The Blackwater Fever have a brand new baby in the album ‘The Depths’, and they’re on their way back to their old stompin’ grounds on the Coast here with a show at SolBar with special guests, Band of Frequencies.
Their dark, gritty approach to blues is widely acclaimed, and for those that have seen The Blackwater Fever before, know of the intense emotion put into their songs, but also that distinctive nu-blues sound.
We caught up with Shane from The Blackwater Fever, and threw a few questions his way.
So good to see The Blackwater Fever back on the Coast. It’s been a little while. Now you have a new baby in the form of ‘The Depths’. How has the reception been so far for the new album?
Glad to be heading back! Reception towards the album has been pretty good. Most press reviews have been really positive. One or two few not so positive and others are reeling about it which is great! But that’s the deal when sending your album out for review, it’s a total roll of the dice and out of our control who reviews it if they like our style of music to begin with.
In the end I think we’re most interested in pleasing ourselves. We’re all super proud of this album. We recorded it ourselves and I mixed it. We took this our 3rd album a lot more seriously then the ones before it. Then once you send it out into the world all we can hope for is that our fans can appreciate it much as we do.
The South East corner of Queensland has a reputation of producing some of the more ballsy blues around; a bit grittier, and heavier, compared to our Southern contemporaries. Why do you think that is?
Hmm. I don’t know about that. I think there’s people playing modern blues, blues revived or inspired stuff all around Australia and the world. I think it’s great when old becomes new and reincarnated. Even if the blues purists think people like us are butchering the blues, it’s the new breed that have brought it out of the shadows.
Each time I’ve seen TBWF play, Shane, your lyrics have always stood out to me, in a way where I’m thinking to myself ‘my god, this dude has had his heart stomped on so frickin’ bad’, which at its core, Blues music should do. Without trying to get too far into it, do you base the lyrics on stories or scenarios you’ve come across, or are they drawn from personal experience (and if said object of the song is in the audience, do you get a bit of a ‘yeah… this song’s about you’ moment?)?
I search out ideas for lyrics anywhere and everywhere. Some songs are built from personal experience, some are written in a first persons perspective about someone’s experience. Some are completely hypothetical or imaginary. But yeah you’re right, this style of lyric is woven through 99.9% of blues music. And in most music in one way or another. I’ve been consciously writing about themes outside that box and The Depths has many songs like that. Which was a refreshing process for me.
There have been times when a person I’ve written about are in the crowd. Either they know the song is written about them or they don’t. But at the same time, some of those relationships have been patched up and the song has just become like a Polaroid of that moment in time. So it’s all good.
Originally, TBWF were a duo. Along the way you gained Jed on bass/keys. Why the shift?
We never set out to become a duo. When we started out we just couldn’t find that 3rd member. When Rick DeMarco (original drummer) and I started out, living on the Sunshine Coast, he moved from guitar to bass to drums. We just couldn’t find anyone so he’d switch instruments. Once he got a drum kit, it started to feel like a real band and that got the train rolling. I guess by the time we started looking again a few year on, we didn’t just want a bass player and were looking for someone multi skilled. We’d pretty much given up again then Jed replied to an old musician wanted ad online. I love the trio format. You can go so many more places then a duo can. More hands on deck!
Your upcoming show at SolBar will have Band of Frequencies joining you, making for a hell of a night of amazing live music. Got anything in store for the punters?
We’re stoked to have Band of Frequencies joining forces for the night. A great band doing great things at the moment. We’ve been rehearsing and playing a lot of tracks from our new album. Some were written in the studio so it’s great to bring them out into the real world.
Lastly, Black Water Fever is a complication of malaria. How’d you come about having that for a name?
Way back when Rick and I where brain storming for a band name we were having a hell of a time trying to come up with something. One of the first guitar/drums songs we wrote together was called ‘Blackwater’ and it’s about people catching a fever from drinking tainted water. Put all that together and you have our band name! We found out later that it was a term for severe malaria…. And because we were going for a dark swampy bluesy sound, we thought…. Perfect!
Cheers guys. Have a great gig on the 6th.
Catch The Blackwater Fever at Solbar on September 6th with special guests, Band of Frequencies.