is basically waiting for a lightning strike, being in a position to capture it and then develop it at a later date, whether it is in sound check, or in the car or in the middle of the night, it is just about capturing that little thing of inspiration and then being able to remember it well enough to develop it later.
So what has made you decide to take a break from this musical project?
I just want to take a break from the tour cycle which is writing an album and then you tour it which is about 18 months, and then you do another album and tour that. It has been amazing and I’ve loved every second of it but it has meant over the years when I’ve been in those cycles it is very hard to engage in other creative projects that I have wanted to do, like writing for film and TV, producing other artists, and even writing prose. Those are things that I am passionate about trying, I don’t know if I am any good at them yet but it has been very difficult to pursue those things as seriously as I’d want to when I’m always off on the road.
What things do you have planned for the future?
This year I wrote a bunch of songs for a kids TV show, I produced and engineered songs and it was really really fun and rewarding. It was just a very different world from the standard music industry and so I’d love to more of that kind of stuff. I’d love to produce other artists but not necessarily artists that are signed to labels. I’d love to do development work with emerging artists and help them find their sound. Help them find what they are trying to do, what their version of authenticity is for them.
You want to experience the other side of music production?
Yeah, exactly. And I want to continue my work with the JP partnership and with certain indigenous leaders and all that sort of stuff. There is a bunch of stuff that I want to do. Like I’d like to have a crack at writing a fiction book. Again, that is the sort of stuff that I have been passionate about for years but have never had the time to dig into and find out if I actually can do it if you know what I mean.
That would make for quite a widespread, creative career. Who have been your greatest creative influences?
People that really inspire me are the people that are multi-faceted so people like Nick Cave, Paul Kelly, people who have written books and done music for films. Nick Cave is a great example, he’s written some books that I love, and he’s written for film and done the music for those. So it is people who are multi-faceted – even a friend of mine named Justine Flynn who I find really inspirational. She writes scripts, directs TV shows, writes feature films – just all of this other stuff. I am really inspired by that have a broad creative life and are not just stuck to one thing.
You’ve announced and started your 10 Years Of Memories & Dust regional tour, are you looking forward to this?
Yeah! I’ve done the first half, so all the capital cities and it is some of the best touring I have ever done. It was just so much fun, so celebratory and the whole agenda was just to have fun. When you set out on the road with that goal, it’s a lot easier to make it happen. There was no pressure, they were all good shows. People knew the songs because they were all from Memories and Dust and that. So it’s been great and the rest of the tour, I imagine, will be the same. It’s a been a chance to reflect on all these times that I’ve had over the last 10 to 13 years and play the songs that have completely changed my life.
The tour is hitting a bunch of smaller, regional venues this time around, were there any places that you really wanted to play or go back to?
Oh they are all great. Places like the Dalrymple Hotel up in Townsville is just a pub but it has a really fun vibe and just Townsville is something different for me. The Cairn’s Tanks Arts centre is amazing, Sookis down in Belgrave is always cool. They are all over the place, these great little venues. And I’ve played so many of them over the years so it is nice to get back.
What is one of the weirdest thing that has happened to you on tour?
There has been loads of stuff over the years. On a fairly recent tour, a guy invaded the stage and I had to semi-throat punch him to get him away from me which was pretty weird. I remember there was another fight in Jindabyne one time that broke out in the crowd. I find fights really weird in my crowds since it is not very aggressive music. But y’know there is always strange things happening. I remember being in the UK and travelling on one of those proper tour buses. I was sleeping on it and it is like a return to the womb and I remember waking up in the night and it had these little portal windows and looked out and as we were driving through this small town I remember seeing a horse. Just a lone horse walking down the main street of the town. Things like that stick with you .
Are there any musical instruments that you wish you could play?
I wish that I could play the piano really well. I can sort of pick stuff out but yeah that is one regret musically that I have is that I quit piano lessons as a kid and I never went back so I can’t read or write music and I can’t play the piano properly. I’d love to be able to sit down and really play amazing stuff.
Do you have a favourite song or album at the moment?
I’m still really obsessed with that last Sufjan Stevens album to be honest which came out like 2 years ago now but I’ve been listening to that solidly ever since it came out and it is probably the one that I’ve been listening to most.