Tex Perkins is bit like the Gérard Depardieu of our music industry. Talented, enigmatic and rough around the edges. A name that can never be forgotten by anyone who saw The Cruel Sea hit music channels, and heard the massive hit song The Honeymoon is Over.
Perkins' name has been placed so high among the names of legend-status Australian musical icons that it will never be removed.
Describing the force that motivates a man like him to play more and see less of home, he says, "You can play a song that you've done 1000 times, and if the energy of the audience is 'Yeah, give me that thing', then you're very happy."
Rolling through thoughts while travelling to the next gig, the whisky-soaked voice of Perkins was quick with a joke.
Discussing how things were travelling with him and his band, "It's a minute-by-minute assessment," he says, laughing at how things can fall from grandeur to mishap in a moment.
Like not having his A-team in place, because his drummer had caught a dose of COVID.
Solving the riddle didn't take the kind of musical genius Perkins possesses.
More like the trouble that comes with hours of performance and getting to know his band. Which at the time can feel like a trapeze artist hoping not to twitch.
Fortunately for the Fat Rubber Band, they travel with a pair of musicians who can fill the role.
"It just adds another tangible element of risk," says Perkins.
It is a reminder that you don't get on stage with Perkins without being extremely good at what you do. Which is the kind of feeling that gathered around his next, unreleased album.
Together with chief song writing partner Matt Walker, the band released Tex Perkins and the Fat Rubber Band in 2021, and now have an incredible second album in the bank.
Much of the new album has a sense of the journeyman experience soaked through it. Like track Brand New Man, about the first time he visited his grandson.
"The lyrics were what I was actually doing, 'heading out to see my kin with only one arm getting burned'," he says, reciting the lyrics as the feeling of the moment rises in his voice.
"The sun was on my right side, it was late January so it was hot. 'I'm off to meet a brand new man'," he sings.
Then the band expanded upon the idea to contain the thought that a person can become brand new themselves.
Finding moments, and exploring them. That is what pure song-craft is about.
With the record, even whims were spun into seriously premium, cultivated blues music, full of his rich storytelling.
Like the track Around the World, offered to the band by singer-songwriter Lucie Thorne.
"We had two ideas to take into the studio, and she offered that one up," Perkins says.
"She did a very basic demo of it, which had the melody and the basic chord structure. And she expected us to Fat Rubber Band it up.
"So we started attempting that, and it just didn't seem to be working.
"So I said to Matt, I think we need to take a lighter approach to this."
Light moments, important musicians and happenstance. That's what the best stories transformed into songs need to make the magic happen. But it is on stage where things really find their form.
Perkins will be bringing Walker, without the rest of the band, to Tallagandra Hill Winery on Saturday, July 16, for a special show.
Tallagandra owners, David Faulks and Mary McAvoy, have been bringing blue-chip musicians such as Perkins to the vineyard since the release of artists back into the live music landscape, after COVID called a stop to it. Shane Nicholson will perform on July 23, Russell Morris on August 13.
Drawn from a passion for amazing music, Faulks says they will be looking after Perkins and Walker as well as they look after their audiences.
Like the experience of matching wine with food, for Faulks, hosting this very special band of live music brings a taste and a flavour that will suit Perkins and Walker right down to the ground. Or should that be, terroir?
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