Morgan Bain is excited. He's at home rehearsing for his gig at local haunt, the Indi Bar in Scarborough, Western Australia. With a national tour starting on Friday 1st May, he candidly explains: "I am going to have to shut up before tonight!"
This 20-something singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, is no stranger to the big tour circuit. He's been performing since his teens, with typically 14-15 shows on a tour. It makes you want to sit down, relax, and listen to his new single 'Why Don't You Stay'. But the mere thought of staying put irks him. "I've been doing a ridiculous amount of shows every year. It's manic and it's awesome and I love it."
Keeping busy is important to Bain, "I can't sit around the house and twiddle my thumbs. I'm pacing around the house as we speak, I can't sit still!"
Touring and producing music operates at a hectic pace in his world, and he confides his one luxury now is "watching movies". More recently, he's discovered the joys of taking time out. "I never used to have a break, I had to make myself have a holiday. As soon as I did that, I was like 'Y'know what? This is great! I am going to have holidays every year.'"
Operating at this speed has proved invaluable. Music has been "[my] full-time gig since I was 17. I've had to work hard, I worked my arse off full-time."
For emerging and established artists in Australia, being able to claim music as a primary source of income is a utopic quest. It is achievable, but for most, juggling work, producing music and gigging is an ongoing performance in itself. He's managed to combine it all, and it's been well-deserved.
Born and bred in WA, he sees the Perth music scene as a significant factor in his rise. "There is a really, really local and underground music scene in Perth. Nobody really knows about it."
In comparison to the east coast, he sees WA as having a supportive charm and "more money is put into gigs. In WA, people are extremely loyal. Artists are looked after really well. From the venue to the reception, writers and accommodation."
He knows, with Sydney and Melbourne being the music capitals of Australia, touring and coverage is crucial. "I love going over east. I go over there and I am the smallest fish in the pond."
When it comes to swimming in the West Australian Music (WAM) pond, the roles are reversed. In March, he won his third Song of the Year (for 'Hold On'), and also performed at the West Coast Blues'N'Roots festival in Fremantle. That same month, he scooped a semi-finalist position in the US International Songwriting Competition (for unreleased song 'Lost in the Moment'), and landed as a finalist in the US John Lennon Songwriting Contest (for single 'In the Middle'). Not bad for this small fish and his band.
His band, consisting of bassist Adam Springhetti and drummer Andy Pearson, "work out stuff together and put stops into songs to give me crap basically."
With a lot of the writing done on the road, he says the process "changes every single time. Sometimes it is a lyric that I sing, there are different ways. If it is a melody or groove, I use my phone. A lot!" He laughs and explains it's revolutionized his car trips. "I have written a heap of songs while I am driving. Recording grooves, beat boxing and that." Rest assured, it's hands-free.
The more hands-on approaches are saved for road trips. With surfing a deep passion for Bain, combining the two has been an ideal reason to go away. "It chills you out, it's great every now and then to bliss out and surf lots. It's a great period to write. I'm used to writing on the road, picking up the guitar and stringing it. Music comes to me on the road."
He says this leisurely form of writing now encompasses his band members. "I write everything, the melody, and the words, sometimes I write the keyboard parts and the drum grooves. But, that is starting to change."
The band, he enthuses, have "awesome, awesome ideas." He's developed an openness to shaping the songs, "but it's up to me to map out the song and the structure of it. Everything else is basically adding to it." It's this careful, delicate and thought out way of crafting music that have seen him praised for his songwriting.
Vocalist Teischa Jones also cited this as a reason for becoming a fan of his music. As the band's backing vocalist and keyboardist, a chance jam session turned into her becoming a part of the band. For Jones, blurting out: "oh my god, I'd love to go do gig with you sometime!" didn't go astray. The proof is in the pudding.
His adaptive style and desire to keep playing has enabled a plurality. "Morgan Bain isn't so much about me, it is a project, and it is everything."
The idea of not just being a solo artist has allowed him to dive into different waters and support fellow musicians. He says it's a far cry from his younger days when "idea protectiveness over creativeness and creative ideas" remained dominant. Now, he explains, "You write that much it doesn't really matter."
Splitting songs down the middle and quibbling over being half-assed are not arguments he entertains in his day-to-day music production. Now, artists like Jones get to play on tour with Bain and also in their own outfit. "When we tour with Teischa, we get to promote her music; she does her own thing with her band." He jokingly states, "I say to her you can do your thing at the start, then you play with your band!"
Bain understands this desire to commit to two passions, for the most part. He has "toured my ass off around Australia and done a couple of gigs in Indonesia – it was awesome."
The awesome he is referring to is the mix of surfing and performing, which is not always on tap. "It's not always the case, I used to do that wherever I could find the board."
He says at times it became a comedy of errors. "When I have free time no one has a board and when people have a board, I don't have time!"
If both could form the basis of his next musical sojourn, would he do it? "One day that will happen, plan a couple of tours around the good surf."
The pragmatic side of him pipes up and confides it's "not always where the gigs are or where you pick the money up."
MORGAN BAIN 'WHY DON'T YOU STAY' NATIONAL TOUR DATES
FRI 1 MAY |YAH YAH's FITZROY, VIC | 18
SAT 2 MAY | SOOKI LOUNGE, BELGRAVE VIC| 18
SUN 3 MAY | THE B-EAST, EAST BRUNSWICK VIC | 18
THURS 7 MAY | THE REPUBLIC BAR, NORTH HOBART TAS | 18
FRI 8 MAY | ROYAL OAK, LAUNCESTON TAS | 18
SAT 9 MAY | THE LASS O'GOWRIE HOTEL, WICKHAM NSW | 18
SUN 10 MAY | TOWRADJI BEACH HOTEL, WOLLONGONG NSW | 18
THURS 14 MAY | FRANKIES PIZZA BY THE SLICE, SYDNEY NSW | 18
FRI 15 MAY | THE GRAND JUNCTION HOTEL (THE JUNKYARD) MAITLAND NSW | 18
SAT 16 MAY | SYDNEY BLUES & ROOTS FESTIVAL, FITZROY HOTEL, WINDSOR NSW | 18