Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2016 Jul-Aug Contents Rhythms 37
numbers. Sonically, the album is very warm as well, it
throbs with a low warmth, due in large part to Fanning’s
want to use only timber stringed instruments.
“It’s what appeals to me, it’s what actually hits me in
the chest when I’m listening to music,” he says on this
warmth. “I’m totally open to synthesisers and whatever
else, but even when it comes to guitars, I prefer an
acoustic guitar to an electric guitar, just the sound when
I’m writing, I feel that richness. when you’re sitting
playing with it, you feel it in your body.
“You do with an electric guitar as well, but it’s
manufactured a bit, and that’s why my favourite thing to
write on is a piano, because it’s like a band. It’s massive
and delicate and super melodic and has all those different
ways you can voice things ... so that’s why I wanted to do
that. That’s what gets me. And I listened a lot, while I was
writing, I listened a lot to Late For The Sky by Jackson
Browne ... it’s a fucking masterpiece. I really liked how
this record was talking about the problems of society,
through the prism of the problems in relationships.
“I’ve always tried to do that and I’ve never particularly
been able to articulate it for a whole record, and this is
the closest I’ve got to being able to do that I reckon.”
It’s fair to say that of any of Fanning’s records, whether on
his own or with Powderfinger, Civil Dusk is his Late For
The Sky. And this isn’t comparing Fanning to Browne. It’s
comparing a style of songwriting, and in this instance,
Fanning has produced some of his best work.
we finish up the formal part of the interview but stay
sitting where we are, looking out again at the view from
our vista in this ranging garden up on a hill on the NSw
north coast. Fanning asks me what music I’m listening to
at the moment, and we spend the next 10 minutes or so
discussing what we’re hearing that we like, what’s worth
getting into. He writes a few of my suggestions down in
his phone, always on the lookout for something new to
stimulate his never-ending lust for good music.
He’s added something of his own to that canon with Civil
Dusk. whether it strikes as many chords as his solo debut
remains to be seen. Tea & Sympathy was an extremely
high bar to set after all – indeed, as I drove up here, I
couldn’t get ‘wish You well’ out of my head, having
listened to it as part of the research for this story.
Regardless, with this new album he’s done something
worthy, something good.
“well, I guess I’m in a situation where I’m starting to feel
more comfortable with the idea of having been in a band
that was really, um, popular,” he muses when I ask him
where he’s at as an artist. “I’m starting to have a better
understanding now of why as well. Because we never
thought about that stuff when we were in the middle of it,
we were always thinking about what we were doing next.
“I guess now I’ve had a bit of time to look at it. And it’s
from what people tell you, how the songs of the band
impacted their life, concerts or whatever, and I’m really
proud of what we did. I think it’s really good, and so far
has stood the test of time. It’s 20 years in September since
Double Allergic came out actually.”
we both marvel at that thought – how can it be two
decades since the release of one of the band’s most
enduring albums? Fair boggles the mind. Fanning’s come
to terms with it though, as well as the rest of the band’s
success and it seems to have set him up well, for where
he’s at today.
“I’m really excited about getting connected again with
writing music that hits me really hard, and that will make
an impact on people, emotionally. Primarily on me,” he
concurs. “And I’m the only barometer that I really have.
“And obviously Nick, we’ve got a studio together now,
so it’s pretty likely that we’re gonna be making a lot of
records together for a long time. I’m really excited about
the idea of just keeping on making records. I didn’t know,
when I turned 40, whether I wanted to keep doing it or
just try and do something else with my life ... it took me a
little while to work out what I wanted to do.”
“making a break from living in Brisbane and being in
Powderfinger has really invigorated me as well, given me
a lot of energy to get back into work,” he adds. “And now
having a studio, with this horrible view...” Another laugh.
I tell him it’s paying dividends, that I’ve been enjoying
the record, and that it’s a grower, an album you really
need to explore. “I hope that’s [the case], I would hope
that it takes 10 listens to go, ‘oh fuck, that’s awesome’, the
back of the record especially,” he enthuses.
“Because you know, from growing up listening to records,
you tend to start with track one and you go through
and get to know the back of the record later, maybe
months down the track. And we put a lot of work into
the sequencing with that in mind, so that there’s rewards
for perseverance.” Another laugh. “That’s the thing with
working with Nick, we both put such value on the ‘album’,
because that’s how we grew up loving music. I would
hope that would have some impact on younger people
who listen to this record. And with people more my age
too I guess.”
Soon afterwards, we finish up properly and Fanning walks
me out the front to where I’ve parked the truck. we shake
hands and he stands for a bit before turning around and
walking back towards the studio where DiDia is still
tinkering. He’s in a good place and regardless of whether
he wakes with that feeling of unease or not, it’s translated
into some deep and thoughtful music, which befits the
man responsible for some of this country’s most iconic
It may be the civil dusk before a brutal dawn, but Bernard
Fanning is doing all he can to make sense of that. And
that’s all he can do.
civil dusk is available from August 5 through
Universal Music. The second instalment, brutal dawn,
will follow in early 2017.
SAmUEL J. FELL
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