Up the Guts: Taking Music Through the Heart of Regional Australia

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Up the Guts: Taking Music Through the Heart of Regional Australia

In a few weeks time, a busload of musicians begin a tour Up the Guts・of regional Australia, stopping by at 15 shows across over 18 days ・not to mention the 10 youth workshops thrown into the mix. The tour will see creators Jack Parsons (the Pretty Littles frontman) and mate James Clarke travel 7,500kms with musicians Ben Wright Smith, Ali E, ScotDrakula, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding and Jack, Jo & Friends – a collaboration between Big Scary drummer Jo Syme and Parsons. We had a chat with Jack about what to expect.

Hi Jack, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte Magazine, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?

G’day mate! We are well. Currently just working away on the many tasks associated with this crazy old adventure! The next task is getting all the artists together to jam on some classic Aussie tunes for the tour. Thinking some Oils, some Paul Kelly and maybe some Angels!

First things first, how did you and James Clarke meet?

James and I met probably at Meredith Music Festival three or four years ago. The friendship was helped considerably by the fact that James was dating my housemate. I think he was seeing her to get to me though.

And when did the idea of doing something like Up the Guts first come together?

I have been dreaming of a trip like this for a long time. In its original form it was my band The Pretty Littles travelling from pub to pub playing for food and board. It was so idealistic and so exciting, but just impossible for so many reasons. But I never really let the dream evaporate completely and I think it came up about 12 months ago when James and I were having a beer on the porch. We would keep revisiting it and every time it would result in Max Froth – our imaginations running wild. With both of our unhinged enthusiasm and James’ business smarts, the tour in its current form started coming together and now here we are!

What was the driver behind heading up through regional/central Australia?

To show bands that you can tour Australia outside of capital cities and the usual regional haunts. To show that there is an audience for exciting Aussie contemporary music off the beaten track. We want to connect with the younger crowd in these places and give them a realistic insight into what it is like to be a touring band. We also want to go on an adventure! Inspired by the grassroots touring of the late ’70s and ’80s where it was less about the business and more about putting on a bloody live show, on any night of the week, anywhere!

How did you go about getting all the other bands involved?

We compiled a wish list and just went from there! We are so stoked with the bands involved. Could not have hoped for more on the inaugural trip Up The Guts!They are all unreal muso’s and best of all, unreal humans.

There’s quite a lot of logistics involved in the tour and a lot of driving, will there be driving “shifts” or a deso driver (aka who drew the short straw)?

Three of us on the tour have our bus licenses, so we will be operating on an even split! Luckily even the biggest drives are only around two hours each, so very manageable. It will be mind blowing drinking in the rugged beauty of our big old country!

We did see there were some tests involved for gaining a bus license, how have they been going?

There was some testing, but we nailed it. In the process of gaining the license we made a life long friend in Mick, down at the depot. Helluva teacher/helluva fella.

Will this be the most time you’ve all spent together?

James and I have been living in each other’s pockets pretty much since Guts started rolling. I have some blankets at the foot of his bed, and I have the same for him. Hugo our intern has been getting the same treatment since he jumped on board about a month ago. In terms of the rest of the 17 odd motley crew, yes, it will be most time we’ve spent together. But I could always do with some new best mates!

Are there any towns that will be new to you and what are you most looking forward to about visiting them?

I’ve been everywhere except Burnie and Whyalla so really excited to see them. It will be rad to see the wild North/West coast of Tasmania when we visit Burnie. Whyalla is a complete unknown but I’ve heard some great things and the photos are beautiful. I haven’t been to some of the places up north since I was a youngen, so pretty excited to see them.

You’ll actually be doing workshops to students/young people along the way, what are the key things you’re hoping to distil into them?

I think the coolest thing will be the picture the people on the tour can paint for aspiring young creatives. Many of the artists have creative minds that extend well beyond music so it will be so great to hear them talking about how they approach everything. The sacrifices and rewards in being in a touring band are so vastly different to how it is often portrayed on certain TV shows. For the Victorian leg, we have partnered with some incredible organisations including Music Victoria, and secured great venues for the workshops in Bendigo, Castlemaine and Warnambool.

While on tour what are the best things to:
Eat: Your heart is saying chicken strips, but your head is saying salad sanga. Follow your head.
Listen to: Uplifting melancholia. Yearnful cheering. See: The Vasco Era.
Wear: Underpants.
Play (games etc): I like looking at number plates and saying the first word that comes into my head. Jeez that sounds dumb written down. Lowest common denominator stuff. We have a mic up the front of the bus so perhaps a frequent “story time” is in order too.
Positions in the car seat when your but gets sore: We are trying to wrangle some cash to astro turf the whole bus floor. It will be like lying down in the middle of the ‘G.
Places to stop off at for breaks: Anywhere with a bit of cover. Bonus points if it’s pretty.

Thanks again for chatting with us, is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up?

Urging all legends from Victoria to get down to your nearest Up The Guts shows in Bendigo, Castlemaine or Warrnambool. 12 bucks gets you some incredible bands celebrating what we all love; rock ‘n’ roll.

For more information on the tour and to purchase tickets, please visit the website: www.uptheguts.com.au.

When & Where: The Golden Vine, Bendigo – July 26, Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine – July 27 & The Loft, Warrnambool – July 28