Perth’s maverick poet Peter Bibby has released his second studio album Grand Champion, taking time out of his national tour to answer a few questions for LunchBox.
Your new record Grand Champion has a pretty diverse sound throughout; you’ve got tracks like Hippies that take a softer and quirky, yet still off-the-chain approach. Then you’ve got tracks like Work For Arseholes that are drenched in your signature bleak introspection and vulnerability. What does this album mean to you and how does it feel knowing that it’s out in the world?
This album was completed a long time before it was released, so I suppose if it means anything to me it’s that nothing is certain and everything changes… It feels great! Huge relief.
What are some of the obstacles you hit while pulling the album together?
Besides having to teach a number of the songs to people in the studio whilst recording, the actual making of the album was easy. The recording sessions were delayed when I drove across the Nullarbor to pick up my (then) girlfriend and help her move to Perth. My car wasn’t up to the task and it took two months rather than the allotted two weeks. It took me some time to find someone to mix it, maybe three or four months after finishing the recording. Besides that, there were some industry complications and some personal/mental health complications for me that swayed my focus from productivity.
The first and only time I’ve seen you perform was in Clifton Hill in Melbourne last year. It was in the back of a café that had around 20 seats and there was just you and your guitar – it was super intimate and you seemed in your element. How does your musical outfit change the way that you tell your stories through your music?
Aside from the speed at which the lyrics are delivered and the harsher tone my voice takes on when playing with a loose and loud band, it doesn’t change anything to do with the actual story. In a solo, intimate setting I might go into more detail, might talk a lot more shit, but the vehicle doesn’t change the journey unless I want it to.
Booze, drugs and general inebriation are things that surface in your lyrics quite often – I just wanted to get your thoughts on the (oft-debated) idea that art doesn’t come without suffering?
I’m sure there is lots of art that has come without suffering, but a lot of mine has certainly come with suffering, and with suffering comes a desire to numb the pain or escape, and booze and drugs are an easy and accessible method to do this. It’s dangerous and unpredictable but also exciting and liberating, but it is also a vicious cycle and not for the faint-hearted.
Your music is potent and raw – at times evoking the harsh realities of being a muso and the sacrifices that come with following that lifestyle. Having been around the scene for a few years now, what is your experience with mental health in the music industry?
Mental health in the music industry is a widely overlooked topic and it needs more attention. There is too much “Toughen up” attitude and not enough “Are you ok?” attitude and I hope this changes for a bunch of people’s sake.
You’re heading on a national tour to present Grand Champion to the masses; in light of certain proclivities that your songs reveal you have towards letting loose, how does the tour life treat you?
Tour life is fun, but I miss my girlfriend. After doing it for a few years I’ve gotten relatively good at it but I am still learning.
Kea, who books everything for me, makes my life as easy as she possibly can and I reverse it all with my appetite for destruction, so I guess it all balances out to a fun, exhausting and interesting experience. I enjoy touring a lot more now that I have a band who comes with me each time, I used to get real lonely when I’d do solo tours.