Interview: Aaron Schembri on wanderlust, Daddy Cool and ‘The Setting Sun’

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Interview: Aaron Schembri on wanderlust, Daddy Cool and ‘The Setting Sun’

Aaron Schembri
Words by Talia Rinaldo

Melbourne’s Aaron Schembri fuels your wanderlust with new single ‘The Setting Sun’. Once you have listened to Schembri, you simply can’t get enough.

Armed with undeniable talent, obvious skill and a relentless commitment to perfecting his craft, the Melbourne musician has been riding the rollercoaster of success since his first local pub gig at the tender age of 15 years old. Making an impact from the first chord he graced us with, all eyes have been on the singer-songwriter due to his harmonically strong and melodically rich releases, giving us energy akin to the likes of Hoodoo Gurus, The Eagles and Paul Kelly time after time.

With a slew of consistently improving, sonically rich records and always-engaging single’s, Schembri arrives with his new single, ‘The Setting Sun’.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Signalling the first taste of new music from the artist in more than a year, following on from his previous release ‘It’s Not Goodbye’ in December 2020, ‘The Setting Sun’ is a masterclass in Schembri’s craft with feel-good instrumentation and raw vocals never missing a note.

As expected with Schembri’s music, the single shines big, bright guitars, a jaunty rhythm and an emphatically catchy hook.

Spanning three minutes, the classic rock single boasts a cohesive instrumental collection of gentle country guitar licks, a rollicking drum beat, whirling organs, immersive keyboards, playful basslines and vibrant and charismatic group vocals, giving the track a cruisy singalong vibe and old school salt of the earth style of songwriting.

From the first listen, this tune jovially shimmies its way into your heart and makes you want to listen again and again.

Known for his stylistic roots, the rich guitar-driven track is a testament to the creative dynamic and collaborative nature of Schembri, teaming up with 80’s hit songwriter Paul Norton (‘Stuck On You’) and one of Australia’s favourite ladies Wendy Stapleton.

“I had the written the music bed for ’The Setting Sun’ and had a couple of melody ideas for the song, but I kind of shelved it for a few months. I actually heard it back a little while later and felt that there is something special and unique about it,” Schembri explains.

“I ended up giving Paul Norton a call and asking if he would like to collaborate with me on it. I’ve known Paul Norton and Wendy Stapleton since I was 17. Over the past 11 years, we have played many gigs together, but this was the first time we had written music together.

“The whole process of getting this song to where it now has totally exceeded my expectations.”

With nods to the likes of Tom Petty, Eagles, and Bob Dylan, the creation process of ‘The Setting Sun’ all fell into place, with Norton and Stapleton even recording the backing vocals for the track.

Fusing wistful and arresting lyrics with lush soundscapes and delicate, pulsing beats, the single fuels your wanderlust, reflecting the limitless beauty of travelling and exploring new destinations, a feeling of freedom that has been collectively missed by the world for the past two years.

“’The Setting Sun’ touches on something that a lot of us had missed during the lockdowns over that past three years. And that is travelling. Whether it be being on the road with gigs, or travelling with your mates or your family. That sense of freedom was really restricted and I kind of felt that a lot.”

Throughout, every word comes alive, speaking multitudes, creating a flawless balance of blues-rock-fuelled instrumental perfection and sheer energy that make you dance into serenity, speaking volumes of Schembri intent to create ever-evolving music that’s rich and infectious.

“I find now that as I am maturing as a musician and a person, I am soaking in music, songwriting, melodies from different perspectives as I would have three or four years ago. It’s true that you just keep evolving as a musician, as you get older, the more people you work with and the more things that you involve yourself with. You never stop learning.”

Since his arrival on the scene 12 years ago, Schembri has gone from strength to strength, going from performing with and developing a close relationship with the late Ross Hannaford of Daddy Cool and gigging around the country to releasing his debut album ‘City Lights’ in 2019. Four years in the making, the record was a prolific debut, featuring Normie Rowe, Ross Wilson, Russell Morris, Kevin Borich, Colleen Hewett, Phil Manning, Wilbur Wilde, Mark Gable, and John “Swanee” Swan, all singing and playing on his original songs.

His follow-up single ‘It’s Not Goodbye’ reaffirmed his dynamic sound, coming in at #6 on the iTunes Country Chart within two days of its release date. Last year, Schembri went on to release The Lockdown Sessions, boasting a collection of acoustic covers, providing an insight into the musical inspirations of the musician.

Bursting back onto the airwaves with this rich masterpiece, the highly anticipated ‘The Setting Sun’ was the product of one of the toughest times in history for touring musicians.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to stay motivated because of it all. The lockdowns would start and then you’d get into this writing frenzy and come up with some inspiring musical ideas.

And then we’d get out of lockdown and start gigging, so It kind of took your mind off of being creative in a way… And then it would repeat.”

Infusing the same emotion of his live shows into every moment on his latest release, fans and blues-rock loves alike will be able to witness the magic in the flesh when Schembri embarks on a national tour with Ross Wilson in celebration of 50 years of ‘Eagle Rock’.  

“This year’s going to be so much fun musically. We’ve currently started the ‘Eagle Rock’ 50th Anniversary Tour with Ross Wilson. There’s a heap of shows all around the country this year. So, I am stoked to be a part of Ross’ band to help celebrate the milestone of one of Australia’s greatest songs,” he says. 

“This has all come full circle for me. I was lucky enough to be mentored by the late Ross Hannaford, who was the guitarist in Daddy Cool from the age of 17, he sadly passed away in 2014. So, it’s really special for me to be a part of this tour and the whole celebration itself.

“I’m also thankful to Ross Wilson also, there is a number of the shows for the tour where I am also doing the support slot. I’ll be playing a lot of my originals, some from the first album ‘City Lights’ and some of the new ones including ‘The Setting Sun’.”

Bringing together influences from across decades of rock, blues and country luminaries; channelling in with contemporary flair and songwriting skill, Schembri has fashioned himself an exciting sonic identity that exists strongly between a vintage cool and a central sound that is refreshingly new.

“I’ll be ready to release a new album towards the middle of the year. I’ve just got to keep the finger on the pulse.”

Until then, keep up to date with the latest from Aaron here and check out his music above.