America is Making a Return


Iconic rock band America will be touring to Perth to play at the  HBF Stadium in May. Founding member Dewey Bunnell had a chat with us about the upcoming show.

So you’re gonna come see us in Perth soon, are you excited?

Very excited, yeah we’re looking forward to it. We’ve been out to Perth several times over the decades, but we’re always excited when the agency says we’ve got some offers from Australia. Oh goodie.

What do you enjoy about touring Australia?

Well, We’ve always had a nice following there, our early albums did well and we were well received. I think simply we enjoy the people there, and the food. I’m a big outdoorsy guy when I can and I love the wildlife and the beaches and…  only the tip of the iceburg of traveling around the country. I’d love to go into the interior a bit more and we haven’t been up to the Great Barrier Reef because we’re usually working. I can honestly say we’ve never come on a holiday, it’s always work related but we do try to spend a little time if we can, before or after or fill in a few days if we can.

What have been some of your favourite places to perform?

We’ve been very fortunate. We’re in our 45th year and Jerry(s and I are the 2 founding members of the original trio so in that 45 years we’ve been to a lot of places. As far as geographical… my interest is always in seeing the wilderness and the wildlife. I really enjoy very much seeing first hand your galahs and cockatoos and lorikeets. To answer your question, I’ve been to Africa several times, that was very special to me, to actually go on safari and see wildlife that way. We have a following in Italy, that’s a little different, it’s not about nature, it’s about culture and the Italian people. We’ve very very fortunate, we get to travel a lot. Jerry and I, our Dads were both in the Air Force so we had spent a fair amount of our young years traveling with our families to different airbases and things, we’ve always been sort of gypsies you know? Australia is a uniquely special place for us too, and we always look forward to it. Morton bay bugs and things like that, barramundi, right?

Do you think that history of travel is part of the reason you guys have such an international following?
It may be. I know a lot of artists who are a little more reticent about travel to far away places. Some are downright homebodies who don’t wanna leave but we’ve always been comfortable traveling around the world. I mean the world is a more dangerous place than ever, obviously… We like to go to places over the years the music has managed to settle in to these countries, I don’t know why English speaking countries have the most popular music worldwide – we  can play in Asia, Europe, South America. English speaking music, isn’t it odd that it seems to represent 90% of popular music around the world?

You guys have been touring for 45 years now?

Yeah we started when we were 19 years old, I am now, dare I say, 63 years old. We’ve been doing it since high school but it still feels like it was yesterday. I think this is going to be dubbed the 45th Anniversary tour down there. I don’t know where the time went. We were actually in Australia for the millennium, that seems like yesterday but that was 15 years ago! It was such a big deal and we were pretty excited that we got to do it down in Australia.

What do you think is the secret to that longevity?

I wish I knew. The music itself, the songs, it’s not about us anymore, it’s more about the music that seems to have found its way to peoples’ ears and in TV and on  movies. Last year was a big year, the song ‘Horse With No Name’, was featured in an episode of Breaking Bad and in the film ‘American Hustle’. Michael Jackson’s posthumous album included a song called ‘A Place With No Name’, which was co-written with Michael and myself, but I never met the man, he rewrote the lyrics before his death and that song has been bouncing around. Those kinds of things keep the music threaded through different generations. I think our live show, I think I can take some credit, I believe we worked hard on those songs over the years and the recordings of them and worked equally hard to present them in the live show so they were entertaining. We’ve also incorporated, in recent years, some video enhancement to the show, there’s some interesting edited video pieces so you don’t have to look at us on stage, you can look at something else. That’s kind of been a fun element to give the show. It’s essentially 5 guys up there, we’ve got a new drummer, he’s a young guy, and a 25 year old lead guitar played. They’re both terrific and they’ve both brought a great new element to the live show. We really do put a lot of beans in that live show bag. So that’s really our bread and butter.

Do you think the music industry is changing more towards touring as a source of living?

For us it probably is, but the old catalogue still does its thing. As a young artist though, you still have to get that music out there, through the airwaves, through the cloud, through your digital devices. So you still gotta make nice recordings and write songs and do something. After that, the live show has evolved into a different experience – for us, it’s always been about the same. But I think young artists, you still have to put together a live show. You still have to present that. I don’t know how that works anymore, clubs and fairs and things – however you get a foothold. Certainly, the internet… all of that, is an element we didn’t use the day, although we are much more involved in that now. It’s a good tool, you know. Singer/songwriting is always what we were a part of: Ed Sheeran, he’s a good guy.

Who else is inspiring you at the moment?

I don’t listen to a whole lot of new music… I’m still locked in my old ways. Back in the day we used to listen to INXS and Men At Work and things like that when we were still knocking around. The Emmanuel Brothers, they were terrific guitar players… it just seems like the evolution of popular music since I’ve been alive has been pretty amazing.

What is it like for you as a musician having something you’ve made take on a life of it’s own?

I’m still horrible at that. We’re still not instantly recognizable on the street or anything but the songs are. The older we get, the songs are sort of frozen in time. That’s my 20 year old voice on that record that people are downloading somewhere on their mobile device, that’s all pretty fascinating to me. There’s a big return to vinyl in some sectors, which is beyond me! I think the ease with which you can listen to music now is so much more convenient than putting a needle down on it.

The biggest new thing is the 2 new band members. The drummer is from Reel Big Fish… that band is pretty interesting sort of a punk/ska band. Our lead guitar player is a young guy we’ve had in our circle for a number of years. Those who have seen us before, will see that it’s different.

America are playing at the HBF stadium on Saturday May 9th at 9.30pm. Tickets available here.

Sophie Joske

21-04-15 This story was updated to include the change of venue from Red Hill Auditorium to HBF Stadium. Russell Morris has been added as an extra performer.

Tags: , , ,