You would be hard pressed to find a man who loves his ute as much as Lee Kernaghan. There are few that can touch him when it comes to his popularity in rural Australia (and he has a cabinet full of Golden Guitars to prove it). CHRIS HAVERCROFT speaks to the former Australian Of The Year about his latest album Beautiful Noise and his current tour which stops by Crown Theatre this Friday, May 9, (full WA tour dates to the left).
Although the name may be familiar, Beautiful Noise is anything but an ode to Neil Diamond.
According to Lee Kernaghan, the beautiful noise in question is the sound of a thumping V8 on an open road and the pounding of a heartbeat as your girl moves a little closer to the driver’s seat.
“That song is a bit like Gettin’ Gone (from 1998’s Hat Town LP) and this is like the same guy but 10 years later,” suggests Kernaghan of the tune Beautiful Noise. “He finally got the old car fixed up and off blocks and on the road. He got the girl as well.
“The song was very much inspired by the V8 supercars. The organisation asked me to write a theme song to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the Bathurst 1000. I did that and performed it at Bathurst and when the time came to do the record, I wrote another version of the song for the album, which is more of a love song. It’s a love song for your car, your girl and the open road.”
Kernaghan has been said to be the voice of the new generation of people who work and live on the land. Songs like She’s My Ute and Outback Club, validated and celebrated the lives that they were living. Kernaghan has documented the transition of the days from when the ute was just a farm vehicle and now where it is a status symbol. After growing up with songs about American cities, honky tonks and American culture, Kernaghan made it his mission to write songs about the Australian way of life which has meant the call from Nashville has eluded him to this point.
“I have always been happy to keep the music based here at home, because the music is about my country, our people and our way of life, so it doesn’t really translate to the international market. It all feels real to me to sing songs like Baptise The Ute or The Outback Club. Those songs are about real life and real people. I wouldn’t make records for the American market because I would have to give up something that I have at home, which is my love for all things Australian and I wouldn’t change that.”
There has been no shortage of accolades for the leading man of Australian country music with each venture to an awards night appearing to see him come home with more Golden Guitars. The first one Kernaghan received was for Boys In The Bush and it changed his life by giving him a career in music. There may be no shortage of trophies in the cabinet but Kernaghan isn’t taking them for granted and can never pick when he is likely to win and when he will get passed over.
“It is probably harder to win them now because when you have been around for a while the landscape changes. The industry – including myself – are keen to see new artists recognised because that is how you grow the genre. Never take one second of it for granted. I have never been able to predict it. You do have to keep your package wrapped reasonably tight at those functions. There are so many ways that you can shoot yourself in the foot in this business that it’s not funny.”
Speaking of new talent, joining Kernaghan on this current tour over the past year has been budding new group from Tasmania, The Wolfe Brothers. The aspiring country rock act were spotted on Australia’s Got Talent on Channel 7 and Kernaghan organised to meet the boys and have a jam session. It turned out that they had been fans for years and been in the moshpit at many of his shows.
“I offered them the job of joining me on tour and they quit their day jobs and we’ve hit the road. It’s been 18 months of touring now and it’s been brilliant. We are now really great mates so after this tour I hope we still get the chance to be able to play together in the future. I am sure they will be doing more and more touring in their own right. They have notched up a couple of number one songs already and I am predicting lots of success for them in Australia and beyond. There is huge potential for the boys to be very successful in America as well.”