You could never accuse Sydney singer songwriter Josh Pyke of being complacent, after a decorated decade long career in music the man, who has become one of Australia’s most recognizable solo artists, continues to give back the fans who clearly mean so much to him. After completing his Lone Wolf tour which saw him play nine shows across the country, Pyke announced he would be extending the tour to twelve more regional destinations. We caught up with Josh to ask him why, as well as chat about zombies and best of albums.
So you’ve already taken the lone wolf tour to some of the major cities, why did you decide to go bush and hit up the regional towns as well?
I think if you have the capacity to get out to the regional cities it’s just what you should do, it’s good for Australia and it’s good for the people in regional areas to have acts come through their towns. As an artist the best way to really see how your music is going is to get out and play shows and engage with your fans.
It’s really gratifying to be ten years into my career and still touring places I’ve never been to and reaching new people.
How different is it playing in a big city compared to Milton or Toowoomba.
The crowds can be more, I wouldn’t say rowdy, maybe more grateful because I don’t think as many people get through the towns so they’re more excited, it’s more of a party vibe. I’ve heard that from other artists too, that when you tour regionally the crowds are really stoked to be there. Obviously they don’t have as many options on weekends for shows so it feels good.
So you’ve written four albums, all four have been nominated for ARIA’s and two have one. When you write an album to just expect now to at least get nominated?
Ha! No way, absolutely not. I was just saying when I make a record I never know if it’s going to just disappear and sink and die. So when it goes well I always feel like I’ve dodged a bullet and can squeeze another two or three years out of my career. I think when you rest on your laurels and expect something to go well it means you’re not challenging yourself and you’re not really caring about the output.
I try my hardest on every record, I have to be in love with it and I have to believe in it otherwise I don’t want to do it so it just becomes a job, and I’d rather just go out and get another job if that’s the case. But I get massive fear and anxiety when I think about doing anything else for a living.
That might be why you’re so workmanlike in the way you go about your music. You seem to be constantly touring or releasing music, how do you find the energy?
The energy has never been an issue, I’ve always had a lot of energy. I’ve never slept much and I’ve got plenty of motivation. If what you do for a living is what you would have been trying to find the time to do as a hobby then you’re pretty lucky and I don’t want to fuck that up by being lazy or complacent.
It took me like ten years after school before I made it anywhere in music and during that time I was working two or three jobs to get enough money to make records and EP’s when I was losing money on every music project I did.
Was it hard to keep motivated in that time?
It’s a funny thing, I never thought about it as keeping motivated it’s just what I did. I think a lot of musicians can relate, I didn’t have a back up plan and I never found it hard to stay motivated, it was just what I wanted to do so I did it. It sounds so simplistic now that it’s worked out.
Lots of tours means lots of travel time, how do you keep yourself occupied when you’re on the road?
Well if we’re doing driving tours I like to be the one driving. One of the best ways I think is just writing songs, I’ve always found a lot of inspiration on the road, because there’s a lot of downtime it’s the perfect time to pick up the guitar and write a song. But if I find a really good T.V series like the walking dead or breaking bad I can definitely smash out a lot of that.
So are you more of a Rick Grimes or a Walter White?
I’m definitely a Rick Grimes, I’ve got a beard he’s got a beard. No but I’m absolutely obsessed with zombies and post apocalyptic stuff and I have been for like fifteen years. So I’ve got all the walking dead comics from the beginning and all these other ones, I’ve read all the books and seen all the films. I love how that end of world situation manifests itself in people’s personalities and I would like to think I’d be a Rick Grimes character rather than a falling apart at the seams kind of character.
I feel like I’ve seen enough Walking Dead to do okay in a zombie apocalypse, do you feel like if it came to that you’d be able to handle it?
Yeah you kind of feel like you know the basics right? You stay away from cities, the thing with zombies is they’re not too dangerous one on one so you stay away from clusters. And of course the biggest danger is other people. Yeah, I feel like I have my head around it.
Have you been working on anything lately that might surprise us in the near future?
I’ve been working on a project but I’m not 100% sure if it’s definitely going to come off, but I’m trying to do an orchestral performance of my songs next year. And then next year I finish my contract with my label who I’ve been with for ten years and they want to do a best of album. So we’re looking into that for next year also. I have been writing new song but I don’t have the time to actually put a new record out with all the other projects I’ve been doing.
How does it feel to be at the stage of your career where you might be making a Best Of album?
It feels ridiculous, every day I wake up and it just feels like I’ve been doing it for maybe four years and then I look at my actual life and I’m like my god that was like 2007 that Memories and Dust came out. That was like seven years ago, and there was a good three years before that came out that where I did a couple of independent EP’s. So I’ve been a professional musician for around ten years and I don’t even feel like a professional musician, I feel like I’m skating by on the skin of my teeth every day. Honestly it feels like I’m new on the scene you know, and I know that I’m not. I think that’d the same with everybody whether they’re a musician or a bloody architect it doesn’t matter, the moment you cheat yourself into feeling that you’re fully established and can coast a little is the moment you fail. That’s what I think anyway.
For more info on when and where you can catch Josh Pyke visit JoshPyke.com
Now here’s a video of Walter White and Rick Grimes having a rap battle