Latest release: Clearly You Didn’t Like the Show (Independent)
“Fuck! We forgot the main thing and that’s to give my new solo record a plug!”
Peter “Blackie” Black and I have been chatting about so much of the busy man’s projects, ideas and workload that his newly-released solo record almost got lost in the background. The problem is that, for him, Clearly You Didn’t Like the Show is already old, having been launched in Europe with a 44-date club tour earlier this year.
“You know what records are like! By the time it’s out, it’s already six months old,” he says, and the prolific Sydney musician is indeed already moving on with other things. Many, many other things. He has a hugely ambitious plan for 2016.
“Next year I’m going to try and release a song a day,” Blackie tells me, though the official announcement hasn’t been made yet, so I could probably get shot for writing this. “It’s actually awesome because I’ve got [former Hard Ons drummer] Pete Kostic in with me and we’ve just laid down some tracks and it’s the first time I’ve recorded tracks with him in years. It’s been fucking shitloads of fun!”
Just like that, the conversation turns from one about his latest album to discussing this mammoth undertaking instead. It’s a project that is certain to test the limits of this already prolific artist and performer. Blackie hopes it will help him finish a lot of the songs he often kicks around but never completes.
“All I do is stay at home work on shit. It’s a buzz and it makes me more disciplined as well because I write a lot but, because I don’t have to, I don’t finish shit. Now it’s like, Fuck yeah! Now I need some lyrics! It will make me more disciplined. The hardest bit will be time and money. I’m hoping if I put it up on Bandcamp people can sponsor it or subscribe or whatever to get enough money to pay for the studio.”
Time and money are every artist’s enemy, and in the modern environment where downloading has devalued the creative arts in the eyes of the average consumer almost to zero, the battle is now even harder. Blackie has had to deal with miserly punters throughout his career. People having no respect for the cost of his passion is something that truly annoys him.
“Oh fuck man, that gives me the shits!” he growls. He tells a story about one show on a Hard Ons tour when a guy apparently decided it was a better deal to go see a movie than watch a bunch of bands: “I remember one time there was four bands on – I think we were in WA – and it was 10 or 12 bucks to get in. I was at the door and a guy comes in and goes, ‘What? 12 bucks? Are you taking the piss?’ and I go, ‘Well mate, there’s four bands on and one’s from interstate! It wasn’t cheap to get here!’ and he’s like ‘Yeah, but 12 bucks! Fuck off!’ So I said, ‘Why don’t you fuck off and go pay 25 bucks to see one shitty movie then?’ So he looked at me and looked at his girlfriend and said, ‘Fuck it, top idea. Let’s go to the movies!’ It’s so easy to download now that people have no idea… it’s time and money. It’s a helluva lot of time and money.”
Given the time and money it will take to record and release 366 songs over twelve months, Blackie is naturally pretty nervous and admits he’s already suffered a panic attack about it. He’s also candid about the fact that he probably really hasn’t thought the whole thing through to the extent that he should. But he’s having fun clocking up the studio hours and working with old friends like Kostic and current and former Nunchukka Superfly drummers Julien Crendal and Joel Ellis.
“I’m just jumping in and seeing how I go! Whatever I do, I have to be fully prepared. Yesterday was the first day and I did the bed for seven songs – today I hope to do the bed for another five. It’s nothing different. Last time (with the Hard Ons) we took seven days to do nineteen tracks. It’s just being well rehearsed so you don’t waste money, just go in there and bash away.”
He’s keen to point out too that some of the tracks that will likely emerge “will probably be over-indulgent at times and that’s one thing that I won’t make apologies for. So the usual shit I do, but it will probably go to extremes.”
It’s astonishing to think that with so much going on, Blackie’s already planning for another solo album, but by his own admission, he’s not a guy who can look back. The recently completed series of Hard-Ons reissues was mainly the work of bassist Ray Ahn, although he obviously had a large role to play too.
“That was mostly Ray’s baby,” he says. “I mean, I had to go through all my old demo tapes and shit and then had to really listen to it and think [about what was going on]… but you’ve also got to be careful of… Is anyone going to be interested in hearing this or is it just shit? There’s a reason why it didn’t go on in the first place. You’ve gotta be careful with that. I think we did that very well. And then to think of that time and to write what you felt. We all did liner notes and stuff. That was weird, especially doing the last one [Too Far Gone] when we broke up the first time. It was so weird revisiting that.”
He’s happy with the results however and the process did give him pause for thought, now and then, as to why some tracks didn’t make the cut originally.
“There was a couple of songs, I remember saying to Ray, ‘What the fuck? How come this didn’t make it?’ and he goes, ‘You fucking didn’t like it, you dickhead!’ You have to look at the album as an album and maybe at the time the song didn’t fit. And there was a couple of other tracks where I thought, That was so half-finished. Especially towards the end. I could hear some half-arsed ideas but they sounded like Nunchukka wanting to happen. The songs weren’t quite there yet. They were a bit lost, I guess.”
Lost, just like the actual subject of this interview – Blackie’s latest album, Clearly You Didn’t Like the Show, which he is currently touring to support with help from Hard-Ons compatriots Keish de Silva, also playing a solo slot, and Ray Ahn doing spoken word. Even though he feels like he’s already moved on from the album and is constantly writing new stuff and planning even more, it’s still a major part of his set. As long as he’s playing music and being able to share it with people in some way, Peter Black is a happy guy.
“I am playing a lot of this new record, of course. It would be rude not to,” he says. “I love music more than I could describe with words. I feel blessed that I can do it: very very lucky. And if people dig it, that’s a triple bonus.”
Peter Black has three shows left on his current solo tour:
27/11: Old Bar, Melbourne VIC
4/12: Ruby L’otel, Sydney NSW
6/12: Rad Bar, Wollongong NSW