Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel are about to put their national tour steam train in motion. Unpaved got on board to ask a few questions about their irresistible new album and discovered some disturbing facts about banjos.
It’s clear from watching you perform that you’ve known each other for a long time. Apart from the obvious family link with Beth Kimber (on keys), how did you find one another?
The Rollin’ Wheel came together about three years ago. Before Cat became our drummer she was my booking agent and a good friend. I use to regularly watch her play drums with an all female pop funk outfit and thought she was the coolest drummer in Aus. We started jamming together and slowly I snuck her into the band. The same kinda thing happened with Jacob and Macca, I saw them both play with other bands and loved their style, so I invited them around for a jam. It sounds a little cheesy but the first time we stepped on stage together was really magical, we jelled really easily, and the wheel has just kept rollin’ (hence the name). Since the bands inception all five of us have become really close friends, in fact three of us moved in together. We have played a lot of shows and spent a lot of time on the road crammed into Sev, the Rollin’ Wheel station wagon, and for some reason we still really enjoy hanging out and actually look forward to going on the road. We have a 25 date national tour coming up. I will let you know if the positive dynamic remains after this adventure!
How did you want this album to be different to Sounds Like Thunder?
Sounds like Thunder was a solo artist album with a band accompanying. This new album is definitely a band-conceived. Jacob and I wrote many of the songs together and then we took them to the band and as a five piece we would arrange the songs. Many of the songs on this new album we have been playing live for some time. There is nothing like road testing new songs to live audiences to see if people dig them or not. This new album is more a genuine reflection of our dynamic live sound as a five piece.
Was the recording process very different?
The new album was recorded at Shane O’Mara’s home built studio aptly named ‘Yikesville’. Shane is a very talented producer and has produced many of our fave Oz albums, so we were a little nervous at Yikesville to begin with. But it is an amazing, relaxed space, and Shane being the super friendly dude that he is, it wasn’t long before we became part of the furniture. We drank copious amounts of tea, cooked yummy meals together, laughed possibly a bit too much, played a bit of backyard cricket, yoga and, oh yeah, we recorded an album! To be honest it was a little sad when the final day of mixing came around. I think the album captures the fun and relaxed, intimate and honest space that we were all in.
When you played at the High Noon Festival you mentioned that every second band in Australia has a banjo. How do you account for its sudden popularity?
About 80 years ago there was a similar banjo revolution. Things got a little out of hand and a banjo ban was imposed on the city. All banjos were confiscated and locked in a vault under Melbourne’s CBD. I believe someone recently found a key.
Your band does train rhythms with the best of them and there are numerous train references on this and your previous record. So what is it about trains?
To be completely honest I surprise myself with this apparent train obsession. When I write songs I often come up with a riff and a melody and then let lyrics just have their way. I capture them on paper or record the jibber and edit after. I consistently and consciously have to edit out train references. The train references that snuck their way onto both albums are just a snippet of what could have been. It has been a mysterious topic of conversation for some time. My Mum’s theory is that perhaps I am the reincarnate of my Pa Stan, he was a prisoner of war for three years on the Burma railway. He was a farmer and a musician. Many people say we have the same temperament, have the same sense of humor. Hmmm, so maybe.
You’ve got your Melbourne launch on October 22. What’s in store on the big night?
We are particularly looking forward to our launch at the East Brunswick. Lots of family and friends will be coming down for the gig. We have a heap of special guests joining us on the night; including the awesome papa of Aussie soul n’ blues Mr Chris Wilson, Shane O’Mara and alt country boys next door Dan Lethbridge & The Campaigners. There are a few little surprises in store.
How would you describe the state of this kind of music in Melbourne and Australia and where would you like to see it in five years?
Alt country n’ roots is alive and kickin’ in Oz at the moment, especially in Melbourne. It has been for some years. There are so many ace Melbourne based bands that have perfected their recipe. Hopefully come another five years radio will be jumping all over it.
If Unpaved were a print magazine, you’d be on the front cover. What do you think of the concept of a website to support country folk music from Melbourne and beyond?
Where and when can we get your CD?
The album will be available in stores from the 14th Oct. The good dudes at JB Hi-Fi are offering everyone the chance to get a copy of the album presale – free postage, signed for $19.99. Here’s the link.
Friday 14 October – Basement Discs in-store appearance, Melbourne VIC
Friday 14 October – New Market Hotel, Bendigo VIC
Sunday 16 October – The Vine Hotel, Wangaratta VIC
Sunday 22 October – The East Brunswick Club, East Brunswick VIC
Thursday 27 October – The Phoenix Pub, Canberra ACT
Friday 28 October – Thank God It’s Friday, ABC Studios Ultimo, Sydney NSW
Saturday 29 October – Camelot Lounge, Marrickville, Sydney NSW
Sunday 30 October – Clarendon Guest House, Katoomba NSW
Thursday 3 November – Malt Market, Dunsborough WA
Friday 4 November – Railway Hotel, North Fremantle WA
Friday 11 November – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Thebarton, North Adelaide SA
Saturday 12 November – The Loft, Warnambool VIC
Sunday 13 November – Babushka Lounge, 59 Humffray St Nth, Ballarat VIC
Friday 18 November – Pipinghot Chicken Shop, 6/63 The Tce, Ocean Grove VIC
Saturday 19 November – Shine On Festival, Pyrenees Ranges VIC
Thursday 24 November – Beetle Bar, 350 Upper Roma Street, Brisbane QLD
Friday-Sunday 25-27 November – Mullum Music Festival, Mullumbimby NSW
Saturday 3 December – Grand Poo Bar, 142 Liverpool St, Hobart TAS
For more information visit www.salkimber.com