PICKING UP WHERE WE LEFT OFF
Back in the saddle after Danny Widdicombe overcame leukaemia for the third time, The Wilson Pickers have reconvened to celebrate the simple joy of making music together. Sime Nugent chatted to Chris Familton about the circumstances in which the new album came about.
In 2012 The Wilson Pickers were still on a roll, touring and thrilling festival audiences on the back of their two ARIA award-nominated albums Land Of The Powerful Owl and Shake It Down. Then the momentum was tragically derailed by the news of yet another leukaemia diagnosis for Danny Widdicombe. “He went straight in to a protracted period of treatment and recovery. All of us went off and did different things for a few years,” explains Sime Nugent. “Ben Salter always has multiple projects on the go, Andrew Morris continued working with Bernard Fanning,” and Nugent continued his successful work with Sweet Jean.
As Nugent picks up the story in 2015 he recalls “last year we started playing some shows again and the love amongst the Pickers has been as much about friendship as it has about music so it was really great to come back together. We started planning for a February recording at Andrew’s church in Billinudgel NSW where he’s got a recording studio (Church Farm Studios). We all live in different states so we sent some demos around over the summer and then got into the church on a Monday, hit the ground running on the Tuesday and by the end of the week we had more than the ten songs recorded and pruned them back to the new album.”
The ease in which You Can’t Catch Fish From A Train came together is in keeping with the musical ethos the five members share and the collective trust they have in each other as songwriters and players.
“We’ve always trusted our instincts in the Pickers and not tried to fit into anyone else mould. What that does is secure our voice as individual players I think. We’ve tried to keep those individual voices as part of the band rather than blend them together like a bluegrass band would bleed their harmonies. That’s why we distance ourselves from calling this a bluegrass recording even though there are bluegrass instruments. We all go off and write other music in other projects and I think when it comes to The Wilson Pickers we trust the instincts of the others and what they all bring to the group. I think that really comes through on this record,” stresses Nugent.
As for the name of the album, Nugent laughs and describes an exchange of emails with Morris. “Andrew wrote me an email saying he was interested in buying a boat. I wrote back and said I liked trains. He replied and said, ‘You can’t catch fish from a train’ and I replied and said, ‘There’s our album title’. The Wilson Pickers is a pretty dubious band name so we may as well have a dubious album title too!”