"I'm gonna have to take part in drinkin' some goon, 'cause I didn't actually do it when I was there."
Touted as a prodigious voice of a generation, Bridie Monds-Watson trades insults with her band mates in French and shouts down the phone from her tour bus in Germany: "...We think he looks like the guy from Maroon 5, Adam Levine!" She's in the midst of a vigorous post-show discussion about who the drummer of her band looks like, which ends in fits when a background voice chimes in: "More like Avril Lavigne." The Northern Irelander isn't about to let such weighty sentiments get in the way of her good time, and she proved it with the large script "goon" she had inked above her knee on her first Australian visit this year.
"I was just showin' some of my new tour mates that tattoo a minute ago so that's really good timin'!" she says. "A lot of people messaged me and told me they had that tattoo too — it all came out of the woodwork then. I feel like next time I come in January I'm gonna have to take part in drinkin' some goon, 'cause I didn't actually do it when I was there. I think I'm gonna have to do it. Oh yeah and the goon of fortune — I've heard endless stories about the goon of fortune. I'm very ready."
"I've heard endless stories about the goon of fortune. I'm very ready."
It's hardly something you'd expect from a youngster who calls their debut alt-folk album Before We Forgot How To Dream, and fills it with robust lyricism and structures, yet has the capacity to be extraordinarily delicate too. One can only imagine the kind of ink she'll pick up on her second Australian tour inside a year for Falls and Southbound Festivals over the new year.
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"I'm pretty excited to come back and bring a full band, 'cause last time I was there I played four or five shows [solo] — it was really cool 'cause all the gigs we did, they sold out and the rooms were amazing and the venues were class and the people who came were really cool. So I think comin' out to do festival shows, it's a completely different dynamic with a band — it's quite loud and it's a lot of fun. My drummer who's sittin' across from me just said: 'It's fookin' mental!'" Monds-Watson says, hamming up her lovely Derry lilt. "The only struggle that we might have is the heat of Australia at that time of the year. Though other than that hopefully we just have some really fun shows, and hopefully as unstressful as possible."
"Going to Australia the first time around was a really big deal. When you come from such a small place, to get the opportunity to go to places like Australia and America is a really big deal. It's a big deal for anyone, but to come from a small place and to go somewhere crazy and know that mainly your music brought you there is kind of insane. I was really, really excited to go to Australia; especially because it's pretty much the farthest place I could have gone. I was excited to go and definitely wasn't disappointed at all. I loved all the time that I was there and wanted to be there longer, so it's really nice to come back again so soon."
As chat turns to career achievements and awards, Monds-Watson is quite chuffed to hear that she shares a Q Awards Best New Act nomination alongside Australia's own Courtney Barnett. Despite the contrast in musical styles, they're both strong, independent characters that share a sharp, self-deprecating humour and a love of colloquial vernacular. It seems to be a friendship just waiting to happen.
"I want to be her friend," she says with delight at the suggestion. "I'm a really big fan of her music and her label actually as well. I think she's done a lot of really cool stuff, so it will be really cool to see her hopefully every day that we play the Falls Festival... We both have similar labels and stuff in Australia that have said that we're quite similar, so hopefully we'll just be best friends after this tour! We've been close [to crossing paths]. When I played South By Southwest as well she played... All the [venue] entries were 21 plus so I couldn't get in. That would have been it though, that would have been the friendship started," Monds-Watson says with a humorous sincerity, "but I couldn't get in."