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Australian folk duo Hussy Hicks — Leesa Gentz and Julz Parker — are returning to Mobile with tracks from their new album, “On the Boundaries.”
Band: Hussy Hicks
Date: Thursday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m.
Venue: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, 916 Charleston St.,
Tickets: Call 251-433-9374 for more info.
For years, Australian duo Hussy Hicks have brought their harmonic, earthy, folk sound from the Gold Coast to the Gulf Coast. With each local performance, Leesa Gentz and Julz Parker fall more in love with the Mobile Bay area and its music scene.
In fact, the geographic impression has been so strong that the two recorded their album “Lucky Joe’s Wine and Other Tales from Dog River” with Rick Hirsch at his waterfront Studio H2O.
Now, Hussy Hicks return to the Azalea City with tracks from their new album, “On the Boundaries.” For this outing, Gentz and Parker decided to give their folk sound more of an edgy rock flavor than in the past.
In a recent conversation with Lagniappe, Gentz explained Hussy Hicks’ recent experimentation in the studio as well as the duo’s ever-growing love affair with the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Stephen Centanni: Australia has never disappointed with its music, but it’s kind of a funny thing. It’s like you won’t hear of any bands coming out of Australia, and then all of a sudden, they’re here. I have to know what it’s like getting your music out of Australia and to the rest of the world.
Leesa Gentz: Well, Julz and I have always been fairly adventurous girls. Our very first tour together was actually here in the States, like, 12 years ago. It was kind of as much traveling around as it was playing. We have always taken our music as many places as possible. That’s kind of the fun for us. It’s seeing new places and meeting new people and trying new things and struggling with languages and all that sort of thing. We absolutely love touring at home in Australia, but yeah, I definitely think the adventurous side of us loves it when we get to tour overseas.
Centanni: How do you think touring in the South has affected your music?
Gentz: So much! Both of us are head over heels in love with the Mobile music scene. We just think you guys have the most amazing musicians and songwriters and studios. The musical community is so strong, and we feel so fortunate because we met Kristy Lee so many years ago. She really brought us in and introduced us to everyone. We’re so lucky that we have so many friends in Mobile and [have] been allowed to be a little, tiny part of your scene.
Centanni: With that said, how would you compare the Mobile scene to somewhere along the Gold Coast?
Gentz: I would say that apart from the actual type of music that’s being played, I’d say it’s quite similar. We have a really thriving, healthy scene. We’ve got all kinds of music. There’s a lot of hardcore and metal music coming out of the coast at the moment and good hard rock music, but we have a really strong acoustic, kinda rootsy scene as well, which is obviously the one that we fit a little bit better into.
We’ve been really lucky, because the government has been focusing some energy and money into building our music scene and giving us a bit more of a national identity in our country. We live in a holiday area. It’s where people and their family go for their holidays, so we’re trying to establish ourselves as a great music city as well.
Centanni: One of the many friends that you’ve made since you’ve been coming here is Rick Hirsch. You even came and recorded an album at Studio H2O. What was it like working with Rick?
Gentz: Rick is just incredible. Obviously, apart from being the nicest guy in the whole world, his knowledge of music and his ears are incredible. Him and Julz get on like a house on fire. We pop around to Rick’s whenever we’re in Mobile. These two, they’ll sit around and play guitar for hours. They talk about guitar, and they jam. We’ve actually made a lifelong friend with Rick Hirsch.
As far as recording, we had Stan Foster coming in to play bass, and Greg DeLuca playing drums on the record. The five of us sat around and had a ball playing music for five days. We were also lucky enough to have Eric Erdman and Donna Hall and Kristy Lee come in and do some vocals on that record. For two chicks from Australia, having that level of musician play on your album is mind blowing.
Centanni: What was it about Dog River that inspired an album?
Gentz: I think just the people. We’ve been coming to Mobile for so long, and we had spoken for Rick for a couple of years. He kept saying, “Come on! We need to record something together.” So one year we just put enough time aside that we could sit down and be creative. You know, a lot of the songs were almost finished, some of them were completely finished. All of us sat down and nutted it out together and what direction everything should take.
Obviously, that studio is in one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen, with the magnolia trees and Spanish moss and the river and watching fish jump. We even had those fireflies everywhere at night. So, the place was magical, but the people were the most magical.
Centanni: The new album is called “On the Boundaries,” which I think is appropriate, because it’s an edgier album than you’ve done in the past. For you, how do you think the title of the album reflects that collection of songs?
Gentz: It definitely pushed our boundaries musically. Usually, we go into the studio, and we try and create a sound that can be easily recreated in a live situation. With “On the Boundaries,” we decided not to worry about any of that. We spent about 12 days tracking everything on that album, and we made as many different, kind of interesting sounds as we could. We experimented a lot, and we did a lot of vocal layering. There’s a few songs where it’s like you’re playing in vocal parts on the keyboard. That was all sung live. We created heaps of samples.
After we tracked it, we had several months away. Anytime we were in an interesting place, Julz would get out there recording stuff, and we would capture sounds of the birds or the frogs. So, we got kinda experimental, but we have been playing most of those songs live. I think that if it’s a decent song, then you can strip back all the layers and still have the essence of the song, and those songs have been going over well in live situations. We’re very happy with the album. It just won an award for “Album of the Year” in our local area. Even though it’s different to our other stuff, everyone seems to be responding positively.
Centanni: As far as your experience with this album, how do you think it will affect your future recordings?
Gentz: I don’t know, Julz and I have been talking about what we’re going to do with our next album. I think we might take approaches from both sides, with more band-sounding stuff and the layering stuff.
In Australia, we’ve been traveling with our rhythm section, Tracy and Allie. We’re home for a few weeks in September, then we go to Europe for about six weeks. We’re hoping that once we get back from all that at the end of November we’ll be able to get back in the studio and just play around and see how things fall into place. I think that hopefully it will fall into place, or we’ll have to try a few different things.
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