Q & A with Zac Gunthorpe

Since the release of his EP, “Long Lost Love Lies” in 2012, and now “Glory Bound”, constant gigging has seen singer/songwriter Zac Gunthorpe become an engaging live performer, and the young Queenslander has honed his already impressive song-writing skills to a knife’s edge.

No stranger to playing venues on the Sunshine Coast, Zac is currently touring his album, and the release of the second single, ‘High on the Mountain’, and will be appearing at The Bison Bar in Nambour on August 20.

We sent through some questions while Zac was busy preparing for a show in Byron…

Hi Zac! Geez you’re a busy man. I’m always seeing your name popping up when doing up the gigs listings. How did you find the time to do a full album – particularly one that sounds as lush, and full in your latest LP ‘Glory Bound’?

Yeah it’s been a busy time since the release of my EP in 2012 with constant gigging and touring, but I’m always writing. Whenever the need arises I make sure I stop what I’m doing and pick up a pen, scribble down some words somewhere. Usually after a few months I’ll pick up the guitar, go through what I have, see what I can piece together. Sometimes nothing, sometimes 10 songs! Woohoo Let’s make an album!

What was the decision behind choosing Andrew Morris’ studio (which I believe is an old timber church)?

I recorded my debut EP with Andrew and even then we had our sights set on recording a full length album eventually. So when it came time to record ‘Glory Bound’ Andrew was living in this old church. It was beautiful to play in, and had such a great feel to it that we decided to make the album there and record the tracks live.

You’ve managed to acquire some pretty impressive players on this album… care to do a roll call, and how you know them?

Haha yeah sure! Ben Carstens (Mexico City), Dan Mansfield (The Gin Club), Danny Widdicombe (The Wilson Pickers), were the main guys. These were the guys and the bands that I would go out and see every week in Brisbane. Pretty well whenever they had a show I was there and that’s how I came to know them.

Andrew also organised Scott Owen (The Living End) to come an play some upright bass on ‘Our Song’ and ‘Growing Old’. He was a really nice bloke.

We had finished recording both those songs and I was showing the boys the next song ‘Telephone Line’. Scott comes over and says “Zac, would you mind if I hung around and played bass on this?”

Are you kidding? Of course! Another mate of the boys Chris Costello dropped by and ended up playing piano on too. 6 piece band, recorded all live. That song was a big highlight of the session for me.

Another big influence on my music was my mate Neal Purchase Jr (The Brown Byrds). We met through a surf shop my brother Josh and his wife Lauren ran, and we all got on like a house on fire. The track ‘Sea Dirge’ is a sea shanty of sorts and Neal’s submarine like guitar sound suited it down to a T.

The second single from the album, ‘High on the Mountain’ was inspired by the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Was there a particular moment that made you want to write this track?

Not just one but a few. Each verse is its own moment, now that I think about it. It was a pretty special time in my life when I was writing ‘High On The Mountain’. Lots of happiness, lots of love, lots of time spent among the mountains…oh the romance haha

You’re playing The Bison Bar on August 20 as part of the High on the Mountain Tour, and you’ll be joined by the ladies in TUSKK, who will also be launching their EP on the same night. One, this will be a cause for celebration, and what a place to do it. I do find it interesting, as you have played with TUSKK quite a few times, what is the musical relationship there? I’m asking, as you see it quite a bit with certain bands/artists that tend to play together on line-ups often (for their own reasons).

I met the Tuskk ladies through my wife who was working at Jamoke in Nambour with them. They always had great music playing when I went in, which got us talking and my finding out they were recording an EP. So I just thought great! Let’s do some shows together. I really like playing with friends. It makes the whole show have a more connected feel, which is great for intimate venues and folk music. That’s folk music at its roots, really. Tusks have some really great songs and they are just getting better and better. I can’t wait to see their set at the show and grab an EP.

Lastly, I don’t ask this that often, but what truly drives you when it comes to music? What is it that compels you to write?

Hmmm, tough one.  Life is what drives me.  I think writing is a necessity for me now, like breathing. That might sound kinda hippyish, but it is the truth.

Thanks, Zac. Have a fantastic show at The Bison Bar on August 20, and enjoy the rest of your High on the Mountain Tour.

Catch Zac Gunthorpe, with Tuskk at The Bison Bar.

You can download the new album, “Glory Bound” through iTunes here.

Rhys Fox