There’s no denying the iconic and legendary status of Ronnie Taheny and this week’s show at The Gov is titled “The Last Swim” which is a celebration of Ronnie Taheny’s career. As Ronnie explains that this is not the end but time to step back from live performance in response to other growing demands in her life including Arty Records and to pass the baton on to the others getting in to the music industry as well as nurturing up and coming talent. It is rare to have such a rewarding interview experience walking away with so much more. I spoke to Ronnie in the lead up to “The Last Swim” and what’s next for Ronnie Taheny.
How do you feel about approaching this show at The Gov as being “The Last Swim”?
Yeah, that’s a fair question which I have been asked a lot and there is a caveat there which must be said that it isn’t actually retirement and doing that really boring Farnesy thing and more comebacks than Nellie Melba that you get from people. In effect it’s not a retirement, it is a retirement but not one hundred percent, the fact that I’ve always said that it’s just a retirement from doing thirty-five years of my own slog of doing all the publicity, underwriting it financially and doing it all independent to make it work. Pushing it hard, doing your own posters, artwork, publicity and often building your own stage… it’s a step back from those kinds of things.
I’ve done thirty-five years of it so what I am saying in the future that I’m absolutely still available and happy to do special events and those sorts of things that are less stress of not having to unwrite and do everything myself. I have a team of people which is brilliant, but I didn’t have that in place until I stayed in one place, here in SA a lot more in the last three years but until then I was always doing it myself. That’s cool, I’ve gotten to know everything about the business, I can do sound and lights but also be the publicist as well as play some instruments, maybe even write a song occasionally. The puts me in a good position to be able to help the beginners and intermediate artists who are hitting, feeling the glass ceilings who aren’t really sure where to go, which is where I come in because of the overview and experience I’ve had over thirty-five years has worked in my favour.
Did it take you a while to come to that realisation when you have put in a lifetime of hard work just to say I’m going to go this way now?
The first thing I teach my clients is that this is hard work. I think you can change this around as if this is your passion, it’s not really work and if it is work maybe you need to think about getting out. Hard work can be a great thing without being to protestant or Lutheran about it. It is honourable work because I’m investing in me and I may get somewhere. The second thing I say to clients is that you need to enjoy every moment of the slog on the way because it may be the only currency you ever get out of this career.
The fact that you might get to travel the world or travel Australia or play on beautiful stages where it is a luxury or stay at lovely hotels with lovely food… this is your currency, make the most of it because there may not be a big pot of gold at the end of it or the big front page on Rolling Stone. You have to love it as you’re going along, and I’ve done that and had a great parallel purpose through it which was my number one goal to do. It hasn’t been all this work and now I’m giving it all away, my work allowed me to see the world and get a lot of concept albums out of it to help focus my writing but have a bloody great life at the same time.
I’m all about the plan and the long term and with that in mind you know that one day this is going to run out, what have you got jacked up? Are you going to be a thick, ageing, health ailing muso with your hand out who complains about the industry, how you got ripped off with a bitter kind of attitude. This is ridiculous victim stuff, very old fashioned, very rock ‘n roll and very outdated, get savvy! I’m happy to give the stage work away and passing the baton which is more important to the next generation.
Is The Gov like a second home for you? Maybe even have a bar named after you?
We’ve got the Robert Dunstan bar, how about the Ronnie Taheny bar? I should say that on the night!
When you start looking at the set list for the show do you get a little nostalgic when you go back over your career?
It will be a little bit of an anthology, I put out an email back in September asking people to submit requests. I did get a lot of requests from the earlier albums right through to the current so an anthology is what I will do for the first set and then I’ll bring the band on for the second set. In saying that I’m going through the set list and will have stories and things like which I think makes the show and adds another dimension to the character that you will see on stage but what it is doing to me is making me very nervous. That is one thing I have fought my entire career, stage fright and nervousness and three years ago I finally started to beat it. I beat it about two years ago and I thought right all the steam has gone now, that is another reason why I can retire because job done, I’ve won
People go you’re ridiculous, you just get up on stage and enjoy it because you’re not so beside yourself with fear, you can remember the gig and actually enjoy it. I suppose I could but there is no challenge in that. I’m an idiot for a challenge but I feel like I’m back two years with that stage fright as I start moving through my set list and practising it. I’ll control that, I’ll be fine, I’ll be ok but the nostalgia is there but overridden by a heart beat and the fact this is really scary but I’m doing it anyway. That’s the attitude one needs and stepping outside your comfort zone, that’s called growth. For me living beyond the comfort zone is my life since being a kid, it’s a piece of cake out there fighting the world!
Interview Rob Lyon
Don’t miss “The Last Swim”…