The Waifs

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The Waifs

A spontaneous decision to see Australia and it’s most honest, raw form soon lead to the creation of The Waifs. Josh Cunningham, Vikki Thorn and Donna Simpson set off in a van across the country, unknowingly beginning a trip that would soon take them to win multiple ARIA awards, gain platinum records and most importantly, last as a band.
“Initially we didn’t even write songs we were just a bunch of hippies in a van playing covers and seeing the country,” Josh laughs.
“I think I was the first one to write a song. I did it on a canoe trip and I went off for three weeks up a river with a canoe and took a guitar. That was the first time I ever wrote some songs so it was kind of a very individual isolated personal kind of experience and I guess that’s the way it’s continued for me.”
Much like the first trip that started the band, Josh’s experience writing songs up the river was of a similar nature: unplanned and honest in every sense.
“I had this little guitar and it was this cheap thing, I actually made it. It was like a cheap crappy thing that you could take in a canoe and not worry about getting wet,” he says.
“It certainly wasn’t a beautiful instrument to play or anything like that, it was just more practical to have in my hand. I didn’t go with the view to write songs at all, but maybe just being alone for that long and also the surroundings were really beautiful up on the Ord River near Kununurra. I think some of the songs were inspired by the environment as well. The nature and the solitude sparked it off.”
Writing alone soon became a habit for the band members and the formula worked wonderfully. It wasn’t until recently, for their new album Beautiful You, where they tried their hand at writing as a group.
“It didn’t really work, we just sat around trying to do these writing exercises – Vikki was kind of leading the way,” he says.
“It was kind of fun but it didn’t get anything creative really happening. Eventually Donna wandered off on her own and Vikki and I went and did the same thing and we returned back to our established way of doing things.”
If anything’s become clear over the years it’s that The Waifs locked onto a winning formula and dynamic early on in their career. It’s one that’s served them well and the band are even returning, in part, to what started them off in the beginning for their next tour.
“One nice thing about the tour we’re doing of WA is we’re actually going to drive. So we’re going to be driving all over the West Coast like we did the first time around and we’re actually going to stop off at all the places we used to play at and do concerts in all those towns,” he says.
Written by Amanda Sherring
When & Where: Palais Theatre, Melbourne – October 24 & GPAC, Geelong – October 28