Truth, Beauty and Getting Through
by Ed. Nimmervoll
As the guiding spirit of The Whitlams, Tim Freedman knows success can be both a blessing and a curse. Ed. Nimmervoll mines the history of the band as Freedman releases a career retrospect.
The story of The Whitlams is one of stellar successes and cavernous lows. Of the 20 musicians to carry The Whitlams’ name, only Tim Freedman has seen the whole journey. Two musicians – founding members Steve Plunder and Andy Lewis – literally didn’t survive: both took their lives in separate incidents. As Freedman has prepared Truth, Beauty and A Picture of You – the band’s career retrospective – he’s re-visited a lot of memories. “I feel like I’m walking back from the Russian front,” he tells MAG “I’ve just made it back to Paris, and a lot of people I went to Russia with didn’t make it.” To tell the whole story of The Whitlams’ 16-year career over six albums on Truth, Beauty and A Picture of You, Freedman had to go outside the singles.
“There had to be a second Stevie Plunder song,” he says, “I found Shining [from Undeniably The Whitlams] representative of that era. It’s got his little themes of death and destruction. And The Curse Stops Here, a song I wrote in reaction to Andy’s death in 2000. They’re the ones that I always had to put on the radio, to tell the story.” Initially a side project, Freedman says The Whitlams were “reacting to the fact that no-one was singing songs in the classic mode, influenced by Bob Dylan, Jonathan Richman or Randy Newman.” Sydney was then full of loud, brash guitar pop bands; The Whitlams were a contrast that evolved into a full-time concern because “we could all fit in a Kingswood!” Freedman says with a laugh.
Remembering early years, Freedman recalls working hard, but playing harder. “We were young and drank a lot, we were full of the devil. We had a lot of laughs and did 150 gigs a year. I have very fond memories. The dark side was that we worked ourselves into the ground, which didn’t do anything for Stevie’s drink and drug problem. He’d have been better off if he hadn’t met someone who worked so hard: me. Sometimes I feel like I was dragging a couple of drunks around the country. They more than pulled their weight musically, but I had to be a taskmaster. Stevie was an enormously creative guitarist. Andy was so fluid: a glorious bass player. If he’d hung around, he’d be playing on 30 albums a year.”
On the back of the iconic No Aphrodisiac, Eternal Nightcap sold 200,000 copies. Independently released and self-financed, it put the band in a powerful position. But, it was a tough time. “it was a hard period, people kept leaving” Freedman explains. “I was recording in spurts, between tours. I thought that’s the way new songs came together, the old fashioned way. We made the album on the smell of an oily rag.
“I had to get some of these dark songs out of my cupboard to move on. It was a statement of what I’d been through. I had no expectations for it.”
Truth, Beauty and A Picture of You rounds off The Whitlams’ story with performances of recent songs Keep The Light On and The Road Is Lost with the Queensland and Sydney Symphony Orchestras.
The Whitlams are supporting the release of Truth, Beauty and A Picture of You with orchestra shows. “It wasn’t my idea,” Freedman confesses. “I never imagined we would warrant such treatment, but the W.A.S.O commissioned it in 2004. They do these big outdoor concerts in King’s Park (Perth). I waited for any opportunity to do it again, which happened last year.” It’s also another reward for Freedman. “it feels like the end of the journey for a song. They can’t make it any further. They start off being doodled on an upright piano and end up in a concert hall with 80-plus musicians.”
Other songs on the retrospective, like Out The Back and There’s No-One (from Torch The Moon and Love This Cityrespectively) represents the latter years, when Freeman found himself with the band he’d wished for in earlier times. Today’s members – Jak Housden, Warwick Hornby and Terepai Richmond, who Freedman describes as “creative, flexible and stable” – have now been in the band longest, barring Freedman himself. Beyond the retrospective and coming tour, Freedman is planning solo activity. “I’ll release something under my name next year, and give the type of album The Whitlams make – quite produced long records which tell a lot of stories – a rest. I’ll come back and make something with The Whitlams in the future.”
The Whitlams Give Away Live Album This Weekend
by Tim Cashmere
Whitlams founder and front man Tim Freedman is gearing up to give away 700,000 copies of their live album, recorded with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
700,000 copies will make that in the top 20 biggest albums in Australian history, although Freedman has remained calm about the prospect, telling Undercover, “Well no I don’t think I would consider that to be valid because those other albums were paid for by the consumer, but that’s why I did it because I’d get reach.
“It made sense for us because we’re about to release our studio best of, and this was, I thought, a really interesting way of putting our name and music into people’s heads before that release. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing how it affects live numbers.”
But this “highlight of our last 900 gigs”, as Freedman puts it, will happen again… and again.
“We do these shows with the symphony orchestra, well we started doing them last year and we’re hoping to do another one next year, so the upside for me [of giving away 700,000 albums] is in twelve months when I play the Sydney Opera House again and I do six nights instead of three.”
Why keep going? The answer is simple, “It’s a thrill [playing with an orchestra]. The composers did a wonderful job, because I gave them carte blanche, and being in the middle of an orchestra like that is a very heady, lush experience, and we managed to record it quite well and capture it on tape last September, so for me it’s a great opportunity to let people hear the highlight of our last 900 gigs.”
In other Whitlams news, the band are about to release a best of CD. Unfortunately you’ll have to pay for this one, but it’s more than just the singles, and will be well worth it.
“I decided to leave a couple of singles off, because I wanted to tell a story of The Whitlams in song, and I needed to put a couple of early tunes in there, and a couple of songs which were about the dramas that the band lived through, and I tried to make a nice mix between the popular songs and those that are an emotional journey.”
The Whitlams and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Live In Concert will be available with The Sunday Telegraph in NSW, The Australian in Victoria and The Mercury in Tasmania this Sunday, June 1.
The band’s best of will be released in August through Warner music.
Whitlams cross to WASO again
The West Australian
by William Yeoman
Since their now-famous collaboration with the WA Symphony Orchestra in 2004, the Whitlams have released another album, Little Cloud. With the Perth Concert Hall offering a better listening space than the Kings Park outdoor venue of that earlier gig, three concerts were announced for a renewal of acquaintance.
The make-up of Friday night’s capacity audience reflected the broad appeal of the Whitlams, with teens and their grandparents happily rubbing shoulders. Not that the band’s frontman, pianist and singer Tim Freedman, is a purveyor of the easy listen.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when he’s in earnest. Even at his most demotic, there’s a subtly complex, elegiac quality to his lyrics that recalls the late Melbourne poet John Forbes. But he does write a good tune.
In the first half of the concert seemed a little flat, it still had its high points. Like the opening number, the award-winning No Aphrodisiac, or Keep the Light On, Fondness Makes the Heart Grow Absent and Her Floor Is My Ceiling. Especially good was Peter Sculthorpe’s arrangement of Ease of the Midnight Visit, featuring Margaret Blades on solo violin.
Opening with the beautiful Cries Too Hard, the second half was much better, with the hitherto fitful flashes of intensity more frequent. Breathing You In came across as a riff on one of John Donne’s aubades, while the dissonant strings and woodwinds in the Brett Dean/James Ledger arrangement of Buy Now Pay Later reached across to those trademark glissandi in the substantial string interlude of the Sculthorpe arrangement of Out the Back like gentle lighting.
When the rapper from Parramatta John Chmielewski, aka Torture, joined band and orchestra for the powerful anti-war song, The Road is Lost, many in the audience were visibly moved, some standing up and shouting, “More!” Other highlights included an arrangement by ex-WASO horn player Bill Stewart of You Sound Like Louis Burdett (giving the brass section a chance to take the spotlight away from the strings), a haunting account of The Curse Stops Here and, to send the audience home, the Whitlams’ boppy tribute to their namesake, Gough.
Throughout, both band and orchestra (the latter ably conducted by Ben Northey), produced a compelling sound, despite an over-amplification that tended to flatten tonal contrasts.
All in all, another successful crossover venture by the WASO, for which it must be commended.
Another Gem Gig to Pack Ruby’s
Free Press Leader
by Zoe Lewis
ANOTHER high-profile group is set to rock Ruby’s Lounge this Friday. The ARIA-award winning Whitlams will be touring their not-so-new album Little Cloud. Frontman Tim Freedman said he played a solo show at Ruby’s ‘‘two or three years ago’’ and said the young crowd got him to play some of his older songs.
This time around, Freedman said the band would play songs from Little Cloud, but also older material. ‘‘The front rows (of the crowd) like the old stuff, they’re the real fans and sometimes it can be skewed towards them,’’ Freedman said.
Little Cloud, but also older material. ‘‘The front rows (of the crowd) like the old stuff, they’re the real fans and sometimes it can be skewed towards them,’’ Freedman said.Little Cloudwas released almost a year ago, but Freedman said the band was not yet sick of it. ‘‘We haven’t toured this album as much as past albums so it’s still a bit fresh,’’ he said. Freedman said playing at Ruby’s was almost like playing in a country town. ‘‘When you play a room that small you can reach out and touch people, and I mean physically not spiritually,’’ he said. ‘‘They should have a gig like this in every suburb.’’ Freedman said he would start writing new material in Berlin in May.
The Whitlams are also playing a sold-out show at the Corner Hotel on Saturday. Support band is Special Patrol. Tickets are $27 plus booking fee or $30 at the door. Doors open at 8.30pm and Ruby’s spokeswoman Jennifer Land said people should pre-book tickets as the show was likely to sell out
Tim Freedman talks writing reading but no rithmatic
by Sharon Kennedy
Plays piano, reads a lot, writes songs with narrative structure and likes lots of the new Aussie music: that’s Tim Freedman of the Whitlams.
“We didn’t even have the money to put it out as a single. We just gave it to Triple J and suddenly, we had a gold record within five weeks. ”
The single was No aphrodisiac and the band The Whitlams. The year was 1997 and Seattle grunge was the in thing, remembers front man and lyricist Tim Freedman. Not many people were into narrative development in song. No Aphrodisiac stood out like the proverbial.
The song also was surprising within itself, thinks Tim, starting as it does with slurp of sentimentality and ending in a jokey fashion. Fast forward ten years and Tim doesn’t feel so alone in the laudable lyric stakes. He’s more often surprised by music, he says and buys it regularly. The mp3 player has a constant turnover of new and interesting stuff.
So who’s caught his ear? Jackie Marshall “very poetic”, Augie March, the Drones, Sarah Blasko. As a judge of the Australian Music prize, Tim has an early intro to what’s up and coming. The AMP is important he feels because it’s judged by musicians and critics who do listen to the entries unlike the Arias where the sheer volume makes it impossible to do so.
“Practitioners tend to come up with different choices than the more commercial Arias,” he feels.
Tim is a reader. “I read more than I write,” he says. Modern fiction – Martin Amis, John Banville. “I know a lot of writers who don’t read much when they’re writing,” he says. The reason being that they’re afraid of being influenced. “I always pity them.” To Tim’s way of thinking, not to read is to deny enjoyment of the craft.
As a song writer, he says, he tries not to fall into the trap of worrying about influence. “I just read it for enjoyment and only steal the occasional phrase.”
He’s joking. He often does.
The Whitlams may have a good line in slow, sad, melancholy songs but that’s only half the story. “I’m not going to fall into a morass of depression,” says Tim. “I’m a pretty happy fellow.” He adds, “There’s a happy song for every sad.”
There’s also the political side to Tim Freedman. “There’s always the connection between those with imagination and those who land on the left of politics because landing on the left of politics is about imagining other people’s hardship.” How active is he politically? “I’m concerned with my polis,” he says.
In that he’s prepared advocate, to animate, to persuade, but not to be a card carrier or to run for office. “I think that’s only the bare minimum that a citizen should be concerned with in society,” he says, talking of the willingness to air a point of view.
Yet Tim’s not convinced that his efforts will necessarily make a difference. As he points out, the decade in which he’s been afforded an audience and a forum have been the years of a Liberal prime ministership.
Lately, he’s been a doing a lot of work for the Mick Young Foundation and in the course of that has had more contact with the band’s namesake. “I was just a little star-stuck groupie when I first met Gough and Margaret.” They are “funny, sharp and a great couple,” he says. Now that that natural, initial awkwardness is over, that connection is “a great joy for me”, says Tim.
As for the future of Australian political leadership, Tim’s got Kevin Rudd at $2.20 and has staked the house on it.
Back to the writing, there isn’t any. Not yet. “Until I put my mind to it, they won’t come out.” Tim has a trip to Berlin planned for May and June and he’ll come back with the album written. He’s confident about the process because that’s what happened the last trip away. “I went to New York feeling pretty empty and I came back with this last album (Little Cloud).”
“Sit at the piano, doodle, get into a half trance, make mistakes,” is how Tim describes his writing routine. “Sometimes you can have an unfruitful three hours but if you keep doing it every day, after two weeks, the wheels start getting oiled and everything starts coming out. You just can’t get frustrated at the start. It’s like any muscle; it takes a little bit of time to start working again.”
The Whitlams play at the Nannup Music Festival and then Tim heads off to Berlin. Later in the year, the band will again team up with the symphony orchestras including the WASO on November 9th and 11th.
Of that first joint concert in Kings Park, Perth, Tim recalls the experience as better than he had anticipated. The WASO had done all the arrangements and the first time the band heard them was at the first combined rehearsal. He need not have worried. They were “marvellous, imaginative, not based on the records”, he says.
“It was stirring experience to be playing in the midst of 80 other musicians.”
The Whitlams Crash Through
Music Australia Guide
by Ed Nimmervoll
The Whitlams’ Tim Freedman, one of Australia’s most talented songwriters, gets it right on the new album, Little Cloud and the Apple’s Eye.
Tim Freedman might be the most misunderstood person in Australian music. Mention The Whitlams’ singer’s name and people are quick to offer an opinion – often, however, it’s about him, not his music.
The Whitlams are a group, but it’s Freedman’s songs and personality that commands our attention. Ultimately, you need to go to a Whitlams’ performance to get the picture. Sitting behind his keyboards, chatting with the audience between songs, Freedman is like the guest who takes over the conversation at dinner, for better or worse. It can be intimading the first time, but the more you encounter him the more you like him.
Unfortunately many radio programmers find it hard to pigeonhole the Whitlams’ music. It doesn’t come from an obvious genre pool. The huge hit single, No Aphrodisiac, sneaked up on them. Now they’re waiting for another No Aphrodisiac. But there’s more to Freedman’s music than Mr. Lonely Heart.
Admittedly The Whitlams’ own records have muddied the waters. The follow-up to 1998 ARIA album of the year, Eternal Nightcap,Love This City was a sterile, studio-locked album. Then, in 2002, came the unfocussed group effort, Torch The Moon. The new album, Little Cloud and the Apple’s Eye, finally gets it right. Again, it’s all about Freedman.
There are 16 songs on Little Cloud, divided over two discs. Freedman wanted to separate the ‘Sydney’ songs from the ‘New York’ songs – a distinction made while writing the album. Eighteen months ago Freedman ‘escaped’ to New York and rented a lift. For the silence. For “the electricity in the dreams”.
Coming home after three months, Freedman found Australia about to re-elect John Howard: “It then became about the collective depression of all my friends. We didn’t understand our country any more. So in the background of these songs there’s mentions of The Year of the Rat, or the little cloud drifting over Sydney looking for someone with a bit of heart, but doesn’t find them.”
Despite the band’s name, Freedman isn’t trying to change anyone’s political persuasion. On Little Cloud and the Apple’s Eye he’s just expressing his life in song. Three quarters of it is autobiographical. “I never live life just to write a song. Life is so huge. Life is an ocean. To write a song I just put a bucket in the ocean. There are a million other buckets I could pull out.
“No one has ever been offended by anything I’ve written about them. I leave out the bit where she farts, and leave in the bit where she looks beautiful.”
In the end, we are able to recognise Freedman is one of Australia’s most talented performers and songwriters. There are moments on this new album where he’s up there with James Taylor in melody and sentimentality, as innovative as a Ben Folds. He’s a craftsman, heads above James Blunt or Pete Murray. And different. Too different?
The Whitlams Live: The Fans View
LOU GARDINER, 24, SYDNEY
My favourite Whitlams’ gig was at the St Mary’s Band Club in Sydney in June 2000. The support band Blue Rodeo, from Canada, came onstage during the encore wearing Tim Freedman masks and caused havoc. Ben Fink, The Whitlams’ guitarist at the time, was lifted up on one of the band member’s shoulders and continued playing.
ROZ BROWN, 35, LONDON (formerly Sydney)
The London show in October 2002 was one of my highlights (and I think Tim has said the same about that show). It was just after the Bali bombings, and 2000 Australian’s singing Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No.2) at the top of their voices – it just made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I was waiting for the roof of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to come off! It was probably then that I realised how far they had come from the band I used to see at the Sando.
Little Cloud Reviews
Listen Up: album of the week
Tim Freedman is one of those songwriters who conjures mini-movies in your head with his deft and beautifully crafted narratives. The mental cinema evoked by Freedman and his songwriting collaborators on Little Cloud is the most vivid and fully realised of his career.
The two discs document a three-month songwriting sojourn in New York (subtitled Apple’s Eye) and his return to Sydney, where the perspective afforded by taking time out from home provoked eight unexpected tunes (Little Cloud).
Freedman’s rich, conversational voice and signature piano are front and centre on these songs, not to take anything away from the performances of his faithful band memebers.
He has stretched his vocal performance in its emotional range – witness Fondness Makes The Heart Grow Absent, Second Bestand Tonight – which is in part due to the vulnerability and melancholy which permeates the tunes. As with any musical document which stems from taking oneself out of the comfort zone, there is also a pervailing theme of yearning.
But it’s not all heart music. There are rockin’ tunes (the single I Was Alive), countrified campfire laments (Fancy Lover) and sexy bar-room honky tonk (Stay With Me).
And don’t be scared by the double album concept – the combination listening experience will take less than an hour of your day.
Tim Freedman and his cohorts – including the eminently talented producer J. Walker of Machine Translations – have produced that rare beast of an album which is unlike anything out there and refreshingly – rather than indulgently – so.
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 17th March 2006
Emotional vulnerability glows through the new Whitlams album.
Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for a Whitlams ballad. There is something about their musical and emotional vulnerability jostling for space with a hard shell – a mix of openness and defensiveness – that appeals. And across this double album, produced with an intuitive and sensitive hand by J.Walker, there are some of the best ballads the Sydney band has recorded.
Yes, there are cat-house shanties ( She’s Moving In), ’70s rockers ( I Was Alive) and galloping romps ( Year of the Rat). And they’re consistently good in a consistently satisfying album.
But the real depth charges come via such moments as the empty-room piano of Keep the Light On and the In the Wee Small Hours-like torch of Second Best (“don’t you hesitate to call me, when only second-best will do”) or the wry regret of 12 Hours and the barbed frankness and angelic backing vocals of Fondness Makes the Heart Grow Absent.
Now, while it is true that this is a double album – prepare thy slings and arrows, sports fans – it is, in fact, no longer than your average modern album at 54 minutes, its 16 songs split evenly.
One disc, Little Cloud, deals with chief Whitlam Tim Freedman returning to Australia after an extended break in New York as the country is going not so much to the dogs as to the rat, the Prime Minister allegedly but famously described by one of his own colleagues as “that lying rodent”. Freedman is also not a fan.
The songs on the other disc, The Apple’s Eye, are about living in New York and missing (or wondering if you should be missing) home and love. Here, the wistfulness and half-regretted reach for intimacy that peppers Little Cloud becomes all pervasive, spinning an already thoughtful record into something quite complex and provoking.
Thematically, you probably should listen to the “second disc”, The Apple’s Eye, first, but emotionally it works best beginning with the ire and pungency of Little Cloud (the daytime disc) and then easing into the wine-assisted night with the reflection of The Apple’s Eye. Either way you win.
ZOO WEEKLY ***** (five stars)
It’s been a long time since The Whitlams have been on the radio, but they’re back. And frontman, TIm Freedman, is taking the band back to its roots. Little Cloud sees the return of their trademark piano and vocal-based storytelling style. “The track I Was Alive is about having trouble with girls again,” says Freedman. “It’s a bar-room stomp with honkytonk piano. We’re going back to the real old-fashioned Whitlams.” Hopefully, a return to their old-school style will see them back at the top of the Aussie charts. They’re spent too long in this country’s musical abyss.
Best track: Been Away Too Long
THE ADELAIDE ADVERTISER, 23rd March 2006 ***** (five stars)
Tim Freedman is a lyrical genius. Fans already know this. For those who aren’t convinced, just steal a listen to the Whitlams’ latest offering, Little Cloud, and you will be.
Presented as a double CD set, the first chronicling Freedman’s love affair with Sydney and the second an introspective mix reflecting on his time in New York, Little Cloud is certainly a return to the Whitlams of old. Gone are the over-produced sounds of previous albums Torch the Moon and Love This City. In their place is a collection of tracks which allow the piano and Freedman’s tortured soul to shine.
This time round, they’re discreetly political, almost as if it’s a private joke between Freedman and seasoned Whitlams fans.
And the move to geographically split the content lends a distinctive tone to each collection.
The mix is there too – it’s hard to resist the catchy beats of I Was Alive and Stay With Me, but there’s also much to be found in the mournful balladry of Keep the Light On, The Curse Stops Here.
Every song seems to reveal just a little bit more of the mysterious Mr Freedman, a portion small enough that you end up having more questions than answers – and really, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
THE BUZZ, April 2006 **** (four stars)
It’s been four years since The Whitlams’ last musical outing Torch The Moon and eight years since The Whitlams were as many have said on top of their game, their standards slipping with each release since Eternal Nightcap. Now The Whitlams are back to set the charts ablaze and finally back at their creative best with their new double CD Little Cloud.
Some have already accused the sixth album as being in the same vein as their hypnotic 1997 independent album Eternal Nightcap. For me, Little Cloud is indeed quite similar but The Whitlams have since matured and have expanded lyrically.
The two CDs ‘Little Cloud’ (the Sydney songs) and Apple’s Eye (New York reminiscence), show they have emotionally matured with the soft melodies and less jumpy piano crazed moments from previous albums.
Little Cloud creates an intoxicating, bittersweet listening experience that manages to maintain the slightly offbeat views of the world we’ve come to expect from Tim and the boys. Highlights include the boogie swinger I Was Alive, the peppy swining jazz style of Year of the Rat, the bittersweet Fondness Makes The Heart Grow Absent, the slow burning Second Best and the extremely moving closer The Curse Stops Here, a fitting tribute to the deceased guitarist Stevie Plunder. All in all an easy listening album that doesn’t compromise on The Whitlams’ poetic leanings or bitter undertones that fans have come to love. It’s no Eternal Nightcap as some have hailed but it’s far better than the musical flab of Torch The Moon, but hailing the return to the lyrical and emotional genius of The Whitlams.
The Whitlams now have an official myspace site:
For those of you unaware of this phenomenon, Myspace is an online network where you can create your own profile, then use it to make Friends and share interests. We are streaming your (new) favourite tracks from the site, so add us to your Friends list and leave us a message.
Whitlams’ Clean Break
Sunday Herald Sun
by Paul Nassari
After a rest from his hectic lifestyle, a re-energised Tim Freedman and gang are back.
With an ambitious new double CD, Little Cloud/The Apple’s Eye, popular Australian group The Whitlams have returned with their first new material in four years.
Exhaustion and an unhealthy lifestyle led songwriter, singer, pianist and all-round main man Tim Freedman to recharge his batteries by leaving the country for a cleansing solo tour in New York.
The rest seems to have done him well, for critics and fans are already claiming this is The Whitlams’ most solid release since 1997’s Eternal Nightcap.
“I absented myself from the telephone and being in Australia,” Freedman explains, “and committed myself to working. As a result, I came back with three quarters of the material written.”
Importantly the infamously fussy Freedman is happy with this record.
“They are a much stronger batch of songs than on the last album, Torch The Moon. I think I was in a better head-space, healthier and allowed myself to take time off to write it as opposed to trying to fit it into a crazy lifestyle.”
The reflective narrative lyrics of Little Cloud make it appear as though the songwriter has enjoyed a thorough catharsis, but the man behind them reveals this isn’t the case.
“It sounds like I’ve been through a lot, doesn’t it?” he says. “But I haven’t, really. No more than the usual amount. My romantic life normally resembles the life cycle of a fly, so nothing’s changed there.”
“Between recording the last album and today, I’ve had two girlfriends, one of which gave me a lot of trouble and the other which I gave a lot of trouble.”
“Nothing too dramatic really, just the every day adventures of a boy trying to make his way through the world.”
There’s an upside to romantic troubles for artists as the pain can be transformed into grist for the mill if the spirit’s willing.
“I guess that is the case for a lot of people,” Freedman says. “In my case, maybe age has made me more philosophical – at least jaded. I don’t think it ever got that desolate this time around, I must admit. That’s not to say it hasn’t wormed it’s way into the lyrics, but not in such a way that you can’t see the funny side.”
“For instance, that line ‘Spent 12 hours drinking, slept with someone that looked like you’ from 12 Hours is so desolate, it’s a joke. And it’s meant to be. You are supposed to see the funny side of that and hopefully, if you are having a hard time of your own, get a giggle out of the ridiculousness of it all.”
This irony has been known to escape his audience, much to his chagrin.
“I get disappointed when I sing things like that and people don’t laugh. I’m not singing that sort of thing because I’m serious or that I’m trying to get people to slash their wrists, I assure you. It’s just an example of a torch song taken to the nth degree.”
Funnily enough, the comedy throw-away She’s Moving In, the song that sounds the most drawn from life, is a work of total fiction.
“That’s an example of taking a cute, funny idea and making a song about it. If you want the truth, I think I was listening to the Beatles’ song She’s Leaving Home and thought that, right at the moment around the corner, there was probably a bloke singingShe’s Moving In!”
His choice of Machine Translations’ J Walker as producer has been seen as an enigma in some quarters since his previous work and the grandoise style of The Whitlams seems to be an odd match.
“It’s true that this is a reaction to the last two records (1999’s Love This City and 2002’s Torch The Moon) which got a little bombastic in parts,” Freedman says. “I fully admit I went over the line with the amount of instrumentation on occasion – but that’s part of any artist’s growth.
“It’s been a combination of things: the fact that I wanted to react against the previous two records; that I did a fairly extensive solo tour to support the DVD and the fact that I wanted to use J Walker, who produces very subtle folk music, all combined to help me deliver a fairly understated record.”
Freedman can’t sing Walker’s praise enough.
“I love his records. I thought we needed to borrow from his sound to make the music approachable again. I was very pleased when he agreed to do it because I knew what I was getting.”
Oddly, the first single, I Was Alive, became the second most added track to radio on its week of release.
“It feels oddly like the planets have been aligned in my favour. I won’t curse it by getting too confident,” he says.
The song is an example of Freedman turning expectations on their head.
“That’s a slice of life, isn’t it? I had a great, short, tempestuous relationship, but instead of moaning about its end, I thought I’d say thanks for the wild ride. I came out the other side a littler battered and bruised, but was very glad to have been able to love again.”
Freedman can’t let that go without adding a sly barb.
“Also I wanted to annoy the girl when she heard it on the radio. I’m expecting an angry call any day now.”
Free Download of 4 New Songs
To celebrate the release of the Whitlam’s new album, the Sun Herald has
teamed up with Warner Music Australia for an exclusive music offer. Here’s
your chance to be the first to listen to brand new tracks from the Whitlams
double album Little Cloud before its official release on March 19 . Simply
go online and type in the code below to download the songs for free.
Tracks to download today:
1) I Was Alive
2) Beauty In Me
3) Fancy Lover
4) She’s Moving In
Download the tracks to your PC now! (Needs to be Window Media compatible)
1) Go to www.warnermusic.com.au/sunherald (you get directed to soundbuzz
3) Code word is NEWYORK
4) Download the four Whitlams songs
Once downloaded to your PC, each track can be enjoyed for an unlimited
number of times for 14 days. After that time the tracks expire and
disappear from your PC automatically. All four tracks expire on March 26,