After nearly three years, Edward Guglielmino’s finally ready to deliver second album Sunshine State. Matt O’Neill speaks to the local singer-songwriter about his reputation, his music and his killer new album.
Edward Guglielmino has a difficult reputation in Brisbane. A strangely persistent trail of minor controversies and myths has followed him for almost his entire career – from his getting thrown off stage in Brunswick Street Mall with early band Lost Of Love to offending all and sundry with viral articles like '50 Ways to Get People to Care About Your Band in Australia' to teaming up with legendary music critic Everett True to form joke-but-not-really band The Thin Kids.
“All of that kind of came from when I first started playing in Brisbane,” Guglielmino says of his reputation – voice only slightly coloured by annoyance. “Back then, it was even worse than it is now. It was really boring. I was a little less boring so everyone started calling me avant-garde. My music was really just a little punky, though. Contrary to popular opinion, I don't go out of my way to stir the pot in anything I do. I just say what I think and that tends to offend people for some reason.”
It isn't really fair, though. In that time, Guglielmino has actually evolved into a truly interesting musician. Beginning with debut album Late At Night in 2009 (or even earlier with EPs like Tacky), Guglielmino has gradually crafted a serious musical legacy that, in a kinder world, would transcend his post-modern prankster reputation. A rich, vaguely broken kind of folk music that sounds, at once, majestic, raw and kind of silly – as brattishly petulant as it is oddly timeless.
“Most of the music I do is some form of statement,” Guglielmino says of his work. “The way I think about music is not a very Australian way of thinking about music, I've discovered. I'm a first-generation Australian and, for that reason, I seem to think about music in a more European way. The things that are important to me in music, most people don't care about them at all. Similarly, the things I don't think matter, seem to be what makes or breaks a band in this country.”
Sunshine State, for example, should be hailed as a classic record. Guglielmino's long-awaited follow-up is an absolute stunner. Rawer, weirder and more visceral than Late At Night, Sunshine State stretches from sweeping string arrangements and blasts of brass through to searing guitar noise and ghostly harmonies. Recorded in a lounge room and released direct to vinyl, it's a brutal, beautiful piece of work. One almost accuses Guglielmino of crafting it in response to his naysayers.
“Oh, I wasn't thinking about that at all,” the singer-songwriter responds quickly. “I think I proved myself with Late At Night. You know, before I made that album, I really was just that weird Guglielmino guy. I think Matt Redlich, my producer, kind of pushed me to be more of a musician – as opposed to some guy just expressing himself with an instrument in his hand. I think Sam [Schlenker] and Jamie [Trevaskis], who produced this album, really just continued that process.
“I was definitely conscious of the fact that it might be my last album, though,” he offers. “I don't think the album format really works for artists like me. This might be last kind of collated statement. I wanted to make sure I was proud of every song on the record. Songs don't come easily to me, these days. I'm not an artist who can just pick up a guitar and write a song. I need to wait until it hits. It really did take all three years to put the album together.
“I'm actually kind of petrified to be finally releasing it!”