On the eve of a tour with his Fatalists band to promote the new record ‘We Never Had Control’, Hugo Race sits down for a chat with Sydney Unleashed.
How did you get your start in the music industry?
Melbourne in the early eighties had a small underground music scene in creative ferment. There seemed to be no limits with extreme music evolving in all directions – new wave, post punk, electronic and inspiring combinations of all three morphing with the existing pub-rock scene. My first band Plays With Marionettes, a loose art-punk-rock ensemble was the result of various high school bands and we started playing around the city for thrill of it all, not the money and it never occurred to us we might eventually be taken seriously. Yet before long we were opening for all kinds of bands from Hunters and Collectors to Dead Can Dance to Nico and John Cooper Clarke. We opened Nick Cave’s first post-Birthday Party Australian tour for which I was also Nick’s guitarist and that lead me to relocating to London and touring the world.
Best part of what you do?
The actual music. I’m probably addicted to the high of performance where certain energies are released that otherwise might never see the light of day but I also love that moment in the studio where a song comes into focus and from nothing something mysteriously comes.
And the worst part?
What the music demands from you. It’s paradoxical – travel is definitely a reason that drew me into music and international touring yet at the same time travel can be bewildering and deeply alienating and change who you are forever.
Any interesting experiences you can share?
I don’t know where to start nor where to stop because so much has happened, I’ve played everywhere from massive festival crowds to tiny bars with the bizarre and dramatic in constant attendance! Recently, the last show of the Fatalists tour in the southern Italian city of Caserta, famously associated with the ‘Ndranghetta mafia (see “Gomorrah” the movie) was shut down by the police – I thought I was being arrested!
Favourite album of all time and why?
A tough question, but either Tricky’s Pre-Millenium Tension or Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited to name two. Both records somehow defy analysis, being mysteriously more than the sum of their parts.
Best live performance that you’ve ever seen?
Also very hard to answer but definitely one of the best was Sonic Youth at Berlin Tempodrome, 1991.
Favourite bars/clubs/pubs to hang out in?
The Vanguard in Newtown has a cool ambiguous Blue Velvet kind of feeling which is why I’ll be playing it on Friday October 4th with Fatalists and Sacri Cuori – we can add another note to this kind of vibe…
Take us through a typical day in the life of Hugo Race.
Black coffee, swimming, email scan and then anything can happen. If I’m on tour there’s always a lot of ground to cover by road or by air but if I’m home then sooner or later I’ll get into music and writing until the sun goes down then see which way the wind blows…
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
As soon as I get home from this European tour, I’m touring Australia for my current album “We Never Had Control” with my Italian band Fatalists into October. Then enough of the road – I’m returning to the studio to start mixing Dirtmusic’s second album from last year’s Mali sessions and the next album from the True Spirit.
Any news or final comments?
I’m really looking forward to this Australian tour as it’s the first time Fatalists have played here and the band – who are amazing – will also be playing their own Sacri Cuori supports and side shows. Also, Dirtmusic, my African-based band with Chris Eckman from the Walkabouts, release their third album “Troubles” locally in October and hopefully visit Australia next march for some shows.
Thursday October 3: Moonshine @ Hotel Steyne, Manly (Sydney)
Friday October 4: The Vanguard, Newtown (Sydney)
© Danny Canak