Ian Moss

The cool uncle of Aussie rock.

The last 50 years has seen the growth and development of the Australian music industry. Once a tiny infant, clutching at the apron strings of American rock, Australian Rock music has broken away and forged its own identity in no uncertain terms, and earned its place as a deserving equal on the world stage.
This is due in no small part to the work ethic of the artists of the late 60s , 70s and 80s, who played live shows anywhere they could, as often as they could , sometimes multiple shows in a day, and seven days a week.
These guys called motel rooms , the back seats of station wagons, and in some cases, the back room at some country hall their home for sometimes years on end. Their blood, sweat and tears helped to forge a sound and a style of no nonsense , loud and aggressive music that is unmistakably Australian.
Bands like Rose Tattoo, AC/DC, Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs , and, a little later, The Angels, INXS and Cold Chisel changed how Australian music was viewed worldwide forever.

I had the privilege of speaking with one of the greats of Aussie rock, and one of the men who was a part of that process, Mr Ian Moss.
As familiar as the vast majority of Australians are with Ian Moss’s music, both as guitarist and sometime vocalist for Cold Chisel, and in his solo career spanning decades, it is amazing to discover how down to earth and unassuming he is to talk to. He’s like that cool uncle that always shows up at the family barbecue with a guitar and a few good jokes.
Very few artists could be said to capture the essence of the Aussie attitude, both in the authenticity of their music, and in their general demeanor more than Ian Moss does.

Born in Alice Springs, Ian was around musicians from an early age.

“I was always keen on music. From around five years old, it started. Dave Liillicut was a close friend of my brother’s, and he played a mean Boogie Woogie piano. He was the one who introduced us to Elvis Presley. My eldest sister learned classical piano, so I got into that for a couple of years. I wish I had kept it up, but unfortunately, I didn’t.
My older brother had an acoustic guitar , and he’d been shuffled off to boarding school in Brisbane, so I started getting lessons on that when I was eleven, so yeah, music was fairly constantly around me at that time.”

“A lot of the music we were discovering was stuff that the local record shop didn’t have. We had to order it in, then wait for it. Sometimes we’d wait weeks for something new.”

“Alice springs , for the size of the place, had a fairly good live music scene. A lot of smaller places back then were mainly country music, but Alice was fairly progressive. “

I enquired as to his love of Fender Stratocasters.

“My first guitar was a Japanese Strat copy. It was cheap. I think it was a Tokai. I played that and my brother’s Maton solid body for a while, then when I moved to Adelaide, I bought a Gibson 335. It was only three hundred bucks at the time. It was made in 1962. I’ve still got it. It’s in a state of disrepair. Like a lot of them, it fell the wrong way and broke the headstock. Its been repaired, but it needs some attention.“
“For me, though, Blackmore and Hendrix were the main influence. They both play Strats. I bought a 1961 L series strat for 250 bucks in 1977. It was hard to play, but a luthier in Sydney did a number on it, and put some nice fat frets on it, and I never looked back. Made all the difference.”

The late 70’s and early 80’s was the golden era of Aussie rock,and a time where live entertainment , especially original rock, was the foundation of the culture of the time. The radio played local music as much as international acts, Countdown was on the Telly, and there was a live band at every pub on a Friday and Saturday night in even the remote corners of the country. I asked what it was like to have been a part of what is now an era that is the stuff of legend.

“I’m thankful that we came up in the late 70’s, just when the scene was coming alive. A band could play every night back then if they wanted to. The festival scene was amping up back then too. There were a lot of opportunities. If you had a few good songs, and you were keen, it wasn’t all that hard to stay busy. Live music played such a big part in people’s lives. ”

His song “Nullabor Plain “ invoked a sense of nostalgia in me, as I made the crossing in the late 90’s.

“We crossed back in the 70’s with ‘Chisel’. We had an old Falcon hire car, with the standard skinny tires on it, and a lot of the Nullabor was unsealed back then, so we had a lot of flats. A couple of times we had to hitch ahead to get tires repaired, then hitch back.
“I’ve made the trip again since. Its an adventure. The scenery is spectacular.”
Mossy is no stranger to Cairns either. He has been frequenting the city for decades, and has some ties with the locals.
Local musician, Wayne McIntosh is a friend of Ian’s, and they are known to take a tinny out and catch a fish or 2 (or none, as any keen fisherman will tell you, is quite often the case) and exchange musical ideas as well.
“Its a good time of year to visit Cairns. You don’t really have a winter up there, but at least it’s a bit cooler this time of year.”
The show at The Tanks Art Centre is a solo show, featuring songs from the newly re-released “Rivers run dry” album, as well as some of Cold Chisel’s classic numbers, the staples like ‘Tucker’s Daughter’, ‘Telephone booth’ and some stuff we haven’t heard yet, as there is some new material in the works.
If you’re a fan of Australian music, this show is a must see.

Ian Moss will be performing at The Tanks Art Centre on Saturday June 1st

Tickets are available through TicketLink.

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