Interview with Andy Bull

Andy Bull

Indie sweet hear Andy Bull kept us waiting a very long four years before releasing his much anticipated second LP Sea Of Approval. Hit tracks Keep On Running and Baby I Am Nobody Now did the rounds late last year and built a lot of hype around the record, earning him the title of ‘most blogged about musician in the world.’

Now the falsetto voiced synth wizard has proudly released Sea Of Approval, which has been met with world wide acclaim, and he’s sporting a national tour in celebration. We caught up with Andy ahead of the tour that kicks off in September at the Brisbane Festival.

 You kicked off the Baby I am nobody now tour in October last year and played a few tracks off Sea Of Approval then, although the official album tour starts in September do you feel like unofficially you’ve been touring this album for a while?

Some of the songs we tried out last year, at one stage there were maybe four songs that we played live so that’s almost half the record I guess. But it feels like a new tour, I just feel like we’ll be comfortable playing these songs live. It definitely feels like an album tour, the venues are bigger which is kind of novel. I didn’t expect last year to be playing the Metro last year, so that kind of stuff makes it feel way more like an album tour.

The album has been very well received, do you feel like you are in fact swimming in a sea of approval?

It’s funny, you never ever do. It’s kind of what I was predicting when I called the record that because you never feel that way. It’s kind of complex, when you finish a project you automatically start thinking about how you’re going to do the next project so I don’t feel as if you reach a point where the work is done and you can just tick the box. And in terms of getting audience support, some people like what you do, some people don’t like what you do, some people hate what you do. Some people like what you do then they don’t, some people don’t like it then they come around, it’s not a very solid thing to pin yourself to. So it’s really nice when you get some praise, but there’s definitely an anxiety that comes if you start paying too much attention to what people think. So the sea of approval is something you should never really pursue. But first and foremost it’s nice to have a record finished. I did the best I could, there are elements of it that I’m really proud of, it’s not perfect but nothing ever will be, and the process of making it wasn’t perfect but I’m on the right path and I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.

Speaking of the process of making the album, is there a lot of trial and error creating an album that’s so densely layered?

Yeah for me there was a lot of trial and error, some of the songs I did many versions of. There were some other songs that I also trialed and trialed and trialed that didn’t make the record. That’s one way of making a record, there are instances where you work really quickly, some parts of songs and some key ideas arrive really quickly. But being on your own means that you have to do everything layer by layer, so you don’t always have the context of other players knowing if something works. In a band you can feel when something clicks because everybody is doing something and it just works. On your own the pace of that first discovery is different, because you’re doing it piece by piece. So for about 80% of this record there was a lot of trial and error, there were many versions.

So why did you keep us waiting so long (almost five years) for another full length release?

Over the course of the four five years I was really busy, I toured a lot. I actually recorded heaps of music in those four years, trying different things. I recorded a few EP’s but decided not to release them too.

Why not?

I just didn’t feel like it was right, it wasn’t the right time, the ideas and songs didn’t work for me. I’m not sure I just didn’t feel right about it so I didn’t do it. But this record only took a year to work on, I sat down and said I’m actually going to start working, see if I can do a record for public consumption and once I decided to do that it took about twelve months from start to finish. So it’s not like I spent four or five years trying to come up with these ten songs, but over the twelve months I recorded maybe thirty or fourty songs and these were the ten I liked best.

So I guess you’ve got a lot of songs in the song book for release down the track then?

Yeah because a lot of ideas in songs are good, the ideas are good but the song itself doesn’t work for some reason. But a good idea can last I think, if you try to put an idea into a song and it doesn’t work it might find a home next year.

Obviously the biggest news of the past few weeks was the passing of Robin Williams which is raising a lot of awareness of depression and anxiety, your lyrics suggest you may have had similar issues, do you think there’s enough support for artists and performers battling these issues?

There’s an understanding of what it is on a general level because a lot of artists and performers have a kind of vulnerability to them, so a lot of artists without stereotyping them can be a little bit up and down. So in the arts it’s not such a foreign concept that someone is anxious or depressed. But on a person by person level there’s not always a great deal of knowledge as to how to manage those aspects of a persons life, that’s a cultural thing I’d say rather than an industry thing, but I feel like it’s changing, it’s becoming more legitimate to speak openly about emotional states however there’s obviously a long long way to go.

This may be controversial but I would suspect that more people suffer from depression than statistics suggest, I don’t know the numbers but I’d say it would be closer to 1 in 4 men suffering from anxiety. I think in our society people aren’t very good at dealing with those aspects of their personality and it can come out in the form of anti social behaviour. In that regard there’s a lot of space for cultural understanding in our society, not just for anxiety and depression but just people’s emotional states in general. Everyone’s born with a mind that goes in every direction, and everyone has to learn to live with that mind.

I know you’ve played on a few tracks with Bluejuice, were you sad to hear about them calling it quits?

Well Jake and Stav are close friends of mine I met them through music but they became close friends of mine outside of music. I met them when Bluejuice first started, it’s sad to see that party end but I have been watching them for ten years and people have to move on as well. I totally understand if they want to move on to the next chapter in their lives. They love the music, they’ve always loved the music and you can tell because there’s so much energy in their records and live shows, they give absolutely everything they have to it. I really admire them for that. But I suspect they just wanted to move on to the next chapter of their life and I totally understand.

Catch Andy at any of these gigs nationwide

SUN 07 SEP | THE SPIEGELTENT @ BRISBANE FESTIVAL, BRISBANE QLD

THU 11 SEP | TRANSIT BAR, CANBERRA ACT

FRI 12 SEP | THE CAMBRIDGE, NEWCASTLE NSW

SAT 13 SEP | THE METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY NSW

18 SEP | JIVE, ADELAIDE SA

FRI 19 SEP | THE BAKERY, PERTH WA

SAT 20 SEP | ROTTOFEST, ROTTNEST ISLAND WA

FRI 26 SEP | THE WARATAH HOTEL, HOBART TAS

27 SEP | THE CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC ** SOLD OUT **

SUN 28 SEP | The CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE VIC

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