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Spill! Interview with Frances Gibson of The Cannanes


We recently wrote about Australian duo The Cannanes, and the release of the band's latest EP, "Small Batch".  We're excited to note that the EP is only a starting point this year for the two, who plan to release their newest album "Howling At All Hours" soon as well.  We spoke with Frances Gibson, lead-singer, bassist, band every-woman, who returned our interview questions candidly and with great thought.  Whether you didn't know a lot about The Cannanes before recently, or have been listening to them since the mid-1980's, or all of your life, we're positive that you'll find some interesting, and new thngs about the group in the following interview.  We hope that you enjoy reading her responses as much as we did, and huge thanks to Frances; who went that extra mile with her ready answers in our quest to find out more on The Cannanes ourselves. 

Girl About Town: A lot of people take their love of music from their families or unique and personal experiences throughout their own adolescence: when did music start to matter to you personally?

Frances Gibson: It is absolutely extraordinary what I can’t remember in my life as I have what is generally acknowledged to be an appalling memory but I do remember being very young and listening to the radio in bed every night. I bought some 7 inch singles from the Golden Fleece petrol stations when I was maybe about 7 which were heaven. Pop music is really such a joy. I studied music and flute as a teenager and no doubt this has been helpful. Music and books. That was my youth. It never crossed my mind for a long time I could actually be in a band though.

The Cannanes album "Howling At All Hours" is also due to be released this year following your EP.  What can you tell us about the release of a new album?  For instance: what would you say was the album's biggest point of inspiration?

Well the original title was LAWN II which was shorthand for Love Affair With Nature 2. We did an album called Love Affair with Nature a long time ago and the idea was to revisit it and use it as a basis for songwriting. The songs on this album have counterparts on LAWN in theory. The project idea which was yet another stupid idea of mine, was to record it in a weekend on 8 tracks  with some original and past Cannanes. Just a quick project. As it turned out this concept was a complete failure. Lance Hillier did some production and fixed it up. And really I quite enjoy the songs now but …It has a lot of different types of songs and singers which is a bonus. I hope people like it but who knows. It is a very different kettle of fish from the Small Batch EP. 

We have another 2 albums worth of previous material in quite different veins that are in the pipeline so there’s lots more to come.

How was it to go back and begin another record at Turtlerock? 

Well we didn’t as we only got the recording mastered there.  This was because Stephen says Rick O’Neil is the best in Australia but maybe it is just because they have the same surname and of course because the Love Affair album was mastered there by Rick twenty years ago or whenever it was.  I have never met him.  Apparently he claims his brains are fried but he has done a good job.

Can we expect to hear about possible dates in the US in support of the new album?  

Oh, I hope so, but logistics may mean it takes a little while.  Touring is so hard in a band.  We need to work out how to do it in a way that keeps everyone cheerful.  You might not think this is rocket science but with respect to you physicists and engineers, I think actually it is a lot harder.

What are the top five things about yourself (or the band) that you wish people knew without having to ask?

That’s a good question...  Well…

1.   How to pronounce the word Cannanes It’s like umm…  (I do not know phonetics)..ken or can (allowing for regional differences) plus nanes (to rhyme with planes).

2.   In Australia--that we have been going since 1985, played overseas a lot and that some people in many countries have actually been quite enthusiastic about us at times. In the USA--we are not from New Zealand. In UK we are not twee...

3.   I wish they knew we have the most detailed website in the world ( that seems to be Stephen’s life work and that most information they want is probably there.

4.   I wish people who keep asking us to play understood why we never want to do any bad shows again and why it will take a while to get organized to try and achieve this!

5.   I wish that no one will ever ever again ask me what the 80’s were like.

What is your favorite song and/or lyric and why do you think it resonates?

God that’s a hard one.  I think the last few verses of the Rolling Stones’ "Winter" I used to listen to over and over again. But it’s how Micky J sings them really… and Neil Young’s "Ohio" always gets me righteously angry…. Cannanes’ lyrics I think, "Frightening Thing" is not bad and Lamington Lane but hard to divorce words from the music.

What types of food stuffs do The Cannanes crave while recording?

Just the usual, hot chips and pies and curries and cider beer and wine. 

Reading for delight category: what is your favorite book?

I love all those 20 century English writers like Doris Lessing and Margaret Drabble and Evelyn Waugh and Vera Brittain and Jessica Mitford and John Wyndham and Martin Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard now Hilary Mantel and Pat Barker and Zadie Smith but also Hunter S. Thompson and the great Australians like Helen Garner and Martin Boyd and now Anna Funder.  Too much to choose one but I always loved Testament of Youth by Vera Britain, Mitford’s Hons and Rebels and Brideshead Revisited.

Which has been the hardest concept or idea to achieve on record for the band? 

I would like to write songs that would say something useful about politics but it is too hard. Very few people achieve it.

Last words: what do you stand by as an absolute 'truth' (something either of you know that is bound to happen) when it comes to recording your own songs or Stephen's?

Well one absolute truth is we are bound to produce some better recordings--just been mucking 'round up to now!!

Thanks for doing this: we really hope to see you play again out this way some day soon!  Can't wait for the new album!

Thanks.  Yes.  Definitely be out that way at some point…

The Cannanes
band site / facebook / twitter / EXRO.FM / Lamingtone


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