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The John Steel Singers

Each year Brisbane’s Valley Fiesta showcases some of the best and brightest local talent and gives them a chance to shine. It helps that the festival is free, because that tends to draw out the punters in droves, leading to great crowds and career-defining sets.

This year, The John Steel Singers are one of the big Brisbane bands making their Fiesta debut, and FasterLouder spoke to Tim Morrissey from the band about the Fiesta, winning a Q Song award, and why he loves playing festivals.

The John Steel Singers recently completed a tour in support of The Polyphonic Spree, and held their own against the iconic Texans. And Morrissey reports it was a pretty incredible tour. “Yeah, it was fantastic. You couldn’t ask for a better tour for us. Music-wise they were just perfect, and they were really nice people, especially [frontman] Tim [DeLaughter], he was just such a nice guy.

“Plus, all of their fans were really appreciative, and came out early to see us, which was great. We actually sold out of our CD in Brisbane and Sydney, so that was great for us as a band.”

The Polyphonic Spree tour was the latest in a long series of shows and tours, and I asked Morrissey how much they liked playing live – and apparently, it’s a lot. “Yeah, it’s always pretty crazy. Recently we had a couple of weeks off, and it actually felt really weird. The weekend came, and we stayed in Brisbane, and didn’t play a show, and didn’t go to Sydney or Melbourne for anything.”

“But tonight, we have a show, and then a week of recording a new EP. Then we’ll be on tour with the Grates in October, for about 16 dates. Then we’ll probably do our own tour in November for the release of the EP which we’ll record this week.” No rest for a band trying to make it in this industry.

The bluesy retro rock six-piece released a mini-album The Beagle And The Dove earlier this year. I asked Morrissey what the difference was between an EP and a mini album, but even he wasn’t sure. “I mean, it’s got eight tracks, and it goes for 31 minutes, so it’s almost an album. Apparently the classification for an album is 32 minutes, so we just missed out. But then, I think we were kind of glad, because we didn’t really want that to be our first album.”

One of the best songs from the mini-album, the winningly charming Strawberry Wine, won Morrissey and co-writer Scott Bromiley a QSong award for best Pop Song. For better or worse, that meant they had to make an acceptance speech. “It was a bit weird, because we hadn’t really done anything like that before. I frankly had no idea what to say, so I don’t think we ended up saying anything too profound. I think we just thanked a few people and left.”

The Valley Fiesta stokes the fires of the live music scene in Brisbane each year and Morrissey is really looking forward to it. “Yeah, to actually play the festival is great. I think the fiesta is a fantastic thing. Lots of people go for free, and it’s all ages, so it’s just a really good opportunity to play in front of a big crowd who we might not have played to before. It’s at an early reasonable hour, so it’s going to be a whole new audience for us. It’s the first time to play it for us, because you really only play it every two years, and two years ago we weren’t really known.”

And Morrissey loves playing festivals in general. “This year, we played the Big Day Out on the local stage, and also the Come Together festival, which was a great festival, so really well organised, and we were really well looked after. It’s great to play festivals, you get to play for the younger people, and they really get into it heaps more. I’m completely guilty of going to bands and just standing there watching, even if it’s the greatest show ever. But as a band, that can be a little confronting, so it’s great to play to a crowd that’s getting into it.”

And what else is in the future for the John Steel Singers? “We’re working on the new album – this EP which we’re recording this week is a one-off thing, these are the songs that don’t really fit on the album. Hopefully we can have it out early next year.” Hopefully indeed.

The John Steel Singers are just one of many brilliant local artists playing Valley Fiesta in Brisbane this weekend. Read all about it HERE. The band is also saddling up to join The Grates on their upcoming national tour.

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