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PETER BIBBY Getting Legless

Peter Bibby by Tahlia Palmer (1)
Peter Bibby Pic: Tahlia Palmer

“I served about six years in the construction industry – solid plastering to be specific – and that’s a pretty hard slog, so I guess I just applied that work ethic to playing music.”

Fresh from his Laneway Festival adventures, Peter Bibby plays this Friday, February 13, at Noodle Palace in support of his debut album, Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician. ALEX GRIFFIN reports.

Going from bashing songs out in parks and pubs across Perth to touring with the Laneway Festival has been a whirlwind trip for Perth’s Peter Bibby, but it’s not a life without danger.

The low point was breaking my ankle on the very last day,” says Bibby, “especially after I’d already played all my shows – except for my ones this week in Perth. Are crutches still sexy?”

Here’s hoping. On balance though, the Laneway experience came out in the black. “It’s hectic, a lot of very early flights and drunken late nights, but you get used to that – and I’ve had a fair bit of practice. It’s totally worth the hangovers. Making friends with people whose music I have respected for a long time, skinny dipping in the ocean out the back of the festival in Freo were some real highlights.”

The perks are a step up from a free jug at the Rosie, too; “It’s fairly luxurious backstage; I think I’ve been spoilt now! I don’t think I could go back to attending a festival now without the backstage access. I’ve seen the light.”

Touring in support of his debut solo album, Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician,
As well as fronting the breakneck backyard squall of the now-legendary Frozen Ocean, Bibby also knocked about in the garage jumble of power trio Fucking Teeth while performing solo and with the likes of the Bible Bashers and the boozy Blokes In Coats. With all those projects on the boil, it took Bibby a long time to get used to the idea of performing with his own name carrying the can.

The solo thing just kind of happened naturally over time, what with other people not being available and me not knowing how we’d get gear to a venue, so I’d just carry a guitar down on the train and get it done. I tried to avoid the whole ‘Peter Bibby’ thing for ages because I felt like a bit of a wanker, so I made up silly alternate names such as Chief Richards and Global Boss. Eventually people saw through my plot and just started billing me as Peter Bibby, which I guess was the logical thing to do.”

From there, he got himself a band together – Jonathan Baird and Nick Allbrook – and eventually Bibby issued forth the bounteous Butcher/Hairstylist/Beautician. Considering how prolific Bibby is – it seems sometimes like he writes songs with the regularity most people check their emails – narrowing down the material was all about carving out a fresh chapter in his songbook.

The selection of songs just came down to what felt the best to play and what we felt absolutely had to be recorded; we had a bit of a ‘best-of’ mentality. They were mostly quite current in my repertoire, since I didn’t want to rehash the past and bring up old bones.”

Few musicians could match the punishing schedule Bibby’s had in recent years. For the first few years of this decade before he made the jump to Melbourne, Bibby was an inescapable feature in Perth music, plying his trade anywhere, anytime, and often several times a night. The way Bibby sees it, it’s the only way to go. “I served about six years in the construction industry – solid plastering to be specific – and that’s a pretty hard slog, so I guess I just applied that work ethic to playing music. It’s never gotten too much for me because I love it heaps, it’s my favourite thing in the world. Sometimes when I come back to Perth I take on more gigs than I should and I get a bit bummed because I don’t get all that good chill time with all my ripper buddies over here.”

Having made a name for himself as a poet laureate for the boozy fringes of society, another field Bibby wants to explore is Australian history, like his forebears Paul Kelly and Gareth Liddiard.

The song Wangaratta Gazza is one where I had to do a fair bit of research in writing it so it had an accurate story. It was a really fun process, and opened my mind up to a whole different world of song writing, rather than just blathering out drunken emotion. Actually studying stuff that interests you and trying to craft that information into a pleasing set of words, with all the rhythm and the melody and all that stuff, was really interesting.”

With one eye mining the past and another on what’s around him, Bibby looks set to sail the same course to bigger and better things in 2015, with one unwelcome objective: “Lots more touring, writing, and a solid chunk of recording… and rehabilitating my ankle.”

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