The road less travelled isn’t necessarily the road less lucrative. Not if you ask experienced journeyman Paul Greene. The singer-songwriter’s new LP One Lap Of The Sun came out last week, and at present he’s dotting a trail through regional New South Wales in support of the release.
“If it wasn’t for regional Australia, I wouldn’t have been able to survive,” Greene says. “I’ve been a full-time musician since 2001. It’s been my living all along. To run my business I’ve relied on the support of rural Australia. I’ve also grown quite fond of it in the process, and look forward to going back to those little towns and seeing my friends. And they look forward to me coming back.”
Places such as Milton, Bulli and Jervis Bay are scarcely included on any band’s touring itinerary. Instead, Australian musicians tend to favour major cities, occasionally venturing out to university towns. Greene speculates about what might dissuade others from following his lead.
“I think a lot of bands just do gigs purely to promote. All the smoke and mirrors I find lame. It’s all about which venue and what band you’re playing with and it’s all about being seen as a success. I know it’s a clichО, but for me it’s about playing music to people that like it. And I try to keep it that way.”
Greene’s outlook stems from growing up in the South Coast town of Nowra in the 1980s. “I was starving for music,” he says. “There was only ABC and one commercial channel in the South Coast until the mid-’90s, so any influence I could get was great. It was a little bit exciting if something was coming to town. Like, if Noiseworks came to town we’d go and see them play. I’d just try to soak up as much of it as possible. That excitement was part of my growing up.”
Joining Greene onstage for the current tour are The Other Colours, who also back him up on the new record. One Lap Of The Sun is Greene’s eighth album and, like 2012’s ARIA-nominated Behind The Stars,it was recorded and produced by the man himself. However, Greene implemented a rather different songwriting technique this time around.
“I actually went in [at] nine o’clock in the morning, sat down in my little studio in the heart of Nowra and wrote for the day, had a break for lunch and wrote until dinner. Every other song I’ve kind of made up while I’ve been travelling, or it had been jammed out in soundcheck and then formed into a song, very naturally or instinctively. [For this album] I actually sat down and wrote. It was quite calculated and controlled, for me to take that approach.”
Spending 15 years working alone, an artist could easily run into a songwriting impasse. Adopting this mediated construction method allowed Greene to tweak his writing formula.
“A little game I was playing while I was writing was to have six lines in the verse, not four – just little things like that, that made the song more interesting to me. Doing little things that weren’t predictable; trying to make little changes to the arrangements and make changes to the songs.”
Rest assured, though, One Lap Of The Sun is not an experimental release. Taking influence from the sophisticated songwriting of Neil Finn and Scott Walker, Greene hasn’t lost sight of his primary goal.
“It’s all about honouring the song,” he says. “I’ve got this opportunity and I have a gift that I can use. That’s what recording and touring and everything is about: having respect for the song.”
Catch Paul Greene at Lizotte’s, Dee Why on Thursday May 1
Also appearing at Venue 505 on Friday May 9; The Junkyard, Maitland on Friday May 23; Lizotte’s, Newcastle on Thursday May 29; Lizotte’s, Central Coast on Sunday June 1; and The Brass Monkey on Thursday June 5.
One Lap Of The Sun out now through ABC/Universal