2019 CD FEATURE
AFTER THE RAIN (INDIE)
SINGING SHEARER LUKE DICKENS CLICKS SONGS AS THERAPY
“It's five thirty in the morning and I've got to go/ and do the same old thing I quit a long time ago/ feels like I'm walking a tightrope between right and wrong/ trying to answer the questions, been on my mind so long/ can't see the future just looking forward to the past/ ain't it funny how things come full circle and nothing ever lasts.” - After The Rain - Luke Dickens-Matt Ross
When singer-songwriter-shearer Luke Dickens wrote nine songs for self-funded second album After The Rain he discovered his music was creative therapy.
That was after exploring evil outback serial killers, cyber bullies, snakes and wolves.
But the 2011 Star Maker winner balanced his musical diet with love songs for his son Jordan , now 10, and fiancé Sammie whom he plans to marry in October.
“It was therapeutic,” Dickens, 37, told Nu Country TV of the album produced by Sam Hawksley.
“It was something I saved up for and didn't want to rush. I wanted it to be serious. Sam sent me some amazing tracks from Nashville . But I had to pull away. It needs to come from me. I enjoy writing.”
Dickens wrote songs with peers Luke Austen, Bill Chambers, Matt Ross, Jay Collie, Jasper Somerville-Collie, Phil Barton and Bruce Wallace.
He also included three by Hawksley and Nashville hit writers Bonnie Bishop, Al Anderson, Travis Meadows and Trent Summar.
Ironically, our interview for After The Rain , was two days after storms where Luke was shearing sheep at Bendick Murrell near his NSW hometown Young, south of Canberra.
“We had 80 mils in two days,” Dickens revealed during his lunch break.
“Fences were washed out and there were new river-beds that we didn't know existed. Luckily our shearing shed is up on the hill.”
After The Rain co-writer Matt Ross penned the title track of Luke's previous album Devil In The Wind seven years ago and referenced Toowoomba and “a cyclone as big as Texas off the Townsville coast.”
Dickens wrote After The Rain with Ross after another storm on the eve of a Broadbeach music festival.
“I was going through a tough spot,” Dickens recalled.
“I was back in the shearing shed instead of touring music. I had just broken up with the woman I loved. Things weren't looking good. There was a festival I had to play but I had no direction, no plan, when it just poured rain. I met with Matt and told him I had this song I began writing at work when I was shearing sheep in the heat. I had taken a wrong turn in life right here. I needed to write it down and get my feelings out. Matt helped string a couple of beautiful lines together as he does but we couldn't come up with the hook. We were standing on the balcony at Broadbeach awaiting our spot. The rain stopped and he said ‘what about after the rain?' It wasn't a song of depression - more a song of hope.”
LUKE DOUBLE SHOT
“Living online ain't a social crime but it caused a lotta pain/ blowing your time just to be unkind, tell me, what you got to gain?/ it don't matter when you climb that ladder just who you're stepping on/ just remember that all that money can't serve you when you're gone.” - One Small Town - Luke Dickens-Luke Austen.
Dickens wrote three songs with another Luke - Austen - including One Small Town.
It references cyber bullying and trolls but had a different source - futility of war.
“I had just finished reading a report on the cosmic universe,” Dickens explained.
“I'm totally intrigued by space. The earth we live on is such a tiny place in the grand scheme of things and such a beautiful place. If we're any closer to the sun we would be toast, any further away we would be frozen. We're so lucky to be here. It's mind-boggling people want to go to war. It goes from large scale wars to small fights - the cyber thing. I had to provide an IPAD for Jordan from Grade 4 - a very real thing. He's in Grade 5.
“My question is why would you want to be like that? We're so lucky to live here we should be watching each other's back not stabbing each other in the back. I come from a small town where we all look out for each other. The world is such a small place we should be doing that globally.”
Two outback trips across the Nullarbor with Austen inspired Radio Man that grew from musical travelogue to serial killer saga.
“We crossed the Nullarbor together a couple of times,” Dickens recalled.
“We had a lot of time to kill going from Melbourne to Perth - a magical experience. We stopped to play a heap of gigs. It was the beginning of the Wolf Creek franchise. You couldn't help but look out at some of the plains and think there's a hell of a lot of places where people could be stashed. The beginning of the song is about a truckie, sleeping in a different spot each night. The sun comes up and off you go again. I changed the concept a bit and now it's about a serial killer. The song doesn't say that but if you sold it to Wolf Creek or Mad Max or something like that it would be. At the end of the Wolf Creek franchise they were making a lot of money and generating a lot of entertainment, discussing it from a movie and TV. They hit a sweet spot.”
The song references historic hits including Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue.
“They are songs you might hear on a classic radio station - my vision of the song if you build a film clip around it. This man cruising across the desert - listening to great tunes and having a good time with a couple of people he picked up along the way. This bloke is heading back alone from being a serial killer.”
In Radio Man the character of Peggy Sue becomes an escort woman.
In real life she died in October last year at 78 after writing a book, working as a dental technician and running a plumbing business.
“When Peggy Sue died it came across the radio and I was a little blown away,” Dickens confessed.
“We had only just recorded it. There were references to Midnight Rider, Rambling Man, Rattling Bones, On The Road Again and Peggy Sue .”
SNAKE WOMAN IN WILD WEST BED
“Snake woman you got tangled up in my bed/ snake woman you tried to get in my head/ Oh, oh woman you thought you might've had hold of a mouse/ snake woman you found yourself in the wrong house/ blood red sunrise dripping through my window/ shattered china shining on the floor/ thunder from the storm inside my ribcage/ slowly you slither toward my door.” - Snake Woman - Luke Dickens.
“They had this song Bon Scott sang - Night Prowler. It was spooky, controversial. In my song I got up at a quarter after midnight. I stepped out on the balcony at a friend's place in Melbourne and there was this streetlight flickering in the distance. This man walked past and my imagination took off. I was just thinking about someone being stalked or followed in the darkness out there. It just turns into the big bad wolf as I didn't want it to be too real. Jay Collie came up with the idea we should throw a little twist in at the end so it's not so spooky, make out the stalker was an innocent man who has woken up and wondering why he's dreaming about something like that over in the shadows whether it's his wife, girlfriend of mistress she's let herself in and wants his attention. It had a different background - that's what sparked the mood.”
“I like my coffee, he likes his milk/ my hands are hard and his are as soft as silk/ he gets up early, I stay up late/ he does everything I do/ even if I don't want him to/ he's my best mate/ sometimes I feel it's like looking in a mirror/ twenty-seven years ago/ there's a finger-painted picture on my refrigerator and I'm never gonna let it go.” - Forever Road - Luke Dickens-Jay Collie.
Equally personal is Forever Road - a reflection of two generations,
Dickens's collaboration with Bill Chambers on Hung Up On You features Adam Harvey as duet partner.
It's reminiscent of 1979 Johnny Paycheck hit Drinking And Driving You Off My Mind.
“Bill came up with the theme I was pretty impressed,” Dickens said.
“Adam Harvey is great fun. It's always great to have a beer with him. I love his Harveys Bar album. Yeah, I Like Beer is one of my little boy's favorite songs. Bringing the pedal steel into it made me think of him telling me it's time to go home - just one more and we'll pack it up. Jordan loves his drums and learning how to play bass. He saved up his own money and bought his own bass guitar at Christmas time. He is very musical, starting to shine now.”
Dickens discovered Nyssa Ray - his duet partner on What If - in Brisbane .
“I saw her play at a place called the Walrus Club - a really groovy little bar that used to be a cellar at a pub in Brisbane . I saw her playing there solo. She has a great voice and great player - she's friends with my partner Sammie. When we wrote that I imagined Sheryl Crow's voice as the other part. I thought it would be nice to ask Nyssa. She lived a similar life in past. People that are married with partners and in love with each other. They have fallen out of love with own partners but in love with each other - a bit of a secret obviously.”
Dickens also included producer Hawksley's original The Right Guy .
“He wrote that overnight,” Luke confessed.
BAD SEED TURNS FERTILE IN HOLLYWOOD
“Last thing in the world anybody had thought/ was that the politician's daughter would get caught smoking pot/ she had the windows rolled down you could smell it from a mile away/ so her folks sent her off to finishing school/ they said to get an education, learn to live by the rules/ they say, as the story goes, there was a karaoke bar/ and there just happened to be an agent/ said he would make her a star/ straight to number one with the very first record she made/ now the folks back home they were glued to their tube watching the politician's daughter making headline news/ biting their tongues, remembering what they used to say.” - Bad Seed - Bonnie Bishop-Al Anderson.
Dickens released Bad Seed as the second single with a video featuring his son Jordan on drums.
“The clip was shot on a property that I've been working on shearing for a number of years now and bar room itself was actually a wool room from the shearing shed itself,” Dicken revealed.
It's the story of a politician's daughter, busted for pot and sent away to boarding school.
She hooks up with a fellow rebel and defies convention by meeting an agent in Hollywood and hits chart tops with her first single.
It was a role reversal sibling of Avril Lavigne's Skater Boy and given to Dickens by producer Hawksley who played on Bonnie Bishop's original version of the song.
The video was produced and directed by seven-time Golden Guitar winner Duncan Toombs from The Filmery .
“Bad seed was such a fun song to record that we just had to make a video equally as fun to watch.” Dickens revealed.
“From start to finish, with thirty Harley's showing up to the boys catching up over a beer, telling the story of a local girl who broke a few rules and ran off with a guy to have some fun, while me and the band play behind a Road House style cage, to the bar fight that only settles down when that same local girl makes the headline news on TV.”
A sequel of sorts to Blues Brothers chicken wire creations.
“I have a lot of friends to thank for showing up and being a part of this one and they all know who they are,” Dickens joked.
“We ate $100 worth of snag sangas and chicken wings and went through seven and a half cartons of beer making this clip. The boys - half from Canberra and half from Young - said it was one of the best rides they've been on in a good while and to make things even more special, my ten year old son Jordan learned the song and played the drums, rocking out as good as any session guy would! With a bunch of pub props, good music, good tucker, and a few good sorts, the boys felt right at home in no time.”
Dickens launched his album in Young and shone the spotlight on mental health issues - especially the region where he works.
“One of my good mates who was like family took his life on Boxing Day. I moved to Young to live with his family when I was just a kid,” Luke explained.
“When I heard the tragic news, I wondered if I could've done anything to change the outcome. My way of dealing with these types of things is to tell people ‘chin up it', it'll be OK'. Instead I should have reached out to someone who may have been able to help.”
The launch was held at Young Services Club in conjunction with SUP Homes who fund local mental health awareness activities and cost of training male mentors by MHFA Australia to teach locals about warning signs of suicide.
It also advises on how to help men in that situation and families of those already affected by tragedy.