Words and photographs by Matthew Thomson.
Matthew is a Melbourne based writer and photographer. His passion for photography sparked early on, when his father introduced him to an old Minolta X700 SLR. After buying his first DSLR at 15, Matthew was able to develop further in his later years of high school. Since graduating Matthew has spent time travelling, where his blog ‘Following My Feet’ highlighted his emerging talent as a young writer. Matthew now focuses in street, editorial and fashion, with his writing complementing each field. For further information about Matthew go to: www.matthewthomson.com.au
Sitting on the front verandah of his beautiful Mt Dandenong home, in the brisk morning air, listening to the whispers of the trees and the songs of the birds, I got a chance to talk with Rob Snarski about his recently debut solo album ‘Wounded Bird’, and the progression from his early Perth days.
“You can imagine in 1983 it was a very different scene in Australia… we didn’t have the internet… If you were going to sign to a label, you couldn’t really be based in Perth.”
Snarski’s music career started in WA with his brother Mark, in Chad’s Tree, however they soon moved across to Sydney to sign with label Hot Records, joining with the likes of The Triffids, The Laughing Clowns and The Benders.
“That was fantastic for us as kids…I was only 19”.
By 1989, he had moved back to Perth to start up the holiday band the Blackeyed Susans, a culmination of Chad’s Tree, The Triffids and Martha’s Vineyard.
“The idea was to play about 6 or 7 shows, record an LP…That was 1989…It’s now 2015 and I still play in a band called the Blackeyed Susans”. Over the years the Blackeyed Susans have toured globally, playing with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Marianne Faithful.
Snarski’s latest album was intended to be a follow up duo to his and Dan Luscombe’s 2004 works ‘There Is Nothing Here That Belongs To You’, however whilst driving home from a recording session Luscombe sprung on him that “this should be a solo record”.
“Initially I felt like punching him in the head, but in the end it was like a gift to me”.
Collaboration still remained important for Snarski and ‘Wounded Bird’, with Luscombe co-writing many of the songs, Shane O’Mara producing and Bruce Haymes, amongst others, adding his own touch. Even the financing was a holistic experience, with Snarski conducting Acoustic House Concerts as a way of crowdfunding the album.
“You have to be fairly open…You can’t walk into someone’s house and put on some sort of music persona… [however] it’s been a real joy”.
However, ‘Wounded Bird’s’ production wasn’t completely smooth sailing, as a stolen computer and corrupt hard drives forced him to essentially start again on several songs.
“We had gotten about half way through, and things started to unravel.”
The album cover of ‘Wounded Bird’, a “bigified sparrow…resilient… [with] an arrow sticking through its heart” as Rob describes, was created by Melbourne artist Sandra Eterovic, and reflects the difficulties around the album and how they have been encompassed into the final product.
Fortunately, the end result is a poetic adventure through tumultuous landscapes.
Snarski himself, has been a resident of Mt Dandenong for several years, with it becoming a retreat; a reminder of his childhood neighbouring town of Araluen. However, he admits that the serenity of being enclosed by trees is unnerving in fire season.
Snarski plans to release another Blackeyed Susans album sometime in 2015/2016, with one more solo album, ‘a record of requests’, coming out around June.
Snarski has had a brilliant 10 months or so since the release of his debut solo album Wounded Bird. The record has been showered with accolades. He will be Live and local at Burrinja this Saturday, 2 May. For more info head to what’s on at burrinja.
For more information about Rob Snarski go to: www.robsnarski.com