Jay Hoad is one of those daunting multi-instrumentalists that seem to have every limb flailing to create rhythm and melody on stage while his breath contorts between the roles of instrument in its own right and facilitator of even more melodic layers. He is the type of roots musician that makes you wonder why he even needs a band and while the image of the multi-instrumentalist may conjure a picture of Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, pioneers like Hoad (and the likes of Xavier Rudd) have shown that one man really can do a hell of a lot at once with the result full of every inch of their soul.
With Hoad enjoying the life of ‘no fixed address’, splitting his time between Australia, America, Fiji and pretty much the rest of the world, there are simple logistics to consider when touring. “You know what, most of the time I figure stuff it and I pay the fees to take all of my instruments with me,” Hoad says. “The excess luggage people just love me when they see me coming. When I’m in Fiji or the Caribbean I have a few tricks there to save on space and when in America and Australia where I have my roots, I have all of my instruments there.”
When a musician is jumping between cigar-box guitar and didgeridoo (among many other things) it is easy to assume that there must be an instrument that they return to repeatedly to write their songs but with Hoad creation and execution are both approached with an open mind. “I completely alternate; there is no consistency to my songwriting,” he says. “I don’t intentionally pick an instrument and write on that. I’ll be drawn to an instrument based on a riff or a melody or even words that are spoken to me by someone whichever instrument that is changes constantly.”
Our identities are shaped by so many factors – what we do, where we’re from, where we live now and so much more – and despite not necessarily being a nationalistic individual; our place of birth is an innate part of who we are. Hoad really is a citizen of the world and in asking him where he identifies with as being is home, finding out who issued his passport seems like a good start. “I’m an Australian citizen,” he says. “I was born in Fiji and lived there until I was about five-years-old and both my parents are Australian. I have a lot of ties in Fiji and spend a lot of time over there these days and when I’m there I’m completely claimed as a Fijian; it’s a very special feeling. The Fijian people are quite different to the Australian people in a lot of ways. The last four or five years that I have been touring there a lot, all of my Fijian friends and extended family are like, ‘You’re Fijian bro, don’t you ever forget it’.
“I feel such strong ties even to America now even though I don’t have any historical, like birth, associations. I feel that the more you go to the same places you make these special friends and connections and the place becomes like a family. Thankfully this has all been through music for me. When I’m in America I feel like I’m at home. When I’m in Australia I feel like I’m at home and the same when I’m in Fiji. It’s a big part of me and my inspiration for music and my identity is that sort of home is where the heart is concept.”
BY KRISSI WEISS
JAY HOAD will be at the Odyssey Tavern And Brewery in Geelong, Thursday July 12; The Palais, Hepburn Springs, Friday July 13; Rainbow Room, Saturday July 14 (in acoustic mode) and The Northcote Social Club, Sunday July 15 from 2pm. Stories From The Soul is out now through Walkaboutfish Records.