‘It’s one big, lovely, warm bunch of loveliness’: James Reyne, Ella Hooper and their family band

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‘It’s one big, lovely, warm bunch of loveliness’: James Reyne, Ella Hooper and their family band

James Reyne Ella Hooper
Words by Lesleigh Luiten

It doesn't matter how you define the word ‘family’ - whether the bounds are friendship or blood – it’s fundamental that a family chooses to love, support and respect you.

Families share invaluable memories together, are able to be vulnerable together, and appreciate one another. We were lucky enough to talk to James Reyne and one thing became apparent very quickly; Reyne loves his band and they are his family – Ella Hooper included.

James Reyne and Ella Hooper have united for the national Way Out West Tour and have just released the 2023 version of the single Way Out West featuring both Reyne and Hooper.

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

Reyne tells us that he has 20 albums with what he says are “a million songs”. He loves to play them all. A few key classics are always top of mind when you think about James Reyne – Reckless, The Boys Light Up and Beautiful People. We wanted to know, of the million in his repertoire, why it was Reyne’s 1992 hit with James Blundell, Way Out West, the song originally released by The Dingoes back in 1973, which inspired a tour?

“I will be really honest with you; the song was an afterthought. We were just having fun to be honest. We didn’t have a tour planned, we didn’t have any plans to record a song. We were just messing around. So, I forget whose idea it was. The song was there – and it wasn’t me – but someone had the idea to redo Way Out West with Ella and go on the road. We decided to call it Way Out West it all seemed to tie in.

“It’s a good song! I think it probably locks into the public subconscious. It could have been a number of songs but this is just one of the ones that I am lucky enough to be associated with that seems to have locked into the public minds. Usually it’s people asking me why I don’t do Reckless?”

Hooper’s solo album was released earlier this year on Reyne’s record company Reckless Records and he couldn’t be more proud. “She made this great folk country record, it’s on Reckless Records and it’s done really well. She’s done an incredible job and she’s worked really hard for a whole year and it’s really paid off. She went number one on the Country Charts and she went top 10 on the ARIA charts. She did all these great things and we already had the idea of going on the road together as I said before. It just all fell into place and seemed to make sense.”

If you mention a family vacation to most people, the phrase ‘herding cats’ comes to mind. However when Reyne told us the Way Out West Tour was going to be a big family affair, he meant it in the most wholesome way possible. Other than being on the road and the music, Reyne is most looking forward to hanging around with the band, some of whom he has played with for over 40 years.

For the Way Out West Tour, Reyne will be touring with an eight-piece band. He chuckled to himself when he told us they like to call Andy McIver the new kid. “We used to laugh about Andy McIver, who is our bass player. We used to call him the new kid but he has been in the band for 28 years! He was the new guy.”

“Now we have Melinda Jackson and Nicky Curtis singing. We’ve also got Sean Johnson playing keyboards. I feel like they have been in the band for a week but I think they have been playing with us for four years. It feels like just a month though, it’s one big, lovely, warm, bunch of loveliness.”

For Australians, James Reyne is part of that same social fabric. We know the words to his songs and just like coming home after a long day of living and a’working on the land, they bring us comfort. That’s what this tour is about.

“We always play what people want to hear – all the hits. You come and see me and you know all the songs – I’m lucky enough that I have enough songs that people know. Our set is 75-90 minutes and people know every single song and they sing along. And of course at some stage during the night Ella (Hooper) and I will do Way Out West together.”

Tickets on sale now – head to jamesreyne.com.au

This article was made in partnership with James Reyne.