Q & A with Tom Busby of Busby Marou
Australian singer/songwriting duo Busby Marou bring a dash of originality to the genre with their self-confessed “sunshine flavour and harmonies”. In celebration of releasing their third album, Postcards From The Shell House, the duo is set to hit the road again with Bob Evans, bringing a show like no other to their loving fans.
In this interview with Jackie Smith, Tom Busby discusses how this album differs from previous releases, the influence family has over their careers, and what people can expect from a live performance.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, guys! I interviewed you in person when you appeared at the Bramble Bay Bowls Club for the Independent Music Conference, so really stoked to get the opportunity to do this again!
So are we!
Congratulations on the release of your third album, Postcards From The Shell House. As a fan, it seems like a long time coming. Was it that way for you?
Yep – absolutely!! We didn’t want to take any shortcuts this time around and we were determined to create a cracking record that suited our sound, brand and something we would be proud of. Also – we needed to spend some quality time with our growing family.
I heard that Great Keppel Island was a big inspiration for this record. What is it about that island in particular that tends to get the writing juices flowing?
It’s hard to describe the feeling of how it feels to stand on that island. It is like no other place in the world for us and for many others back home. There is something about it’s beauty, isolation and history that fills us with a magical and deep connection.
The Busby Marou clan has expanded quite a bit recently, particularly with the birth of Tom’s daughter Marigold. Generally, how much influence does family have over the writing process and what ends up on the record as a whole?
They mean everything to us and will always have a huge influence on our writing process. When we are surrounded by the full extended family we are fearless and confident. They also have natural way of keeping us close to our deep roots – which is very important for the both of us.
You’ve been performing a fair bit recently to prepare for the new record, and promote your single Getaway Car. How has the new material been received thus far?
Superbly! The break has served us well. It seems as though people have had more time to absorb the lyrics to all our old tunes – the crowds have been more vocal than ever before. This has made it such an easier transition into testing out the new material. Punters can’t get enough of the new songs.
How does this album differ from your previous records (Busby Marou and Farewell Fitzroy)?
Quite a lot. We’ve gone back to basics and tried to focus on the duo sound with an A-grade production, without compromising our sunshine flavour – more emphasis on the harmonies, musicianship and most importantly, we’ve put so much more effort into the song writing.
Generally speaking, what inspires you to write new music?
Many things. It could be hearing a cracking song on the radio, or a beautiful conversation with a stranger or our crazy lifestyles. We live pretty hard and we find it easy to write about that.
What was the recording process like?
Awesome, the best yet. It was stress free, we were well prepared and we were able to spend a bit of that time recording on Great Keppel Island – what’s not to love about that?
You’re also touring the album with Bob Evans. What are you most looking forward to about getting back on the road properly?
Working. Being busy. singing, creating, meeting people and travelling. We’ve missed all that.
Busby Marou and Farewell Fitzroy did well on the ARIA charts following their releases. How much pressure did that put on you for making this record, if any?
Not much. Charting would be great of course and maybe it’ll go well because we have a loyal fan base. A couple of good reviews would be cool too, but at the end of the day, who really cares what a hipster thinks of our record? We didn’t write it for them, or for it to be a number 1; this album is a record for our fans, the people and ourselves. That’s the first priority.
Days of Gold (which featured on a re-release of Farewell Fitzroy) is the 2018 Commonwealth Games’ mascot’s theme song. Can you tell me a bit about that and what it means to you?
It’s a great sync and it seems to be the song that keeps on giving … We originally wrote it thinking it was not a Busby Marou song – I was secretly hoping that someone like katy perry would want it … that didn’t happen and we made [it] work somehow.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen you guys in concert (twice: once at Bramble Bay Bowls and before that with James Blunt – as I said, I’m a big fan!). For those who haven’t seen you live before, what can they expect?
We’ve gone back to a duo mode more recently to bring all the harmonies, storytelling and banter back to the front. Our shows can be pretty funny and sometimes wild. Just the way we like it.
How have you grown as musicians between this album and your last?
For sure. It’s only natural that you improve with experience. We would be disappointed if we hadn’t.
You collaborated with David Ryan Harris, Alex Hope and of course your producer, John Hume on this record. What did their influence bring to Postcards From The Shell House?
They all helped us in different ways. DRH is a bit of a hero to us both so he pushed us to bring our A-game simply because we didn’t want to look foolish.
Alex is a young superstar and she brought back to the life the long-lost youth buried in our souls and John is a perfectionist and an awesome musician just like Jeremy [Marou] so he almost acted as our coach – always pushing us from reserve to A-grade …
How did those writing sessions compare to the ones you had solo?
No so different. We were all on the same page musically so the creative process was still as stimulating as it would be if we’re writing on our own. The only difference is that you have a deadline to finish a song when collaborating.
What do you want people to take away from seeing you live?
A story, a memory and an overwhelming feeling of happiness.
You both had careers in completely different fields before taking music on full-time. Would you ever return to those careers?
Never. No matter what happens from here – no going back!
Personally, my favourites of all your songs are Widow, Heard It All Before, Dancing on the Moon and Paint My Cup. I love their lyrical quality as well as how they sound. How important is the story for you when writing new material?
Storytelling defines who we are as musicians. We never realised that until recently. I didn’t think that I had anything important to say, but it does feel pretty nice to know that so many people connect to what we’re talking about.
What are some of your favourite songs from your back catalogue, and from this album in particular?
We love playing Something For Me – it’s from our first EP and is pure folk pop. Loving playing Got Your Back and Every Day in Between from the new album.
You guys were part of the Channel 9 Telethon a few months ago. How important is it to use your fame for causes such as this?
We often get beautiful messages from people who have had some bad luck or tragedies and there is no better feeling to know that our music can help people smile again.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Teskey Brothers, Sam Outlaw, Lake Street Dive … love them all.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Do what makes you happy, not what you think you should be doing.
What else have you got planned for this year?
Our manager won’t tell us our schedule yet because he thinks we might quit! I hope it’s as busy as he says …
Connect with Busby Marou
- Jackie Smith