Interview by Ben Robinson
It’s roughly 9:00am on Friday the 22nd of July, and a bus with the words ‘Up The Guts’ stamped on its side is currently somewhere between Devonport and Hobart in Tasmania. The bus is being driven by Jack Parsons, one of the two promoters and organisers of this historic celebration of Australian rock 'n' roll, and James Clarke is somewhere in the back of the bus, talking to YEWTH on the phone. The topic of conversation? Australia’s most exciting concert tour in years.
Tell us about the ‘Up The Guts’ tour?
‘Up The Guts’ is a celebration of Australian pub rock 'n' roll, and it’s a tour from Hobart to Darwin with 5 bands, playing 15 shows. over 18 days in regional towns that don’t get a lot of live gigs coming through.
What is your individual role on the tour?
Jack [Parsons] and I are the tour directors, Jack I guess looks after the artistic side of shows and me more the business and touring side of making the thing come to life. But I guess yeah, it’s a bit of a shared role. We’ve both been doing a tonne of work on this for a long time now.
How long has it been in the works for?
It’s been about 15 months since we first sat on the porch at Jack’s house and had a tin and talked about trying to get this off the ground. It’s taken a long time to make sure we could have the funding to make it happen; keep ticket prices low, get all the bands together, get the bus sorted and make sure the touring group was gonna work out, so it’s been a big project over an extended period.
Where did the inspiration for the tour come from?
I can’t take credit for it, but it was Jack who came to me and said that with his band the Pretty Littles, he was really keen to just start touring, particularly a tour through Central Australia, I guess like a bit of a nostalgic look to the late-70s/early-80s when bands like Midnight Oil and Paul Kelly were doing a lot of touring through Central Australia. Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, those sorts of guys were an inspiration to Jack. He was initially thinking about just hitting the road and just trying to get food and a bit of board and shelter covered in exchange for playing live music, but as we built up the project plan it kind of became reality that there is a need out in these regional towns for live gigs, and I think the overwhelming enthusiasm and positivity around the project has sort of taken it to the next level and we’ve got a lot bigger tour ahead of us now.
You mentioned the workshops before, what will these workshops cover?
It’s going to be initially a panel discussion where we’ll share a lot of stories about the realities of either being in a band or working in the music industry. A lot of young kids are fed information that’s probably a bit misleading about what it’s actually like to work in the music industry. It’s an incredibly rewarding space to work in, but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment if you do want to be a touring band or if you do want to be a solo artist, or if you want to be a promoter like the kind of place I sit in, or if you want to work in the media side of things. We’ve got a hell of a lot of knowledge between the 17 people on the tour and we really want to share with young kids and get them inspired to be leaders in their own communities.
Saturday ‘Up The Guts’ hits the Exeter, what are you expecting from Adelaide audiences?
Pretty pumped for it to be honest, Craig from Scott & Charlene’s Wedding hails from Adelaide originally, so he’s got a big posse coming down. We know that the Adelaide crowds absolutely go bonkers for it, and the Exeter’s a great venue. It’s a different sort of set up, it’s not a big area so it’s going to be a tight squeeze, but I think it’ll be a great atmosphere and we’re really excited to hit South Australia in general. We’ve got Mount Gambier on the Friday night which will be a late one and then roll in Saturday afternoon to the Exeter and hoping to have a few beers with some legends in Adelaide and really put on a good show for everyone there.
Get your tix to UP THE GUTS, Adelaide feat. ScotDrakula + Scott & Charlene's Wedding + Ali E + Ben Wright Smith + Jack, Jo & friends here.