Sydney-bred and Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Laura Imbruglia returns to our turf for a couple of shows this week. Imbruglia will hit The Union Hotel and Lizotte’s in Kincumber with full band in tow, but she’ll also play a solo set at Newtown’s Midnight Special before hosting ‘Let’s Get Trivical’ music trivia. Imbruglia runs a weekly trivia night in Melbourne and her quizzes are far from generic.
“A lot of the questions are things that really it’s unlikely anyone would know unless they’ve just spent several hours on Wikipedia like I have,” she says. “It’s a mixture of silly videos, interesting information and there’s a couple of questions each week about heavy metal, because I have a lot of knowledge about metal.”
Thankfully Imbruglia’s music isn’t nearly as complicated as her trivia questions (nor does the metal influence shine through). Last year she released the bouncy, country-tinged pop-rock album What A Treat. The record, her third overall, is the first since she relocated to Melbourne in 2010.Melbourne and Sydney differ somewhat in terms of their orientation towards music, and Imbruglia says the Victorian capital had long beckoned.
“I had always observed Melbourne’s music scene with a bit of jealousy. It’s just a little bit more vibrant, there’s more venues to play. I’m not saying the scene’s any more supportive – I had a great time in Sydney and I miss the place and miss everyone around. But they make it really hard with all the venues closing down.”
There’s much debate at present about the future of Sydney’s live music scene. More venues are struggling to stay afloat, while artists are campaigning for greater live opportunities. Imbruglia recognises Sydney is going through a rough patch, but she can’t agree with NSW Police Commissioner Michael Gallacher’s claim that the industry is already dead.
“I’m friends with Ray [Ahn] from the Hard-Ons and he talks about Sydney being really alive in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Bands used to play headline shows on a Tuesday and a Wednesday night and pack the venues out. That’s what Melbourne’s like, so maybe in the next ten years it’ll flick back to Sydney.”
Music industry debacles aside, there’s a few things Sydney residents are certainly blessed to have. “They’re spoiled with their excellent weather and their excellently priced alcohol and their perfect-sized schooners,” Imbruglia says. “I definitely miss the schooner. Whenever I start a night with a pint I always end up saying something inappropriate and having to go home,” she laughs.
Speaking of going home, Imbruglia hasn’t had much time to step away from the songs on What A Treat over the last year. However, after the current tour is done she’ll take a well-earned break before making preparations for a follow-up. Plans for the next batch of songs are still rather vague at this stage.
“Part of me wants to make an album that’s a bit heavier and not so countrified, but you never know until you start writing. You never know where the muse is going to take you, and I don’t like to force any genre or theme on myself because I can never stick to it.”
Even if Imbruglia can’t be sure what’s next, perhaps inspecting her recent stereo favourites will give us a clue. “Mostly I listen to local bands or really old bands from the ’60s and ’70s,” she says. “I really like Witch Hats and The Bowers and the latest Dick Diver album is really cool as well. Other than that I’m just listening to Cheap Trick and ABBA.”
Also performing a solo set and hosting Let’s Get Trivical at The Midnight Special on Wednesday February 12.
What A Treat out now through Ready Freddie/MGM.