Brother/sister folk duo The McMenamins have been lucky enough to tour their music consistently over the last few years, including a recent jaunt overseas in the US where they played the famous SXSW in Austin, Texas, as well as scoring a spot at Australia’s premier folk festival, Woodford. Yet for Queensland-based Fleur McMenamin and her brother and bandmate Simon, coming down south to play shows in Melbourne still holds much excitement, even if it is in our colder months. “Well, [we’re] not looking forward to the cold,” she laughs.
Call it biased but this writer can’t help but agree wholeheartedly. We may not have the weather but hot damn we’ve got the music scene.
The McMenamins are certainly no strangers to the live scene having toured the country since 2003, but in recent times both Fleur and Simon have had to consider more carefully the needs of their touring party. Both he McMenamin siblings took some time out a few years ago to have children and it hasn’t put a stop to travelling: the kids even accompanied their parents in the bus for a gruelling leg at the beginning of their extensive Australian tour. “That was a very full-on experience: touring with four kids under five,” remembers Fleur.
“You know, lumped in a tour bus for thirty days and 3,000 km’s. It was very interesting to say the least.”
Despite the tour being slightly more crazy and a little more hectic with the kids on board, they nonetheless seemed to enjoy themselves. “Yeah, they had a great time. They kinda got sick and you’d have to stop thirty times, one of them would be at a rest stop... it just took twice as long to get to where you needed to go.”
There’s no doubt that siblings have a certain musical connection that only seems to happen when you’re of the same blood. Fleur is adamant that this is certainly the case with herself and her brother. “We get on really well; we have very few disagreements and we just work together so well musically and we have our roles,” she says. “Like, I write the songs and the lyrics and the music and [Simon] does the instrumental on top of that, which really enhances the songs and the harmonies… and helps with arrangement and recording.
“There’s a musicality that we share, obviously, in our genes, but also it really shows itself on stage I think in our timing and our dynamic: the way we feel, the expression. Being siblings helps a lot in that way and works particularly well live.”
That live chemistry will be on display when the duo roll into town for their Melbourne run of shows and there is a lot more touring lined up in the near future as well including a return trip to the US. “We’re just in the middle of confirming dates now for October. So, that will be fun and interesting. [We’re] really excited about it.”
So, will the kids be tagging along for that tour as well? “No. I think it’s a bit far to drag them across the world and yeah… [it’d be] a very expensive tuition too,” Fleur laughs. “Independent musicians have enough trouble raising funds to get two people over there let alone an entourage of eight!”
THE McMENAMINS launch their album Long Time Gone at The Northcote Social Club on Wednesday June 29 – tickets from northcotesocialcub.com. They also play The St Kilda Branch on Friday July 1, and Pure Pop records on Saturday July 2