Talented folk duo Busby Marou have just embarked on a nation wide tour for their new album Postcards from the Shell House. The pair have been celebrated for their ability to tell meaningful stories through their lyrics and acoustic melodies - we caught up with one half of the duo, Tom Busby, to discuss the tour, the album and the stories that come through in the music.
Thanks for talking to This is Radelaide! You’ve recently kicked off your national tour, how's it going?
We started last week, we did the New South Wales leg, that was crazy! We had all sold-out shows, it’s been a pretty eventful first few days, but the gigs were outstanding - we had a guitar case go through the back screen of the hire car! It’s been crazy, pretty rock n’ roll so far!
What are you hoping to bring to your live shows on this tour?
We’ve stripped it back to the duo format, we seem to be getting a lot more confidence out of it. We’ve been playing with a band for years, now we’ve gone back to the duo format. It’s been that fun, it’s just unreal. I think we’ve found we’ve gone back to the real Busby Marou, exactly who we were when we started. The shows have been really incredible in that way, it’s all about crowd interaction and people singing, so much vocal activity going on in the crowd. It’s so much better than it ever has been, everyone’s singing pretty much every word to every song.
That sounds incredible! What’s been your favourite part of being on tour, is it having that connection with the audience?
Yeah, definitely. We’ve been on the road, it’s where we feel that we’ve probably got the most structure (laughs). Or where we feel at home the most. It’s been a big gap between the last tour so it’s great to see the boys, great to be back on the bus. It’s all like a big lead-up. We’re in Canberra today, you check out the venue, check into the motel, it’s all a big lead up to the gig. You get there and you think, “is it gonna be good? Is it gonna be shit?”, you’ve got all these expectations. Then you walk on, and you think “ah God, this is great!” It’s all about the live shows, it’s all about the connection with the audience, and the anticipation leading up to it.
It sounds like you’re having a blast.
You sound pretty stoked to be on tour, is there anything in particular you want to check out as you move around Australia?
We’ve been around so many times but we always try to see somewhere we haven’t been. Australia is such a big country, I’m just so lucky to have seen it. We’ve got friends in every single city and in every town we know someone, that’s probably why it’s special for us. We’re going to W.A. this time around, and we’ll try go further south, past Margaret River and try to explore those parts, we’ve never really looked down there so we’re looking forward to that.
You’re currently touring your most recent album, ‘Postcards from the Shell House’. I was wondering if you could tell me more about that album name?
Yeah sure! Well, Jeremy and I are from Rockhampton, and there’s a beautiful spot where most people used to go on holiday. People still do now, it’s on Great Keppel Island. We grew up on Great Keppel, going over for weekends, going over for holidays. As we were starting the band 10 years ago, we’d go over and play. We’ve gone through all these stages of being young and playing over there, we had gigs over there…then more recently we’ve been going over there, testing our songs, writing our songs and getting inspiration from the island. The Shell House has always remained there through all that time. It’s always been there. It used to be a place where you could go to get tea and coffee, now it’s been purchased by people we’ve become friends with, it’s become a bit of a home for people coming over. We’ve tested songs out on backpackers and written songs on the island, we took our producer back there and recorded some songs on a boat. So we thought, ‘can we have some reflection of this in the album title?’
Do you have stand-out songs on this album, that are particularly meaningful to you?
Yeah! Quite a few. It’s always hard to pick. One for me would be Drink the World Dry. We pinched the title off a story that Paul Kelly tells…we used that line and reflected into really talking about as we’re getting older people are dropping off, you know, uncles and aunties. As you get older it’s just like “wow, life’s a bit real!” It’s just that realisation that you need to stop worrying and get out there and do whatever you want to do. That’s the essence of the song, it’s a really important one. Jeremy’s got other ones as well. Every Day in Between is another one that’s a bit of a reflection.
Your songs seem to tell stories – where do these stories come from? Are there messages you want to convey?
We don’t go out there trying to convey a message, we don’t start out thinking, ‘we need to say this’. I suppose they’re all about genuine stories of us growing up, going through everything. The first album was as much about heartbreak and love and all that as anything else. The stories of first love, first heartbreak, and then new love and being undecided about what’s right and what’s not. I don’t think we even realised we were storytellers in our music until the first album was released and people would mention that.
To me the music is quite relaxing – is writing the music a relaxing process, or can it get intense?
It can vary. We don’t spend a lot of time writing while we’re on tour, but we might sort of fiddle out some melodies and test new songs here and there. But when it comes down to it, it’s always been the same process with Jeremy and I. I get the melody, and we’ll sit down and pull the guitars up and have a bit of a yap and the words will sort of subconsciously come, and then we built it around that I suppose. It’s always felt pretty natural so we stuck to our guns.
Do you draw inspiration from other musicians, or does the inspiration more so come from your own lives?
At the start it definitely did, the first album was more about our own lives. It was pretty specific to my own life, whether it was about my mum and dad and my family growing up, or my first girlfriend, or my last girlfriend, you know, break ups…and the second album we started to write a little bit about people we knew. We’d write it from our perspective, I saw a bit of a transition there, writing these stories that we’d heard. The third album’s been a combination of both. Now we’re married, kids…those stories we used to write about, heartbreak and all that, has now sort of already happened. We kind of combine old memories with new stories of people you meet along the way. It’s become almost a complete journey.
What are your hobbies outside of the band?
Well, Jeremy is a mad fisherman. He loves his fishing. I go on boat rides with him as long as it’s not too rough! We travel pretty consistently and we always see each other, when we’re not I’ll just be hanging out, catching up with friends, watching sport (laughs). Not much sport gets played these days, we don’t have time, but we do enjoy watching.
My final question is, once you’re finished up on tour, what do you think will come next for Busby Marou?
Good question! I know where we want to be and where we want to get to. We want to be a long-term career band, I think we’ve started to really establish that. We’ve played all around Australia and tapped into our market overseas. In terms of the music, there’s not a sense of where or how it should sound. We just want to let it happen. As long as we don’t drift too far away from the harmonies between us we could be pushed in different directions, we’re open to new sounds as long as the essence of who we are stays the same. It’s always an exciting process.
Well that’s all from me - thank you again for talking to us, it was great!
No worries, have a good one!
Catch Busby Marou playing @ Fat Controller on Thursday, 15th June.
All images via Busby Marou Facebook page.