"Hi buddy, how are you going? It's good to hear your voice," singer-songwriter Clare Bowditch says when Weekender calls.
I've never spoken to her before, but that's Bowditch all over. Warm, welcoming, friendly and familiar. Her live performances follow a similar theme: lots of dialogue and audience participation. The songs and Bowditch's stunning voice are an added bonus.
Bowditch put her music career on hold seven years ago to focus on her family. The ARIA Award winner had just released 2012 album The Winter I Chose Happiness. She spent two years hosting Afternoons on ABC Melbourne and founded the "very successful but very demanding" project Big Hearted Business, which taught creative people about business and business people about creativity.
She even penned her memoir and appeared on hit show Offspring.
"I spent seven years not touring because I couldn't be f - - ked any more," she says bluntly.
"I couldn't be f - - ked with the baby seats in the car and the guitars and the drums and the tour vans and the early mornings. I did what my last album said I'd do - I chose happiness. We've got a dog, we've got a guinea pig, we're living a very happy and very stable life here in Melbourne but I've longed for the road."
Her daughter is now 16 and her twin boys are 12. The time is right, Bowditch says, to make her return to music.
"I needed the break but I am so excited to be back. It's good to have something you can share," she says.
And that something is new single Woman, released in February but written four years ago after a girls' night out.
"I am who I am and what I've always tried to do with my music is to tell the truth - and I think this song speaks to a particular truth," she explains.
"Me and my girl pals went out for a cheeky weeknight drink. My anxiety was high in my throat that night, I'd had enough and needed to vent. I told them the truth and they were able to open up to me and we'd coach each other.
"I felt that I could speak boldly to them in a way that I'd struggle to speak to myself and I thought 'What's that about?' So I came home that night and sat at the piano with the mute pedal on so I wouldn't wake the kids and this song came out.
"It came out entirely formed, just as it is."
Bowditch has been named Rolling Stone Woman of the Year (contribution to culture), Yen Young Woman of the Year (music), co-written with Gotye, toured with Leonard Cohen and written for Harpers Bazaar. Her songwriting process, though, is simple and personal.
"All I am ever really doing is reflecting where I am at in life and what I see other people struggling with. And I try to do that in a way that you can sing along to."
Woman is written for the women she loves, and women her band members love. It's about finding power by identifying individual strengths and weaknesses and being yourself in the world, unapologetically.
All I am ever really doing is reflecting where I am at in life and what I see other people struggling with.Clare Bowditch
"It's about reminding them of how strong they are and reminding them that we are behind them," Bowditch explains.
The album will be out next year. This year, she says, is about touring and re-connecting with audiences, and the release of her book in September.
"With my live shows these days, I'm not just there to entertain. Anyone who has ever seen me live knows how naughty I am and how great my band is but we're also there - and this is really ambitious - to change people's lives for the better. We're there to get them asking better questions of themselves.
"Our audience are part of our band, they always have been. You can take part as much as you want or not, but it's not an us and them; we are a community and we really do give a shit about one another.
"A friend of mine said I was like a singing Nigella Lawson meets a punk Oprah Winfrey and I was like 'OK, that'll work'."