Emerging as a guitar-blasting maverick in his own right after producing noise within Mercy Arms and Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders, Kirin J Callinan released his worthy solo debut full-length Embracism midway through 2013. The album has been garnering a groundswell of attention locally and abroad, compounded by striking film clips, as well as live shows that present a potent blend of charm and abrasion. Ahead of a run of Laneway appearances, as well as supporting Savages on their respective sideshow dates, Callinan speaks in between pottering about at a Waterloo studio.
“I don’t really listen to them anymore,” Callinan says in regards to Embracism’s songs. “I did before, I did take an interest in my record somewhat. When you’re making something like that, you can be too close to it. When it’s released, you can start to hear it through everybody else’s ears. As far as my relationship with the songs, I guess with the aid of hindsight I get more of an idea of what they are, as opposed to what I was going for. Those two things are always different. I kind of see how I could have packaged it better, but I was happy with the record and I’m excited to make a new one.”
While there is still a pertinence about Embracism, Callinan is beginning to lay the mental foundations for his second solo LP. “I’ve written a bunch of new songs; I’ve got a plan in regards to the next record,” he muses. “I’m really anxious to get into it. This record still has a bit of life in it, and there’s more touring to be done, but at first opportunity I’ll be knuckling down and solely focusing on the next one.”
After a fairly subdued few years on the solo front, Callinan was all systems go in the lead-up to and aftermath of Embracism’s release, continually bouncing between tours at home and in the US. “It’s definitely been on my own terms, but it’s definitely been flat out. The record was received well here, and in the States I played a lot of shows and got a small but dedicated following over there. I’d love to go back to Europe and Asia, give that a crack before putting this album to bed.”
The most recent in a string of disparate, yet invariably captivating film clips, ‘Landslide’ features a spatially disconcerting, inversed portrait of Callinan dangling upside down over water. “It was torture, absolute torture. Being hung by my ankles during wintertime in Port Melbourne, being dunked into the freezing cold ocean – I’m pretty sure it’s torture. It was fun, but gruelling. I was working with great people, and I always have fun, no matter what I’m doin’,” Callinan grins. “The euphoria you might see onscreen is most likely pain-induced. It was brutal, it really was.”
As the guitarist in Jack Ladder’s Dreamlanders, Callinan also reveals we can expect a follow-up to the acclaimed Hurtsville sooner rather than later. “We recorded it, it’s getting mixed at the moment. The songs are great. I’m looking forward to it coming out. Again, I don’t really know what it is. We’ve moved into some strange territory, which is exciting. For us, anyway. It’ll make more sense once it’s released. But that’s where I like to be, treading a line, and Tim [Rogers, AKA Jack Ladder] is no different. I’m excited for it to come out, and I’m excited to tour it.”
As for his own live show, Callinan has settled into a live three-piece formation after experimenting with a revolving roster of guest musicians onstage. “It’s at a place beyond me being happy with it,” Callinan says of the show we’ll see at Laneway. “I feel so grateful for the two guys in my band, they’re incredible. I’ve refined it. I’m excited to bring this show home in Australia. I’m just having a lot of fun now.”
Kirin J Callinan plays at Metro Theatre, supporting Savages on Wednesday February 5. He’s also appearing alongside The Jezabels, Haim, Lorde, and more at Laneway Festival at Sydney College of the Arts on Sunday February 2.
Embracism is out now through Siberia/Remote Control.