The Tall Grass is a collaboration between long time friends and Sydney songwriters Peter Fenton (Crow) and Jamie Hutchings (Infinity Broke/Bluebottle Kiss) who together swap recipes, confessions and ideas. After four years of collaborating the fruits of their efforts has delivered Down The Unmarked Road. Jamie Hutchings shares a few words with Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about The Tall Grass.
After four years of collaborating are glad to finally have finished Down The Unmarked Road?
Yes. It was very much a living and breathing sculpture that we kept transforming. To finally get it out of the kiln was really exciting, and sort of a relief too.
How would you describe the album sonically?
A friend described the mixes as mixes you could ‘walk into’. Which we agree with, there’s a lot of dimension without it being too dense. Moments of tension and alienness equalled by moments that really breath and drift.
How did the collaboration come together or more so how did you both find each other?
We met in the nineties when both Crow and Bluebottle Kiss tended to share bills together semi-regularly. We always had a kind of chemistry based on humour, friendship and a musical affinity for what each other were doing. It was like a long chat that ended up turning into something more realised.
Did the ideas come together quickly and easily?
As far as we remember, it’s more the finessing of ideas that takes the time but we never walked away from a writing session without at least the germ of a song.
Was there much debate and heated discussion about the songs?
There was debate and heated discussion on occasion but not usually about the songs! Neither of us had collaborated to this extent with another person and the first thing you realise is how much trust is required. It’s quite delicate at first but we seemed to intuitively know which role the other would play each time we were working on something. Sometimes we’d swap roles, sometimes one person would lead and the other follow but it always seemed to reveal itself naturally enough after a while.
Was it tough narrowing down the final song list to record?
No, we wrote ten songs and they’re the ten you hear on the album.
Were you quietly chuffed when you read Robert Forster’s glowing endorsement?
For sure, his music means a lot to the both of us.
Now that the album is out where to from here?
We’ve been wrapped up in embellishing the songs live in rehearsals with the help of other musicians. That’s all very fresh as we’ve mostly just played all of our shows with just the two of us, so it’s really exciting hearing them come to life all at once in a rehearsal room. The way we recorded them was such that we slowly built the instruments back to front. Much of it was played by us so we’ve never heard all of the instruments happening together live in one room. We’d love to do more shows in that format. As such we’ll be performing them in that mode at the Sydney and Melbourne launches and stripping back to a duo for Brisbane.
Is there any more extensive touring planned including Adelaide which everyone seems to leave out these days?
We’d love to, as a totally independent project though, we only have so much cash and organisational nous. Any suggestions or offers to play in Adelaide would be gratefully considered!
Interview by Rob Lyon
The Tall Grass new album Down The Unmarked Road is out now via Bandcamp.
The Tall Grass are playing the following dates:
Thu Apr 27 – The Edwards, Newcastle
Sat May 6 – Leadbelly, Sydney *Album launch (full band)
Fri May 19 – The Junk Bar, Brisbane *Album launch (duo)
Fri May 26 – The Yarra Hotel, Abbotsford VIC *Album launch (full band)
Sat May 27 – The Reverence Hotel, Footscray VIC *Safety in Numbers fundraiser