STEVE TOWSON – The Shock&Awe Zine Interview – Part 1
Joe Kidd talked to Steve Towson on the rooftop of the Moon Traveller’s Lodge in KL on Tuesday, 19th October 2010. Steve was accompanied by his friend graphic artist Matt Limmer, who did the artwork for his new solo album released recently. This is the first part of the 50 minutes interview.
*this interview is first featured in the 2nd issue of Shock’n’Awe fanzine.
Australian singer-songwriter, folk-punk wailer Steve Towson visited this region yet again last October; first landing in KL and hanging out here for a days, but Joe didn’t have the time to organise a gig for him here, but then he went on to Manila and later to Singapore for a few gigs.
Steve have been coming here a lot since his first visit playing two shows organised by Joe in KL back in 2003. He played all over the place, Indonesia included. He came back in 2005 with a backup band called The Conscripts – featuring Ness on cello and a couple of local musicians on the rhythm section – that tour promoted a split-CD with My Precious. That tour took them to South Korea.
The very next year, Steve Towson & The Conscripts put out the highly rated album Shah Mat, which is still a huge favourite over here.
As of writing this, Steve is back in his small abode in a small town near Brisbane readying for the release of what he calls as ‘the final Conscripts album’. It’s called Cygnus Olor and it would be out early next year.
These days he has a bigger project; documenting and re-recording Australian traditional music, but unlike many other musicians before him who’d only busied themselves with the typical Anglo-Celtic aspect of it, Steve is mining further into the melting-pot of various different ethnicities which make up Australia as it is today.
Joe: So tell me how disppointed you were when you found out I didn’t organise a show for you here in KL this time.
Steve: I didn’t expect anything because I didn’t put heaps of work into it. I don’t know, I thought if you didn’t put work into some…
Joe: I thought you’re crying away because you thought..
Steve: I was! That’s what we’re doing in the Philippines. I was crying and Matt was…
Steve: Consoling, yea.. That’s what you call it. But no, if you don’t do work you can’t expect the reward, so… I didn’t have a chance. I was too busy doing my recordings, research into the traditional Australian stuff.
Joe: So this traditional Australian stuff, is it your next album or a separate thing, or what?
Steve: I don’t know when I’m gonna put it out, like, coz I’ve recorded like 20 songs but I think I need to at least do at least 40 (songs), like to make it comprehensive as much as possible. I could release an album at the moment but they all be predominantly Anglo-Celtic songs. And…
Joe: Er, what?
Steve: Anglo-Celtic from the UK mainly. but I wanna make sure.. Coz in Australia, like, my next door neighbour, he’s Malay-Australian. He’s fiancee’s granma is Russian-Australian. And also where I live there’s a woman and her husband who I think maybe African-Aboriginal. So you got these etchnicities that have existed in Australia that.. I think quite often it’s easy just to say that Australia is like a “white-British” colony rather than acknowledging the Spanish, the Portuguese, Italians,..
Joe: But were they there in Australia from quite earlier on in its history or quite recently.
Steve: I bought a book over.. I went to a museum in a really little town and they had this independent book they’ve made called The Lebanese Contribution to Gayndah, which is the town where I got it. And there have been Lebanese in the community there since mid-1800s, so there have been Lebanese in Australia since then. The same with Spanish. There’s this book I bought in Sydney about The Spanish in Australia.