Tracy McNeil with her band, the Goodlife, are kicking off a tour round Australia tour on June 25th at Melbourne’s Bella Union, in support of their upcoming album Thieves, out July 1st. Tomatrax caught up with Tracy to ask a few questions.
You’ve just released your fourth album, how does it feel to have it out?
We worked so hard on the record and you can feel as though you’ve fallen down a worm- hole. It’s quiet an obsessive and pedantic process, you are always in a state of critical thinking so yes, it feels great to finally be able to let it go and hand it over to the public. We are super excited to have the record out of our hands so it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
What made you pick ‘Thieves’ as the title track?
I always new I wanted to call the album ‘Thieves’. As a title it worked on so many levels. 2015 was a tough year for me personally and for the friends around me, loss was everywhere…in the shape of relationships, in the face of death and in the sense that time was always feeling as though it was running out.
You’ve received a lot of critical acclaim for your previous releases, did this make you feel any pressure when writing this album?
I think you always feel pressure to write the best album you can and hopefully one that’s better than the last. Personal pressure can be a good thing – it drives you forward and keeps you on your toes.
The album covers some personal and emotional themes, is it hard to have these presented for all to see?
I have definitely left myself vulnerable on this record – but I think that comes with making honest work. When you explore real, human issues and dig deeply into them on a personal level, it’s actually cathartic to release it and let it go. The most emotional part of the process is the writing process. Once the song is brought to the band, recorded and released to the public, it’s no longer mine. This brings some distance to the work and hopefully the themes are universal enough that others can draw something out of the songs for themselves.
You’ll be touring Australia soon, what can fans expect from your show?
Our live show has been described by Martin Jones former editor of Rhythms magazine as “fully realised, world-class, country-rock.” We’ll gladly take that but I’d also say it’s a big Americana sound, laden with guitar and vocal harmonies, a driving rhythm section and a raw chemistry between five people who truly love playing together.
How does making music in Australia compare with making music in Canada?
I’ve been over here for so long now that I’m a bit out of touch with what’s coming out of Canada. On a general note, I feel the alt.country genre in Canada is perhaps more polished and produced. Australia keeps it real in a very genuine way, with loads of grit and heart.
Where did the name the Goodlife come from?
The name has been kicking around since 2014. I always introduced the band as The GoodLife at live shows and on the album but this time around it was really important to me to record and release a ‘band’ album. Although I’ve written all the songs, they wouldn’t sound the way they do without this particular group of legends. I’m so lucky to have Luke, Dan, Bree and Trent along for the ride – they are in incredible bunch of musicians and people – true friends through thick and thin. To me…that’s The GoodLife.
Do you ever listen to your own music?
While I’m working on songs, rehearsing songs or in the recording stages I continually listen to the rough demos and early mixes. Once the record is finished, I’ll listen to the final album once or twice then it’s literally shelved. I find it hard to listen without a critical ear. I’ll simply pick it to pieces and dream of going back and changing this or that – it’s too frustrating…so I rarely listen to it once it’s out into the world.
What music do you listen to?
I only really listen to music in the car on my way to work or my partner and I play records on the weekend. Houndmouth, Shovels and Rope, War On Drugs and I have to say I’m super into Stardust Radio on Digital Radio – I’m a bit of a sucker for 50’s standards. Not super hip I know but I’m a bit of a romantic.
What do you have planned after your upcoming tour?
Looking forward to playing the new songs! Plenty of Sailor Jerry’s (The GoodLife’s drink of choice…initiated by Macca on our last tour) which always means hunting down limes at the local grocer which usually cost more than our guarantee…Parsons has plans to get us throwing around a few baseballs to pass the down time – it’s all looking pretty fun so far. See how we go…especially after a few SJ’s!
Check out Tracy McNeil’s website to find out more!