Traveller on the journey from dare band to ‘Western Movies’

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They hadn’t written a song or spent much time in a room together yet, it was a twist of fate that got them up onto the stage. Now the band are gearing up to release their debut Western Movies and create some memorable performances which includes a gig at Out On The Weekend.

“The Newport Folk Festival thing was more like a bet or a dare. Robert and I approached the promoter of the festival and said that we had just started a band and would he like to book us to which he said ‘Fuck yeah, I’ll book you guys.’ We hadn’t written any songs or played much together at all. I think playing at Newport gave a lot of power to this project. It’s quite special to think now the album is coming out and we’re coming to play. I’m excited.” Fritz said.

Western Movies is an album full of spirit. Over the course of ten tracks, Chisel, Ellis, and Fritz take listeners on a journey that transcends the musical landscapes of country, folk and Southern rock. Over the course of two weeks at Chisel’s 57 room monastery in Appleton, Wisconsin, the album was written and recorded. “Appleton is a sweet little town and there’s nothing going on there, in the most endearing kind of way. In the middle of winter, we were there for one reason and one reason only. No distractions. It was freezing cold and no where to go apart from a couple of small bars so we set about writing and recording. We did noon to 8pm everyday and it was a really good schedule,” Fritz says.

“Robert has worked with Steve Christensen out of Sugarhill Studios in Houston, Texas for many years and we asked him to bring all his equipment up to Wisconsin and build the studio for us to use. He loaded up all of his microphones and his machines and drove it up. While he was building the studio, we were finishing the record. It was a quick process and as soon as we finished, Steve was tearing down the studio again and driving back to Houston. It was real wild.”

 

As a solo artist, Fritz has released four studio albums both under his own name and Jonny Corndawg, yet it’s the process behind 2011’s Down On The Bikini Line that holds the biggest story. Living in Nashville, Fritz took all of his money and purchased some leather-making tools in a bid to fulfil a dream of owning a leather-covered guitar like Waylon Jennings. “I had no money at all and I took to making dog collars and guitar straps for people and the idea evolved to paying the musicians for the record in guitar straps. It was cool that I was able to pay for my first record under my own name in leather,” Fritz says.

Over the years, Fritz has toured Australia many times and every time he visits, he feels as if he’s made it as an artist. The Traveller project is a sans-record label approach and talking about the upcoming gigs, Fritz remembers fondly the first time that he toured Down Under. “I played BDO back in 2004 so that was a long time ago and it was on this little experimental stage. That year I was on the same bill as Beastie Boys, Slipknot, and Polyphonic Spree. Overall it was a two-month wild tour where I went all over Australia.

“I’m excited to get back to Out on the Weekend though. It’s such a good festival and I’m going to get out there in the morning and be out there until midnight or 2am. We haven’t played together as a band in a while so it should be interesting. The Deslondes are joining us on the tour so that’s also going to be really fun. See you there.”