FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24th, 2015
HENRY WAGONS, THE “NEW PRINCE OF COUNTRY NOIR,”
TAKES A NASHVILLE HOLIDAY ON
AFTER WHAT I DID LAST NIGHT …
The charismatic frontman of Australia’s popular outlaw-country
band Wagons makes his first full-length solo album
MELBOURNE, Australia — What do you get when you mix Nick Cave’s growling menace with Elvis Presley’s gold lamé swagger and then add in Lee Hazlewood’s twisted melodramas and a bit of Johnny Cash’s hangover blues? A man named Henry Wagons — a musician Justin Townes Earle has described as “like Dr. Seuss meets Conway Twitty.”
In his native Australia, Wagons ranks as one of the nation’s best-known performers. For over a decade he has fronted the always entertaining, and much honored, country-rock band Wagons as well as hosting a popular radio show, making regular appearances on TV and being named one of Melbourne’s most influential people.
America now will get to know Henry Wagons better with the release of his solo full-length debut, After What I Did Last Night … , due out February 12, 2016, on Goldview/Metropolitan Groove Merchants.
Wagons, whom the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp) crowned “the new Prince of Country Noir,” takes listeners on an exhilarating musical joyride that crisscrosses Americana. Over the course of a dozen tunes, he offers up a wild combination of off-kilter honky-tonk and roots rock all delivered in his resonant, richly expressive baritone voice. Wagons’ wickedly dark wit draws the listeners’ attention, and he certainly packs After What I Did Last Night … with entertaining tales of drunken bar fights, morning-after laments and strange encounters in Poland.
The album, however, also is a uniquely personal work that tugs surprisingly at your heartstrings. In its own ramshackle way, the record charts Wagons’ life — from his rowdy misspent youth to being a tour-hardened troubadour and then a new father.
The bleary-eyed country weeper “Cold Burger, Cold Fries” and the liquor-soaked “King Hit” gets After What I Did Last Night … off to a rough-and-tumble start. Wagons intermingles colorful life-on-the-road misadventures “Head or Heart” and “Cowboy in Krakow” with some heartfelt songs of love (“Anything You Want” and “Tomboy”) before he concludes with the tender “As Long as I Breathe” (a song about parenthood that recalls Elvis Costello’s balladry) and affectionate odes to family (“Only Child”) and his hometown (“Melbourne”).
To create this record, Henry left his homeland for Nashville, a place that he seemed destined for. “So many of my favorite albums have been made in Nashville with pick-up studio musicians,” Wagons revealed. “And over the years of going to Nashville I’ve gotten drunk enough at bars there to have met some great musicians. Basically, it was great to be able to rock up and do the same process as so many of my favorite albums.”
Wagons enlisted “New Nashville” lynchpin producer Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle, Caitlin Rose, Andrew Combs) to helm After What I Did Last Night …. With Wilson also providing some key piano playing, Wagons received added support from other regulars of Nashville’s vibrant Americana scene: lead guitarist Richie Kirkpatrick (Jessica Lea Mayfield, Langhorne Slim, Bobby Bare Jr.), drummer Jerry Pentecost (Jonny Fritz, Caitlin Rose), fiddler Josh Hedley (Justin Townes Earle, Jonny Fritz) and harmonica player Cory Younts (Old Crow Medicine Show) with buzzed-about singer/songwriter Rayland Baxter chipping in some backing vocals.
After What I Did Last Night … builds upon what Wagons started on his prior solo outing, the seven-song EP Expecting Company?. That record, which had Jenn Grant, the Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster and the Kills/Dead Weather’s Alison Mosshart among its guest vocalists, suggested Wagons’ unique take on a Hazlewood/Sinatra duets album. American Songwriter praised it as “a cool, downbeat and shadowy version of the duskier side of Americana.”
The half-dozen releases by Wagons (the band) have regularly ranked high on both Australian critics’ and readers’ polls, winning several Best Group and Best Album honors. Their most recent release, 2014’s Acid Rain and Sugar Cane, was co-produced by Nick Cave’s right-hand man and fellow Bad Seed Mick Harvey.
Over the past few years, the ever-busy Wagons has shared stages around the world with such illustrious acts as Lucinda Williams, Justin Townes Earle, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Calexico, Bill Callahan, Will Oldham, Okkervil River and John Hiatt, as well as appearing at SXSW and Americana. He also was selected, along with notable performers as the North Mississippi Allstars, the prestigious Upstairs at United series that was recorded at Nashville’s historic United Records pressing plant. Wagons found his time in Nashville to be a very exciting experience. “I’ve got the taste,” he says, adding: “Good burgers on tap, fine bourbons and American accents, Southern gentlemen, kind manners and long stories. I suspect I’ll be over to the States again to record one of these days.” As After What I Did Last Night … bears witness to, Nashville certainly brings out the best in Henry Wagons.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2012
HENRY WAGONS OF AUSTRALIAN BAND WAGONS READIES
SOLO MINI-ALBUM, EXPECTING COMPANY?, BETWEEN BAND ALBUMS.
ALISON MOSSHART (THE KILLS, DEAD WEATHER) HEADLINES PARADE OF SPECIAL GUESTS
Due for U.S. release January 22 on Thirty Tigers.
U.S. tour to follow in February and March.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Open the door to Henry Wagons’ first solo offering and who knows what awaits you. Following Wagons’ critically acclaimed U.S. debut album, Rumble Shake & Tumble, with his band, Wagons, Henry will strike out on his own with a mini-album titled Expecting Company? Six of the seven tracks are duets featuring one of six stellar guests: Alison Mosshart (The Kills, The Dead Weather), Sophia Brous, Canada’s Jenn Grant, Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens), Patience Hodgson (The Grates) and Australia’s Gossling.
Expecting Company? is set for January 22, 2013 release in the U.S. through Thirty Tigers and in Canada by Six Shooter.
“Most of these songs were written in a slightly altered state,” Henry reveals. Finally home, after a long stint on the road, Henry found himself sick and injured — “delirious with a bad fever and maimed due to a light bulb exploding in my hand.” Resisting the urge to recover in bed, Henry harnessed “the twisted voices” in his head and wrote some songs instead. “They came from a different place, so they required some different voices,” he explains.
“Having multiple voices in a song holds a certain power. They can represent a unique synergy and oneness, or have a certain schizophrenia or oppositional battle.”
Another voice adds an extra element to Wagons’ potent sound, with bubbling sexual tension and drama. “I do love a good duet,” Henry smiles. “I particularly love the slightly fractured ones that reveal or give an insight into the complexity of human relationships.”
There’s melodrama, mirth and menace; gallows humor (the delightfully dark A Hangman’s Work Is Never Done), misguided lust (I’m In Love With Mary Magdalene), longing (I Still Can’t Find Her) and loss (Give Me A Kiss).
Henry recorded most of the release in his personal studio, self-producing and playing most of the instruments. He visited London to record Alison Mosshart’s vocal at her house (the location that inspired the opening cut, Unwelcome Company); he met Jenn Grant while touring Canada; and he travelled to Brisbane to work with Robert Forster. The Go-Betweens great had previously praised Wagons in the pages of The Monthly, describing how he plays “the straight a little crooked and the crooked a little straight.”
After six duets, Expecting Company? concludes with Marylou Two, a surprising reprise of the final track from Wagons’ most recent album, Rumble, Shake and Tumble. Henry finds himself “back at home, all alone”.
Henry Wagons, recently named one of Melbourne’s Top 100 Most Influential People, is unanimously lauded as one of Australia’s greatest and most entertaining performers. Along with his rare charisma he offers heavy doses of stomping outlaw country rock, irresistible crooning and classic songwriting.
Henry could never be named a shrinking violet. While many other frontmen take gentle place in the calm of a shady palm tree and sing humble acoustic love songs on their solo debut, the Melbourne born entertainer has far more bombastic plans. After five Australian albums with his band and a North American debut with the 2011 release of Rumble, Shake and Tumble, Henry strikes out on his own with Expecting Company?
In both the live forum and on record, Henry draws upon an uncommon range of influences including jumpsuit-era Elvis, the grit between the floorboards at the Grand Ole Opry, the spit in ’70s trumpet sections, Cormac MacCarthy’s psychedelic Westerns and Lee Hazlewood’s dead but potent stares. Wagons’ live show is a performance like no other, invoking both a Vegas showroom extravaganza and a bunch of fresh-faced undertakers letting loose at a rained sodden rock festival.
Having spent the last few years touring with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Justin Townes Earle, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Calexico, Bill Callahan, Will Oldham, Okkervil River, John Hiatt, Jolie Holland, countless USA tours including SXSW and Americana Music Festival & Conference, it is safe to conclude that Wagons is a road-hardened formidable live act. U.S. tour dates in February and March will be announced shortly.
It won’t be what you expect.
# # #
TRACK BY TRACK:
“Unwelcome Company” (featuring Alison Mosshart)
Everywhere I go they follow me
“I’ve been lucky enough to befriend the truly amazing Alison Mosshart. While staying at her place in London, she told me an incredible story about multiple waves of pestilence. Stirred up by work on the Underground, her house was invaded by a rat plague, followed by a sea of maggots and then a storm of flies. It was the grossest story, which fit perfectly into three verses.”
“I’m in Love With Mary Magdalene” (featuring Sophia Brous)
Why must my mind always take me there?
“The idea of God and the Devil — the ultimate good and evil — has always fascinated me. It’s violently epic. The extreme devotion it inspires in some people is so intriguing. This song captures devotion gone wrong; worship so deep, it turns to lust. Sophia Brous has the grand quality and expressiveness in her voice that could do justice to the extremities I was trying to reach.”
“Give Things a Chance To Mend” (featuring Jenn Grant)
I’ve never had a love that’s run this deep
“Though this is a laidback tune, it’s all about fighting words. Couples can have some heated battles, but this song calls for a moment’s pause, for the waters to settle. The production was inspired by the Grand Ole Opry in the ’60s, at the birth of stereo, so we had great fun with panning in the studio. Jenn is an amazing singer. She totally nails this song, capturing an otherworldliness from decades past.”
“I Still Can’t Find Her” (featuring Robert Forster)
Blow the dust off the family tree
“This song is about a search for a muse amongst piles of photos and trinkets. The protagonist can never quite find what he’s after, but Robert Forster provides the answer. In the perfect authoritative, yet comforting, voice, he tells me I never had to search in the first place.”
“A Hangman’s Work is Never Done” (featuring Patience Hodgson)
Been a killer of a day, killing all day
“The workingman’s blues is a common subject for song. This tune is about a guy having a badass day in a badass job. He’s a jack-of-all-trades killer, hating his working day playing god, and then he ironically turns to prayer. Patience sings as the Hangman’s wife, always walking on eggshells around her silent husband.”
“Give Me a Kiss” (featuring Gossling)
Let’s stop this before it gets worse
“This is a song about a couple who know it’s over, but then can’t wait to get back together. They’re on a seemingly infinite journey on a doomed Ferris Wheel. Gossling’s voice perfectly captures the beautiful naivety of someone who can’t fall out of love, even when she knows she has to.”
I can’t stop thinking of you
“A reprise and reworking of the final song on the previous Wagons album, Rumble, Shake and Tumble. The only song on the EP that’s not a duet. Appropriately, it’s about loss and the solitude of being alone, without that special someone. I wanted the recording to sound like I’m alone in a bedroom after a big and terrible night on the town.”