(Shane Pacey chatted with me about the Bondi Cigars and the Shayne Pacey Trio)

Bondi Cigars: Eben Hale (guitar/vocals), Frank Corby (drums, vocals), Shane Pacey (guitar vocals), Alan Britton (bass, vocals).

Bondi Cigars: Eben Hale (guitar/vocals), Frank Corby (drums, vocals), Shane Pacey (guitar vocals), Alan Britton (bass, vocals).

Hi Shane, that was an awesome gig.

Thank you, yeah it was good fun. It was quite intense. But you know, that’s how we operate, we’re not a particularly laid back band.

And you had a bit of trouble getting up here and missed out on playing your Friday night set so that would get a bit of adrenalin pumping I guess.

Nervous energy, yeah, so we sorta did two sets in one just now basically. We try to use dynamics well so that we’re not just pummelling people all the time, we try to bring it up and down a little bit.

Some of you play together in different bands. How would you define what you do with the Cigars?

The Cigars are based much more on the songs I write, even though it’s very bluesy, it’s not a traditional Blues band.

So what influences your song writing style for the Cigars?

It’s just everything I listen to, which is a whole lotta stuff, I think most musicians are very varied in what they listen to. I don’t know many Blues players that just listen to Blues, in fact, many of them, like myself, don’t listen to a whole lot of it at home, ‘cause we kinda get enough of it when we play. So I listen to a lot of singer songwriters and lots of jazz and folk music, punk music, stuff like that, a mixture of things.

In the Cigars we want to see people moving and laughing and if we do sing something emotional and sad, well that’s good, but not all the time. I mean some of our lyrics are actually quite down in a way, we don’t write humorous songs, but you can put that over in a joyous kind of way as well.

And the storytelling comes from personal experiences?

Absolutely, I’ve tried writing story songs and people like Jeff Lang are very good at it but my songs are mostly about me or someone who’s close to me. A lot of people don’t wanna really sing about themselves they’d rather talk about something else. Like Richard Thompson, the English singer songwriter writes almost exclusively about other people and their stories and it’s amazing, but I’ve tried to do it and it’s never convincing so I don’t try to do that anymore. Certainly the songs I’ve written in say the last 28 years with the Cigars, quite a few of them have become sorta like standards, other bands do them, so that’s quite good.

And does anyone else song write in the Cigars with you?

Yeah well Frank, the drummer has written a couple and Eben, the other guitarist, has written a couple, but I’m just always song writing and making music ‘cause that’s what I really do. Lately I’ve been making these kind of almost finished demos of the songs at home. But they always add their own things to them. I don’t want them just to play what I come up with ‘cause they’re better at their instruments than I am.

Do you observe younger audience interest?

I think the idea might be to get younger people interested in playing it and not just listening to it. Then younger people play it, and come and see it too. So it needs to turn over and I think some of the Old Guard like myself need let them in, not stand aside, but letthem in, ‘cause Blues can be a bit of a closed shop.And that’s in every city I think.

The younger ones are not reinventing the wheel, a lot of it sounds like it’s completely plugged into the late 60s and early 70s. It’s just that they’re doing it their own way without changing it too much.

The thing with music like Hendrix was it was so revolutionary. There was nothing else like it at the time. For any major change to happen in Blues music I just feel there’s somebody who needs to come along like Hendrix who reinvents the wheel…who just takes it…and I don’t know what would happen now because of the way the music scene is. It’s harder because, for this kind of music, what do you do? I would have thought it would have to be some kind of hybrid of dance music or pop and Blues, and some people have tried that, and to my ears, it hasn’t really worked. Blues needs aficionados behind it because it’s fringe music like Irish Folk is, or like Jazz is.

And you’re planning to tour the trio up here locally?

Yeah well the trio is a bit more of a moveable feast than the Cigars are, faster on their feet. We came up to do the last Blues on Broadbeach and that was really good. It’s my voice and my guitar, but its coming from a slightly different place. We started off just doing covers of Albert King and we were playing little places and it just started as a way for me to keep playing more often. Now I’m song writing for that too.

Do you have tours coming up?

The Cigars were a touring band for 16-17 years from 1990 to the mid 2000s. We used to go everywhere, but that doesn’t happen so much anymore because it’s very hard work and you’re away from home a lot, especially in this country, it’s not like in America where you only have to travel a couple of hundred miles and you’re at the next place. Here it’s at least a thousand kilometres between each major city. So now we just do little runs. Like at the end of this year we’re doing a little run up the North Coast starting in Nambucca Heads and finishing at Seagulls in Tweed Heads. And we’re doing Bridgetown Blues Festival in November and we might do a few gigs in Melbourne.