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On Tour With Husky: Part Two - 'Before The First Melbourne Show'

19 April 2018 | 11:00 am | Husky

'A male voice calls out from the trembling darkness, 'Hey Husky, take off your pants.'

Husky are coming to the pointy end of their intimate Australian tour, with just two shows left in Brisbane (sold out) and North Fremantle over the weekend.


In part two of the exclusive tour diary, vocalist Husky Gawenda takes you through what was going on in his head in the moments before he stepped on stage for the first show of the tour in Melbourne.



I am standing in a little white room to the side of the stage in the dark. It's ten minutes until showtime. I have about 30 seconds to be alone, all alone, until the others join me to have a drink, face each other and smile as if to say I’ve got your back, say something meaningful about the sacred place we are about to enter, say something funny to lighten the mood and then walk out onto the stage where we’re suddenly so far from all alone. I can hear them checking their instruments on the stage. I can hear the chatter of the audience waiting just metres away from where I stand. I can hear myself thinking a little louder than usual.

At these moments, I’m prone to existential agitation, these moments when I'm on the edge, my blood full of adrenaline and I’m awake whether I want to be or not. I’m living and no amount of denial or faking it is gonna get me through it. It’s also the most inappropriate time for existential bullshit. But once the neural pathway blooms there is no stopping it flowering into a quick succession of irrepressible thoughts, a microscopic chemical train whose track is assembling itself as the train speeds along it.

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How did I get here? This is strange - standing in this broom-closet about to walk out in front of hundreds of people to sing my life to them. Is this where I’m supposed to be? I wish there was a kettle in here, every band room should have a kettle. What would Leonard Cohen say? Where is he now? I mean, is he somewhere or nowhere and if he’s nowhere, was he ever anywhere? So then perhaps I’m nowhere. I’m not here, this is all some kind of impenetrable illusion…

My manager’s head appears in the doorway, you need anything? I think I need a drink. He disappears and I'm alone again. I stand there thinking the same thing I always do, standing in some soulless band room surrounded by writing on the walls and defiled band posters and an undefined stink that is the same in all band rooms the world over. I’m thinking - I don’t know if I can do this.

During soundcheck our sound engineer told me studies have shown that even when subjects know they’re being given a placebo, the placebo effect still works. It’s like the moon illusion (the horizon moon appears bigger than the zenith moon, even though it’s exactly the same size) - knowing it’s an illusion, even understanding the mechanics of the illusion, doesn’t make the moon look any smaller. So I stand there like a chump, falling for the same trick I fall for every time. It doesn't matter that I’ve done it hundreds of times, or that I’ve played shows in 50 different cities around the world. I can prove to myself I can do it and still stand there before each show thinking I don’t know if I can do it.

Sometimes when I get the hiccups I ask someone to give me a fright, which in itself makes no sense because a fright requires surprise and therefore cannot be organised in advance, but somehow I still get frightened and my hiccups disappear. It doesn’t matter that the fright is a sham, nor does it matter that I don’t really believe the fright cure for hiccups old wives’ tale. Sometimes I need to look up at the sky while I’m walking home and see that big old orb of yellow cheese looking bigger than ever. Sometimes when I’m low I need that heartwarming sight. And it makes no difference that I know the moon is no bigger than usual, that it’s my mind playing tricks on me. Mr Sergeant tried to ruin it for me back in high school in psychology class but sorry Sarge, no dice.  

Sometimes I need to doubt myself. I need to sit on that precipice looking down at my horrible death-like failure below. I need to be right on the edge, because that’s when the adrenalin kicks in, that’s when I feel most alive. To arrive is to reach the end. It is all about the perpetual agonising approach. It’s on that knife’s edge that I can squeeze the absolute best out of myself. It’s there the magic can be summoned. So while I know the fright, the moon, the knife’s edge is just a trick of my mind, it still works every time.

My band mates join me in the band room. Our manager comes back with some wine. We make a toast. Gideon says, "let’s have fun out there." The words come out slowly. Good, the adrenaline has kicked in. Everything around me moves more slowly when the adrenaline kicks in. Except time, time moves faster. A quick group hug. Three spits over my left shoulder straight into that evil eye so the bastard can’t see me for the next hour and a half.

We walk out onto the stage. The lights are low, a warm hazy glow on silent instruments lying in wait. The audience cheers as the house lights drop. I swing my guitar over my shoulder and feel its comforting wooden certainty in my hands. In those few seconds, just before Gideon counts us in and we start playing the first notes of the first song of the set, there is somehow time for so many thoughts. And there are so many things to think about at that moment, standing there in front of all those people, about to do something kinda crazy when you think about it.

But I know everything is gonna be okay, I know I’m right where I'm supposed to be, I know this first hometown show of the tour is going to be a corker, when just before I strike the first notes of Walking In Your Sleep, a male voice calls out from the trembling darkness, "Hey Husky, take off your pants."

For more details on the final shows, click on theGuide.

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