Perth musician, Hugh Jennings, has played in esteemed bands such as Burnside, Autopilot and End of Fashion, as well as being a session player for Eskimo Joe, Bob Evans and others. He’s just released his debut solo album, Hound, and chats to ATS about how he got to this point at last.
If memory serves, a Facebook group was once started in order to convince you to record a solo album. Was the support and insistence of friends and musos that you do this over the years a catalyst for getting it done?
It absolutely was, no question. Left to my own devices I could have twiddled away at home for another five years, but my mates pushed me into taking a bit of a leap. My natural tendency is towards self-deprecation and delay. Not very productive qualities.
What’s the timespan for all the songs. Old and new?
The most recent song is less than a year, but some of the older tracks came from demos that are seven or eight years old. In fact, the last track, Treading Water, is a re-write of a song I wrote in my old band Autopilot, probably in 2001. Christ Almighty. That’s scary. It’s also my favourite, I think.
What else is old? What’s new?
Treading Water is a very old tune, but I re-wrote and recorded it up at Debaser with Andy Lawson late last year, so it feels like the newest song to me, somehow. My O My is the last song I wrote, probably mid-way through last year, but it feels like I’ve had it forever. The song, Forever, I have actually had knocking around forever.
What do the older songs tell you about yourself?
That I write songs at a glacial pace. But I don’t mind that. Some of these songs have been fermenting away in my brain for quite a while, and it’s given me the chance to extract every bit of melody and counter melody that I could out of them. And I think I’ve got better generally over the years, as we all do, so it’s been nice to do the songs some justice.
Tell me what each of the bands you have played with have taught you about life and music?
My first band Burnside taught me that for me, life, music and friendship are indelibly bound and intertwined.
Autopilot taught me that when you’re making music, you should do what you love, with no question or second guessing. And Steve Parkin taught me a thing or two about songwriting and melody.
End Of Fashion took me to a level of the industry I’d never glimpsed before, and I saw what hard work meant at that level, beyond the veneer and myth of rock star crap. And Justin Burford taught me a thing or two about songwriting and showmanship.
Bob Evans is my favourite band I never wrote songs in. I loved the songs, loved the band, loved the tours, and I got to show off by playing a few different instruments whilst watching Kev (Mitchell) be one of the country’s consummate writers and performers. They was a damn good couple of years, and I miss them.
So what’s it mean after all this to release your solo album?
For me, it feels great. When I’m an old codger propping up a grimy beer-soaked bar, I’ll be able say I did an album. I’ll probably still have copies in the boot of my car. And it will be nice to get these songs out of the way, to make some room for the new ones. There’s another album in my head already. The best thing has been to play these songs with a band, though. So much fun.
With it now released, how do you view the future of your music?
I fully expected to continue at the same pace of writing and recording, but now I’m feeling a bit more energetic. This album may have taken a few years to collate, but it was whipped into shape pretty quickly. I reckon I’ll do another one. It’s too much fun not to. Next one will be a fair bit louder and faster and have more swear words, though.
Did you ever find my O Brother Where Art Thou CD? I lost it at the Queens when you worked there in 2001…
Yes. I have it. I’m keeping it. It’s in a limited edition Dapper Dan hair treatment tin. There’s no way you’re getting that back.
Hugh Jennings launches Hound on Friday, September 29, at the Fly By Night Club. Elk Bell will also launch her new album, Republica d’fantAsia, with an opening set by the Belle Ends. Full details at – www.facebook.com/events/1911652385770722