The year is 2020 and for most Australians there’s no need to explain further what a hard and frightening year it’s been for our country in terms of bushfires and COVID 19 but it’s not all bad news…
One musician, Gareth Huggett has made his mark this year by releasing not one but TWO albums in the face of adversity – ‘On Fire’ (released 23 April 2020) and ‘The Remedy’ (released 31st October 2020) both of which provide an array of musical genres to be enjoyed.
A graduate from The London College of Music and having over 25yrs in the industry Huggett has played support to The Libertines, Mental as Anything, The Pirates, Jesse Wood and performed alongside artists such as Mick Green and Johnny Spence, Larry Graham and Graham Central Station, Adam Norsworthy and the Milk Men, Robin Guy (Sham 69) Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy) and many more.
In 2015 Huggett took the opportunity to make a global move relocating to Melbourne with his Aussie partner and two sons. Although that relationship didn’t work out Huggett made the decision not to go back to London and to instead pursue a musical career within Australia.
I had the opportunity to chat with Gareth about his year thus far….
Hey Gareth, thanks for chatting with me. I just need to know why Melbourne?
Melbourne has a funky vibe like parts of London, especially St Kilda so it’s kind of a home away from home.
Debut solo album ‘On Fire’ (released April 2020)… 14 original tunes…where’d your inspiration come from?
‘On Fire’ was a labour of love for over a year. Love being the operative word as most of it was inspired by Jacinta who is now my wife. The other inspirations for ‘On Fire’ were the realisation that my life in London and family and friends were behind me and the sadness that left but also the hope that this new life down under gave. It’s a very bitter sweet album, lots of blues and Alt rock and folk going on so it’s a bit of a style mashup but I love it.
Can you give us a bit of a rundown on the tracks and what to expect?
From the opening blues inspired stomper ‘The Truth Is Yours’s to Make’ (“It’s got atmosphere for days – Rich, Brisbane”) to moody Indie rocker ‘Just Say When’ which has had quite a lot of airplay already, Seattle inspired rockers ‘I Didn’t Mean it But I Said It’ and ‘Hanging By a Thread’ through the last song and first single the beautifully folky ‘Take Me Home’ which was written on a Flinders St Station platform waiting for the last train to Sunbury and is a heart on sleeve love song for my wife.
‘Indigo’ and ‘Said Goodbye’ are songs I wrote with my old London band Minifish, with my best mates Stevie Fricker and Liam Collins. They fit the mood of the album so well and deserved a new airing.
The album takes you on an often moving and soulful hour of music to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.
‘On Fire’ was released at a tumultuous time of the year here in Australia among bushfires and just before COVID 19 hit our shores…any highlights to mention when getting it out under these circumstances?
I started showcasing songs from ‘On Fire’ at the start of the year, and although hampered by fires and stamped out by coronavirus I still managed to get them out there at places like the Kilmore Rock Music Festival (twice – I was asked back for the third day) and various bushfire reliefs.
The layers of composition on ‘On Fire’ have so many levels which are very enticing for the listener. I understand you had a big part in this with a couple of credits going to some learned colleagues…
On all of the recordings I sing all the vocal lines, play all the guitars & bass, 3-string cigar box, percussion…everything but the drums which were performed by my mate who was also producer/engineer Stuart Smith and the solo to the title track ‘We’re On Fire’ played by my old mate from back in the UK, the much respected Adam Norsworthy from my former band The Milk Men, I often play harmonica in their albums too and I’m their former bassist … (Check out their album Deliverance – it made the Amazon Top 10 album chart earlier this year, one place behind Led Zep – I play harmonica on a couple of tracks too!)
Fast forwarding to the new album ‘The Remedy’ (released 31 October 2020). An album of new songs written during the COVID 19 Lockdown combined with some other previously unreleased material. One of the new songs on the album is already out there making a name for itself and was actually the catalyst for the production of ‘The Remedy’…tell us about that…
The first of the new songs, World Keeps Spinning, was released at the start of lockdown on the album ‘The Crawdaddy Club Richmond Presents Songs of Isolation’ with some of the cream of the British blues scene. This album’s sales went to the +Heroes charity to help NHS staff and their families. It has had huge success and a follow up album has also been released. On the back of this, and the airplay World Keeps Spinning received, the decision was made to write an album of my own for it to live on.
How does ‘The Remedy’ differ to ‘On Fire’ for fans?
I wanted this album to have a more energetic, rhythm and blues feel to ‘On Fire’, incorporating some blues harmonica and arranging it to have the feel of a live gig.
Of course, we need to have a track by track breakdown from you…
The first track ‘Bend Your Ear’ – a bit of a dig at internet trolls and thumb warriors – hits you like a train from the off. Next up is the fast paced R&B track ‘Nightbus’ co-written my dad Paul Huggett, the rocking Soho inspired ‘Goodtime Boy’ before then the mood shifts slightly with ‘Round and Round Inside My Head’, a tribute to friends back in the UK. ‘Insignificance’, a mournful prayer to planet earth and ‘Old Town‘ give the listener a breather for a moment before title track, ‘Remedy’, karate chops it’s way into your ears. This song was co-written with old friend and guitar guru Stevie Fricker who plays the gypsy-esque slide guitar on this track. Another highlight is the blues-rock stomper, ‘Rewind and Replay‘ with it’s big harmonies and wailing Telecaster. Final track, ‘Evermore’ was written as a tribute to friends Tomo and Caroline for their wedding day, and was played on the day in full Highland dress kilt!
Any future plans imminent or are you just going to take a breather for the rest of 2020?
I have a band of awesome Melbourne musicians ready to go as soon as we get a green light for rehearsals!
So there we have it ‘On Fire’ and ‘The Remedy’ two albums, one artist and in one of the most oppressive years the world has seen – a shining light…kinda gives you hope doesn’t it!
Titbits from me – Favourite song on ‘On Fire’ goes to ‘Say Goodbye’ and favourite on ‘The Remedy’ to ‘I’m Kinda Blue’. Album vs Album…whilst both are meritorious in their own right my heart goes with ‘The Remedy’, I just connected more lyrically and love the ‘live gig’ notion it introduces above the production context of ‘On Fire’. In reality though, with both albums having so much to offer, someone could make a cool playlist ‘The Best of Gareth Huggett’ integrating songs from each album…now there’s an idea!
‘On Fire’ & ‘The Remedy’ on all popular streaming platforms from 31st October 2020.
Follow Gareth Huggett