This month's Brisbane Festival marks the return of The Teskey Brothers and their soulful sound back to Australian stages.
“I’m pretty excited. It’s always good to get up to Brisbane,” the band’s drummer Liam Gough says.
The four-piece band have been playing internationally for most of 2018, but have managed to fit a number of Australian performances in the last third of the year in between their down time.
Liam tries to list their international stops so far: Japan once, New Zealand twice, The UK and Europe twice, and The States three times. “All in the past seven or so months,” he calculates.
Liam says when playing a live circuit, he interacts more with other Australian artists and appreciates the community they form. “You wouldn’t necessarily get to know them in Australia coming from all different walks of life and different styles of music, but when you’re touring alongside each other overseas, all on the same circuits, there’s an unspoken camaraderie that comes through and that’s pretty nice.”
Of all the cities he has travelled to, he’s hoping to return to New Orleans for Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras at some point. “The music scene down there is just crazy!
“I remember walking down Frenchmen St, which is sort of like the new Bourbon Street, and there was music pouring out of the bars, so much life and such an appreciation for music, blues, and jazz. It’s a magical city.” He jokes that there is “some sort of voodoo going on down there”.
Band life can get pretty hectic and Liam admits to being knackered. “It’s hard sometimes, but it’s worth it,” he says.
The boys have built a firm following, being lauded as Australia’s answer to Motown. Critics compare their stripped back, analogue sound to classics like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, and more recent artists like The Black Keys.
Liam attributes their old-school tone to not recording digitally. “You can’t polish everything. You have to accept the sound, which helps generate the sounds from the '60s.”
The boys drove up to Sydney a few years ago and bought a 24-track tape machine (previously owned by Jimmy Barnes). “It’s massive, like a washing machine combined with something from 'Doctor Who', with all these flashing lights and things… It’s always breaking down, so it’s a labour of love. We’re kind of held ransom by the tape machine as to whether we can get things done.”
As for their lyrics, Liam says it's a band effort. “We all write individually and then flesh them out together as a group.” This way they “get four different flavours” and a wider variety that reflects the boys’ own tastes.
“I brought to the table one of the tunes called ‘Louisa’.” And it is a cracker of a tune, unsurprisingly one of the most energetic from their debut album, last year's ‘Half Mile Harvest’.
“A couple of tunes were written from bad break-ups and experiences,” he says. “That’s where most of the good art comes from, in my opinion. Heartbreak and people’s experiences trying to overcome and communicate what they were feeling.”
At the suggestion of songwriting being cathartic, Liam readily agrees. “It’s a good way to find inspiration, it’s a painful way but a good way. Everyone has to go through this stuff and if we can make something good come from it, then lucky us.”
Liam remains humble and gracious despite the band having supported names as big as Lionel Richie, Robert Plant, and Rag’n’Bone Man – not to mention, getting a surprise shout-out from Hollywood hotshot Chris Hemsworth.
When their global success is mentioned, he almost becomes bashful. “I don’t know about that,” he says, but it is proof that hard work does pay off. Hard work and just being an all-round top bloke.
The Teskey Brothers Tour DatesFri 28 Sep - Brisbane Festival at Spiegeltent
Sun 4 Nov - Lost Lands (Werribee)
Fri 23 Nov - Fremantle Arts Centre
Sat 24 Nov - 3 Oceans Winery with Xavier Rudd (Margaret River)
Fri 30 Nov - The Factory Theatre (Sydney)
Sat 1 Dec - Fairgrounds Festival (Berry)
Sun 2 Dec - Halls Gap Hotel (VIC)
Sat 5 Jan - Summer Nights 2019 (Leongatha)
Sun 17 Feb - Park Beach Reserve (Coffs Harbour)