GRAVEYARD Train are an alt-country band whose uniquely dark and gruesome style has won fans wherever they’ve been, at the Meredith Music Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Blue Mountains Fest, Wave Rock and Canada’s Vancouver Folk Festival. LIVE caught up with banjo/slide guitarist Josh Crawley ahead of the band’s Newcastle show this week.
How did you guys get together?
We all worked at the same pub, just sort of a drunken idea at the time, but it took off and 4years later it’s still going. Only a couple of us were musicians – I played in a few bluegrass bands and the other guys played in some punk bands, but we all sort of had a liking for country so we invited a couple of the other guys along to play some instruments.
What has influenced your music?
There was a bit of a country scene that started a couple of years ago in Melbourne, and we all had a lot in common, so we all kind of fed off each other. The pub that we worked at was the record store and so we were all listening to the same old ’50s and ’60s records together.
You have been described as ‘‘horror country drunken bearded stompy chain smashy madness’’. How do you feel about these labels?
It’s not too far from the truth. Originally we wanted to be not a massive loud country band, but it’s just when you’ve got that many guys wanting to sing at the same time, everything just got turned up. It became a bit of a stompy, smashy madness, so to speak.
Tell me about your new album, Hollow.
The recordings were fantastic, this time we were in a professional studio as opposed to last time just recording in a hall. We experimented and played less with the banjos and the lap steels and used more of a telecaster and drum sound. But we’re quite aware that it is a live band, we have a better reputation as a live band. This time round we focused really hard on just playing live in the studio and setting up mics to replicate that sound onto the CD.
You have a guy who smashes a chain with a hammer, do you think that’s what people recognise you for?
I forget that we have a chain smasher in the band sometimes, he just rocked up to a rehearsal meaning to play the harp and we didn’t have a drummer at the time, so he took over and came up with the idea himself. He’s almost the frontman of the band now. But there’s much more to the band than just a guy smashing a chain. I think that’s what’s kept us going for five years.
And you’re touring at the moment?
We’re on a national tour over the next month; we’ve already done Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Now it’s towards the end of the tour with Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. To play at the Metro in Sydney, it says a lot about how far we’ve come and it’s a great place. I never thought we’d be playing somewhere like that.
What’s ahead for Graveyard Train?
We’d like to see how the summer festivals in Australia look at us. Depending on that, we’re just going to concentrate on the US and maybe a sneaky Japan trip. We’re in a writing mood at the moment and we’re gonna have another EP out in November, which will have some live recordings and a couple of other things that are up our sleeve.
Graveyard Train perform at the Great Northern Hotel tonight.