Steve Tallis launches his new LP, The First Degree, on Sunday, September 28, at Perth Folk And Roots Club (Mt Lawley Bowling Club); Tuesday, September 30, at the Perth Blues Club (Charles Hotel); Thursday, October 2, at The Buffalo Club and Wednesday, October 8, (solo) at Clancy’s Fish Pub, Canning Bridge.
Journeyman. Shaman. Bluesman. Music man.
Steve Tallis is all of these and once again his many sides have come to the fore on his new album, The First Degree.
“It was written over the last six years,” Tallis reveals, “mainly when I was living in Paris, but also with some writing done in Beaconsfield where I stayed for a while. There were very big changes in my private life. I was blocked from recording a new album due to contractual problems with a French label I signed with, unfortunately. It was the first time I ever signed with a label and probably the last time I will ever do so.”
That’s a fair bit to deal with and on separate sides of the world at that. However songwriting is a life-force for Tallis, and not something that will be influenced by any given events for any one release.
“I just write songs,” he states. “Whatever happens, I just accept that they are my personal opinions, beliefs, feelings, emotions. I believe this is my most deeply personal album.”
Accordingly, The First Degree teams Tallis with multi-instrumentalist, Skip McDonald, and drummer, Evan Jenkins. Their individual histories with Tallis are quite different, but they both bring much to the plate.
“I met Evan in the late 1980s in Apache Dropouts,” he says, referring to his band of the time. “He recorded the Zombi Party album with me in 1993 and did some festivals in Rome and Edinburgh. He’s one of my closest friends and there’s a telepathic connection musically – the only drummer in my mind when I was planning this album.
“I met Skip through his manager on MySpace; I was always a big fan of his music. He suggested I send some copies of my albums to Skip who is a very private man. I finally met him at his invitation in London and we clicked and he said he wanted to do an album together one day.
“He’s a very interesting man and musician. I believed he would bring something different to my music and I gave him total freedom in the production… he played bass, guitar, keyboards and backing vocals.”
The album was recorded over two days and three nights, which may suggest a hive of activity, however…
“It was a very focussed, calm process,” Tallis says. “I played the songs to Evan and Skip and we recorded live first take. Then put some layers down – my usual recording process – and recorded and mixed in that time. And have enough new songs for another new album.
“Also the engineer, Matt Smyth, was great to work with. He’s a young man who had never heard the music… but has a very creative mind and ears. I have always believed the engineer was critical in the recording process. This was very much a team effort and it always has been in the past.”
With the album out Tallis simply plans to forge on playing music. As ever, as always…
“My plans are to survive in this very difficult industry. Too many people expect music for free these days – recorded and live, it’s a total devaluation of music as a profession.
“I want to keep playing live as much as possible, tour and return to Paris where I feel much more at home. I want to stay healthy and be happy and record another album as soon as possible, probably solo. I want to release more music… and continue to write songs.”