SIX STRINGS: Tracy McNeil
Tracy McNeil released her solo album Nobody Ever Leaves in 2014 to strong reviews -- including ours -- before undertaking a comprehensive tour to celebrate its release and spread the magic, with her great band The Good Life, which includes guitarist Luke Sinclair of Raised by Eagles. McNeil was kind enough to take some time to answer our Six Strings Q&A.
Post to Wire: What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
Tracy McNeil: The first album that really sparked my interest in Americana music was Old Crow Medicine Show. They took me back to the stuff I listened to as a kid, before I fell into the crap my friends were into at school. They were old and new all at once – something really fresh and vital about what they were doing – I loved it.
What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve played and why?
One of the most memorable shows of my career, aside from our recent album launch which is easily the most fun I’ve ever had on stage, would have to be supporting Old Crow Medicine Show at the Forum in Melbourne. One year before that show, I was in the audience at the Mod Club in Toronto, Ontario, watching them killing it. So, to be on the same bill was a spin out for me. A real highlight for sure.
How did you learn to play your instrument?
I’m not the best guitarist, but I’ve learned enough to be able to write. My family is very musical so I learned to play guitar from my step-dad, my dad, and my brother. They all taught me a few chords. Neil Young’s "Heart of Gold" and Fleetwood Mac’s "Landslide" were the first two songs I ever learned to play.
If you could sit in with one other musician, living or dead, who would it be?
I never know the answer to this question. There are so many musicians and songwriters that I would love to be in the same room with, but would most likely freeze up if I had to sing or play guitar with them. I absolutely love the American band Dawes – it would be pretty amazing to sit down with Taylor Goldsmith and try and write a song together.
Do you feel there is a strong folk/country music community in Australia?
Australia’s music scene is, in my opinion, as strong as it is unique. The sound of alt-country in this country has more grit, more looseness, [is] rougher around the edges. It’s worn and weathered. Before I arrived in Melbourne eight years ago, I was listening to Melbourne bands like Down Hills Home, The Idle Hoes, Liz Stringer, Jordie Lane – there was something going on with sound that was nothing like we had in Canada. I was immediately drawn to it. It felt real. It felt honest and emotive, not polished and poised for the industry. Eight years later, not much has changed in terms of this unique sound. Raised by Eagles are a Melbourne band that exemplifies that sound today. I can’t get enough of it.
What is your favourite Americana release so far this year?
My favourite Americana release this year so far would easily be Lost Ragas – Phantom Ride [Matt Walker’s new band release]. A world class album, written and delivered with heart and soul. What a man; what a band!
What are your aspirations over the next 12 months?
The next twelve months finds us on the road with a national tour, returning to play in Melbourne and playing more regional country towns to get our music out there. As a band we’re really enjoying a new energy. Dan Parsons has joined us on lead guitar and Trent McKenzie (Sal Kimber and the Rolling Wheel) on bass, Luke Sinclair (Raised by Eagles) on guitar and Bree Hartley on drums. The playing is getting so tight – we just want to push that as far as we can. I’ve also started working on a new batch of songs…so you know, it never ends – the wheels just keep on turning.