Green Days

25 September 2012 | 5:15 am | Ross Clelland

“Our music has developed a bit from that. We’re a bit more unique now than we were then... “You can have degrees of ‘unique’, can’t you? Because I think we are.”

When pointed out it's getting on towards a decade since their last album, Knievel's Wayne Connolly offers a not unreasonable explanation. “We probably haven't been quite as dormant as people think – but you still need a record to make it worthwhile and have people really notice.

“Back in the early 2000s we went to the US and Japan, and were pretty much exhausted – financially and creatively. And then I thought I should build my own studio – well, Prince has one, Jimi Hendrix had one, why not me? – and that's where it pretty much came unstuck. They didn't tell me it would take so much in resources and time,” he rues.

Connolly having his own studio is not unreasonable. He has ARIAs for his production work, and credits on his resume such as You Am I and The Vines through to Josh Pyke and Hungry Kids Of Hungary. He also married bandmate Tracy Ellis in there somewhere, and now has a day job as resident producer at the venerable Albert's Productions. As someone else's song has it, this is how time slips away.

The long-gestating new album, Emerald City, is also Knievel's first offering after going from three-piece to a four-piece. Connolly, Ellis and long-time drummer Nick Kennedy are now joined by multi-instrumentalist Tim Kevin, a man with a band of his own (La Huva), and some impressive production credits of his own like Youth Group and Toby Martin's recent solo album.

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Connolly praises Kevin's input to the band and the new album. “He's actually been with us for nearly ten years as well,” laughs the singer, “but he's still 'the new guy' – kind of like Ronnie Wood is in the Stones. But he's definitely in the band now.” Congrats, Tim. It seems you've passed the audition, and the probationary period.

Emerald City's title refers to playwright David Williamson's description of Sydney – when viewed from the outside – and a number of the songs deal with Connolly's remembrances in a changing city. This does not sound like the usual themes of rock and rolling all night long, or silly love songs. “Not sure I ever wrote many love songs,” Connolly counters. “But the experiences and places you live are what make up who you are. I lived above The Palace Hotel on the corner of Flinders and South Dowling; upstairs was a kind of share house and downstairs there were bands on five nights a week. I ran the pub PA and wrote my first proper song in my bedroom there – which is now the upstairs bar.” Sounds like a perfect Sydney experience, and centres the self-explanatory The Time I Found My Feet, one of Emerald City's defining songs. To complete the circle, the band are launching the album at what is now The Local – the formerly slightly dingy Palace now a 'Taphouse' of boutique beers and designer food. “Sometimes when you're in an era you can't appreciate it until much later when you look back,” Connolly concludes.

Knievel's guitar layers and textures remain identifiable on the new album, providing a touchstone to past glories like Something Good Must Come – the album it appears on, Steep Hill Climb, will be performed in full at a later Vanguard date – which is a song that retains much affection among not just the band's fans, but as a highlight song of its time. Connolly conditionally agrees: “Our music has developed a bit from that. We're a bit more unique now than we were then,” he smiles. “You can have degrees of 'unique', can't you? Because I think we are.”

Knievel will be playing the following shows:

Wednesday 3 October - The Local Taphouse, Sydney NSW
Friday 26 October - The Hideaway, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 3 November - Yah Yah's, Melbourne VIC