Rod Paine

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Rod Paine

“I was dragged into a blues band at 18 years old,” explains Paine with a grin. “I was quite happy playing guitar in the garage with my mates, writing music and listening to the Hoodoo Gurus.” Despite his early resistance, Paine admits that from there his love of the harmonica and electric blues began to grow – a quarter of a century later he has become an icon of the Melbourne blues scene.
“When I first picked up the harmonica I didn’t really know what I was doing,” he laughs. “I guess you could say I got my chops from watching other people play, and listening to musicians like Junior Wells, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf. I certainly can’t say that I’m a student of the harmonica at all, and I’d be a terrible teacher – but I’ve learned when enough is enough and when to let the guitarist take over, because otherwise I’d get myself into all sorts of trouble!
“There are a few masters around Melbourne though,” Paine continues. “I’d put Chris Wilson and Ian Collard into that category.” The Australia blues fraternity has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years.
“I’ve been part of the community for 25 years and it’s the same for a lot of my peers. We’ve all got our own bands, but we’re always calling on one another to help out at any given gig. It’s great fun, especially when we play festivals. Instead of seeing those people once or twice a week or twice a year, you’re touching base with them for three or four days. It’s fantastic.”
Rod Paine and the Fulltime Lovers are returning to the Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival next month. “The Fulltime Lovers is an off-shoot of The Redliners,” Paine explains.
“Tony Harwood, our bass player, and David Birtwell [guitars] were part of The Redliners and, along with Ray Tully, we started the Fulltime Lovers. Ray Tully deserves a paragraph of his own – he’s an extraordinary drummer and he’s been around for a long time. I have a great band.”
Paine describes their sound as “just a dirty little electric blues combo”, heavily influenced by blues records of the 1950s. “That was when the amplified harmonica first burst out through the speakers. Even if you listen to those recordings now there’s a level of distortion that you can only achieve from using the ‘one microphone in a room’ technique, and we still do that now.
“In fact, I think a lot of bands in the blues/roots vein still like to lean on that old way of recording,” he adds. “There’s something organic about it, and I think the recorded sounds of the ‘50s were just so gritty and cool – and it’s addictive listening.”
To the delight of all Lovers’ fans, like last year, Paine, Harwood, Birtwell and Tully will be joined by a fellow blues brother, renowned guitarist Co Tipping.
“He’s a fantastic guitarist – all six feet seven of him!” Paine quips.
“He’s an ex-native of New Zealand and a successful recording artist in his own right. We’ve played with him on and off around Melbourne, and he’s travelling up there with us for the festival which is exciting. He’s got a unique sound and an excellent ability to make the guitar sound like a pedal steel when he wants to, especially when we occasionally play some West Coast swing stuff. We’re really looking forward to having him come along.”
For your chance to see Rod Paine, plus a handful of others, head to for more information on the Winter Blues Festival on in the last weekend of July.
When&Where: Echucha-Moama Winter Blues Festival – July 24-26
Written by Natalie Rogers, Photo by Jovian Projects – Sam Tilder