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Augie March – Back to do it all again.

It’s a Friday afternoon in Melbourne, grey skies with the hint of autumn rain fill the city atmosphere, it’s just before the peak hour rush, and Dave Williams is pounding the streets of Southbank against a strong Melbourne southerly on his way to a gig.  “Augie March is playing at the Melbourne recital hall tonight; it’s a great venue to play a gig”.  You could hear the excitement in Dave’s voice.  Augie March had just recently played at the Sydney Opera House, so following up that gig in the grandeur of the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at Melbourne’s Recital Centre would add to their aural smorgasbord that the band have indulged in since their return to the music spotlight… and what a wait it’s been!

Cast your mind back to 2009, “Watch me disappear” has come and gone, tours have happened the fatigue of music and the treadmill that goes with it are taking their toll and it’s time for Augie March to take a break.   “It was a combined feeling. We were just tired of everything – the touring, the recording. Glenn wanted to have a break and record with his friend and older brother, and do some recording for fun. It was a great time to enter into civilian life; I think we all just needed that space to just get back to life outside Augie March.”.

And just where did that name originally come from – Augie March? “When we sat down and decided to do this, Glenn was studying a literature degree. He had 2 books and threw them on the table. One was “The Adventures of Augie March” by Saul Bellows and actually Glenn hadn’t read it. We all responded positively to it and we ended up using that name. It struck a nerve so much that I actually went and read the book and it was fabulous” recalls Dave.

The book is about penniless and parentless Chicago boy growing up in the Great Depression, Augie March drifts through life latching on to a wild succession of occupations, including butler, thief, dog-washer, sailor and salesman. This struck a nerve with Williams, who whilst in his downtime from the band, in order to pay the bills has taken on board a whole series of jobs – from long term parking attendant to teaching music. “Lots of jobs, lots of culture and experiences. By teaching music it allows me to keep communicating. Whether playing on own or within the band in front of a crowd, it’s about expression. You’re not restricted it’s a positive proactive experience”, adds Williams.

For a band that has been around for so long Augie March has developed some resilient and patient fans. There are some great fan blogs out there that provide a great insight into what it’s like being a fan, and what it was like during the downtime. Asking Dave Williams what his thoughts were to have such a candid account online, he is almost glowing at the recognition. “We have passionate fans. It feels great that something we do inspires positive resounding endorsement and it brings people together.”

Fast forward a couple of years and the flickering flame that is Augie March began to be rekindled. Relationships are reformed. Dates are set to record. Glenn Richards has been using his downtime to create a whole series of songs ready selection. “Glenn always has a raft of songs. All we had to do was book some studio time and go in and set it down.” The album was mixed by Paul McKercher, whom the band had used on their earlier material. McKercher is renowned for using analogue equipment, and in the case of Haven’s Dumb, whilst he had to contend with sometimes recording in different locations, tape was still maintained according to Williams. Does Williams have a favourite tune from the album? “AWOL. I like that because we all play really well on it”.

I asked Dave how he felt walking out before the audience on their first return show at the Howler, in Brunswick, the same suburb where the band made their live debut. “It felt really good. There were a lot of people. It was a good endorsement that people were still interested.  There was some trepidation that our time might have passed.  There has been a lot of water under the bridge in that time, and it feels more relaxed. We’re at an age now where all of the nonsense has moved on”

Returning to Cairns after an extended break, Williams is keen to get back to sunshine! “I remember the last time we played in Cairns. The weather was great; make sure it’s like that when we come back. We’re going to play some songs off of all of the records and a group of the new ones. We’re bringing out a horn section as well which will be nice. It will be a slice of what we do. A smorgasbord”.

Cherie Kitto

Augie March play the Tanks Arts Centre with local support King Pig on Friday 1st of May, Tickets through Ticketlink.

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