no snake in the tree (2020)
I made no snake in the tree during the first year of the pandemic in 2020. It is my first self-produced album. I moved back to Gippsland from Nashville in 2018 and went into a period of solitude. In 2019, by chance at a bush doof in the mountains near home, I met my now wife Mim. All the songs relate to that time in my life in some way.
"We got a second shot at eden, with no snake in the tree."
Easter egg: the broadcaster at the beginning of some shit don’t burn is Mim herself. She works for abc radio gippsland and was broadcasting the day that Mallacoota was encircled by flames during the horrific black summer of 2019/2020.
Liner Notes for no snake in the tree
it was 3 years ago
I found myself at a crossroad
I had a decision to make
which road would I take?
the label had decided to shelve my second album
no commercial viability, 'that's a hard sell man'
the stars that aligned for me once had long since dispersed
I was poison, I was nothing, I was broken, I was cursed
I was down in the dumps and my choices were plain
I could keep nipping at their heels
and keep playing their game
but I’d wind up sounding
much like much of the same
or I could cut myself loose
return to amateurity
break out of their eden
and set myself free in obscurity
but that freedom was a wilderness
immune not to despair
I found out I was nothing
if there was no one else there
so I wrote and I played
and I scratched and I saved
and I took it all the way
for 3 long years
I kept myself awake
looking for my purpose
in pursuit of the chase
one moment I would have it
and there are scratches
there are errors
and it’s blemished to the core
but from the heart to the eye
better a broken truth
than a pristine lie
life before the 3rd world war (2017)
I made life before the 3rd world war at Foggy Mountain studios in Laguna NSW and in part in Nashville, Tennessee. It was produced by Nash Chambers. There were many attempts to find the right mix of personnel for these songs, we were searching for a non-restrictive country tinge. We found it in the late Glen Hannah (electric guitar & dobro), James Hazelwood (electric bass & double bass), Sam Hookey (piano) and Syd Green (drum kit). What is the album about? My life was in somewhat of a strange holding pattern at the time of writing these songs. I was touring around constantly and navigating some complex relationships to say the least. I won’t share any of the specifics here, I’ll let you know over a beer sometime how about that? The couple of political songs on the record are polemics against capital punishment and you know, the whole capitalist system man.
misdiagnosed is my first record. It garnered a best blues and roots ARIA nomination and took me around Australia on one wonderfully debauchered tour around Australia with Busby Marou. We had a great time, the we being myself and the band who play on this record, my brothers Jack & Sam Hookey (electric guitar and bass, piano and banjo respectively), and Nash Chambers (drum kit). Nash also produced the record. We made it over the course of 2 weeks at Foggy Mountain studios in Laguna, NSW. I’ll never forget making the album with my brothers. You can hear the blood harmony and the buzz of recording an album for the first time imbued in each track. The title relates my pivot from a career in the law to a career making music. Beware your diagnosis, and be more wary still of your diagnoser. That’s all I have to say about that.
Easter egg: the album's cover was originally an artful photo of a topless woman named Cowboy Kate. It was taken by South African fashion photographer Sam Haskins in the 1960s. I made the executive decision to change the cover to be more in step with modern times. No one has ever complained about the album cover, and never was the intention to show any disrespect (quite the contrary, at the time I thought it was a celebration of the female form). In later years however, I came to the conclusion that the album cover wasn't doing any favours to body image expectations, or to the universal truth that what is sexy is diverse. Learning is changing, and there's no shame in that. Enjoy the tunes gang! H