David Fricke: 'How Do You Say Gotye?'

5 March 2012 | 9:22 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

Rolling Stone's Fricke is the main attraction for The Amp's [Australian Music Prize] new event, Amped Up In Conversation, which will be held as part of the Winner's Announcement. The winner of PPCA's $30,000 cash prize for the best Australian album last year will be announced from the shortlisted acts.

“My friend John O'Donnell had written to me shortly before Christmas and had said, 'We have this thing',” Fricke told Your Daily SPA about getting involved for the inaugural conversation.

“And I'd heard about, I'm obviously aware of the [UK's] Mercury Prize and was aware that there was – in addition to the ARIAs – the Amp thing. And he [O'Donnell] wrote to me and said, 'We have this special ceremony, we're revamping the presentation and we'd like you to speak at it.”

He continued, “John and I go way back, when he was an editor of Rolling Stone in Australia with his work through Murmur and Silverchair and EMI. So if he invites me to something I take it very seriously.”

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Fricke did suggest that in its inaugural year, maybe an Australian should deliver the centrepiece speech.

“I did mention it's an Australian event, Australian music is being celebrated – I'm not Australian laughs. 'Are you sure about this?' And as he pointed out, through our mutual experiences for years Australian music has been really important to me – both as a writer and as someone who is immersed in music 24/7.

“I actually did some research on the writing I've done and I was writing about Men At Work on their first tour, before Down Under had even been released as a single… I think in a lot of ways I have an experience with the music in Australia and the way its travelled that's much deeper than other writers. Certainly most American writers.”

A big fan – and often friends of – acts like The Church and Midnight Oil, he admits that he's not overly familiar with the nine chosen acts. But he said that the shortlisted “has re-affirmed why I am as passionate as I am about the music that comes from Australia”.

“It was interesting, going to see Gotye – how do you pronounce it? Is it Goat-yae, or Goh-ti-ae?… It was interesting because the visuals he had on the screen behind the band, there was a little bit of that red desert thing in some of the images.

“You can get a sense that there is a pride and a recognition of place that relates to where he comes from. It doesn't have to be that specific, but every once in a while that sort of thing comes up. Certainly when he starts doing the song introductions it becomes obvious he is not from Brooklyn, which is great.”

Out of the bands that are shortlisted, Fricke mentioned The Jezabels a number of times during our chat, and they're probably the artist he's most familiar with.

“The reason The Jezabels came up was not because anyone sent me a promo or anything but my God-daughter in Adelaide sent me a copy of it to me at Christmas, thinking that it would be something that I'd really like to hear, and she was right. So I have to give her props for turning me on to them.

“I've actually been playing that record a lot, just for fun and reviewing it and for fun even more. I haven't seen them, because I know they passed through here last year at some point, but I'm really keen to see them.”

Public tickets to Amped Up In Conversation, to be held Thursday 8 March at The Basement, Circular Quay, are available by emailing info@australianmusicprize.com.au.

WIN: theMusic.com.au has three double passes to giveaway for the event. On top of that, the three winners will each receive each of the shortlisted artists – that's nine albums! To enter head to The Drum Media's Facebook page and click on the GIVEAWAYS tab.