Josh Pyke

Emma Salkild's interview with Josh Pyke for TNT magazine

Folk-rocker Josh Pyke has just released his third album Only Sparrows and it’s getting plenty of attention. The Sydney boy will be on tour with his band throughout September, so I gave him a call…

Congrats on another great album. You happy with it?
Yeah I’m really happy with it. If I wasn’t happy with it I’d scrap it I’d start again.

What’s it like being an Aussie in New York?
I was there for about three weeks and I rented an apartment in Greenwich Village where I set up a demo rig and I just wrote and recorded and fooled around New York which was great and it gave me a new perspective. It’s such a great city that you barely scratch the surface even if you spend a long time there. There’s so much to do, you just walk out of where you are and stroll out to some cool district. They’re all really close to each other so you can walk everywhere. It’s very safe. I just love it. It’s a great city. Very exciting.

Do you get homesick?
Yeah I did. I get really homesick. I love my home life so it’s always tough to leave but I think it’s always a positive thing to leave as long as you know you are coming back.

Any tips for homesickness?
Skype.

Your music has warm, soft tones but your lyrics can be quite powerful and sometimes even intense. Is this juxtaposition on purpose?
I write songs that are a reflection of me and my personality so that’s probably a fair example of my personality, really.

Your third album sounds more international or American too. Was this intentional?
I wanted to develop my sound a lot so I recorded with a band for the first time. There were a lot more electric guitar and stuff like that on it so it was deliberately trying to be different but not necessarily trying to be international intentionally.

You’ve got a great online presence. Do you find social media helps you engage with your fans?
Yes, definitely I think it’s really important. It’s a good thing to do. I meet loads of fans in person after having tweeted messages back and forth between us. And you don’t always get that opportunity after shows.

Do you have any particular writing habits or rituals?
I’ve always been very free-form without a structured way to write but on this particular album I did find a bit more structure. I’d try to write prose and stream of consciousness and then have a bunch of that to draw upon for the lyrics so that’s a bit of a different thing for me.

Besides New York City and Sydney have you lived anywhere else?
I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time in the UK. I’ve been there 12 times. And for some reason I always end up in Manchester but Sydney is really the place I call home.

Favourite Aussie venue to perform at?
The Astor in Perth is amazing. Such a good theatre but the Metro in Sydney is always going to have a special place in my heart. It’s my hometown so I feel I’ve always got an advantage there.

If you weren’t a musician, you’d be…?
Good question – I’ve never had anything to fall back on. I love cooking, so maybe a chef. But I love writing so maybe I would pursue journalism, but to be honest I’ve never had any other aspirations.

First album you ever bought?
Pump by Aerosmith.

If you could perform with anyone who would it be?
I love The Shins and if I could ever do something with James Mercer that would be incredible.

Any tips for places in Sydney?
The Metro as a venue is great and it’s got a good bar there as well. Generally Surry Hills is a great place for bars. There’s a great little one called Red Door which is underground and very cool. I really like Revolver café in Annandale. I live in Bronte and there are amazing cafes right on the beach.

So are you a bit of a beach bum? Do you go surfing?
Yeah I try to. I’m actually at the beach now. There is a massive whale jumping up the back too. I’ve been watching it for the past hour. I think it’s making it’s way north.

Published in TNT magazine online and in print on September 5, 2011

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