There’s a reason that Different Streets, the third full-length album by The Tambourine Girls, can sound so heavy with emotion: it was the first collection of material the band released since the sad passing of their bandmate Nick Weaver.
The beloved Sydney musician passed away two years ago after a brief battle with cancer; his spirit, though, is imprinted everywhere on The Tambourine Girls’ beautiful record.
Different Streets, which is really a time capsule of the band’s final sessions with their former bandmate, offers 11 heart-on-your-sleeve rock songs that contain notes of The War on Drugs‘ soaring rhythms and Kevin Morby’s insightful songwriting. There’s even a touch of Beck at his most mellow running through the record.
“This album has ended up representing both our finest achievements as a band and our greatest heartbreak,” the band explain. “With our worlds turned upside down, the album froze for over a year while we grieved our best friend and tried to comprehend whether we could go on playing music without him, and what that would look like.”
Thanks to a caring crew of friends, The Tambourine Girls managed to complete their third album, creating a body of work that they fully believe is “the best music” they ever made with Weaver, as well as being a true tribute to his musicianship and kinship.
Tone Deaf caught up with the band’s Simon Relf as part of our Get to Know series to find out more about the their lives and music.
The Tambourine Girls’ Different Streets is out now.
How did your artist name come about?
In a dream.
How would you describe your music to your grandma?
Almost as good as John Denver.
Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?
“Walking Through The Cemetery”
I was walking through the cemetery in Clissold Park in London with a bad song in my head. I knew it was a bad song, but it also felt like it wanted to be heard, so I went home and made a little demo and forgot about it. Years later, I was walking through the cemetery in Camperdown, where some of those who perished in the wreck of The Dunbar are buried. It reminded me of that old bad song, and when I went home to check it out, it was still bad, but it had this cool little guitar melody in the bridge, so I nicked that, and used it as an intro, and wrote this song.
“Into Your Blue”
This was a poem that I had been working on for a long time. I don’t have many poems, but this one kept buzzing around in my head. I also had these chord changes for a long time, which I loved, but couldn’t figure out what to do with. Eventually they found their way to each other. This was the only track that was finished after Nick died, and it was difficult to do, because he was always so good at the final touches. Tony Buchen really helped with this. I was thinking of the outro on “Together Alone” by Crowded House, with that beautiful Te Waka Huia Cultural Group Choir, but we only had synths to work with. I’m really happy with how it turned out though. It feels like a spirit dispersing into the trees and stars.
“Alice In Wonderland”
I wrote this song after listening to “Late Night Essentials” by Caitlin Harnett and the Pony Boys. I’d done a gig with her years ago, so I checked out the record and really enjoyed it, and it made me feel like writing something. “The bird on the wire” was a magpie who patrolled the corner outside our house freaking out anyone who walked by, but he was ok with us.
What do you love about your hometown?
Career highlight so far?
Recording at Neil Finn’s studio.
Fave non-music hobby?
What’s on your dream rider?
I still get pretty excited by free beer.
Dream music collaboration?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Nobody looks that far ahead anymore!
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s foolish to listen to everyone, but it’s also foolish to listen to no one.
What’s one obsession you have that no one would expect from you?
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