We passed the mic to regional musicians Martin Frawley and Watty Thompson to interview each other ahead of their appearance at Sound Tracks Vol. 2.

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We passed the mic to regional musicians Martin Frawley and Watty Thompson to interview each other ahead of their appearance at Sound Tracks Vol. 2.

Words By Staff Writer

Presented by OK Motels, the Victorian Government and Music Victoria, Sound Tracks Vol. 2 heads from Melbourne to Echuca and off to Rochester for a town takeover of live music.

All aboard – Sound Tracks Vol 2. takes over the towns of Echuca and Rochester for a weekend of unmissable live music. 

In Rochy, Martin Frawley is playing the Criterion and across the road at the Shire Hall Watty Thompson and His Total Fire Band will be welcoming in the crowds. Ahead of the rock ‘n’ rail festival from Friday 19 April until Sunday 21 April, we passed the mic over to the regional music-makers to interview each other about their careers, growing up regional and fish and chips. 

Sound Tracks Vol 2 Details

  • Friday 19 April 2024 – Sunday 21 April
  • Magic Dirt | Milo Eastwood | Watty Thompson & His Total Fire Band | The Slingers | Delivery | Martin Frawley | Bad Bangs | Sam Boon Trio | Yordja



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Watty to Martin

You have connections with Rochester and spent a bit of time in the area growing up. What are some fond memories from the area in those days? 

I guess all my most fond memories are from the family farm in Elmore which is 15 minutes south of Rochester. Yabbying, doing burnouts in old bombs, riding four wheelers and being annoying little twerp; watching footy on the floor of the farmhouse in front of the fire in my pyjamas. I remember the Rochester video store being my safe haven when spending summers up there in the heat and cold winter nights. My old man let me hire anything I wanted. So I remember watching pulp Fiction at about 11 and thinking “fuck me, this is bad ass”.

I remember my old man lost his license and used to cruise around in my pops ride on scooter drinking beers. He thought it was a real laugh, like he had stumbled onto a brilliant loophole.

Where were your formative years playing and writing music spent, and do you think these regional ties had an impact on your musical journey? 

I guess most of my formative years were in inner city Melbourne then interstate, then pretty quickly overseas. I liked always trying the next challenge of touring. To be honest, there weren’t many regional shows back then when I was in my early twenties. To watch it grow has been awesome and to see the different acts coming out of different pockets of Victoria has been awesome and interesting. Just the difference in genre to geography has been cool to see. I’ve never played in Rochester but im fucking pumped! My old man did it a bunch and it feels fitting to play with this band and these songs in Rochester. I need to play more regional shows, I need to play more so if you’re keen, let’s go!!

A resurgence of live original music in regional areas has been brewing over the past several years. We certainly can’t quite hit the road and play anywhere without copping the occasional request for AC/DC or ‘Khe Sanh’ just yet, but more venues around the traps are catering for original music. Events such as this also help to spread the love. It’d be a dream to one day pack up a wagon and trailer to play a year’s worth of shows over a lap of the whole country like some artists managed to do in the yesteryear.  What are your hopes for the future of live original music in regional areas? 

Yeah, I mean, that was a big thing for Australian music for a long time. I’m really trying to champion and bring that vibe to my band. I want to be able to play covers as well as originals. That’s old school. Band used to play twice a night across different suburbs and work the crowd. That’s lost a bit now and I really want to bring that back. We play a lot of my own songs but I’ll always chuck a few songs in the mix depending on where I am. I love playing songs from certain cities or towns and paying respect to the place you are. I learnt that was a good trick when you’re playing internationally. It’s a cheat to drag the audience in a bit closer, then you can play ‘em a bunch of your songs and hopefully they have a connection. Man like Garth says in Wayne’s World “I like to play”.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

What are you most looking forward to about performing some of your music in a place that holds family ties for you?

Hmmm I guess I’m really excited to play some of my old man’s songs and play them with people who have played with him and perform to family and hopefully make people feel farm. I’m Irish and we like to drink and sing. That’s how I grew up. Watching the Frawley’s singing songs and drinking all night. I’m excited to play and hopefully warm ‘em up for your big rock show. Place and family mean a lot to me so we’ll try to get a few tears and smiles in the audience.

We’ve been on a few of the same line-ups over the past couple of years but still haven’t managed to cross paths and meet. Perhaps we even drank a pot of raspberry in the same pub as kids. Let’s change this in Rochester. Perhaps grab a beer or a pot of raspberry together?

Mate, I’d be well keen for that. I think there is enough sugar in the beer for me, my raspberry days are over. But actually a few weeks back I was at The Criterion (where I’m playing) there was a family wedding across the road (where you’re playing) anyhow, me, the wife and the cousin snuck over to The Criterion and slapped a cheeky Bundy. It was fucked. Then some bloke at the bar told me my old man owed him money so we took off. Anyhow. Fucking oath we can have a few froths.

The country town fish ‘n’ chip shop minimum of chips has always been, and in some places still seems to still be, a massive amount of chips for a very reasonable price. While the cost of everything else steadily rises, the minimum of chips still seems to float at a similar price to what we would have paid in Locky and Rochy or Elmore as kids. Are you a chicken salt, extra chicken salt or no chicken salt kinda guy?

Oohhhfff I didn’t know you could get extra chicken salt. That sounds lit. Well I’m the type of bloke that just wants to make sure they’re hot, salty and you have a real cold pot of Carlton to eat ‘em with. Then maybe a Nexium to help the heart burn. Actually, weirdly, you just reminded me that the first time I ever had a deep fried mars bar was in Elmore haha not Paris, New York or Melbourne lol. Fucking Elmore. I try to stay away from the fried food these days. Just on special occasions. Maybe meeting you Watty will be one of those special occasions. 


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Martin to Watty

First of all, hi my name is Martin.. who are you and where did you grow up?

G’day Martin! Lovely to meet you. My name is Watty. I grew up around Lockington and Echuca. Both about 15 minutes from Rochester. 

What’s the best gig you have seen in a regional town?

It’s very difficult to narrow it down to one that takes the cake but a favourite that immediately springs to mind was a cold April evening almost bang on ten years ago when Brisbane’s HITS and Melbourne’s Bitter Sweet Kicks gave the stage absolutely everything on a Wednesday night at Karova Lounge in Ballarat. I was living in the big smoke back then, playing rock and roll, and my band at the time had played a set at the launch for the latest Kicks album at the Prince Of Wales the weekend prior. I was cooking and selling popcorn in the band room that night too for some reason. It was my first time seeing HITS and they blew me away. A few days later HITS and Kicks were embarking on an East Coast tour together so I hitched a last minute one way ride to Ballarat in the back of their tour van. The temptation to witness the danger they’d bring to Ballarat on a Wednesday evening was too great. 

It was a quiet night from memory and there couldn’t have been more than 15 or 20 people in the audience. Both bands played as if thousands were watching. The audience didn’t know what hit them. Johnny Kicks was nude behind his bass guitar by the second song of the night which one of the locals wasn’t happy about. Concerns being raised by the gentleman at the front of the stage did nothing but escalate the situation. They may not have won over that guy but the rest of the audience were in a state of pure bliss witnessing the storm of rock and roll that both bands rolled in that Wednesday night and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one of them still talking about it a decade later. I slept somewhere cold and got the V Line back to town the next morning. 

What’s the most noticeable difference between regional and city gigs?

Regional crowds are often more fired up than city crowds. This doesn’t mean that one is more appreciative than the other. Both hold a strong love for music but perhaps because the city crowd has an array of incredible gigs accessible from their doorstep any night of the week and a regional crowd only has something come through every so often, the country audience can show their appreciation in a more lively manner. Absolutely nothing against the big smoke crowds though. They live in the heart of live music and they help keep that heart pumping. They might be full of less beans sometimes but a subdued audience can also be an attentive and contemplative one. 

I remember watching my old man play two sets in Colbinabbin Pub growing up, it was quite inspiring. What inspired you to play and write music?

I had an urge to play from quite a young age after coming across an old dusty piano in our back shed. I’d head down the shed for a play after school each day so Dad moved it inside. It was pretty out of tune but I kept playing and here we are today. The first song I ever wrote had a verse on each of our family pets from memory. You’re spot on about being inspired by gigs as a kid though. 

Seeing live music for the first time is where the inspiration really fired up. When I was about 12, a bunch of bands including Nokturnl, a metal band from the NT came to town and played at Vic Park in Echuca. It was my first time seeing rock bands live and it blew my socks off. I got my ticket stub signed by band members from across the fence on the boundary line. 

The band and I performed at River Boats in Echuca early last year and that time around it was held on the same oval. When signing a kids Watty t-shirt on the boundary line after the show, I had a flashback of getting that ticket stub signed on the very same fence line all those years earlier. It was a spin out and a very heart-warming realisation. Perhaps we’ll inspire some of the local kids with our sets in Rochy mate. Gotta keep the cycle going! Side Colbinabbin story: I remember hearing ‘Pissing Down In Colbo’ at some stage as a kid. A tune written by your clan I believe!

What would you like to see more of at regional gigs?

The acceptance of original music in areas that aren’t that familiar with it. I agree with what you said earlier about being able to enjoy putting a few covers in a set and that it’s a tried and tested way to win over crowds in places you haven’t played at yet. I enjoy a good heckle and throw the occasional cover in at the end of a set in some towns. I road tested the songs I play these days solo for a year or two before getting the band together and some of the places I booked knowing they’d be tough crowds. 

My hope for the future of shows in regional areas though, is a broader excitement from a crowd to go see music that they aren’t aren’t familiar with. Where songs are given a chance even if they haven’t been heard before. Where people are excited not only go watch the bands who have already made a name for themselves, but the bands who are out there doing the hard yards traveling around trying to make a name for themselves.

The more we push original music in places that aren’t necessarily accustomed to it, the more it’ll be accepted and the more towns touring musicians will have to play in. That’s not to say we’ll get rid of the hecklers and tough audiences all together. Playing to those audiences builds character and is all part of the journey as an emerging artist. More balance will come with time though and we’ll see more of these original live music loving regional pockets emerging. 


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If you were given the keys to the state, where would you want to put on a festival and who would you have headline? 

Ooooh that’s a big one. So many beautiful parts of the state. So much music to choose from! Would love to see something happen down here in the Otways. Those keys are going to include some government funding for a very healthy budget to spend on the bands. Someone will give us the perfect property with beautiful campgrounds and there’ll be a friendly team to get through the planning red tape and to help run things safely and smoothly. There’ll be lush green grass to sit back on, plenty of shade if it’s hot and a few fire barrels if it’s cold. It’s day two, the sun is setting, we’re sitting in front of a gorgeous stage with an incredible PA, I pass you an ice cold tin of your favourite brew and a reformed Cold Chisel take to the stage to absolutely send it. 

Who’s your favourite regional band atm?

JB Patterson from the sticks up in QLD has been a regular go to for me over the past year. Give a listen to his latest album Springtime Is Coming.

There are so many gems out there. Often I ponder on how much incredible music exists but hasn’t been heard due to self doubt or artists not having the support network or community around them to help fan their flames of belief. Particularly in regional areas. I guess that’s why a lot of young country musos head to the city for their formative musical years. There’s lots going on and lots to learn from people. As you know, often it’s only 10% of our time spent creating and performing and the other 90% is the hard work of pushing to get the music heard. Everyone has gotta keep pushing. It makes the world a better place!

Has been a pleasure Martin. See you for some tunes and some chips over a couple of cold ones in Rochy!


Frawley and Thompson will be joining a stellar line-up of Magic Dirt, Milo Eastwood, The Slingers, Delivery, Cong Josie & The Hell Racers, Bad Bangs and Sam Boon Trio.

Tickets to the rocking railway festival in Rochester are on sale now through OK Motels. Pick them up here