‘There’s still a real feeling down there’: Rich Webb reminisces about Brunswick Street on his heartfelt new single

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‘There’s still a real feeling down there’: Rich Webb reminisces about Brunswick Street on his heartfelt new single

Rich Webb
Photo: Ian Laidlaw
words by David James Young

In his ode to the neighbourhood where he experienced his reckless and untamed youth, Rich Webb serenades Brunswick St in his latest single.

On their 2001 track BFW, TISM can’t wrap their head around the big deal about one of Melbourne’s most famed strips: Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street. “You’re just walking up and down the fucking road!” lead singer Ron Hitler Barassi ranted. “I can do that in fucking Rowville, too!”

While Barassi’s technically not wrong, singer-songwriter Rich Webb carries a lot of sentiment whenever he’s in the area. The experiences that come from that street are ones, in his mind, that are irreplaceable – as he documents in his brand-new single, Brunswick Street, out now. He’s set to celebrate the launch with gigs at The Brunswick Ballroom on May 20 and at George Lane on June 2.

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“When I was starting out, I was in a band called Stiff Kittens,” he recalls. “We were a surf-punk kind of band, and we’d play up and down Brunswick Street all the time. Of course, a lot’s changed since – we’d play The Punters Club, which I’m pretty sure is a pizza bar now. There’s still a real feeling down there, though. On a good night, it’ll be firing from 9pm all the way through to 2 the next morning.”

Webb recently found himself reminiscing about the early days of his career, and the roaring ’20s that came packaged with it, when he ran into some old friends on the eponymous street.

“We used to go out drinking every weekend – this would have been 15, maybe even 20 years ago,” Webb recalls. “All of a sudden, all of these feelings came flooding back. Catching up with them again, it felt like we were all still on the same level and still had so much in common, even though all of this time had passed since we’d seen one another.

“It really got me thinking about that contrast between who you were then and who you are now – your life moves on a bit, of course, but you kind of take bits and pieces of the past with you.”

The experience prompted Webb to get to work on a new song, an electric blend of Richard Clapton’s power-chord driven nostalgia and stomping Melbourne-bred pub rock. Brunswick Street arrives less than six months after the release of his most recent studio album, 2022’s Right! While Webb is still very proud of that album, he didn’t want to lose his creative momentum purely on the trivial issue of imprudent timing between releases.

“By the time the last album came out, it already felt like it was from a long while back,” says Webb. “There’s always a delay between recording and putting something out, which was even longer than normal for this record because I did a run of vinyl for it too.

“My mentality was, ‘I’ve got this fresh song, let’s just run with it’. I wanted to bang it out and have some fun while I was fired up about it, with the experience I sing about in the song still fresh in my memory. I didn’t want to overthink it too much – and I think there’s a lot in that kind of approach. There’s still a real desire to keep working – and even then, it’s not really work. You’re enjoying the process of creating.” 

This translated into the treatment for the song’s music video, which opens on Webb hopping out of a car trunk and wandering down… you guessed it. Directed by the team of Melbourne filmmakers Ty Ridgeway and Julian Abrahams, part of the boutique agency Shoelace Creative, the one-take clip sees Webb ultimately wind up at the Evelyn Hotel to jam with his band after a few chance encounters along the way.

“It was as random as the song was, in many ways,” says Webb of making the video. “There’s obviously a few staged things in there, but there’s also a lot of interactions that just happened as we were out on the main drag. We went around about two or three times, and on the last go the sun was starting to set and we were losing light. I was like, ‘this one’s it – we’ve got it!’ It was quite exciting, and I feel like it really reflected the song itself – after all, why not just walk down the street? That’s where it started, after all.”

Grab tickets to see Rich Webb at The Brunswick Ballroom by heading here and at George Lane by heading here.

This article was made in partnership with Rich Webb.