After making music for 25 years, the WA born trio are at it again with what could quite possibly be their most successful record yet, much to their own surprise. I chatted to one third of the band, Vikki, about the creative journey behind Ironbark, and what we can expect from the trio and the record this year.
So, how many nights of sleep were lost on the mammoth record? None, it seems. Although a whopping 25 tracks long, “ironically it was the most relaxed, casual album we’ve ever done. We were just having a little too much fun”.
Vikki’s description of the recording process is refreshing and unexpected, especially for a band with a quarter of a century of experience under their belt. “When we arrived to record the album we had no plan, we didn’t even know we had any songs at all - we thought lets just meet at Josh’s house and play music”.
The album is beginning to sound more like a professional jam session as Vikki explains that their main feedback has always been that they are better live, and so by “sitting around in a circle playing to each other”, Ironbark captures the spontaneity and organic nature of their songwriting that has drawn fans to them for the last 25 years.
This shows through on the two part record. Nothing feels forced or contrived, and as Vikki comments, “we didn’t approach it from our own creative endeavor, we stepped outside of ourselves and made it about the people who have supported us”.
Ironbark is as much a trio album as it is a showcase of each artist’s life experiences, as “the second part of the album showcases us more as individual writers”. I ask Vikki how that translates in the music, when the songs are written individually and brought to the group to be played together.
“We are three distinct artists with different experiences, but we’re there to support each other creatively - it's about us supporting each other and that involves some element of compromise”.
It’s a unique take on performing in a band, but it's one that makes for an incredibly entertaining and personal performance as each songwriter explains their creation to the audience.
The Waifs have recently embarked on their nationwide Ironbark tour, and fittingly it began right here in WA. “We mostly start tours in WA because of the support and love we get here and the confidence that gives us”. The tour kicked off at the Concert Hall, and as Vikki describes, “we hadn’t performed for a while and we didn’t get to do a warm up gig, none of the songs had been played live, so it was very nerve-wracking, but the audience was giving so much love, and we immediately thought - this is going to be alright.”
Alright it certainly was! While the record is beautiful to listen to, nothing beats a live performance. Some hours after chatting to Vikki, I was fortunate enough to listen to the Waifs at the Fremantle Arts Centre, and you could not have picked a more fitting venue. The open-air stage carried their voices through the still summer air, and the crowd were loving it – having a dance at the front and singing along from their picnic rugs.
Of course, you can’t ignore the albums commercial success, even though that wasn’t its intention. Ironbark debuted at #1 on the Aria charts, and I ask Vikki what they think of that - “we’re a middle aged folk band so charts and awards aren’t really on our radar, and that’s the really funny thing about going to number one, we can’t believe it!”
Ironbark is out now and The Waifs are touring nationally, check out more at http://www.thewaifs.com/tours.html