It’s been five years since blues band the Bondi Cigars brought their iconic sound to the Surf Coast. Returning as a headliner for Motor City Music Festival in March, front man Shane Pacey is keen to catch up with some old friends. “It’s people generally that make a place special to me, rather than where the place is…we’ve got lots of friends in that part of Victoria.”
Naming festival Director Hugo T. Armstrong as one such friend who supported the group since their early days, Pacey and the band will be performing a mixture of new and old tunes for an audience who have eagerly awaited their return.
“The last time we were around that area was the Queenscliff festival which was about four or five years ago,” he says.
“So we’ll do some new stuff off our new album, we’ll be doing a lot of old stuff I think too, because people haven’t seen us for awhile. The best thing about [touring] is the actual playing itself. Getting on planes or sitting in tour buses for hours on end can get a little bit, you know, tedious.”
Recording their latest album Child in The Desert Earlier this year, it really came from the band’s need to create fresh material. “I saw an interview with Tom Waits the other day where he said, ‘You write a whole bunch of new songs when you get sick of the old ones.’ I suppose that’s what inspired it,” Pacey laughs.
“If you’re playing a lot even when you’re improvising to fans, you do need new material just to breathe life into the band again. And it’s a bit tough for audiences if you play too many new songs on them all in one go. But it was just time to make another one.”
Choosing to record the album in an entirely different place also helped the band creatively. “We wanted to go somewhere else to do it, ‘Cause we’ve always recorded in Sydney. So this time we decided to go to Byron Bay. Why not?” he says.
The new set of songs has been specifically crafted for live performances, guaranteeing audiences a good time. “When we put out [a record], there might be about four or five tunes from it that survive and get put into the repertoire regularly. You know, it’s when you go see The Rolling Stones they might do two songs off their last album and the rest of it is full of old stuff…So they need to be pretty special to kind of make the cut,” he shares.
“From this one, we’re doing at least 80 per cent of it regularly. It’s been out for quite a few months now so that’s really good fun. It’s kind of designed to play live.”
A founding member of the Bondi Cigars since their inception over 25 years ago, Pacey has seen the band alter its sound and change its line up numerous times. Ultimately though, the spirit of the Bondi Cigars remains the same.
“We sort of started out as more of a blues band. And then as we got on and we sort of brought in other themes, other influences, and other people come through the band, we sort of absorbed all different things into the sound of the band.”
The Bondi Cigars will be playing at Motor City Music Festival on March 11- 13 at the Geelong Showgrounds. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.com.au.