Glenn Richards entered 2020 with grand plans for Augie March, then he wrote a stellar solo album

Glenn Richards entered 2020 with grand plans for Augie March, then he wrote a stellar solo album

We caught up with the Augie March frontman before he performs solo at The Forum on Saturday March 13.

When the world came to a standstill in March last year, Augie March frontman Glenn Richards was gearing up for a busy year. The next Augie March album was the first order of business, then he and his band were readying themselves to honour 20 years of Sunset Studies – Augie March’s beloved debut album – with some live shows in May 2020.

All of those plans were suddenly upended, yet as tragic as this was for Richards, the silver linings started to appear. Richards made his way home to Tasmania and began to craft FIBATTY! – the effervescent new solo album from the artist.

The next we’ll hear from Richards is when he hits The Forum with FIBATTY! and several Augie March gems in tow on Saturday March 13. In the lead-up to the show, we caught up with the artist to chew the fat. This is what ensued.

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There’s no denying 2020 was a super tough year for the music industry, and it forced many of us to rethink and reimagine what we were doing. What was 2020 for Glenn Richards?

I spent the last week of 2019 on tour with a severely torn calf muscle, and the first week of 2020 on crutches in a Melbourne studio ‘conducting’ a bunch of tracks for a new Augie March record. Heading home to Hobart, I started on overdubs for that, and learned how to navigate steep hills and stairs on crutches. Then the plague hit.

I ditched the AM record and started and finished my solo album FIBATTY! as well as composing music for the Royal Hobart Theatre production of The Bleeding Tree and a couple of film projects. 2020 was a year of isolation and work so not exactly a departure from normal for me. Tassie got off pretty lightly, now half of Sydney’s elite are buying up the place.

Augie March are icons of Australian music – connoisseurs of rock in the most inventive and ambitious way. What is Glenn Richards away from Augie March?

Not really for me to say, strange as that may sound. Both solo albums I’ve made could easily be Augie records to the un-forensic ear. The DNA is the same obviously, apart from the players. I’d say it’s easier for the clown and the devil, which are the same creature probably, to have reign in the Glenn Richards stuff.

You released FIBATTY! last year – your first solo record in ten years. What inspired the release and what called for another solo album so long after Glimjack?

First thing I did when lockdown was a sure thing was lament the lost income from a fully fleshed out Sunset Studies theatre tour for its 20th anniversary. “Woe are us,” I said. Then I made a pandemic song and clip, ‘Hi Gene’, which led me to writing and recording more stuff in that vein.

It sounded more invigorating than anything I was doing before that so I figured why not do an album from start to finish and not let anybody touch it until mastering. I love it.

How does FIBATTY! bleed into your solo live show, and what else can we expect from your upcoming performance at The Forum?

I’ve figured out how to present a few of the tunes from FIBATTY! live so at least four will feature. It’s a day before the show and I still haven’t really sorted a set list. I expect there’ll be some rarely-played tunes and a few of the crowd pleasers you can’t get away with not playing. I’ve only got an hour so I probably won’t talk a lot of shit which is a blessing.

Augie March released a live album earlier this year, pulling from your 2019 On The Quiet tour – an acoustically-driven run of shows which struck a chord with music lovers all across the country. Does this signal some fresh rumblings from Augie March? What’s next for the celebrated band?

Yeah that was a show that got recorded quite basically and Adam [Donovan] from the band did a nice job of remixing it to make it sound good. We have barely anything of note to show for over 20 years of playing live so it’s nice to have that and maybe we’ll do it a bit more.

I’m currently working on a new Augie album, same one that got trashed back in 2020. We’ll try to get back out there and honour the 21st anniversary of Sunset Studies now, but it’s down to the venues taking a chance just as the bands and crews have to, which is sometimes too difficult for people outside the industry to contemplate.

2021 marks 25 years of Augie March. Where does Augie March fit in the contemporary music landscape? How do you reflect on the band’s legacy?

We have a lovely, loyal, small fanbase. I think we’re often referred to as something a bit hallowed or what have you. Probably because we’ve hung around for quite a bit or it sounds good for more famous folks to say it. We keep making albums that don’t go anywhere in the wider landscape, but they’re real and they’re not rehash which is rare for an older band.

I like hearing that kids are discovering us, and that people much older than us are finding us late also. Honestly though, we’re a minor note in the scheme of things and we don’t really come into the equation of contemporary. Which is ok, I tend to like bands like that.

Does the band have anything special in store to celebrate the anniversary?

This is the first I’ve heard of it! That’s a long time to be doing this silly stuff, I’m sure we’ll do something or other if we don’t all stroke out at rehearsal. Personally, if it’s possible, I’d like to try a solo tour of Europe consisting of no shows whatsoever, just walking around and looking at stuff, eating and drinking and swimming.

Glenn Richards hits The Forum on Saturday March 13. Grab tickets here.