Home' Rhythms Magazine : 2018 Mar-Apr Contents 50 Rhythms
Known simply by the one name, Archer is something of an enigma.
For a start, a bit like Ross Knight from the Cosmic Psychos, when
Archer plays a gig it looks like he’s just wandered straight in from
the farm – a bit dusty, a bit battered and usually sporting well-worn
workwear. Realistically, the self-described old-time sing-song man
probably has, because when he’s not playing Archer’s usually doing
something like planting broccoli. Then there’s the fact that his basso
is cut straight from the playbook of a bluesman circa 1930.
Plus, he doesn’t really dig on being indoors, all of which accounts for
why his second corker of an album The Divine Church Of The Open
Sky Volume II – there is no volume one – was recorded under the stars.
To press the point, the blurb accompanying the album alleges that
songs preferred it that way. “There’s more space for them to roam
around outside, I mean they could fly off into space,” Archer says, wryly.
“Whereas, it’s less likely if you’re in a recording bunker. I’m sure they
could still get out if they wanted to, being a song.” While his answer
actually does make sense, Archer qualifies it by saying that he writes the
bulk of his songs walking outdoors.
For this album, Archer teamed up with buddies Flora Knight on violin
and Matiss Schubert on button accordion and violin. Neither incumbent
knew the other before Archer introduced them on the eve of recording.
“Knowing both of them, I knew that something would happen,” Archer
explains. Embracing the romance of it, the trio started in earnest at dusk
(which makes sense because the first song, ‘The Divine Church Of The
Open Sky’, is a love song to the sunset), playing against a backdrop
of a creek in flood, while chucking a few spuds on the fire. It’s in stark
contrast to recording for Archer’s first album, Old Time Sing Song Man.
“I was drunk for a fair bit of it and probably most of it was unusable,”
It’s pretty clear that there are no customary trappings of fame here.
Archer’s more likely to be playing an old folk’s home than painting the
town red. It’s not bunged on either, Archer genuinely couldn’t give a
flying fuck about living the high life, despite the fact that anyone who
hears him is instantly converted into a frothing fan. In the context of
what can sometimes be a cutthroat industry, this makes him a definite
anomaly. Given that his songs almost unfailingly represent a gentler
world view, query how he remains immune from it all. “I’m probably in
a bit of a bubble most of the time,” he admits. “I do struggle with the
modern world a bit and the direction its hurtling towards, but at the
same time I have a bit of a feeling that nothing matters, but then at the
same time it does. It can wear me down, but I’m feeling pretty vigorous
at the moment.”
Good. That Archer’s got a better handle now on what makes him happy
helps in that regard, as does the odd aforementioned show for the old
folks. That said, he’s still got an almost perversely nihilistic streak.
“It was probably going around and playing in nursing homes which I
think cured me of a constant pain in my brain. I don’t know what it was,
but singing songs with really old people, some of whom are sick, helped.
I came up with a theory that the old people lying in bed with their
mouths open catching flies are responsible for keeping the stars from
falling out of the sky. It’s why they need to be there, otherwise you might
wonder ‘what’s the point?’.”
Divine Church Of The Open Sky Volume II is available on Pound
London-born musician Alison Ferrier knows how to
convey wistful folk and alt-country heartache. A prolific
player among Melbourne’s coterie of indie artists, she
cites Laura Marling, Jen Cloher and Eilen Jewell among
her current inspirations. Followup to 2015’s Be Here
Now, third album What She Knows sees Ferrier meld the
mellow with the bluesy rock soundtrack of her teens.
“I was always drawn to blues and rock ’n’ roll but never
knew my white English female voice could work with blues-
ier songs. The British women I remember hearing were
singing 80's pop or folk music. Female blues singers I heard
were always African American. Listening to Billie Holiday
inspired ‘Am I On The Right Track’. I closed my eyes and
imagined her singing over the chords I was playing. I’ve
realised that if I just sound completely like myself, it can
work really well. I’ve been playing more lead guitar live too.
I’m ‘owning it’ a bit more and loving every bloody minute!”
Songs that simmered over time...
“‘The Boxer’ was written a few of years ago with my dear
friend Cara Robinson (Hat Fitz & Cara). Her harmonies
on the recording give me goosebumps! ‘Don’t Patronise
Me’ has been around for a while... but I came up with a
different feel, the minor key and added the chorus. ‘River
Flow’ was written for a songwriter session at [Lomond
Hotel’s] ‘Writer’s Block’. I love the challenge of writing to a
Winning studio time from Triple R’s Radiothon...
“A brilliant stroke of luck. We quickly booked it in – a great
kick up the backside to make sure all the songs were ready.
Jeff (Lang, Ferrier’s husband), Danny, Ben and myself
recorded six of the songs at Head Gap Studio. The overall
production reminds me of Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind so I’m
stoked! Danny’s drums sound incredible.”
Jeff Lang (guitars); The Waifs’ Ben Franz (electric bass,
pedal steel); Jason Bunn (viola); drummers Danny
McKenna (Mia Dyson) and Ash Davies (Lisa Miller, Matt
“I really do have a dream band on this album. We didn’t
rehearse before playing live in the studio. Hearing songs
come to life whilst recording is exciting. We had one day at
Head Gap, one day at The Enclave Recording Facility and a
few overdubs including viola on ‘Do You Ever Stop Loving
“I love Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Willy Nelson.
Playing old-time fiddle when I started songwriting, old-
time country music inevitably influenced my writing. The
simplicity of a three or four chord song with a heartfelt
lyric always appealed to me, whether country, blues, punk
or rock. My teens were filled with Led Zep (Houses Of The
Holy), The Stones (Beggars Banquet), The Beatles, The
Faces. I saw The Ramones several times in the ‘90s and was
right into Metallica for a while. Moving to electric guitar
has awakened something primal in me and I’m not holding
Led Zeppelin rhythms and instrumental ‘extras’...
“I had the lyrics to ‘Rest Easy’ but wasn’t happy with the
music. One night I had a few glasses of wine, grabbed the
acoustic guitar and played around with the feel, imagining
what Robert Plant might do if he sang it!”
“I played my 1970s Japanese Hondo II on ‘The Cuckoo’
[trad], recorded live. Then I overdubbed a solo straight
after, through a fuzz pedal. I was right there in the moment
playing my little heart out! Check out the amusing clip Jeff
made for this track.”
On the road...
“I wrote ‘Waiting For The Rain’ (the first single) during
NSW floods while on tour. Thinking about farming in our
extreme climate, I found quotes online by Queensland dairy
farmers experiencing drought, trying to imagine being in
What She Knows is an independent release.
Links Archive 2018 Jan-Feb 2018 May-June Navigation Previous Page Next Page