Anybody watching ABC’s Q&A a few weeks back would have seen Jeremy Marou looking flabbergasted when an audience member asked him the “weirdest question ever” about same sex marriage and polygamy.
“I was obviously extremely nervous!” Marou says. “I knew there wasn’t going to be a topic that I was familiar with. I’m just used to talking about music and football.” So what motivated him to plunge into the unknown on live national television? “I was in the public service for about five years after I finished uni,” Marou says. “I actually became a bit of a nerd and used to watch Q&A all the time!”
Despite feeling overwhelmed with nausea the day before, Marou said his “lovely” fellow panelists put him at ease backstage. “Barnaby Joyce hung out in our dressing room before and after the show and I think I talked to [Greens leader] Christine Milne more in the make-up room than I actually did onstage,” Marou says.
The show focused on native titles, regional development and mining – something Torres Strait Islander Marou is familiar with having grown up in Queensland’s Rockhampton. “If I wasn’t working [as a musician] I’d be in mining. I’d be crazy not to!” Marou says.
But it’s unlikely Marou would be ever without music. “I don’t think you’ll find a Torres Strait Islander man who doesn’t play guitar,” he says. “I was always going to be a musician one way or another, whether I was working in the mines or being a full time muso. It wasn’t until probably a year-and-a-half ago when I thought to myself, ‘Hang on, maybe I can be a full time musician and play guitar for a living and still be able to earn the same amount of money as those miners do anyway!’”
Busby Marou released their self-titled debut album a year ago. It’s composed of soothing harmonies, rough strings, and a poetic outlook on their country backgrounds. They recently launched a double disc version with covers of Cyndi Lauper and The Lemonheads.Their blend of country, folk, blues and roots has led them to be branded as uniquely Australian, which Marou says is unintentional. “I don’t think we try to sound ‘Australian’. I think it comes from what we are singing about. Most of the songs are about places in central Queensland and so we’re actually singing about home.”
Their first single Biding My Time clearly resonated with other Australian artists because they just won an APRA for it in the blues and roots category. “We had absolutely no idea that we were even half a shoo-in for winning the award. I didn’t even go down for it,” Marou says.
It was definitely a morale boost for the band before they kick off their national tour. Marou says audiences are in for a treat. “You’ll get songs from the album and new stuff we’re working on,” he says. “We’ll do an acoustic set where we might pull a double bass out, and then we’ll obviously rock it out and do our more upbeat songs.”
As for Marou’s famed finger-picking guitar skills? “I’ll try and do as many guitar tricks as possible during the shows,” he promises.
BY CORAL HUCKSTEP
BUSBY MAROU bring their I Still Don't Believe tour to The Corner Hotel on Thursday June 28 with Leedah Cheetah (duo) and The Hello Morning.