(This May 30, 2013 interview was previously published through The Examiner, which ceased to exist during the summer of 2016. All articles by No Earplugs were lost. This one was recently found in archived emails from Kelly’s publicist)
Paul Kelly has achieved near-sainthood in his homeland of Australia. More than a singer/songwriter, Kelly is one of the very best storytellers in music. With such heartwarming gems as “How to Make Gravy,” “To Her Door,” “Deeper Water,” and “Dumb Things,” Kelly can spin a web better than most. In Spring and Fall (2012), his first release in five years, Kelly continues to strengthen his reputation with such beautiful tunes as “New Found Year,” “When A Woman Loves A Man,” and “Someone New.”
A great starter pack for new Paul Kelly fans would be Songs From the South: Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits with 40 tunes spanning his entire career. Just two months before this interview, Kelly teamed with Neil Finn (Crowded House) for a live show at the Sidney Opera House. Goin’ Your Way was released in November of the same year and showcases 18 spectacular tracks from both artists singing on each song. Highly recommended.
Following is Kelly’s interview with No Earplugs from 2013.
No Earplugs: Do you remember the first record you bought? What are some of your favorite all-time albums? Is there one all-time favorite?
Paul Kelly: The first two records I bought were Chunga’s Revenge by Frank Zappa and Deep Purple in Rock. Favourite records keep changing. Veedon Fleece by Van Morrison and Paris 1919 by John Cale are constant favourites and were touchstones for us making Spring and Fall. I also love Domingo by Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa.
NE: How did your excellent show with Neil Finn at the Sydney Opera House come about?
PK: Our Australian agent Brett Murrihy suggested it to both of us about six years ago. Neil and I liked the idea but it took us a while to find the right time. Brett kept plugging away. I’m glad he did.
NE: What young bands do you see promise in these days?
PK: Out of Melbourne I like Hiatus Kaiyote, Lost Animal, The Orbweavers, The Twerps, and Sweet Jean. And that’s just a few in my city. Lots of good music everywhere.
NE: Is there a genre of music you have not tried that you would like to try; someone you’d like to work with?
PK: I don’t really think in genres. I like all kinds of music. Lots of it I’m unable to play but whatever I can get hold of myself I throw into the mix.
NE: How do Australian fans differ from American fans?
PK: Fans from country to country don’t vary much at all. I find that differences in audiences have much more to do with the type of venue you play than the country you’re in. A crowd in a bar is the same the world over. And a crowd in a bar is very different to a crowd in a theatre. And a crowd at a festival is different again.
Kelly has continued to record unforgettable music, most recently Please Leave Your Light On with Australian jazz pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky. Another 2020 release, Forty Days, is a collection of covers, poems, and originals recorded during his time at home in quarantine. Check out Paul Kelly wherever you get music or at his website.