THEAUSSIEWORD.COM’s special interview with Melbourne singer and songwriter Rich Webb.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?
My folks. Both Mum and Dad were really into music. There wasn’t a moment when I was growing up when they weren’t playing something. And it was a broad range of stuff too – from opera and classical through to rock, jazz and folk. Mum was a singer, and my first show was backing her singing in a chapel on guitar as a kid. Dad could hold a tune too. They had different taste but they also liked plenty of the same stuff. And they took us along to some great musical events. Both my brothers are totally into it also, so we had a ready-made band in the garage. As Dad once said, I’d rather have you all in there making a racket than out on the streets. Though I’m not sure the neighbours always agreed. Was brilliant fun, and we made some life-long friends there. Once I got a taste, I was hooked. There has never been a moment when I’ve wanted to do anything else.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
Part of it is the need to communicate, and part of it is to contribute to something that means a lot to me. Music can turn your day around, it can change your mood for the better, it can get right into your soul – and I’m still naive enough to think it can change the world if you get it right, or contribute to that change anyway.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?
I’m already accomplishing them – and that’s to continue to make music and to contribute something valuable. If I wasn’t doing that I would stop – through I’ve no idea what I would do if I did. Which I suppose is also an incentive to keep finding something worthwhile through it. I still believe I’ve plenty more to say, I’m still learning, I’m still getting better.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
My new album RIGHT! is out in December – so there will be plenty around that. The album launch show is on Saturday 10 December at the Union Hotel, Brunswick and we’re kicking off at 5pm. Watch out world, we are coming for you. I’ve got some more music happening right now too, and there a plans afoot for a heap of stuff next year. Wanna play more, wanna tour more, wanna record more – let’s see how it pans out.
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?
Blue Wildflowers is the latest single and it’s the lead track from the upcoming album RIGHT! It’s a sort of apology song for being 20 years younger than I am now. When I look back at how I behaved at times, well, sometimes I reckon I could have done better. I also wrote the song as a reminder not to get so lost like that again. You get better right? Or I hope you do. In fact I know you do. There’s this great quote from Muhammad Ali: “Someone who views the world at 50 the same way they did at 20 has wasted 30 years of this life.” There’s a lot in that. That’s kind of what I was trying to get at in the song. How would I best describe my music? Well I hope soulful, honest, I’m trying to get braver, real…
Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?
I don’t really have a secret. If I did, I would use it all the time. It’s an odd thing this business, I’m not sure there is a process, but there must be something that makes it happen. I’m always thinking about songs, ideas, expressions, melodies. I use notebooks, voice recordings on my phone etc. I’m not sure that is any different to anyone else. But sometimes something comes along and you need to run with it. There is no need to question why – you just need to follow it somehow. And then you have a song. And sometimes the song gets better the more you play it. Or at least you get more comfortable with it. But in the end, it needs to have something within it that other people can latch onto, otherwise it’s a good song that should stay in a room with you.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
Not that I know of.
Success, what is the secret to it?
I don’t know that either, blimey. Maybe not thinking about it?
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Staying alive for sure. Am pretty pleased about that.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
I reckon anyone who writes a song I can get lost in is inspiring. People who can keep doing it, even more so.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
Yep, and I hope there always will be. I haven’t started on them yet so I won’t want to jinx anything by lifting the lid.
The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?
Constantly changing with it. The way you make music and its relevance I think is still the same – what’s changing is the way it’s experienced and sold which is something else. Maybe the relevance is changing a bit too, but from the creative point of view, it’s the same as it ever was.
What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?
There are no negatives. When you are touring it usually means a lot of time in vans and such, but even then, if you are travelling with fun people, which I’ve always done, you get to experience the world together. Some of the finest moments can also be the most mundane. The best of course in all of this is when you eventually crawl out of the van, stretch, and finally get to play.
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.
Paul Kelly; Tropical Fuck Storm; Courtney Barnett; Tex Perkins sounded great the other night at a show I saw at the Union as part of The Grease Monkeys.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
The industry will continue to be what it is regardless of what I think about it, and I don’t think anything should necessarily stay the same anyway. It’s great to get new music out at any time. If that eventually involves making messages in the sky with hot air balloons to do so, well I’ll give that a crack too.
How will you continue appealing to the international market?
Playing there is the usual approach. While things were disrupted for a while, it’s getting back to normal again now – or at least closer to normal. You just need to get over there and play. I’m working on it.
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?
Sometimes, but not for a while. I don’t really have a wish list – I love the people I’m working with at the moment, both in the band and in terms of production.
What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Keep going. And if you don’t want to do that after the initial rush, think about stopping.
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?
I’m up for anything. Not a big fan of chocolates, but anything else – go for your life.
Any last words?
“Stay off the junk and you’ll go far.” I can recommend that movie big time – New York, New York – Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli.