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Henry’s Dream

Wagons have been lurking around the shadowed edges of the Australian music scene for over a decade, compiling six albums along the way. CHRIS HAVERCROFT speaks to resplendently bearded frontman, Henry Wagons, about the new album, Acid Rain And Sugar Kane, ahead of the band’s show at the Fly By Night this Friday, May 23.

As a recent father, Henry Wagons is already pondering the next generation for his music. 

He claims to be threatening his nine-month-old daughter with insisting she play mandolin in a Wagons family band. But before looking at other musical ventures, Wagons is excited to be bringing the full band over as part of their most extensive Australian tour for some time. There was a visit as part of the Laneway Festival, but Wagons is keen to showcase the power of his outfit with their “big, hairy sounding record” to promote.

“I had just come off the back of a solo record where I was the Dr Frankenstein, where I got to play everything and had to make every decision to make the beast. I was really excited to get into a room with the bunch of smelly guys that I have been making music with since high school really, and just make a collaborative record.”

Wagons’ vision for Acid Rain And Sugar Kane was always to create as big and ambitious a record as they could muster. There is certainly the ragged glory that is expected from Wagons releases with an extra bit of grit and volume thrown in for good measure. To realise this they enlisted the help of Mick Harvey to handle production duties.

“I really wanted to work with people who we respected and admired if we were going to relinquish control. The material had a real kind of darkness to it that I thought that Mick would really be able to draw out. Mick’s type of production style is that he essentially joins the band for the process of creating the arrangements for the whole record. Songs that were shaping up as these ordinary boogies, Mick would sit in an play these incredible piano parts and give the songs more depth than they would have otherwise.”

Wagons have forged a remarkably solid fanbase considering the limited amount of radio play that they get in this country. It is a credit to their impressive live show and the quality of their noir sounding rock.

“I feel like this weird uncle that saves the end of his bars of soap,” insists Wagons, talking about the lack of media attention for the band. “That type of scrooge who uses up the bars of soap and saves the ends so at the end of the year he will find himself with these nibs of soap and cooks them up on saucepan and moulds a new bar of soap out of these scraps.

“I feel like we get a little bit of airplay on triple j, some support from Radio National and the ABC, we get to go on TV every now and again. I get to write articles every now and again and I do some production work and by the time we spread ourselves around we end up with a nice little chunk of recognition that we are very thankful for. We are definitely not the type of band that slots into Australian radio play, so I have never really expected it.”

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