Sydney duo Peasant Moon (Harvey Russell & Josie Rothwell) have been crafting their music and playing live together over the last 18 months and now they have a debut EP Fading in the Light ready for release in late May. Theirs is an Alt. country sound interlaced with flashes of folk music; always high on melody and often painted in heartache and melancholy. You can catch them kick off their EP launch tour at the Petersham Bowling Club in Sydney this Sunday May 24th with support from Katie Brianna and Lisa Caruso. Post To Wire will also be there in a DJ capacity playing Americana tunes before and between acts. Both of them were kind enough to take the Six Strings Q&A and talk about the music that has shaped them.
LISTEN: Peasant Moon ~ ‘Fading in the Light’
What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
HR: I’m tempted to say ‘Hot Burrito’ which in my mid-late teenage years led me to Gram Parsons. However, from a songwriting perspective it was probably ‘Faithless Street’ by Whiskeytown. I arrived at Ryan Adams after the release of the Gold album, quickly discovered Heartbreaker and then Whiskeytown. This album had a strong influence over my songwriting from that point. In terms of what’s on the stereo, I’m pretty predictable these days, to my family’s annoyance its mostly straight up honky-tonk…
JR: I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and the Outlaws thanks to my parents’ vinyl collection, and during my high school years in New Mexico country music was pretty mainstream – one of the first concerts I went to was “spend the night with Dwight”! I think Tom Petty sealed it for me with the Wildflowers album being on near constant rotation for me in the mid-90s.
What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve played and why?
HR: Peasant Moon has only been playing live since late 2013 but we’ve definitely had some fun shows already, including playing early on with Jep and Dep at the Welcome Hotel in Rozelle (as part of the excellent and sadly discontinued Menagerie). Perhaps the most memorable was at the Gasoline Pony in Marrickville earlier this year where Josie had such bad morning sickness that I wasn’t sure whether she was going to lose her lunch on stage…!
How did you learn to play your instrument?
HR: A bit of each. I took piano, guitar and saxophone lessons as a kid although only for about a couple of years each. I wasn’t a particularly disciplined student and so I probably learned much more from working out songs from recordings, YouTube etc and jamming with people.
JR: I had to unlearn nearly all of my childhood piano lessons when I started paying with the band. I was way out of my depth without sheet music! I now listen to music much differently and watch YouTube for tips as well!
What do you consider the finest song you’ve written and why?
HR: ‘Lift the Curtains’ on the EP is the first genuine duet I’ve written. I’d have to say that one.
JR: I wrote a song for my sister’s birthday based on her favourite Rumi poem – that’s a special one for me.
If you could sit-in with one other musician (living or dead) who would it be?
HR: The Band.
JR: I’d love a session with Jenny Lewis – that girl can sing, play and look adorable in a rainbow pantsuit.
Do you feel there is a strong folk/country music community in Australia and what does it need to grow?
Yes. The community seems to be alive and growing in Australia, particularly Melbourne and Sydney. It’s great that Sydney has a number of committed venues – the Petersham Bowling Club, the Union Hotel, and The Gasoline Pony – sometimes I wonder if we need a few more! The fantastic thing about the people involved in this ‘genre’ is the distinct level of mutual recognition and support. This is something we should continue to foster.
What’s your favourite Americana release so far this year?
HR: It’s a tie between Ryan Bingham – Fear and Saturday Night and John Moreland – High on Tulsa Heat. I feel like its still early days though…
JR: I love Chicago-based Daniel Knox’s eponymous album, the Marlon Williams debut album is awesome too.
What are your musical plans over the next 12 months?
post baby…I think we’d like to do some more recording and potentially look at a mini-US tour.
Fading In The Light EP Launch Tour
- Sunday, 24 May, Petersham Bowling Club with Katie Brianna and Lisa Caruso
- Thursday, 28 May, Gasoline Pony with The Southerly Busters
- Thursday, 11 June, Cactus Club @ Producers Bar, Adelaide
- Friday, 12 June, The Bluebee Room (Adelaide) with Matt Ward
- Saturday, 27 June, Some Velvet Morning (Melbourne) with John Flanagan