"The last time I was in
the desert, it wasnít really the desert. In fact, we didnít venture far
past Broken Hill, but the release of open landscape was still a
Exploring the great unknown can help you find a place for pared-back
reflection and inspiration. If youíre lucky, maybe even a spirit animal
Ė though in Australia, it will likely turn out to be poisonous. When
Lost Ragas frontman Matt Walker decided to clear his mind prior to the
bandís next national tour, however, he really didnít skimp on space.
ďThis is a step up in the adventure stakes, Iíve got to say,Ē he says.
ďIíll be hiking through the Flinders Ranges for a week before the tour.
Iím going semi-desert, sleeping beneath the stars, in caves. Hiking
around trying to find The Lost Sound, something like that. Iím
definitely thinking of the next Ragas album, so it may be a little bit
like that Mighty Boosh episode, wandering around looking for wisdom. One
of the mates Iím going with has a portable recorder; Iíll have a few
instruments with me. I think weíll definitely do some recording out
there, but what it leads to, who knows? Weíre doing it all cowboy-style,
sleeping with no tents. Thereís one night in the cave on the side of a
mountain, so you hope itís going to be inspiring out there.Ē
Thereís always the chance Walker might come across some kind of human
subspecies thatís been living in the caves undisturbed for centuries and
is now baying for blood, but thatís always the gamble with creative
exploration. While this hike will cover new ground, Walker has had the
opportunity to visit vast swathes of Australia over the years. He is a
seasoned solo performer, but has also earned great acclaim with The
Necessary Few, Ashley Davies, Tex Perkins, Archie Roach Ė the list goes
on. Suffice to say, he has had a front-row view of the shifting
Australian music scene.
ďThe whole Americana renaissance is something Iíve definitely noticed,Ē
he says. ďFestivals weíve been getting picked up for are getting more
aligned with this movement, like Dashville Skyline in the Hunter Valley
and Out On The Weekend in Melbourne. But I think Australian music has
always had a strong country scene. There are so many artists, and if you
look back thereís a really strong Aboriginal scene aligned with it too.
Thereís a whole culture of great country singer-songwriters in the
Aboriginal community, all over Australia.
ďMaybe Iíve noticed a change here just because Iím Melbourne-based, but
it feels bigger now then it used to be. Someone told me that Northcote,
just out of the CBD in Melbourne, has the biggest number of country
singers in all Australia. Which is a strange place for it; youíd feel
theyíd be all up north. I think in regional and outback Australia, itís
probably one of the biggest styles of music for the last hundred years.
Iíve been around a while now, and Iíve seen different scenes, different
subgenres in the roots scene, bubble to the surface. Whether itís garage
rock or blues, your John Butler and Ash Grunwald types, itís always
interesting to see how itís all growing, but it doesnít really affect
what youíre doing yourself. Thereís so much work going on inside your
own head to make music, itís more a sideline interest to see what the
local scene is actually doing.Ē
While Walker certainly brings a great amount of experience to Lost
Ragas, he is quick to emphasise that he is hardly the life and soul of
this party Ė it is very much a group concern. ďItís not just Matt Walker
and band. We all contribute, and the guys do fucking amazing harmonies,
switching around instruments. Itís a real collective.Ē
Their most recent release, Trans Atlantic Highway, has already met with
a great critical reception and will likely introduce Walker and co. to a
whole new set of fans. Happy as they are to find themselves with the
attention, these dark horsemen of the alt-roots scene are pretty
detached from accolades, and remain quite conscious of keeping the
integrity of their songwriting intact.
ďYou donít want to sound too confident in your own sound, which Iím not
at all. Iíve always been a believer inÖĒ he pauses to consider. ďI
really play music for myself. Itís a contradiction, of course, because
then you record it, you play live shows and hope people like it, but my
main drive to pick up a guitar is kind of selfish. Itís just something I
need to do. I think a lot of musicians are like that, though some
musicians maybe have too many idols. Iíve certainly got them, but I
almost put them on a pedestal where I would never, ever try and emulate
them. Theyíre too out of reach. If I try and write anything, itís the
essence of the honesty that the artists I most admire have.
ďDylan once said when he was starting out, watching the old blues guys,
it wasnít really the notes they played or the words they sang; it was
about the look in their eyes that was the inspiration for him. That has
kind of rung true for me, too. I like artists who boil their words down.
Sometimes, one or two lines can leave enough out that the listener or
reader can make up the missing part. It creates something that I donít
think you can do otherwise. Something that resonates.Ē
Lost Ragas play Dashville Skyline, Hunter Valley, Saturday October 3 Ė
Sunday October 4, and are also appearing at Lazybones Lounge on Friday
October 23. Trans Atlantic Highway is out now independently.
- See more at: http://www.thebrag.com/music/lost-ragas#sthash.sk3iwmec.dpuf
Walker and the Lost Ragas
The great thing about
things coming together naturally, is that when they form the bond is
effortless, and the result is something more than the sum of its parts.
And so Matt Walker and the Lost Ragas arrive with their new album,
In 2012, Matt released a stunning record (In Echoes of Dawn)
largely recorded, written, arranged, produced and played by himself.
Every instrument, every breath, every idea formed over time in his own
recording space - the 8 Track Shack. But once you have finished such a
project, there are decisions to be made, shows to play, and the road to
travel. Itís hard to do this alone. You need a band.
In some way shape or form, all of the Lost Ragas have worked with or
around each other over the years, but never with the line-up as it is.
Matt Walker - guitars / vocals
Shane Reilly- pedal steel / guitars / vocals
Roger Bergodaz Ė bass
and Simon Burke - drums
Each member of the band offers a wealth of experience, and a taste for a
song. This bent toward the songís best interest may sound like a simple
desire, but itís not as common as you might think.
In Echoes of Dawn is such a gentle record, and as such, the early
shows as the Lost Ragas we're tentative, gentle affairs, but over time,
the line-up injected new songs, and developed a sound that is familiar
and yet totally on its own plane. A sparse, Baron Rhythm section
approach, layered with captivating guitar textures, creating something
that is delicate yet powerful, laid back and intense. The live shows
have moments quiet enough to hear a pin drop, and powerful enough to
drive a nail into the ground.
It grew into something much more than just some guys playing another
guyís record. That would have crashed and burned. Walker was brave
enough to let everyone make it their own from the outset, and so they
did. In Echoes of Dawn is, quite frankly, a record too beautiful
to be recreated, and too involved to be copied. So the Lost Ragas
didn't walk that path.
They played shows, and they continued to develop the Lost Ragasí
sound. A sound that allows for the space within a song to be taken
somewhere new each time. Leaving the path without losing the way
At some point, talk of a new album came up. The band is filled with
songwriters and producers, and guys not always playing their first
instrument, so this was always going to be a process far removed from
what Matt had just come from, and in fact having been a solo artist for
so long, may have been a process never experienced before.
And so, Phantom Ride was born. Recorded over a number of sessions
in mid-late 2013 at Tendertrap Studio with the steady hand of Bergodaz
pushing the faders and the entire band providing a mixture of songs that
were to go through Ďthe Ragasí and take on an entirely new form. This
was no longer a solo experience for Walker.
"Phantom ride" refers to a genre of film made popular late in the 19th
century where the directors would strap a camera on the front of a
moving vehicle. The effect was to see everything moving in front of you,
but no clear indication of what is propelling the images. The "phantom"
is this invisible force.
It is an album put together by four people driven by songs. The premise
was to keep the record simple, keep the takes as live as possible,
minimize overdubs, and for each song to have a character of its own but
to fit with the rest. When you have a song that can stand up on its own,
it is surely the musicians' purpose to stay out of the way, do only what
is required and allow it to do what it will. I think if you asked any of
the Lost Ragas, they would all say that that is one of the true
pleasures of being in the band. No one is stepping on anyone else.
Unless, of course, that is what's required Ö..
the Phantom Ride.