Tinpan Orange are gearing up for a two-month tour of Australia, kicking off on Friday 15, April in Perth for the Fairbridge Festival. This tour will see them traverse the east coast and then cut through the red centre for the finale in Adelaide on Sunday 5, June. In true, generous Tinpan Orange style every state gets a look in – bar ACT – and fans are in for an emotional dose of their new album 'Love is a Dog'. It's their fifth studio release; with the band sending out their sweet, first track 'Rich Man' on Thursday 12, February.
Behind the scenes of 'Rich Man' Singer Emily Lubitz said the lead track signals the first time she has sung like this. Husband Harry Angus (from The Cat Empire), "had a lot to do with the way I sing 'Rich Man'. He has a beautiful sense of melody and an amazing sense of harmony". With the album a reflection of her new found courage to use her voice differently, Lubitz explains, writing with Harry brought a sense of melody not present in the way she writes her songs. "But he stretched those parameters. That high bit in 'Rich Man', he wrote the melody and said, "just sing it, put the energy up there in your head voice," and I did. And it was really a moment of "ohhhhhh, I can!"
While 'Rich Man' evokes strong appeal and gloriously addictive falsetto whimsy, fans of Tinpan Orange will know and revere the classic [insert year] 'Barcelona' well. "It is still one of my favourite songs I've written – I still get asked to play it live – and it is close to my heart." When asked why songs like 'Barcelona' still stand up, Lubitz says it is all about the sentiment. "I think it is a solid song, it reaches people. The groove it is such a great groove, Danny Farrugia and my husband are the secret to that song". When asked what that secret is, she explains, it's the groove between the drums and the bass guitar.
Songwriting process The past may contain beautiful tracks like 'Barcelona', but Lubitz also revealed having to rely on a dramatic past to inform a lot of the lyrics at the time. "You create your dramas – I didn't know that at the time – you create that shit. A lot of my songs were autobiographical, now with my family, we lead more of a settled life. Well, we are not settled, we are all over the place! But we don't have those spontaneous, random moments that happen to you".
When asked if the songwriting process is one that she embarks on both on and off tour, Lubitz explains when Tinpan Orange are touring, she's all about working towards the gig. "I might have written a couple of songs on the Canadian tour, as it was picturesque – but I'm mainly about finding food and surviving in the concrete jungle". After ten years of being in the band, putting energy into the show still remains a number one focus.
Children and being a musician The 'kids' Lubitz is referring to is her sons. "Me and Harry have two boys; four and a half and one and a half years old. It is a juggle and there is something quite compatible about a musician's life and children. We create our own lives". The Cat Empire's Harry Angus tours for four months of the year overseas and Lubitz explains, "we weave it into our lives. We can be with our kids y'know and we have amazing support – grandparents – and we take our kids along a lot". The kids have been on "our big overseas tours and a lot of festivals". Both children started their pseudo musician careers at three months and Lubitz – the classic working mum – found herself breastfeeding, "right up until I'm about to go on stage. I'm ripping them off the boob, doing myself up and hoping my boobs don't leak!"
Keeping it in the family Amongst this beautiful humour mixed with the realities of being a parent and musician (brother Jesse has a nine-month old) Lubitz says on tour, "there is a lot of dead time. This is why a lot of musicians have drinking problems". Kids in tow, Lubitz reveals she's been working with brother for so long they've gotten into certain habits. "We get safe and know each well". She reveals this has played a big part in shaping the creative process of working with other people. "It can get comfortable, I feel like mostly it is a really great thing between me and Jesse and Alex and Harry. There is such a sensibility between us all. Sometimes I start the song late and over time we've really gotten to anticipate each other".
For the new album 'Love is a Dog' the band created a writing retreat in Bali with their boys and Jesse's wife; pregnant with a second boy "Everyday we would sit around and write. With 'Rich Man', we were all holding guitars, humming and strumming. It's not how we usually write. I'll normally take the song take to the band. Mostly the shit ideas come out first … clichés, and then you refine it. When you co-write you are not used to anyone hearing those ideas, but it was fun".
Tinpan Orange in the early days Band member Alex met the Tinpan Orange siblings at Woodford over New Year's Day one year and started playing with the duo. There wasn't a whole lot of direction and the trio gradually started busking in Darwin. "We knew musicians who said, "if you ever want gigs come to Darwin. It was the dry season and we made really good money for Melbourne musicians". She says even with Melbourne's great venues and gigs; it still can be hard to for musicians to make proper money.
The band found it pretty impossible initially (to make money) and played six gigs a week. "They were terrible gigs, horrible! In pubs and no-one was listening". But she reveals, "it wasn't a huge, huge pressure, as there was no audience and the markets are beautiful in Darwin at night". On the weekend, the band would busk and sold about 60 albums at $25 a pop.
'Love is a Dog' National Tour
Fast forward to 2016 and Lubitz explains the jam-packed two-month tour came about from "just making some calls. (The tour) is places we've been doing over the 10 year's. There are beautiful pockets of fans and new, little fan bases. It just made sense to go to all of them". The band go to their "heartlands", places like Fremantle and Mullumbimby. "Towns where for some reason we always get a beautiful crowd. We've done certain festivals and often there is a really loyal clientele who go every year – real music lovers – and Woodford a bit as well. She says the band "lock in the heartlands" first and then and "chuck in all the other side things!'