Robyn Hitchcock

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Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock is on a bus, riding around the inner streets of Sydney, when I finally get on to him to chat about his upcoming couple of months of touring around Australia. With a couple of special anniversaries celebrated throughout his solo show, Robyn is also teaming up with Steve Kilbey, frontman for seminal ’80s Oz rockers The Church, for a couple of shows. Having never met Steve before, Hitchcock is excited about the somewhat spontaneous nature of these shows.
For those old enough to remember, Hitchcock was the lead singer for ’70s UK pop/punk/rock band The Soft Boys; for those younger Forte readers, The Soft Boys discography is available digitally through iTunes and Spotify.
“To be back in Australia once again is lovely. It’s a long way from Europe and the US, and so therefore, I don’t come here as often as I would like to. Throughout the next few months I have multiple visits to Melbourne coming up.”
Following the dissolution of The Soft Boys in 1980, Hitchcock set to work on recording some solo material which saw the birth of the 1984 classic, I Often Dream of Trains. Celebrating playing the album in full on the 30th anniversary, Hitchcock was quick to note to it was an album that he never envisaged playing live.
“It was one of those records that I was thought would just be a studio release. I wasn’t playing any live gigs around the time I wrote and recorded it and was primarily just writing songs for my friend, ‘Captain Sensible’ [Raymond Ian Burns]. I shacked up in the English countryside and let everything slip past me. It was a very dead place and it was a time when I was trying to avoid everything.
“At that time I never thought I would visit Australia, and yet here I am thirty years later celebrating the anniversary. It wasn’t a popular record by any means, but it has been an enduring one.”
In addition to the Insects and Stars tour with Steve Kilbey and the ‘I Often Dream of Trains’ shows, Hitchcock will be celebrating Bob Dylan’s 73rd birthday with a tribute show in the middle of May. Talking about the influence of Dylan on modern music and 21st century life, Hitchcock relates that his favourite Dylan track is ‘Visions of Johanna’, off Blonde on Blonde.
“Dylan has influenced a lot of musicians over the years and it is an important thing to celebrate his birthday. Since I was 13 years old, I have always loved Visions of Johanna. For me, it is the template of songwriting, and I will definitely be playing that at these shows. I think that Dylan is an incredible storyteller and someone that will be talked about long after he is gone.”
Together with Kilbey, the Insects and Stars tour is set to roll into the Arts Centre on the 3rd of May for one unforgettable night. Playing a couple of solo sets as well as combining for a few tracks here or there, you can expect to hear many classic songs throughout the evening. Having released many albums over the years in different projects, Hitchcock believes that he has avoided success and failure.
“What I have been successful in is playing music and writing the songs that I want to write. I also haven’t had to package fish fingers for a living either, which is quite a relief. “
When&Where: Playhouse @ Melbourne Arts Centre – May 3
Written by Tex Miller