h

Xavier Rudd

It's been quite a while since Xavier Rudd has released a solo album. His last release was 2010's Koonyum Sun, credited to Xavier Rudd and Izintaba, and before that his most recent solo record is 2008's Dark Shades Of Blue. Rudd recently returned to the studio to record a new batch of songs and an interesting theme to knit them together, the first taste of which is Follow The Sun, a fast-paced yet laid back meditation on the importance of stopping every once in a while to look around you and think about where you are, what has come before and what is to come. The album release is still a little way off, but in the meantime Rudd is heading out on tour to preview the new material in a more intimate vibe ahead of a much more grandiose live project later in the year. 

Follow The Sun was actually the last song Rudd recorded for the forthcoming album Sprit Bird, and the only track recorded in Australia. The rest was tracked in Ontario, north of Toronto in Canada, in a wooden cottage by a lake. "I met a guy at one of my shows who had a studio," Rudd explains "He showed me photos of it, and it was all wooden, and I thought it'd be a great space to record. But I didn't think I ever would. It's so out of the way, and usually when I record it's time that I've stopped, and usually it's somewhere on the coast so I can go surfing." This time around Rudd decided to buck that trend, partially because he was recuperating from surgery to his lower back, so surfing was out of the question. "It was pretty beautiful," Rudd says. "Just having the lake to swim in and a place to be secluded and do gentle rehabilitation while I was recording was the idea. I love being in the scrub. I've spent enough time in cities on tour. So I did it, and it was groovy. And the studio sounded really cool."

 

The title of the album is particularly meaningful, given its unusual cast of backing singers: thirty species of Australian bird (plus one Canadian ring-in). Rudd hit upon the idea of incorporating the birds' songs into the percussion and harmony of the record. At first he didn't know if it was something he could actually pull off, but he needn't have worried. "It was pretty bizarre how it started to work. Every bird we put in just worked, in pitch and tempo. It was pretty interesting. I was doing this one track called Butterfly and I was out on the lake playing on a little flip drum, tapping my foot on the dock which had this really good bass response, and this little bird started singing back to me. I'd sing a line then it'd sing a line. That was the take that we used on the record, and you can hear that bird. It's really interesting because it's the only North American bird on the record. It just showed up and wanted to be a part of it. It was like 'Too many Aussie birds, give me a go'." 

 

And yet it's Follow The Sun, the one non-Canadian recording, that has been released as the first taste of the new album. The song was written after Rudd returned to Australia, at a time when he found himself particularly aware of all of the native bird sounds around him. Rudd is explains the spirit of the song. "I wrote that back down south, I guess reflecting on the massive amount of stuff that's happening, that has been happening, on this old ancient land for so many years, a long time before our culture, and just how we don't take any time to acknowledge that. And it just came from that whole understanding when I got home. I put the maggies in there at the start and the end because it's such a common sound. I recorded that one in Byron Bay and it's kinda different to the rest of the tracks on the record. I wanted it to have that feeling of gentle flowing water." 

 

And so Rudd prepares to head out on the road to preview tracks from the new album as well as to revive a few old favourites. "My live shows are always pretty energetic," he says. "There's always that happening. There's always the Yidaki and the tribal drums, and there's a lot more of that on the record too. It's the first solo record I've made in a long time, so there's a lot of tribal beat stuff, the bird sounds, and later on in the year I'm going to do an audio visual tour, a visual show that goes with the new record. But this show I'll play a little bit of new stuff, a few of the new tracks and a bit of everything really. And new versions of old stuff, dusting some old stuff that I haven't played in a long time."

 

BY PETER HODGSON 

 

XAVIER RUDD performs at The Hi-Fi on Tuesday March 20 (on sale now from thehifi.com.au) and the Forum Theatre on Wednesday March 21 (soldout).