Glenn Richards made the difficult move to Hobart a few months ago. Although it pains the Melbourne singer-songwriter to be away from home, he needed to isolate himself in order to write his next batch of songs. "I've spent most of the morning writing a new tune that I'm really happy with," says a palpably enthused Richards from his basement studio.
The Augie March frontman has always said that the band were merely on "a necessary break" - that they would begin working on their fifth album when each member of the band was eager. "Everybody's started communicating with each other quite a bit more in the past couple of months, and it seems to be - in a very natural fashion - heading towards another Augie March record," Richards informs. "And the songs that I'm writing, I can imagine that band playing them."
Richards is undecided on whether to play new songs on this tour, in which he and Dan Luscombe will perform songs from his solo album, Glimjack , as well as the Augie March catalogue: "I've always been 50/50 about whether to play new songs because you might get tired of them, so I'm of the mind that I might try and keep them as fresh and exciting as I can, but you never know... so we'll see."
Richards chuckles when I recall his witty criticism of Luscombe's haircut at the album launch last November. "Ah yeah, 'cause we've been doing it pretty much the same amount of time, we know when to avoid contact," he laughs. "We take the piss out of each other quite a lot, which makes for an enjoyable gig for everybody."
Ten months after releasing Glimjack, Richards is pleased with where the album stands alongside his Augie March catalogue. "It's not a million miles away from something like Strange Bird with a little more of that energy and attitude about it," he ponders. "It didn't stay in the sun like you always hope the record might, but I was never really expecting it to become a gigantic thing. I'm pretty happy that we achieved what we wanted to with the record - as it stands, it's a very good record and a really enjoyable one for me and the other guys, and that's kind of the most important thing, as selfish as it sounds. I think a lot of people understand that it's just a chapter."
For Richards, Harsh Critic is very much an ode to himself: "There's a joy in writing a new song, particularly when you've gone a step further and maybe done something that you didn't think you could've done - there's a real high from that, but it never lasts that long. Before you know it, you're starting to see the flaws in the song and you got to let that go. It's always going to be there. Going into the next thing, it's kind of healthy - it means that you want to get back to feeling good about what you're doing. The danger is when it's just a prolonged period where you just can't do it and you feel like you're never gonna be able to do it again or you're going backwards.... I'm kind of in a purple patch, so I don't really want to jinx it," he laughs.
Of course, Richards and Gareth Liddiard are regarded by many as the country's best lyricists. "I think Gaz ploughs his own field and in terms of being able to not just generate a story in a song but then finesse it in the way that he does and the rawness that he applies to it as well as the delicacy, I think he's in a league of his own there," says Richards.
"There's a lot of laziness in songwriting and people can get away with it because society has come to expect laziness from songwriters like it's a novelty. A lot of what you hear that's regarded as seriousness in songwriting on the radio is really just a facsimile of something that people are familiar with and that's just not good enough. That's one thing that we share - not wanting to be that."
I propose that Liddiard would hold the same level of admiration for Richards. "One of the best compliments you can get from Gaz is very backhanded generally," he chuckles.
Despite his self-deprecating disposition, Richards was still excited to have Augie March voted into the Hottest 100 Australian Albums Of All Time by triple j listeners and members of the Australian music industry. "Look, it's terrific - regrettably, we're more known for talking down our own records; that always extends from a desire to do better," says Richards. "There are a lot of records that should've got in there that didn't and a hell of a lot that shouldn't be there, but it's still wonderful and pretty exciting for us."
Which albums did Richards vote for in the industry poll? "I had a few usual suspects in there: a couple of Church records, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds' Your Funeral... My Trial," he recalls. "I also nominated Crow's Li-lo-ing because I thought it had elements of all the other albums that I suggested like The Necks and The Dirty Three."
Speaking of high recognition, how did it feel to be featured on the iPod that Julia Gillard gave to Barack Obama? "It was just a crazy sensation but also you look at a lot of the other stuff that was on it and it kind of qualifies it again for me," Richards laughs. "Great stuff and then some embarrassing stuff from my point of view. I'll take it very happily but very much regret a song as well," he chortles, referring to Augie March's cover of Cold Chisel's Janelle. "I think everybody who got on that list was probably thinking the same thing after the initial kind of thrill - do you reckon he really listened to it or do you reckon he just gave it to one of his daughters and she wiped it from the iPod," he chuckles. "Or maybe I'm being cynical."
Glenn Richards and Dan Luscombe play The Toff In Town Thursday August 25, supported by Mike Noga. Glimjack is out now through Sony.