Josh Pyke CREDIT Natasha Johansson

Josh Pyke CREDIT Natasha Johansson

Aussie singer-songwriter JOSH PYKE is back in the UK, with four albums and a string of tours under his belt. The ‘Middle of the Hill’ singer tells Silent Radio’s NATASHA JOHANSSON why he feels his latest work is the end of a chapter in his life, why he’s branching out into psychedelic rock, and exclusively revels his plans to collaborate with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

You’re originally from Sydney, Australia – how are you finding Manchester?

I love Manchester – I’ve had such great times here. Last time I was here I spent a couple of days at the art gallery, that cool Cornerhouse cinema, and generally hanging out in the Northern Quarter. There’s some great bookshops and comic book stores – I love zombie comic books! I’ve been buying lots of them.

The title song of your latest album is called The Beginning and The End of Everything. Is there significance to that name?

Yes – it feels like the time that’s gone in the time I’ve done these last four albums. It feels like the end of one great cycle was making this record. For instance I did my first albums on one label and for my next I’ve gone independent, so I’m quite tentative with what happens next. Also in that period I’ve gone from working in warehouses and working at a record store and stuff to being a full time musician and also having two kids – supporting my family during that time. So it felt like a big cycle. The end of it also felt like a new beginning. So it’s referring to that.

What are you hoping the “next great cycle” holds for you?

For me the next cycle is I’d really like to keep making records and focus on production as well. I have a studio at the bottom of my yard – made from an ex-pottery warehouse. I call it Cottage Industries! The funnest thing is though I’ve been recording a psychedelic stoner rock album. I think we’re going to call it Bolters? (Is that an exclusive? – Yes it is!) It’s with my friend – he comes round and we just spend all night recording this crazy psychedelic shit. It’s really cool. We’re hoping to put something out next year. But I’d mainly like to focus on production because I really get a kick out of it. It’s another kind of creativity altogether. I’ve done a little bit of producing others which I really enjoy. When you’re doing your own music it’s tricky not to fall into habits of what you view as your sound – and that’s one of the things I’ve loved about this other project. We do crazy things – like we’ll put a phone on the snare drum, mic it up and call the phone and sing through it. I would never really do that for my own music so I love having the opportunity to do that. As much as I enjoy being a singer-songwriter – that’s not all I listen to. I love all types of music. This music is almost like Trail of Dead. It’s a much more psychedelic jam. It’s cool.

With such change in your life, have you found that your inspirations for songs have changed?

I think so. My main inspiration has always been my own life but not necessarily just events but my perspective on things and how my own life experience allows those other experiences to be manifested. It could be conversations I hear on a bus and how I interpret those things. Little observations. But the main change is in the production – I used to get my guitar and just noodle around and it would turn into a song but now I have a bit more structure to how I function creatively. The studio is a space where I can close the door and come up with creative stuff. Sometimes I come up with stuff I love, sometimes I hate it. Sometimes it’s good for someone else. Sometimes my muso friends come over. I did some writing with Jinga Safari’s Marcus Azon, Dustin Tebbutt and Patrick James. It’s good fun. It’s great having a space to engage in that.

The Beginning And End Of Everything

The Beginning And End Of Everything

The way you write is very poetic, with quite a few nature-related metaphors – was poetry an influence?

It’s a great compliment people think that about my lyrics but I was actually averse to poetry growing up. But my wife is really into poetry and she kind of schooled me in it when we got together. Occasionally I’ll write a poem but it’s even harder than music. I sometimes think I’d like to write a book but every time I’ve tried to write a story that’s an extrapolated thing its really hard and it’s a whole other skill you’d have to spend ten years getting right. With songwriting I’ve spent 12 or 15 years trying to get it right to my standards. But poetry is another thing altogether. It has to be even more concise and tell a story in an even more abstract way. Poetry is a whole other kettle of fish in many respects.

For people who haven’t heard your latest album, what should they expect?

All my new stuff is quite different I think. I guess there’s a lot more electronic elements – not in a dancey kind of way but there’s more synths and glitchy sounds in there. I think you’ve got to develop as you go along but I don’t think you should throw the baby out with the bathwater and go like, I’m going to throw away all the elements I did in the past. I don’t think that’s necessary – you should develop as opposed to reinvent.

Is there anything you’ve not done musically that you would like to do?

I’ve always had a bit of a bucket list and I feel very fortunate in that most of the things have already been ticked off. But one thing I was really excited about trying to do was getting an orchestral performance together and that’s actually happening in April next year. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra is performing my songs and I’ll be there with them at the Sydney Opera House – so that’s a big one for me. For years I fantasised about doing an orchestral thing like that. But I’ve ticked off most boxes I imagined were available to me. Starting off your expectations are very low and you just keep expanding as you go.

The Beginning and End of Everything is out now. Review of Manchester show is here

Josh Pyke Official | Facebook | Twitter


I'm a huge music lover, being a regular gig and festival goer, singer songwriter, tv/radio presenter and reviewer for Silent Radio.