Jordie Lane is a singer songwriter who gathers no moss. He’s been rolling over half the world during the past year, touring the North American folk festival scene, having a well-received acting debut as Gram Parsons in the theatric musical Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons, accompanying British troubadour Billy Bragg on an Australian tour. Now he’s on a solo run of Australia and New Zealand with his new single, Fool For Love, ahead of the new album – his fourth – which he’ll jet back to LA to record.
Like many veteran travellers, he gets a buzz from the road and doesn’t mince words when asked what it’s like to return to his native Melbourne after the touring, songwriting, festivals and adventures, picking up hitchhikers, dodging fatal car accidents, and cruising through the scenery.
“It always sucks. I really love being in America and every time I come home I feel like I’m coming back to reality and responsibility, but I know it’s more like a state of mind. When you come back home and you have a few days or months of not doing anything, that’s rough.”
He’s also fallen for LA, the coda to his journey to the Joshua Tree hotel room where influential American singer-songwriter Gram Parsons overdosed, back in 1977 at age 26. Lane went on a pilgrimage to the room, intending to burn a guitar in the desert to honour Parsons. Instead, he began playing not long after entering the fateful room and was soon out scouting for a cheap four track player to lay down songs. Three months later he was finishing up Blood Thinner with the help of LA-based Tom Biller, the Grammy Award-winning producer behind big names like Beck, Fiona Apple, and Kanye West. The album was nominated for ‘Best Blues & Roots Album’ at the 2011 Australian Independent Music Awards and Lane played sold out gigs on his New Zealand tour.
“It was kind of a shock in a way to come to New Zealand for the first time and my album had been only out for a month. I didn’t expect anyone to come to my shows,” he says.
The new single, Fool For Love, is already getting positive attention, making iTunes Single of the Week last month, though it’s more of a rock song than anything on his last album.
“It’s quite different in its instrumentation and production, but I still feel like it’s what I do, just put in different wrapping gift. We just kind of let the song dictate where it wanted to go,” says Lane, who worked with Biller again, as well as several musicians to fill in around his excellent guitar. “This album might not be as produced as that song but I’m going into the studio to record, not like the DIY taping I did for Blood Thinner.”
The heady inspiration of that album changed songwriting for Lane, who’s been at the game for over 10 years.
“Going out to Joshua Tree for the first time was a pretty big experience for me. I went there to explore Gram Parson’s life, staying in the motel room where he died, having a lot of time and space for myself and think about where I fit into the world,” he says.
“Blood Thinner was pushing itself. This album I’ve had to push myself. I’ve never been able to show up every day and try and write. I’ll get frustrated and move onto something else like taking photos. I’ve been a slave to the song, waiting for it to come, and often I’ll sabotage it. I’ll get a phone call or something and leave the song halfway through. I’ve learned that when that big burst of creativity comes to stick it out and finish that song in that one session, and then come back and work on it more.”
He’s also riding a wave of inspiration from travelling through the American landscape, calling it as much a home as the road.
“I’m from Melbourne and I’ve always had this idea of wanting to be someone living on the land, singing country songs, and that’s what I kind of did but I didn’t make a false identity of working on a farm, riding horses, and going down the river. I sung about being a suburban kid, but used the sound of folk music to get a story across. There’s heaps of great folk music that comes from every culture, but there’s something about the American stuff that I’ve been so in love with from when I was young and I wanted to have those experiences. Now, walking down those same streets and seeing the same things from the songs it does help you understand the music a bit more.”
“Places like New Zealand and Australia do have that musical history, but it’s probably a bit younger. We’re in a grey area coming to terms with how we got here and what we did to people,” he says. “I’ve always felt a tiny bit lost in my home town and when I’m on the road a bit everyday it feels like that’s home.”
Originally published December 5, 2012 in Capital Times.