Hanlon ready to hit pause
This has been a busy year for Darren Hanlon, and Christmas is his time for taking stock.
''I'm into having that pause at the end of the year. It's good to take stock of what you've done. I think Christmas is really good for that. Just a little signpost,'' he says.
Just this year, Hanlon spent several months living in the back of a bookshop in Melbourne, where he ran a regular speakeasy night before the shop was demolished. He toured the US, where he spent some time living in a bread truck in Portland. He also toured Europe, and did have plans to record a new album, ''but life adventures got in the way.'' That tends to be the way with Hanlon.
''This year's been a good year to just live. I've had great adventures but I think that's a good thing. You've got to have space between albums, otherwise you just end up writing about touring,'' he says.
Hanlon's style of urban folk music revolves around storytelling, and it's funny how stories happen to him.
For weeks, he begged the owner of The Blue Guitar bookshop to let him live there. He eventually capitulated, and Hanlon lived in the back room while running a regular speakeasy night in the shop.
''It was an amazing experience, just running a little venue where I slept and lived,'' he says. ''You could almost write a novel about the history of this shop, it's incredible; how it came to pass and how it came to be demolished. It's a scary story involving the mafia and corrupt real-estate agents and drugs and all kinds of things. I just landed in the middle.''
Hanlon subsequently travelled to Europe for a tour, where one of the most tragic things that could happen to a writer befell him.
''I had my bag stolen, so I lost all my writing for the year, which was heartbreaking. I write every single day, and I lost it all!''
He spent hours in Barcelona, ''running outside in the rain, looking through bins, thinking, 'It's got to be here somewhere!' It was like a movie, it was just tragic.''
In typically upbeat Hanlon style, he is trying to be zen about it. ''Maybe it will change the way I write,'' he says, laughing. ''I'm trying to find the positives in it!''
Since then, Hanlon has started working on a screenplay based on his life growing up in Gympie, in Queensland.
''It's not exactly about me, but it's about stories and characters growing up and a fiction around that,'' he says.
Hanlon goes back to Gympie, to his family home every Christmas, which is always, he says, ''Like a giant party!''
Friends and neighbours ''don't knock, they just come in and start showing us what they've got. I have two uncles that certainly drink a lot, they'll start regressing into childhood when they used to sneak into the churchyard and ring the bells at 12 o'clock at night and set firecrackers off. They just want to do that kind of stuff.''
The music that gets played in Hanlon's household on Christmas Day would be enough to send anyone away on a Christmas tour.
''My mum always gets some horrible 'muzak' or Christmas disco hits or something like that,'' Hanlon says. ''Some special thing from the $5 shop. We'll have that for the first part of the day until everyone gets sick of it, and Dad usually gets some kind of Kasey Chambers-related album, so she seems to be connected to Christmas for me in some way.''
WHERE: The Street Theatre
WHEN: Saturday, December 15
■ Kate Kingsmill is a music lover, writer and radio broadcaster