Indie favourites women in docs are back! After a hiatus of a few years, the indie folk-pop band is hitting the road for a string of tour dates this November ahead of their forthcoming album release in 2014. It's been four years since the popular Queensland-based musicians did a tour of this magnitude. The Carousel tour will take them to their favourite venues in metro centres and see them showcase material from their new album of the same name, due for release in February 2014.
women in docs would easily be one of the country's most well-respected independent acts. Featuring esteemed musicians Roz Pappalardo [acoustic guitar | vocals | harmonica | banjo] and Chanel Lucas [acoustic guitar | vocals | bass | ukulele], their acoustic style has earned them fans around the world. They've toured rigorously and their stirring and humorous live performances have endeared audiences throughout North America, Europe, New Zealand and Canada. Dubbed as festival favourites, women in docs have performed at the likes of SXSW, Shanghai Spring Music Festival, and the International Folk Festival in Germany to name a few. Back at home, they've been on the bill at the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Big Day Out, Woodford Folk Festival and Adelaide Fringe Festival.
The band first came to prominence in the late 1990's with their debut self-titled EP. They now have seven releases under their belt, and their eighth, Carousel, is set for release on Friday 7th February 2014. The new album has been an ongoing work in progress by the girls – something they've penned and tweaked over the last few years. The result is a different look at women in docs, while still adhering to their roots.
Chanel says it's been a process of three years of songwriting, recording, re-recording and hard work to create Carousel. With all the members of women in docs being based around Australia, it's been a challenge combining everyone's schedules and getting them together to record.
'Roz and I have been writing songs every time we do get together – backstage at gigs, in rehearsal rooms, on airplanes, in the car on the way to gigs," says Chanel. 'We have even been sharing files via Skype and Dropbox – it really is an album created via modern technology. As a result, the songs are fantastic. We think it is our best yet. We have really focused on the songwriting and on working together as a team to create something that's essentially women in docs. It is a polished, catchy set of tunes that we are very proud of."
Roz says they are both really excited about sharing tracks from the new album with audiences on this tour. 'I think the new songs capture a sense of maturity from us as songwriters, producers, touring artists and humans," she says. 'We've grown up a lot in the last few years that we've been off the road and our music careers have grown both as women in docs, solo artists and arts workers in a broader context. The shows will be fun, high energy and reflective at the same time. We'll be playing the songs from our new album Carousel, along with some of our tried and true favourites, which we love playing as they've brought us many years of happiness."
women in docs fans will be eager to see the band in concert. Prior to their recent touring hiatus, they were known as one of the hardest working touring bands in the business, constantly on the road. Roz says they are equally as eager to get back on the road again. 'We love the road," she says. 'In fact, it's the reason why we started women in docs in the first place – to travel, meet people and be inspired. We're really looking forward to dusting off the Doc Martens, getting in the tour van and playing these venues. We've worked really hard to present this show in venues that we think reflect where we are with our careers and the kinds of songs we're now writing. We think our audiences have grown with us – so we can't wait to play some of our favourite venues and some venues we've always wanted to play."
As they gear up for the run of dates, women in docs are also releasing the first single off of the album, the title track Carousel. Chanel says they chose this track as the first preview to the album as it was one they wrote together. 'It's about a common theme for women in docs – travel," she says. 'But it also explores the ideas of freedom, not being tied down and following your dreams. These are also themes within the album as a whole. The title of the song – Carousel – references a baggage carousel at the airport, but also the fun of a show-ride carousel. women in docs are known for their energetic live shows, sense of humour and fun, as well as our songwriting and harmonies. We hope that this collection of songs encompasses all of that."
Friday 1st November 2013: Joe's Waterhole, Eumundi, QLD
Saturday 2nd November 2013: Grottofest, Marburg QLD
Thursday 7th November 2013: Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne
Saturday 9th November 2013: Trinity Sessions, Church of Trinity, Adelaide SA
Sunday 10th November 2013: Brookfield Margate Winery, Margate TAS
Saturday 16th November 2013: Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 21st November 2013: The Newsagency, Marrickville NSW
Friday 22nd November 2013: Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 23rd November 2013: The Street Theatre, City West, ACT
For more information, please visit www.womenindocs.com
Question: What should audiences expect from the upcoming tour?
Chanel Lucas: They can expect a lively show, with quite a few new songs from the upcoming album, as well as a few old favourites. Women in docs are known for our sense of humour and the stories that go with the songs... so it is more of a cabaret style show, than just going to watch a band play.
Question: How does Carousel differ from your seven previous releases?
Chanel Lucas: Many of the songs have been written together. We wrote most of the material back stage at gigs, or in airport lounges, or via the internet – sending files back and forth for discussion and editing. It is an album created via modern technology and in short bursts of creativity. We all live all over Australia now... Cairns, Brisbane and Melbourne – so we were forced to use technology to help us complete the album.
The songs are more sophisticated than previous releases – we have had time off from touring for a couple of years and this has given us time to develop our songwriting and musicianship further. Resulting in a solid album of original material.
Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?
Chanel Lucas: Yes the majority of our set are original songs written either by me or Roz. See above.
Our inspiration comes from the people we meet, the places we have been, or the stories that people have told us. 'Carousel' – the single – is blatantly about travelling, freedom and the chaos that can come with being a touring musician. 'Maryanne' was written about sitting on a rooftop in Washington with Canberra musician Fred Smith and his wife, eating chicken and drinking wine.
Question: What music/artists are you currently listening to?
Chanel Lucas: I love Patty Griffin (Austin, Texas) – her latest album is 'American Kid'. She is such a great songwriter who tells the stories of her life with an elegant and sophisticated touch. She sings with passion and meaning. I have seen her live as well and it was just as good as her recordings.
Am also listening to Ryan Adams' album 'Ashes & Fire'. Also a great songwriter, the master of the guitar hook and the unforgettable lyric.
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Chanel Lucas: There have probably been a few times in the middle of a massive tour when I was tired, or the queue at the airport was too long, or we were running late, or the sound wasn't very good... when I thought this is it I've had enough! But I really enjoying travelling so those kinds of things are part of the adventure for me. Sometimes if I have missed an important event, like the birth of a friend's baby, I ask myself if it is worth it. But looking back I wouldn't change a thing about what I have done in music. It has been an excellent job to have.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Chanel Lucas: That's a hard question, I love both in different ways. There is something very special about immersing yourself in the songs and the music in the studio. I love breaking the songs apart into the different instruments and sections of the song and then building the track gradually throughout the recording process. It can be a time of major self analysis – listening to yourself play and sing back can be a bit confronting. But it is also an opportunity to fine-tune your skills and improve as a musician.
Live performance on the other hand, is totally addictive. There is nothing better than have a crowd sing along with one of your songs, jump up and dance, or laugh at your stories. I enjoy the energy that live performing gives me.
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Chanel Lucas: I had been playing in rock bands in North Queensland for a few years and was a bit over it. One night I came home late and put rage on. There was a film clip from Melbourne band 'Tiddas' on – 'Come Into My Kitchen'. It was a revelation for me to see three women singing harmonies, playing acoustic guitar and telling their stories through song. Right then and there I decided that I wanted to play acoustic guitar, focus on my vocals and write songs. I also discovered Australian bands like Things of Stone and Wood, Weddings Parties Anything, Club Hoy and My Friend The Chocolate Cake around the same time.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Chanel Lucas: The biggest challenge as an independent artist is finding the balance between touring and working all the time to keep your profile up and the money coming in – against the needs of your family and friends. In recent times I have realised that the money will come – but your family and friends may not always be around and you should spend as much time with them as you can.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Chanel Lucas: Usually I get up and go for a walk along the Brisbane river and then have brekkie with my husband. Then I either go to my day job – working as a lecturer at a contemporary music college. Or, I spend the day doing my music 'jobs' for my solo project or women in docs. It could be anything from paying bills, to updating websites, to designing tea-towels for merch, to doing interviews. Sometimes, if I am very lucky I get to play my guitar. If it is a Friday it is all-day songwriting and practice for me. I also try to get to at least one gig a week. It can either be a touring act or one of my local venues in West End, New Farm or Fortitude Valley.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Chanel Lucas: Travelling around Australia and the world has been a real highlight for me. We have been to the USA, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and China with our music. I also enjoy playing at festivals and hanging out and jamming with other musos. Being a touring muso can sometimes be isolating – you just spend most of your time with your band. Festivals bring us all together and it is a great party!
Question: What message would you like, your music, to say to your fans?
Chanel Lucas: I hope that it inspires them to follow their own dreams – whatever they may be. Just remember you are never to old, or too young, or too time poor to start making steps towards your dream of being an artist, or a musician, or a triathlete, or whatever...
Interview by Brooke Hunter