Home Interviews Interview: MICHAEL SPIBY (THE BADLOVES)


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It’s almost summer and that means another Red Hot Summer Tour is revving up to hit the road in 2016. And this summer will see The Badloves as part of the incredible ensemble of artists. As well as The Badloves, the star studded line-up for this tour includes Jimmy Barnes, Noiseworks, The Angels, and Mark Seymour & The Undertow.

This will be The Badloves’ first tour in quite some time as the band stopped in 2010. “We’ve been a bit patchy over the years and non-compliant,” frontman Michael tells me in our recent interview. “We haven’t done a lot of shows or released a lot of music over the years so we’re rectifying all that in one big go! We had planned just to go out and do shows on our own but we seem to be falling more into festival kind of mode amongst other players which is also fantastic. They’re great, contrasting scenarios for the band but we’ll still be doing our own shows for the next year, our own specialised shows and festivals as well.”

“We’re actually in the studio at the moment recording new tracks so we’ll be doing both new tracks and more familiar ones as well in our set from here on so that makes it really exciting for us. It’s not just a ‘jukebox’ kind of scenario. That’s always been the hard thing, you know. Twenty odd years down the track it’s hard to just do things verbatim, like a tribute band kind of thing. I can’t do it. It’s just like a ‘day job’.”

Michael says that they are aiming to release the album early next year. “There’ll be a single or two at first but we’re recording an album’s worth of material. We’ve got a great set up in Melbourne at the moment where we are able to record with a fabulous engineer and we just go in for a couple of hours at a time, maybe three hours is all that it takes. We get in and record a song. It goes down live as we do them all. We just touch up some things. It’s all so easy and so much fun to do it that way.”

He is very enthusiastic about the current line-up which, he tells me, is “Tony Featherstone on Hammond and Wurlitzer, who has been with the band for twenty odd years.” He pauses a moment to take that in. “I can’t believe it’s such a long time! I should be getting used to saying that now but it’s still strange.  Irish O’Prey, the original bass player, is playing with us again after twenty years abstinence. And that’s just a fabulous reunion. It’s been incredible actually. We’ve got a new drummer who’s a Melbourne based drummer who moved to New York. I think he grew up in New York but we’ve forgiven him for that because he’s turned out to be such a nice chap. Jeff Consi is his name and he’s an amazing player so the band has never sounded better than it does today, strangely enough.”

Will the new album have a similar sound to the band’s previous albums? He thinks about that question for a minute before answering. “Well, I guess so. It’s the same ingredients. I’m never sure. When we’re recording new material and writing new songs and things, I never really harp back to where it’s been. It’s just whatever journey we’re on at the time is what we do. And that’s how it was early days as well so one minute we’re doing a folk song and the next minute, we’re pretending to be a rock band. That’s the only way to be sane creatively, is just to follow your instincts and go with it and see where it takes you.  I’ve never really been into styles and the band… I think everyone’s got a different beat, as individuals, but there’s never been a template; let’s be this style or that style because The Badloves have swung from straight out folk to straight rock which I’d never be part of in a pink fit, normally, by myself but enjoy it while it’s there so we’re just having too much fun drawing from a broad range of influences, really.” He laughs and adds “We’re very unfocused, I’ve got to say! We kind of just go with the things that feel like fun. Not a very complicated master plan but it’s a good one.”

There might have only been a dozen or so gigs so far but the singer says that the response has been great. “We’ve been absolutely floored by the response and people’s enthusiasm to embrace the music again. I really wasn’t expecting to be received the way we’ve been. We’ve been playing everything from tiny little dinner shows and venues to huge festivals and it’s just been amazing. We’re so privileged. You know, as you progress in years, you start realising what it is you do and what a privilege it  is compared to all the other rotten jobs that we’ve had in the past so music is a pretty magic place to be; anything to do with music. We’re pretty lucky, I think.”

The Badloves called it a day in 2010 so what was the catalyst for getting the band back together again? “To be honest,” he admits, “it was the enthusiasm of Tony… I’d had enough to be honest… the band ended in 2010. I pulled the plug on it because it was a gang without a cause, if that makes sense, back then. It just didn’t feel like a good place to be and it was hard work. Musically it was a bit stale but Tony Featherstone and, especially Irish after twenty years reappearing, it felt amazing and I felt childlike again and everyone else feels that way in the band so it feels incredible. It’s one of those inexplicable things where it feels right and you get better at that. You get better at judging the value of something just by the feeling of it. In the early days we probably were control freaks. Well, I know I was and I’d try to strategize everything, have master plans but I don’t do that anymore. It’s just what feels good and the band… it feels like we’re all teenagers. It’s ridiculous; embarrassing, really.”

The singer has also been doing some solo shows. “I really enjoy doing solo stuff, especially one man shows.” He has worked both with his own band and also does some solo acoustic shows. “I really do love the solo shows because you really get an opportunity to connect with the audience. The band can be a little bit more cumbersome in that respect so I love doing the solo format.”

As for the band’s future plans, he sees touring as being a fairly constant part of that. “Because touring allows us to get amongst it and enjoy the ‘live’ thing with the audiences but it also pays for more recordings so, if we could just keep that going, that would be the best scenario we could hope for. That would allow us to keep making music and doing what we’re doing. That’s all any band can really hope for.”

So it sounds like we’ll be hearing a lot more from The Badloves from now on…

“Well, that’s the plan,” he says with a laugh. “Let’s see how it plays out.

The Red Hot Summer Tour kicks off in January 2016.


by Sharyn Hamey

Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2015.  All rights reserved

For full details of The Badloves upcoming gigs including the Red Hot Summer Tour, click here

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