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They’re the Kiwi sweethearts who call Melbourne home and boy, are we happy to have them. For the past couple of months, Bonjah have been selling out venues wherever they go – from Darwin’s Railway Club to Hotel New York in Launceston and BIGSOUND in Brisbane. “We like to keep ourselves busy,” smiled David Morgan, their softly-spoken bassist. “But we do have a few favourite places to play. We’re pumped to play the Torquay Hotel again, we love that venue, there’s always a great vibe there. Then the next day we’re back up in Melbourne to play a show at The Hi-Fi. We couldn’t be happier … we’re having a great run of shows.”
Bonjah give weight to the proverb ‘You reap what you sow’. Since arriving in Melbourne eight years ago on a one-way ticket with nothing but their guitars and backpacks, they’ve gone from not being able to book a single gig to appearing on the bill at every major Australian festival. In 2009, the hard-working quartet was handpicked to support The Who on their national tour, as well as opening for Australian music royalty Paul Kelly, among others. Determined not to take their newfound success for granted, Bonjah donated all of the proceeds from their 2010 single ‘Bring Back the Fire’ to the Leukemia Foundation. They’ve also partnered with the Make a Wish Foundation, raising hundreds of dollars for the cause while playing a showcase at The Corner Hotel in 2012.
“We’ve been so fortunate, really welcomed here. We just wanted to give something back,” David explained, before admitting they were surprised by the overwhelming support they’ve received on the back of their third studio album, Beautiful Wild. “We’ve had a great reaction from all of the songs. They seem to be translating really well. It’s so much fun to play live, and we love to see the crowd boogieing away.
“The title track, Beautiful Wild, is a bit of a showstopper. It’s a standout as far as crowd reaction and everyone gets right into it. But I really enjoy playing the opening track Bullet in the Barrel. It’s a great song, a really cruisy way to start a set.
“I feel like all of the songs have their place. Putting this album together we felt more comfortable with the direction we were headed. Beautiful Wild has a cohesive feeling,” David explained. “All the songs work well together. We’re enjoying every gig – we really get around!”
The Beautiful Wild Tour wraps up at the end of October with a show at the Byron Bay Surf Fest. “We can’t wait! Byron Bay is arguably one of the best beaches in Australia,” David says excitedly.
But they won’t have too much time to soak up the sun: Bonjah has been added to the program at Melbourne’s AWME (Australasian Worldwide Music Expo) in November.
“This year is going to be great – Hiatus Kaiyote are playing. I’ve been keen to see them for a while but I’ve never been able to make it work, so I’ll definitely catch them. Oh, and Ash Grunwald always brings a good vibe … He’s a very lovable man,” David grinned.
After the AWME you may think Bonjah would be ready to put down their guitars and take a well-deserved break – not so, says David. “We’re all in quite a creative space. We have a few ideas for new songs and we’re all keen to get back into the studio. We’re hoping to get back in there at the start of December and keep pushing ourselves.”
When&Where: Torquay Hotel, Torquay – October 3 & The Hi-Fi, Melbourne – October 4
By Natalie Rogers