DARREN Hanlon has been blessed with a lot of good friends who have rich friends.
Lately he has been house-sitting for them all over the world, which is why songs from his latest album, I Will Love You At All, were written in places like Paris, New York, the south coast of Australia, and even Coonabarabran.
‘‘I don’t actually have a house at the moment, so I’ve just been moving around and writing songs whenever I can,’’ he laughed.
‘‘I’m lucky to have a lot of good friends who are friends with rich people who have houses that need house-sitting.’’
Hanlon is about to hit the road with a new band, and it’s fairly likely he’ll be including a couple of nostalgic numbers in his set following his recent performance of Together In Electric Dreams, the aptly named theme song from the 1980s film Electric Dreams, on Triple J’s Like A Version segment.
He told LIVE – ahead of his Newcastle show on August 12 – that he likes to have a few classics up his sleeve on each tour, just in case the crowd gets restless.
‘‘This tour we’re going to have so many songs to squeeze in,’’ Hanlon said.
‘‘There’s always the ones that people want to hear over and over, and then all the new ones – but, oh, look, there’s always going to be room for Electric Dreams,’’ he laughed.
It was always fun performing it in front of audience members of a certain age, but Hanlon also said it was just a ripper of a song.
‘‘A lot of those songs in the ’80s – cheesy production and saxophone solos aside – they were really well-crafted songs,’’ he said.
‘‘Even songs like Neverending Story. There’s a key change in the middle of the chorus, then it drops back ... and they’re just really well-crafted songs, I think.’’
While a lot of people had so far assumed the title of I Will Love You At All is a typo, Hanlon actually came across the phrase years ago on a mug he bought in Chinatown.
‘‘I think it is broken English that I saw on a cup that we bought, and it had all these funny things written on it which must have just been lost in translation,’’ he explained.
‘‘I saw it and thought – ‘That’s profound poetry there that I’ve stumbled across,’ and so I’ve just had it in my notebook for years.
‘‘It just seemed to fit the tone of the album and the artwork, so it was time to bring it out.’’
He spent longer than usual crafting the songs for this album, a process Hanlon describes as a combination of agony and ecstasy.
‘‘Songwriting is painful,’’ he said.
‘‘I spend all this time staring at the wall and strumming the guitar, it just takes time, because I’m such a perfectionist with it as well.
‘‘I didn’t want any wrong lyrics to seep through – whether they were historically wrong or factually wrong, or just didn’t sound right.
‘‘I’m a stickler for phonetics at the moment too, I just wanted it to flow well and I wanted it to read well. So I was just spending a lot more time on it.
‘‘I think for it to flow well phonetically you just have to sing it over and over, it’s almost like you’re carving a sculpture out of a big unyielding block of wood or something.
‘‘You’re trying to make it more pliant just by time.
‘‘It’s amazing, you get halfway through a song and you think, ‘I’m never going to finish this, it’s too hard’, but you put the hours in and suddenly it’s just done and it’s a great, wonderful feeling.
‘‘It all comes very quickly at the end, and I love that bit, but before that it’s utter despair.’’
One of his proudest achievements on this album is a song called Scenes From a Separation – largely because it was the last song written for the album, and because it happened rather quickly.
‘‘I’m not sure where it came from, that song,’’ he reflected.
‘‘Obviously there’s feelings involved that are a little bit biographical, but the story isn’t exactly my story.
‘‘There’s elements of me in there.’’
On this tour, Hanlon will be joined by US singer-songwriter Shelley Short, who will support him on his shows, as well as perform with his band.
Short’s sweet harmonies also feature on Hanlon’s latest indie-folk record.
‘‘I really wanted to keep the songs simple on this record, and folk songs really tend to be simple,’’ Hanlon reflected.
‘‘It’s a great medium to use, especially for getting stories across.
‘‘Long rambling songs don’t tend to work so well in pop songs – there are a few exceptions, of course.
‘‘But this style just seemed to work for me, I didn’t really plan it, it just happened.
‘‘I do listen to a lot of old folk music, so it probably just came through by osmosis.’’
Hanlon is excited to be taking the new songs on the road.
It has been a while since he’s put out a new batch of tracks to the world.
‘‘I’m happy with how the album went, but I guess I don’t really have to listen to it,’’ he laughed.
‘‘My job is done.
‘‘But I guess I just wanted the songs to really come through without too much of the music overpowering them.
‘‘I don’t know if that’s happened before, but at least with this album, it is really quite stripped back, so I think I achieved what I set out to do.’’
Darren Hanlon performs at Newcastle’s Gallipoli Legions Club on August 12 from 8pm. Tickets are $20, and on sale from flippinyeah.com.