Henry Wagons is heading to New Zealand this week, where he'll be playing shows at The Tuning Fork in Auckland on Friday September 16th and Blue Smoke in Christchurch on Saturday September 17th.
The Wagons frontman recently released his debut 'After What I Did Last Night...' and has just finished a tour of North America. We caught up with Henry ahead of his NZ tour.
Earlier this year you released your latest album titled 'After What I Did Last Night...', where did you record it?
I recorded it in Nashville. It was kind of a bucketlist thing of mine. So many of my favourite albums were recorded over there, so I had to do it. You know, it was so good that I might do it again before I die, and might try to arrange another life so I can do it again. It was really fun, a really fun little process... sort of walking in as a songwriter on my own with some half baked ideas, half drunk and have a bunch of very empathetic players to help me throughout the ideas and flesh things out in a really efficient and fun way. It was a great machine to be at the helm of. I recommend it for any songwriter to try.
How long do you think the whole process took to make?
I think the whole thing took pretty much a month. The recording took about 2 and half weeks, and then mixing took another couple of weeks. But I was pretty much out of there within a month with an album done and dusted. It was the quickest album I've ever made and one of the ones I'm most proud of too.
And it was quite different recording a solo album in comparison to one with Wagons?
Yeah, it was very different. I think with Wagons we all live in the same city and we generally record all our albums in Melbourne. Even when we record intensively, we all go home to our lives and fit it in around our daily routine - so it generally stretches out longer.
But In Nashville it was like a concentrated game of Mastermind... it was very different. It definitely kept my eyes wide open with toothpicks!
How was it working with Skylar Wilson?
He was incredible! He has his brain across musical structures in a really exciting and unique way. It was one of the first times that I've made an album where I could kind of relinquish control of the structures, and the nuts and bolts of the process to someone else. So he could keep track and talk to the band about the foundation of the songs. So I could have a kind of annoying artistic temperament and go "I just want this to sound more... floral. I want it to sound more breezey". I could be one of those crazy pixies floating through the studio, which was good just to be able to concentrate on the dynamic and emotional impact of the songs.
You recently played some shows in the US, how did they go?
I don't know, I'm still jet lagged! I still have no idea what happened for those 5 weeks (laughs). It was a kind of constant stream of trips in vans and planes, late nights and early mornings. I sleep walked for the first time in my life, which freaks me out. I had a very strange haunting moment in Montana, there were a lot of crazy strange things that happened.
But there were festivals and club shows in sweaty basements, and it was wild. It was kind of the most successful and exciting US tour to date. It has been quite a potent ground for us in the past, but it was a very exciting and very fun month that I've just had.
Your New Zealand dates are coming up very shortly. What can we expect from your shows here?
I might elaborate on that sleep walking incident. I might tell you about why it is we got some horrific Airbnb reviews in the United States and Canada. They'll also be some interesting stories of revelry on the road. But I'm excited to play songs from this record I've just put out. Because I'm playing in New Zealand in a more stripped back way, the song itself will be revealed like never before. So I'm excited to be presenting this little embryo for the first time. It's going to be dynamic, exciting and fun I think.
You've also been doing a bit of TV and radio work?
Yeah! Who knew that bull shitting between songs would get me a multimedia career as well? I've got a radio show on Double J and do a show called Tower Of Song, which is pretty much Australia's only national Americana radio show; it's concentrates on all things twang. But because it's me behind the helm of the ship, I'm drawn to songs with obtuse, twisted and slightly scary qualities. That draws me to some amazing artists that come from New Zealand. I'm a big fan of the likes of Aldous Harding, Marlon Williams, Nadia Reid, Tiny Ruins... these artists are just so beautiful and terrifying all at once.
Justin Townes Earle has described you as a combination of Dr. Seuss and Conway Twitty. Do you think that's an accurate description?
Well, I'll take it. I like being larger than life, so yeah I love it. Justin Townes Earle is a great man to just sit and listen to. I've had the pleasure of touring with him both in Australia and the US. He's quote about me definitely follows me around, and it's a part of my shadow that I'm proud of.
What plans have you got following your NZ and Australia tour?
I'm going to start writing for something new again. This life comes in the craziest roller coaster like cycle. It tends to be a year of being in a pinball machine bouncing around from various points of the globe, and playing live and making a hell of a lot of noise. Then you get locked up voluntarily in a kind of Dr. Frankenstein laboratory and just put on a welding mask and try to create something new. So I'm looking to creating a new monster over the summer here in Australia.
Friday September 16th: The Tuning Fork, Auckland - Tickets via Ticketmaster
Saturday September 17th: Blue Smoke, Christchurch - Tickets via Under The Radar