Legendary James Reyne keen to embark on national tour

On the road again: James Reyne's regional tour starts March 2.
On the road again: James Reyne's regional tour starts March 2.

The morning I'm set to interview James Reyne I duck into the local supermarket to pick up some milk and bread. Reckless is playing over the loudspeaker and I'm instantly transported back to 1983, to a simpler time, a time of no worries, a time where you didn't have to race to the supermarket before work.

Reyne's not so sentimental when I tell him.

"I've been in the supermarket when my music's come on and I've had to leave," he says. "You'll be buying your peas and I'll hear a song … I've been known to ring a friend, after hearing their music, ring them and tell them their career's now officially over."

But Reyne's career is far from over. While Australian Crawl disbanded in 1986, Reyne's quietly gone about a solo career that's stretched more than three decades.

In 1987 he released his self-titled debut solo album and since then has released several albums, toured, starred on television, collaborated with several people - his duet with country singer James Blundell in 1992, Way Out West, remains his highest charting solo single.

In March he hits the road again. Time to reflect a little perhaps on the past 30 years. The A Crawl to Now tour is a 90-minute acoustic gig featuring songs selected from more than 20 albums, from Australian Crawl to now.

"This will be a comprehensive look at the past into the present," Reyne says. "I've sifted through all of the Australian Crawl material with the intention of performing it 'songbook' style.

"But I'll bring out the solo material again too, and to reimagine those songs acoustically is always fun - I'm very excited about these shows."

Reyne knows he has to "bring out the old stuff" decades on. Beautiful People, The Boys Light Up, Downhearted, Errol, Reckless … "a couple of them, I'll go, ah, this dear old thing .. but you have to give people what they want."

He says the secret to his longevity is down to a few things.

"You have to keep practising your craft, keep making records, writing good songs," he says. "But it also comes down to good management and staying out of the way."

Is he a better musician now than he was when he was that fresh faced kid who played in a band with a few of his mates, who made his debut on Countdown in 1979 with both his arms in plaster after a car accident?

"I think that's logical and stands to reason," he says. "My analogy is I would always want someone to build my house who's been doing it for 30 years rather than someone who's been doing it for one. If you concentrate on the craft you can only get better."

For this tour Reyne has left the rock band at home and will travel with guitarist Josh Owen who he's collaborated with before.

James Reyne will tour March 2 to May 19. Shows include Manning Entertainment Centre, Taree, March 2; Glasshouse, Port Macquarie, March 3; Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, April 6; The Art House, Wyong, April 7. jamesreyne.com.au.