Alister Turrill on taking his music abroad, his new EP and a future album

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Alister Turrill on taking his music abroad, his new EP and a future album

Coined as a “songwriter of the highest order” from acoustic blues connoisseur Lloyd Spiegel, playing alongside Australia’s most respected blues artists like Jeff Lang and Geoff Achison and winning the 2011 Melbourne Youth in Blues award, Alister Turrill is fast becoming a name known to Australian blues. Despite his impressive achievements at only 24 years old, Alister remains as humble as ever.

“It’s still pretty unbelievable. I’m very, very grateful for it all. I’ve got to play with a bunch of my heroes so I’m very lucky – that’s for sure,” Alister says.

Since the release of his debut album Reverence & Resonance and spending last year with the trio Alister Turrill & The Vagabound Brothers (alongside drummer Toby Johnson and bassist Jaron Mulholland), the Geelong-based musician has been charming crowds with his solo performances, even travelling as far as Germany to play his raw and uninhibited tunes.

“That was unbelievable. I didn’t really know anyone over there so I just went exploring basically. I met one guy who was the bass player of a friends band and he was like, ‘Oh I know a blues place up the road who might give you a gig’. I’d get to the new place and I would just ask around and find places to play,” he says.

“I’d never really done anything like that before. I was just some dude from Australia who could speak zero German, but when I started playing they were more than happy to listen, it was really really special to see.”

Returning from his time abroad, Alister is in the midst of launching his brand new EP ‘A Toast to Better Times’, which showcases five of his most mature and defined folk songs.

“Musically it’s a little different. It’s more sort of my folk side than a sort of blues side. I still definitely have that side, but I suppose I felt these songs needed to be together and that’s why it’s an EP – so I can sort of have these particular songs feel like they fit together.

“They are more sort of story telling, folk songs. There’s acoustic guitar, ukulele, and that’s about it.”

Kicking the launch off last week at the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival, the EP includes a mixture of new and old songs, with Alister ‘road testing’ them over time, letting them develop into fine-tuned, folk tales.

“There is one in particular that I’ve had for a couple of years, but some are quite new. I never sort of thought about putting them on an EP until this year. I feel like they needed to be together as this little package.”

Even with the current EP launch, Alister is thinking about creating music more suited to a future album, with “more instruments and more sounds”.

“It’s still very early days. Even though I’m hitting the road for this one, I’ll still be finishing off songs and writing new ones, and just thinking about how to go about the next album and how to make it different – how I can make it better. And just keep going from there.”

Written by Talia Rinaldo

When & Where: A Toast to Better Times EP Launch @ Wesley Anne, Northcote – November 11, Oscar’s Alehouse, Belgrave – November 12 & The Workers Club, Geelong – November 18.