Bernard Fanning

By Christina Croucher

Bernard Fanning heads over to NZ on the 30th August to end his Departures tour. I spoke to the engaging Aussie who's currently in central Queensland playing sold out shows night after night. The Departures tour has taken off...

How's the tour going? You've sold out in a few cities. It seems to be going really well?

It's been great actually, real fun. 5 more shows to go. A lot of the shows on the tour have been sold out which is great. I mean I haven't been on the road doing solo stuff since 2007, it's been a while.

Yes it has, you must have some pretty excited fans. I myself am looking forward to seeing you at the Powerstation on the 30th.

Great. Since doing my solo stuff, I've played once in Auckland for Tea and Sympathy. It did pretty well over there. Powderfinger did pretty well over there as well. I actually love New Zealand, last time I was there my wife came with me and we explored the Coromandel.

The album...

So tell us a little bit about Departures and what sets it apart from Tea and Sympathy.

Well, I set out to make a different type of record. I didn't want to make the same warm, folky type of record. I wanted to make something a bit more strut, more rhythm based. This time I worked things from the bass, drums up where previously I have started with the guitar and vocals. It's been a completely different approach.

Speaking rhythm, did living in Spain inspire any of this?

Well, to certain extend maybe. I went and saw a lot of Flamenco over there. There's a lot of clapping on the record (laughs) which happens a lot in Flamenco as well (more laughs). But most of it drew from listening to more contemporary music.

What was the process like, making the album?

I wrote the majority of it within a year in Madrid, at home making demos. Then on the way back to Australia we went to Los Angeles and spent about 8 weeks putting it together.

Wow so that would have been pretty high intensity?

Yeah, that was full on, 6 days a week, at it all day. It was a great experience. I wanted to make a record like that and was lucky to have that opportunity. I was interested and curious to see what the process was like, in that world of LA.


You sound really busy. Juggling family, making an album and travelling. Do you set aside disciplined time for writing or do you wait for the inspiration to come quite spontaneously? (Apart from when you purposefully fly to LA to record of course)

I don't have time to write at the moment. When I am home I try to spend time with my kids. I can be away for days, weeks at a time so it's important to be with them. I just have to wait till the opportunity comes up, between shows. It's ok though, I just spent a year writing, it's ok to get out of that mode once in a while and let that soak up some new ideas.

So it happens in periods of time?

Yeah. After this tour I'd love to have a week or two to do a little bit of writing. For me I think I write best when I have a lot of momentum. I like to work in months at a time so I can work in a very dedicated way. I'll gather pieces together then set a time and a place to piece it all up.

Whose music are you enjoying listening to at the moment?

Well, (cracks up) the last music I bought was Bob Segar. I bought it yesterday and we went on the road. We were in open highway, country music world.

Very suitable.

That and a little bit of Prince.

Are you a fan of any kiwi musicians?

Of course I am. When I was growing up I listened repeatedly to split ends. I had an older brother who was a maniac about them. True Colours was the album I'd say I listened to most when I was growing up. Also, Neil Finn obviously is a big influence on anyone who wants to write melodic rock or pop music.

Musically, what are you most proud of since starting your solo venture?

Making this record (Departures) for me was an even bigger step than making my first solo record. When making my first record I knew that I was going back to Powderfinger so it wasn't as big of a leap. Last time I bought some musicians with me, this time I went by myself and I wanted to do that. I wanted to see what would happen, just relying on strangers really. It was kind of a social experiment. With Departures I wanted to make a particular type of record; I was determined to do it a particular way and I did it a particular way. I'm really glad that it happened. It probably ended up being more polished than what I was going for but what I tried to do was not interfere too much with the abilities of the people that were helping me make the record. I wanted them to have their input at maximum. So that I actually shut my mouth and let other people do their thing.

In regards before to New Zealand music, that girl Lorde - she's just exploded.

Yeah, what a dynamic artist. She's hit the music scene pretty hard.

It's pretty incredible; she killed it at Splendour in the Grass. I wasn't their but a lot of my friends saw it and said it was fantastic.

Last question, say one of your kids comes up to you at 16 and says they're going to devote themselves to being a full time musician, what would your one piece of advice be?

 Be a fireman- you'll make more money! (Laughs) but no, do whatever you like, it's your life.

What a nice and interesting guy, really looking forward to seeing him at the Powerstation. Hope to see you there!


Bernard Fanning - The Departures Tour


August 30th:  The Powerstation, Auckland - Tickets via Ticketmaster