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All About the Feeling: Andy Bull

Newcomer Andy Bull has been a very lucky boy of late. His latest single, “Dog”, on which he teamed up with intriguing songstress Lisa Mitchell, is a gorgeous piece of indie pop that has proved pretty damn popular. Actually, calling Andy lucky is selling him short; let’s face it, the boy’s got talent; and to be totally fair, he’s not really a newcomer either. Andy’s first album, We’re Too Young, was released in 2009.

“Dog” comes from Andy’s latest release, the surprisingly bubbly EP, called The Phantom Pains. ‘Surprisingly bubbly’ because the lyrics come from the darker side of life, but the melodies and rhythms are indie pop fun with just the slightest hint of show-tune. Pretty much bliss if you ask us!

It’s unusual for an artist to go from album to EP – never afraid to pose the hard questions, we decided to ask the man himself why. “It was going to be an album originally but if I’d done an album it would have taken ages to get it out and by that time you’re not even that keen on it anymore”, Andy jokes. “An EP sounded like a better idea because I could write it quickly, record it quickly and I feel like there’s a much more immediate energy to the EP because of it. Doing an EP every year or an album every two years is not enough to keep your creativity alive”.

Andy was determined to approach his second offering differently to the first to avoid being too bogged down in the process: “With my first record there was heaps of messing with stuff constantly and trying to get it perfect. It drove me up the wall and made the process unenjoyable after a while because I lost touch with the initial intent behind it. You start confusing intellectual ideas with feeling. And music should be about feelings, really. If you start thinking about it intellectually, you run the risk of dismembering it.”

This passion reflects Andy’s focus on creativity and truth as a musician and his desire to avoid technical trickery and reliance on gadgetry, even though “Dog” was recorded by Andy in his own home studio. “I normally have an aversion to anything overly techie so it’s been a bit like facing the devil, but it enables you to have some creative freedom,” Andy explains. “As an artist, I don’t have this huge infrastructure behind me. I’m doing it all myself so I just have to do it, but it doesn’t come naturally.”

Throughout the past year Andy has toured with some great Aussie acts, the most obvious being Lisa Mitchell. What was initially a support slot turned into a full time gig for a while there: “She cut her finger very badly on like the second night of the tour and she couldn’t play guitar. So they had a mini-freak out and then someone suggested I play piano for them. And so I just learnt all the songs on the piano and I toured with them as a member of the band.”

Andy has just kicked off his own tour for the EP. Originally he intended to have his full band (featuring members of Deep Sea Arcade) on stage, however due to scheduling commitments that feel through it will just be a duo. “At first I was trepidatious but then it became one of those happy accidents. I’ve learnt to trust happy accidents ‘cause every time they happen I feel like they reveal something even better,” he muses. “I did the Clare Bowditch tour as a duo and I think they were some of the best gigs I’ve done. [Being a duo] is more compelling I think, and engaging. I’ve seen huge shows, like Rufus Wainright at the Opera House and earlier this year I saw Ben Folds. Like four times in a week, it’s just him and a piano. I was glued to it so I don’t think that all the superficiality, and dressing up, and wild stuff on stage… I just don’t think you have to do all that. You’ve just gotta do your own thing and people will gravitate towards it.”

Amen. Andy will be on stage in his hometown tomorrow (Friday, November 19) at Phoenix (below Spectrum) in Darlinghurst. You can get your tickets from Moshtix, or of course win one of our three doublepasses as a giveaway. Simply email us with the usual - blah blah, why you deserve to win, in less than 50 words, and we'll get back to you tomorrow morning. Supporting Andy is the gorgeously charming Emma Davis, another Side Street Sydney favourite.

words: Kristen Hodges


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