Son Volt on bringing Americana to Australia
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Son Volt on bringing Americana to Australia

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A rare opportunity for us to see the former Uncle Tupelo co-founder, Farrar has ducked to the Land Down Under only once before on a solo tour in 2004. A full thirteen years later, he’ll be touring Australia for a debut run with Son Volt.

“For me, together when we were making this record – it’s kind of tuning through that convergence of the blues and country belt with some alternate tunings in play,” Farrar says. “You go about creating different compositions. I felt like that with alternate tunings, you come up with different original processes. You go about the work in a different way with, I guess, something a bit more articulate. I focused a bit more on playing guitar this time around, with a stronger vision. It’s less country, and the focus on blues is a little heavier this time around compared to some of my other works – hence the title, Notes Of Blue.”

A man of many talents, Farrar has established himself as a songwriter, film composer, guitarist, pianist, harmonica player as well as vocalist – skills that drive him to delve further into unexplored territories. Though no stranger to more energetic terrain, Son Volt’s Notes Of Blue definitely wields a blues-rock-laced punch, with a distinct focus on the guitar technique of finger-picking. An approach that he’s wanted to try more of that than in the past, Farrar found that his work had evolved through a wide palette of musical influences, including Mississippi McDowell, Skip James and even Nick Drake.

“From a lyrical perspective, it was more a self-conscious type approach,” Farrar says. “But for the energy of the tunes, the creative path for inspiration certainly incorporated a couple of iconic blues and folk musicians. It was a chance to connect with those heroes, with inspirational figures.”

On top of their own headline dates, they’ll be leading the charge at Americana, blues and country festival Out On The Weekend with other heavyweights like Justin Townes Earle, supergroup Traveller & Australia’s own All Our Exes Live In Texas. Farrar’s looking forward to revisiting Australian audiences, citing that it’s been a very long time (“And it’s the home of AC/DC,” he’s quick to point out with a chuckle).

A legend of the alt-country genre with an experimental approach and over thirty years of experience under his belt, Farrar’s earned critical acclaim and accumulated a back-catalogue of deservedly-lauded releases. His early work in Uncle Tupelo alone has become synonymous with the establishment of the genre itself, where they drew inspiration from the Carter Family, Hank Williams and works not traditionally associated with the country at all – including the hard punk stylings of The Minutemen.

Son Volt’s come a long way since their much-loved 1995 debut album Trace, but the same passion for sonic creativity and poignant – often heartbreaking – lyricism obviously continues.  With a desire to continue exploring new artistic frontiers, there’s no telling what the future may bring for Son Volt – and Farrar himself.

“I try to always approach a new project with a fresh intent,” Farrar says. “We try not to make the same record over and over and over. That would be too easy for us, so it’s always been a good challenge for us. We just try to keep things fresh and ever-changing.”

“Influences come from all different directions,” he continues. “But I’ll always come back to a lot of that elemental stuff – classic blues and country.”