Fraser A. Gorman - Interview

18 May 2015

An Interview with Fraser A. Gorman

An Interview with Fraser A. Gorman

What happens when you take a lifetime of loving classic rock and a youth spent in the great musical mixing-pot of Melbourne? Well, you'd probably end up with Fraser A. Gorman, a twenty-four-year-old Australian who kindly took some time out of his day to talk to us about touring the UK, growing up in the Melbourne music scene, the style and dress-sense of classic musicians, and preparing to release his debut album on Courtney Barnett's Milk! Label next month.

How are you doing today, are you enjoying being in the UK?
I'm pretty good! Yeah, it's actually really nice. Yesterday we went down and I played in a record store in South End and that was really fun so far it's been pretty good.

Is it your first time in the UK?
No, I was here about a month ago touring with Courtney Barnett, so it's my second time.

Let's talk a little about your album, 'Slow Gun' is getting released in the UK at the end of June; has it already been released in Australia?
No, it will be released here first on the 29th June, and it'll follow on the 3rd July at home.

How long has it been recorded for?
Um, it's been finished for about a year, but it got delayed in a release date just due to label stuff changing but now I've got my touring band we're ready to put it out and tour and all do all the fun stuff.

Your lyrics are often considered to be quite witty - how do you go about writing a song?
Laughs How do I go about writing a song? It usually takes place with me sitting on the end of my bed, and playing guitar, and I guess that lyrics are pretty deep themes to me. There's a little bit of humour, or kind of self-deprecation. Then I usually take it to the band and show them, and then they usually change a bit to their parts and they we play it. To people. And it's fun.

Does the overall album have a theme?
If there is a theme, I guess it's mainly about growing up. I wrote most of the songs in young adulthood, from when I was nineteen. I'm twenty four now and some of the songs are pretty old and have been around for a while and some of them are only a year old and were written when the album was being recorded, so it's sort of an album about maturing, changing from a child into an adult.

Did you have a producer on the album?
Not necessarily, I kind of co-produced it with my friend Dan Luscombe who plays for The Drones, and they're a really cool cult classic Australian band. It was really good to work with him, cos he's got a lot of similar music tastes to me; Dylan and Neil Young and Lou Reed and all that sort of stuff, so it was really good to work with him.

How did you get together with your touring band?
Um, I've known the guys for a while. At home I actually play with a five-piece band, but over in the UK cos it costs so much to get over here from home I've only got a bass player named Jared and a drummer named Andy and we're like a little rockin' three-piece sort of band; it's cool. They're really pumped to be over here. Andy has never been to the UK so he's getting very excited by pretty much everything.

Who or what introduced you to rock and roll?
When I was about eight or ten I used to go around to my friend's place and play computer games, and his older brother used to play music really loudly in the next room. He'd play like The Doors and The Stones and, like, MWA and the Beatles and Easy E. We used to kind of sit there and play and then the music would go on around us without us even knowing it. It became our taste in music. So it sort of got subconsciously drilled in to me.

Was that what made you click with it in the first place?
I think, yeah; it just kind of happened without me having to think about it. I never really stopped and thought 'Oh my God, I really like music now,' it just sort of happened and, like anything you just become obsessed with or fond of, you then look deeper into it and find Bob Dylan and you're like, 'Oh, that's cool'. Then through that you'll listen to The Band or Neil Young or Gram Parsons or Flying Burritos and all these bands and you keep rolling on, listening to all this music and before you know it - you're obsessed with it all.

What would you say makes a good album for you?
That's a good question, I don't really know. I like so many different kinds of music, it's hard to say 'Oh, this makes a good album' or that sort of thing. When you look at Neil Young's 'Harvest' - and that to me is a really good album - pretty much every song on it is nice and it sounds linear, and there's some nice textures and stuff; then you look at 'Transformer' by Lou Reed, and that record is not really that linear -musically, it's all over the shop - but it doesn't make it a lesser album. And I also love '36 Chambers' by Wu Tang Clan, which is this super raw and gritty sound which, again, compared to 'Transformer' it's totally different, but it doesn't make it any less of an album either. Music is to be interpreted in whatever way you want, and that's the best part about it.

You've been compared to people like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed quite a bit; would you say that's a compliment?
I've been told I kind of look a bit like Bob Dylan since I was about sixteen, cos I've got like a curly afro of hair and I play harmonica and that kind of stuff. But because my music is about lyrics and groove, and I'm not an overt singer and I'm not trying to wail out there too much, people draw those comparisons through that. Obviously I like those artists so much, so I can't help it and let some of that sound leak into my own sound.

With your own album coming out, you're not worrying and wanting to been seen as separate?
Nah, not really. I've heard a lot worse things in my time than 'You sound like Bob Dylan or Lou Reed', so I'm kind of just happy to take that stuff as it comes. One time a guy told me that I looked like Leo Sayer, so I think I'll take Dylan any time over that.

Do you think that image is important for a musician?
I would like to say no, but if I said no, that would be a complete lie. Image is totally integral to the music industry, whether you like it or not. Some people are like 'Ah, no man, it's all about the music - I just wanna wear my. whatever', but even if you don't give a f*ck and you're like Kurt Cobain and just wear like a flannel shirt tied around your waist, that's still portraying an image. Anything can be an image. I guess it's up to you but if you're a performer, it's kind of important to sometimes give a f*ck.

Does living in Melbourne help with your career a lot at the moment?
Um, living in Melbourne at the moment is really great cos, like, there's a great musical community but I was talking with my bass player about this the other day, and we were saying that Melbourne's kind of like a real music community, but it's not a real music economy. Coming over here you can tour so much and you can play at all these really cool towns in England and go over to Europe and play there, and you can go over to Ireland and do all this stuff, but in Melbourne you're kind of trapped in Melbourne, there's not that many places to play in Australia and they're all really far apart. Like, really far apart. So, even though Melbourne is a really brilliant musical community, if you actually wanna make it anywhere in regards to a career, you quickly figure out that you're probably gonna have to leave Melbourne and go somewhere else; hence why I'm in London, right now.

Is it good for creativity though?
Oh, totally! Lots of good bands come from Melbourne like King Gizzard, Twerps and Courtney Barnett and even people like Chet Faker. A lot of them have a foothold on the music scene over here or in America so like music is really important but also competitive too.

You've mentioned Courtney Barnett a few times, and I understand you've done quite a bit of work with her, what do you like most about working with her?
With Courtney? Oh, Courtney's basically just my friend. Like, I met her a long time ago when I first move to Melbourne when I was about nineteen and I think she was about twenty three, and we just became friends and did a few things together and she put out my first EP on her label which is called Milk! And I've done a bit of touring with her and we've done a couple of musical things together and, yeah, it came from that. I'd say that above all she's just my pal that I make music with, and that's the most fun way to do it.

Who's your favourite up-and-coming artist of the moment?
I would probably say Courtney Barnett, she just really good! I really loads of music. Twerps are pretty cool; they're another Melbourne band. I like some American bands like Hurray for the Riff Raff - they do sort of classic country music and they're young and touring now and, I don't really know too many UK bands, like we toured with a band called Spring King from the UK and they were really cool and really nice guys, and we're touring with a band right now from Nashville called Bully, and they're really cool. They're like grungy and they're a bit like Hole, so that's pretty cool.

So what's your biggest goal for the future?
I dunno, my biggest goal when I was a kid was to just get out of Geelong, which was the town where I grew up in, and right now I'm touring in the UK and Europe so I'm having tonnes of fun, so I'd like to keep doing whatever I'm doing like making records and eternally just have fun all the time.

Where are people going to be able to hear you next?
Well, tonight we're playing in London at the Lexington, and then tomorrow we're playing in Bristol, and then Manchester after that, and then Leicester, and we're playing at Great Escape too, and my album comes out on June 29th over here and in America. And I'll be back!

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