Russell Morris
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Podcast 178
Russell Morris's 'Sharkmouth
features in Podcast 178

David Stoeckel chats with Russell Morris about his latest album 'Sharkmouth'.

DS: Hello Russell.  Certainly eager to talk to you about your latest album. I must say from the outset that  Sharkmouth will go down as a landmark recording in the context of Australian Roots music. Are you pleased with the exposure the album is getting at thus far?
RM: Hi David, thanks for your nice comments about Sharkmout. Mmuch appreciated. Yes I am extremely gladdened by the way Sharkmouth has been received. You never really know how things will go.

DS: Given the richness and depth of the songs on the album, the ideas for Sharkmouth must have been incubating for some time?
RM: After I first wrote the title track, things started to come pretty freely. A lot of the songs were written (or at least the initial idea) very quickly.

DS: I've refer to the album an example of  'Australian Roots Noire'.  There are three aspects of this category ...
Firstly "Australian"! Well the characters are Australian. All from a bygone era?
RM: The characters and events are all Australian. Part of that is me wanting to sing about something from our Australian collective soul. That way you aren't faking things. The other! My grandmother relayed a lot of these stories to me.

DS: It is "Australian" in a significant way. We are used to hearing about the Mississippi in song but not The Yarra River! Bonnie and Clyde but not Squizzy Taylor! The Great  Depression in the US but not here in Australia. I think you should be given The Order of Australia because you have invested Sharkmouth with a  richness that is Australian ...I hear it in song and I don't cringe!  Your thoughts!
RM: Making the album about Australia was a priority. I didn't however, want it to sound Jingoistic. You have to walk a fine line between facts and poetry, otherwise it starts to sound like journalism. Some of the songs were more like broad brush strokes just to create a mood.

DS: Secondly "Roots".  The album dips into the genre of Country blues. This might come as a surprise to some listeners who were perhaps expecting more of those lush arrangements of your earlier material!
RM: The genre of roots blues fits the time frame perfectly as they were both present doing this era. Plus, I love the blues and roots style.

DS: Thirdly "Noire".  The songs are evocative.  They tell us of tough times and shady characters.  I'm really curious about the background on this "noire" content (as I call it) and how it evolved?
RM: The stye of the album initially evolved from the photograph of Thomas Archer on the front cover, the rest evolved through my love of history and my Nan's tales.

DS: Sharkmouth is about things tragic, dark and bleak. Enthralling songs that are some how  uplifting. This is the stuff of The Blues, Fado , Alt. Country have an affinity with these genres?
RM: I think we all have an affinity with the blues, as they evoke something in us, that is quite deep, primitive and emotional.

DS: Noticed on the album's sleeve that the song writing is down to you! You did team up with some others. Tell us about these various song writing partnerships.
RM: Jim Keays also a great blues lover. We have known each other for eons. Same with Gary Paige. Ihave known him since the 60's.

DS: I'm always curious about the machinations of the song writing process.  One might think that because of the characters in Sharkmouth that the lyrics came first ...and then the music?
RM: With Sharkmouth some of the lyrics came first as the story had to be set and then lyrics had to be changed to meet the metre of the song.

DS: Are there plans to take Sharkmouth on the road? Live shows devoted entirely to presenting the songs from the album. I'm talking big theatrical backdrops from the 20's, projected archival photos and guest appearances by Troy Cassar-Daley, Renee Geyer and Chris Wilson to name but a few!
RM: Sharkmouth is now on the road. We are doing all the blues festivals and touring the venues of each state. So far it has been really enjoyable.
Thanks loads for you support. All the best.

Russell Morris