Russell Morris is thinking about new music these days, but not before giving some dues to his last three albums, Sharkmouth, Van Dieman’s Land and Red Dirt Red Heart.
The trilogy has been packaged together in a boxed set called Ghosts & Legends along with a DVD and book.
“I thought I’d put a full stop on it and do it in one big package,” Morris says. “It puts a neat little bow on it and completes the picture.”
It’s an amazing picture, to be sure. From gangsters on the streets of Melbourne, convict tales and the red dirt of the outback, both together and alone these works are an historical Australian document that is well on its way to being acknowledged as such.
“A few people I’ve spoken to on the road were teachers and they use it in their classroom,” Morris says. “They try and get their kids interested in history, which kids aren’t always into, but they try and get them interested in history through the songs. It’s a nice thing and I’m really proud that they do that.”
Morris moved to Queensland last year and has found that being in a new place has given him time and motivation to write fresh material. A new album is in the works.
“I moved up to Queensland over a year ago now, and as is the case when you go to a new place you don’t really know a lot of people. So it was really good for me because I could lock myself away in my studio and not have too many distractions. Whereas in Melbourne I’d get a call saying, ‘we’re having lunch come down and join us at the pub!’. Moving up here has allowed me to write a new album and I have an overabundance of songs at the moment. So we start recording on December 2.”
Interestingly, there’s no unifying themes on this one. The Ghost & Legends release really was a full stop.
“It’s completely outside of what I’ve done before,” Morris says of his new songs. “It’ll be a very different album. I hope people like it, but you can only do what you can do. I don’t have a lot of control sometimes over what I write. The blues stuff came pretty naturally, when I finished that run it was almost like I had a blank slate in front of my face. I felt like I’d almost written myself out and couldn’t come up with any ideas. I thought, ‘maybe I’ve written my last song’. And I waited and waited and all of a sudden something came. It surprised me, and I thought, ‘this is really cool. It’s not what I expected to be writing’. It was an anomaly of a song, a bit different, but I thought I’d keep writing and lo and behold, the new stuff started to take on a similar sort of shape. It’s gonna be a very different album – some people will love it and some people will hate it.”
The freedom that’s come from that blank slate has been motivating for the legendary Australian singer/songwriter. A new energy has dawned.
“It is a new energy,” Morris states. “I feel like doing another historical album would be like inviting your relatives over for a drink and your father-in-law’s still in his underpants on the couch six months later.”
One invitation that remains open and welcome is Morris’ presence at
Blues at Bridgetown. This weekend’s appearance marks a record sixth year in a row that Morris has been asked to perform at the festival.
“It’s lovely that they do that; that they keep inviting us back,” he says. “As a band we’re chuffed. We really seem to have resonated with the people there.”
Russell Morris performs at the Charles Hotel on November 9 and Blues at Bridgetown on November 10. Full details for the latter at www.bluesatbridgetown.com.au.