SHANE HICKS, frontman of blues-rock outfit THE BLACKWATER FEVER, talks to TRENT CLULOW about anointing a third band member and some new directions for the bluesy rockers.

Gloomy duo come rockin’ threesome – this is the journey so far for local blues outfit The Blackwater Fever.  The former two-piece of grizzly-bearded Shane Hicks and talented stick-tamer Andrew Walter have only looked forward since the release of their debut LP Sweet Misery in 2008, with a clear direction shift in the creation of their latest effort – In Stereo. They’ve mustered support slots for likened blues rockers The Black Keys and you may have caught them at Bluesfest last weekend.  One thing’s for sure, these boys have taken the best from their previous releases and served a collection of leather-jacketed head-nodders for all the dirty blues faithful.

Hicks reveals he wanted a sprinkle of light-heartedness to echo throughout In Stereo. “I thought we should put out those songs that are a bit more fun and rock & roll,” says Hicks about the transition from Sweet Misery. “We just had a bunch of songs that suited that theme and I think Sweet Misery may have been a bit dark for a few people.”

One key contributor to In Stereo’s direction was the use of Brissy’s Borough Studios.  “It’s a pretty straight-up set-up, but definitely a good place to record,” Hicks admits.  “We did it over the course of a few weekends, then a couple of months would go by and we’d go back in there, set up again and change the arrangement. It was good it was local, and we could do it in dribs and drabs.”

With the studios came the help of close friend Skritch (of Mary Trembles and solo fame).  “A few years ago on tour, Andrew had to pull out of about five shows and Skritch filled in, that’s how we got to know each other. We also go bike riding together at night on road bikes, so it’s definitely a relaxed relationship. To record with him is great.”

The most notable of differences on In Stereo though, is the use of multiple instruments – the work of TBF’s third eclectic inclusion, Jed Walters, who joined the boys late in the recording stages.  “It was never a conscious decision to become a duo,” Hicks admits. “It’s weird, we took the press shots for this album with just Andrew and I, but we’ve playing shows for the last six months with Jed; it’s a bit backwards,” he laughs.

Nevertheless, the trio are already on track for another release, and they’re collectively dishing up something different once again. “We’re already working on the third album and it’s heading back in the dark territory, but in a different way.  It’s darker grooves and emotive lyrics, and Jed is a key contributor to this one.”

Whatever the sound, it seems the innovative nature of The Blackwater Fever will keep the interested followers of Aussie blues on their toes. Expect a delightful banquet of this material as they set sail around the country this month. “There’ll be plenty of In Stereo, oldies, and unrecorded cruisers for everyone.”

THE BLACKWATER FEVER launch IN STEREO (+1 Records) at Woodland on Friday May 6, supported by Bang Bang Boss Kelly and Dead Shades. The album hits shelves on Thursday May 12.


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