Raised By Eagles pushes alt country envelope

Raised by Eagles: Luke Sinclair, Nick O'Mara, Luke Richardson, Johnny Gibson.
Raised by Eagles: Luke Sinclair, Nick O'Mara, Luke Richardson, Johnny Gibson.

You can taste the history of a good band in its music.

There’s a tray of cold beer, smooth red wine and whisky worth savouring in the new album, I Must Be Somewhere, from Raised by Eagles.

Tasty guitar riffs and runs, crisp pumping intros and haunting vocals – the music of this Melbourne four-piece sparks visions of stepping on to the sideboard of a pick-up truck heading into the country for a comfortable drive to think about your troubles and what you’re going to do next.

Raised by Eagles magically takes a firm grip on making music from another time, like 30 or 40 years ago, when soft country rock took a foothold in rock’n’roll and changed the direction of popular culture – at least for a decade. The Eagles, the original embodiment of country rock, are still kicking, still selling albums, actually. 

The four band members – Luke Sinclair on vocals, Nick O’Mara on lead guitar, Luke Richardson on bass and Johnny Gibson on drums – have refined their sound on the band’s newly-released third album, I Must Be Somewhere.

Raised by Eagles begins an East Coast run to support the new album on August 11 at Leadbelly in Newtown and hits the Junkyard at Maitland on Saturday, August 12.

The band has sown the seeds for success in the Hunter, previously playing the Junkyard as well as Dashville festivals.

It’s not surprising; their music has lyrical substance, you gotta think to listen. 

“I think that’s one of our strengths,” Sinclair says. “The demographic of our fan base, that’s what they appreciate. It’s a nice exchange. I think they get it. People who turn up regularly obviously get some things musically and lyrically. We are certainly starting to see a lot of the same faces.”

Long gone is Sinclair’s harmonica, at one point he described as an albatross around his neck. While he admits it grounded the band’s songs in honesty, he wasn’t confident in his ability with it.

On the other hand, he’s spending more time with an electric guitar in his hands, rather than an acoustic. He played electric guitar while touring with the band of his wife, Tracy McNeil, and Dan Parsons, and took a liking to it.

“It’s a different animal, compared to acoustic picking,” Sinclair says. “It’s a lot of fun. It brings a whole new energy to the band.”

While Sinclair does most of the songwriting in “solitary confinement”, as he describes it, by choice, the band doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to putting songs together.

“We didn’t talk about how we wanted to sound, what we wanted to do,” he says of the creative process. “We knew we were all coming from the same place. We had run into each other before. There were no worries about whether anyone in the band was going to think they didn’t want to play these songs.

“It’s interesting to have it happen this way. So natural and seamless. We come from the same place emotionally when we play.”

The influences of a well-spent youth are ever-present, as the songs evoke thoughts of Paul Kelly, James Blundell, James Reyne, Neil Murray and many more.

As for the melancholy aura that pervades the new album, well, that comes naturally.

“I’d be miserable if I wasn’t doing this, in some form,” he says without irony. “My songs sound like I’m miserable anyway. I’ve got to get them down and get them out.

“I’m still determined to write a  happy country song. I try, but they are really bad.”

Smooth: Raised by Eagles new album.

Smooth: Raised by Eagles new album.