U.S. guitar virtuoso, Gary Clark Jr. plays Perth Concert Hall on Saturday 27 April. The multi-Grammy winning artist, acclaimed as one of the greatest bluesmen of his generation, is bringing Aussie bluesman, Hamish Anderson on tour with him. It’s a real fillip for the up and coming Aussie contender and, when Around The Sound caught up with Anderson over the phone from Melbourne, he was as excited about the prospect as he was when he first met Clark around four years ago.
It’s an interesting mix that Anderson dips into. He could easily be described as the musical equivalent of an Aussie Rules ‘chaos ball’, you’re not always sure what you’re going to get from him next, but you can’t look away, because what he does works so well.
“It’s incredibly exciting for me personally. I first went over to the States around four years ago and at one of my first shows there were about 10 people there, but one of them was Gary (Clark Jr.). I was half way through the first song and the first person I saw was Gary. It just took me aback and I had to try to focus and get through the set without stuffing up. That was how I met him and he was really complimentary and we’ve kept in touch since. Now, fast forward four years and I’ve managed to share the stage with him. And the fact that it’s at home is really the icing on the cake. It’s really massive for me.”
Anderson has been pretty busy in the four years since, having been named by Total Guitar as one of the Top 10 Best New Guitarists in 2018 and, in 2019, releasing the single Breaking Down, as a warm up for his new album, Out Of My Head, due out in May. This follows Anderson’s debut album, Trouble (2016), performances at South By Southwest and opening for BB King in 2017 and a whole slew of major supports and festival appearances in North America.
Of the new album, Anderson said, “I really pushed myself, especially in the writing. I wanted to have 11 songs that I knew were the best songs that I could write right now. I want to push myself further and deeper than I’ve ever gone before.
“The more you do anything, you get more confident, so over the past three years I’ve got more confident as a singer and a song writer. I feel like now my singing, song writing and guitar playing are kind of coexisting together a bit more. It’s a little bit more of a full picture, I think. And the album is very mixed stylistically, it kind of goes everywhere from blues, to rock and roll, to soul, to Americana folk stuff, so it’s a mixed bag.”
Out Of My Head is a real step forward for Anderson, charting new musical territory and displaying a maturity as an artist that signals even better things to come. Anderson’s focus on song writing comes through strongly in the 11 tracks that comprise the new album and, while it’s clear that he’s building on some pretty solid foundations, there’s no doubt that he’s an artist with his gaze firmly fixed on the future.
“My dad’s vinyl collection was what got me interested in music, The Beatles, The Stones, Cream and Zeppelin. And then, you read interviews with people like Keith Richards and Eric Clapton and they always talk about Muddy Waters and Buddy Hopkins, Hubert Sumlin and all those guys. So, I just kind of went all the way back. I think it was the purity of the music, it was just so direct and kind of haunting. I just became obsessed with all that raw blues stuff.
“I think as I got older and more interested in song writing … I love listening to 12-bar blues and all that stuff, but I was less interested in covering Freddy King songs and doing that kind of thing. What I was really inspired by, I would read interviews with Jimi Hendrix and where he would talk about wanting to make blues songs for the modern age that he lived in. That was very inspiring to me.
“And. Because I grew up in the 21st Century, I had a lot of modern influences and I wanted to mix the blues with modern sounds and technology. As a kid, at the same time as I was discovering The Rolling Stones and that sort of thing, I was also listening to bands like Jet and Kings of Leon and that sort of thing.”
It’s an interesting mix that Anderson dips into. He could easily be described as the musical equivalent of an Aussie Rules ‘chaos ball’, you’re not always sure what you’re going to get from him next, but you can’t look away, because what he does works so well. Besides, who would we be to disagree with a talent scout of the likes of Gary Clark Jr.?
If you’re heading to the Concert Hall on Saturday, make sure you get there in time to check our Anderson’s set. You will not be disappointed.