With riot-inducing riffs, rip-roaring vocals, and provocative lyrics, Australia-based Rich Webb is pioneering a brand new genre: Austricana. His forthcoming album, ‘Le Rayon Vert’ is due this autumn and harnesses the sound of bar brawls and busted knuckles, much like ‘a Tarantino soundtrack’ as BEAT magazine once said. We’ve been lucky enough to get our mitts on the slickly designed CD ahead of time. We get physical with the main man to bring you an exclusive preview of the album in all its physical glory…
The matchbox on the front of the CD is very…striking. What’s the story behind the artwork?
The concept behind the cover image is drawn loosely from the ‘Le Rayon Vert’ album title. As you know, the ‘green ray’ happens occasionally at sunset – the last rays of the sun as it heads over the horizon can appear green (if you are in the right place at the right time that is). I was looking for a way to illustrate this without having a boring sunset shot… the thought process was, well, the sun is burning all the time, match tips are spherical and burn also, so let’s make the match tips green… and then put an illustrated version of the ‘green ray’ occurring at sunset on the front of the match box… If you check out the matchbox cover you can see the green rays running across the bottom as the sun sets… that was it really.
I also like picking up match boxes when we go out – I love the feel and design of them… so combining everything together seemed to make some sort of sense – to me at least! We made up the matchbox cover, got it printed, stuck it on, dipped the matches in green acrylic paint and took a photo. I wanted a simple, strong image that reflected the album title, and I think it does that.
The album title is French, the studio you recorded in was in France, but the inner cover was shot in Germany. Tell us more…
The photo is of a tree just outside a German village called Dillich, which is about 40km south of the city of Kassel (known as the home of the Grimm Brothers among many other things).
It is also the home of our German manager, booking agent and good mate Manuel Klemm and his partner Ivonne Rode. We’ve been working closely with Manuel for nigh on 10 years, and in the downtime during the many tours he’s put together for us, we’ve often started from Manuel and Ive’s place in Dillich and circled back there to regroup between shows. The place has become a home away from home – I just love it there.
Is there a reason that two trees are the focal point of the inside cover?
If you walk up the hill from Manuel’s, hang a right, this striking tree is right there, seemingly defying gravity and the elements as it takes on the world with its jib thrust proudly forward! Love the ‘lover’s seat’ underneath it too – which also offers the most marvellous view of the whole valley – you can see all the little villages dotted through it. It’s one hell of a view. It really clears your mind up there.
Just finally, and I know I’m going on a bit here, but a couple of weeks ago I was filming a video with Manuel for one of the tracks from the new album ’Me and my Horse Trigger’, about a person who is out of time with the world and wants the world to change back to when he perceives it was ‘great again’. Anyway, we shot some footage from the seat underneath the tree too – it would have been totally wrong not to. So it will be in one of our upcoming videos too.
Are we right in thinking the back cover is photograph of a…cushion?
Yes, it’s a shot of a cushion we have in our home here in Melbourne. I wanted something that had a louche lounge kind of feel to it to reflect songs on the album such as ‘The Good Life’ and ‘Stoner’ which have a lounge-bar/crooner kind of thing to them. I wanted some lounge bar chintz! I reckon it delivers that big time. Looks like really dodgy 70’s carpet and you can’t beat that.
Why was it important for the band to release a physical CD?
I like stuff you can touch and hold and I think many people still like them too – even if they are streaming music most of the time. I like having them around, I like playing a bit of vinyl in the evenings too, and we also find that some people at shows like to buy something as a souvenir of the night – so having CDs and the vinyl album covers that off for them too. I don’t know, I just like them – it’s nice to have something you can touch, and hey, we can talk about the artwork, which we wouldn’t be doing if it was digital only!
Any plans to release ‘Le Rayon Vert’ on vinyl?
Yes! We are releasing the album in heavyweight black vinyl too (the vinyl is at the pressing plant at the moment but will be ready by the album release date in early Sept – the artwork is pretty much the same, except the lyric book is downloadable rather than contained, and you also get an digital download as part of it). It’s 180 grams, deluxe edition, shrink-wrapped… just like it says at the start of ‘The Good Life’ song…
- Let it Rain
- Stray Horse Canyon
- Our Love, it Don’t Live Here Anymore
- Letter to my Replacement (whoever that may be)
- The So Called Earl ( ) Palmer
- Shaggy Dad
- Come Home Baby, Get a Job
- Me and my Horse Trigger
- The Good Life