WAM INTERVIEWS: Davey Craddock & The Spectacles
Multiple WAMi nominees Davey Craddock & the Spectacles are a self-proclaimed mix of “Australicana/Americana/Banana/Copacabana”, who had an explosive 2015 with the release of their single Better Alone. Ahead of the launch of their debut album, City West, at RADA Studios on Saturday 12 March, WAM’s Jason Harris interviews front man Davey Craddock about why he’s decided to launch the album in the very studio it was recorded in, key lyrical inspirations and decidedly glamorous Australian childhoods, complete with the “smell of horseshit on ANZAC Day.”
What do you get from channeling you life experiences through songwriting?
I’m not a particularly internal songwriter and I think most of my songs are about things I’ve observed in other people or places. So maybe that style of songwriting helps me make sense of the world and in doing that I get some personal stuff out. Through writing about other people, I’m sure a lot of my own personal experience comes. A song like There Will Be Light features a bunch of characters growing up or living in country towns and working out whether to stay and build a life or move out and leave some things behind. I grew up in the Southwest so I’m sure there’s a lot of personal experience in that song.
You were a journalist and critic in previous careers – how has that aided you as a musician?
It just meant that I got to interview a bunch of amazing songwriters – Elvis Costello, John Fogerty, Paul Weller, Tim Rogers etc – in detail about songwriting and tried to learn from them and steal some of their tricks. Most of that stuff never made it into print as it sounded too nerdy and I worked for quite a mainstream publication but talking about the nitty gritty of songwriting with those people was always the highlight of that job for me.
Tell us about the process of making your album City West, and what you learned from it?
We recorded over about two years at a studio in West Perth called RADA. We didn’t really start recording until we felt confident as a live band as it was largely done completely live and to tape. It was a pretty fuss free recording process – just getting in there, setting up and hitting record – as a lot of our arrangements etc had to be honed over a very long time live.
Amongst a number of shows around the country, you’ve decided to release your album in your hometown at the studio it was created – what drove you to make this unconventional launch decision?
RADA is such a beautiful place and it’s a little bit sentimental for me actually! I basically want people to share in the experience that we had while recording the album. It’s a great sounding live room and really cosy. I run a concert series called Hush and I’m really into playing in untraditional venues and creating unusual shows for the audience.
What were the most challenging aspects in transitioning from regional to city life?
I’m lucky in that my Mum’s family who are Italian all live in Fremantle so it wasn’t like I was plonked here out of nowhere with no family when I moved here as a 18 year old. One challenge was negotiating new social circles and trying to fit in or find a bunch of like minded people to hang out with. I always felt that people who grew up there already had their little cliques – particularly in music – so on a very adolescent level just making new mates and finding a crew was a bit tough at first. I’m also a really shit driver so getting used to Perth traffic took me a while (and a few scrapes).
With Todd Pickett, Luke Dux, Pete Stone and Mo Wilson, you’ve got some talented artists in the band – how did you go about forming The Spectacles, and how difficult is it with their other acts and clashing schedules?
They all fell into place like dominoes – mainly via other member’s friendships and the members inviting their friends along until we had a fixed lineup. The schedule thing is tricky but the trick is to book really far in advance. We’ve actually got a new member now in Bryn Stanford (Mathas / Mei Saraswati) as Todd is playing with too many bands and has decided to leave!
You won Best Group at the WA Country Music Awards last year, but keep getting beaten in the WAM Awards by your country ‘rival’ Ruby Boots – tell us about your relationship with Bex and how she’s paved the way for artists like yourself to also gain fans in non-country music scenes.
I think the premise of this question assumes that musicians are competitive or that music is somehow like a sport or competition which couldn’t be further from reality! Bex/Ruby is a great mate of mine and is incredibly supportive of what I do. For a period there we had fortnightly coffee sessions where we’d swap notes and help each other out (mainly her helping me!). So we can definitely have a giggle about nominations and awards and such.
What do you feel is your main strength as an artist in terms of connecting with your listeners?
In the Americana genre – whatever that means! – that I tend to work in there’s a lot of talk about horses, whiskey, wagon wheels and trains and stuff. I didn’t grow up in Nashville so I try and keep my lyrical content distinctly Australian and people seem to relate to that. There’s lines about really unglamorous things like asbestos fences and the smell of horse shit on ANZAC day and stuff and people seem to laugh, or at least, smirk at that.
How has WAM helped your career?
The WAM festival showcases and Song Of The Year Awards have been a great way to showcase what we do and helps with national recognition. More specifically, Nigel Bird has been arguably the biggest supporter of our band and the regional tour he organised for us last year through WAM was incredibly helpful and helped fund our album.
Where would you like to be positioned as an artist in 5 years time?
Continuing to tell stories to whoever will listen.
City West Album Launch
Saturday 12 March 2016
RADA Studios, West Perth
Support from Timothy Nelson
Pre-booking essential due to limited capacity, tickets are $35 and available here
You can also catch them at Fairbridge Festival
Friday 15 – Sunday 17 April 2016
Fairbridge Village, South West Highway. Pinjarra, Western Australia
Tickets available here