Interview by Markus Hamence – Wednesday 13 December 2023
“Respected as one of Australia’s iconic musicians, Ian Moss delivers an unforgettable sound – not only as a telling soloist on guitar but especially with his silken voice, ringing with clarity and resonating with pure soul. While primarily recognised as an axeman of unusual tenacity and sweet melodic sensibility, Ian’s distinctive vocal is the essential signature of his soulful, bluesy muse – as it has been since his first tentative foray into music during the early 1970s…” from ianmoss.com.au
The much loved Australian music legend, Ian ‘Mossy’ Moss, is back with a new album and tour, ‘Rivers Run Dry’. The album, released in July 2023 has already received really good reviews and support. It’s a brilliant album, and in my view, definitely up there alongside 1989’s ‘Matchbook’ and the 2018 self titled ‘Ian Moss’ and really has some banging tracks with mad musicianship. The first (and title) track on the album is signature ‘Mossy’ and sets the tone for some great listening (see the video link at end of interview for song). The tour, which has 29 dates, kicked off in October and runs through to June 2024 with Ian playing Adelaide’s The Gov on Wednesday 10 April 2024.
PLUS to start the year off right, on 19 January Ian releases Rivers Run Dry – Deluxe Edition. It is available for pre-order on CD and Digitally now at ianmoss.lnk.to/riversrundrydeluxe. Performed by Zoe Hauptmann on bass (Neil Finn, Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins), Freyja Garbett on keys (Montaigne, Stella Donnelly), Ollie Thorpe on guitars (Matt Corby, Meg Mac), Juanita Tippins on backing vocals (Cold Chisel, Joe Bonamassa) and Kerry Jacobson on drums (Dragon, Mondo Rock) with Mossy out front giving it everything he has in the tank, these six live recordings capture a band at the top of its game and in full flight.
He’s a busy guy and still creating great music.
I do a ‘phoner’ with Ian Moss about the said album and tour…
Markus Hamence: First of all Ian, congratulations on the new album ‘Rivers Run Dry’, a great piece of work from yourself, it gives me ‘Time-less, old-school Australian rock’ vibes. How has it been received by your fans and music lovers?
Ian Moss: Well, most like your reaction to it. Really wonderfully. I couldn’t ask for a better reception from all across the board and the songs have been going down really well when I’m playing them live.
Markus: The tour for the album has been running a few months already in 2023 so you’ve had a chance to play it live quite a bit.
Ian: Yeah, the album came out about the third week of July and I’ve been out touring and being busy with it so I’m giving a good selection of the songs a great run.
Markus: With the tour, 29 dates over the 8 months with metro and regional venues, it’s a lot and wide spread, is touring still a part of the industry that you enjoy?
Ian: Absolutely, that’s where it’s all at. As fun as it is to get into the studio and rehearse and record, the real reward is when you’ve got yourself some great material, people loving it and getting it out there on the road and playing the music live. I still enjoy it, that’s why I’ll never retire. Hopefully I can just keep doing it forever, and that’s certainly my aim.
Markus: Being around for four decades now, your first solo album ‘Matchbook’ came out in 1989, and prior that (and ongoing), your work with the iconic Cold Chisel, how do you feel the industry’s landscape has changed? And for better or for worse?
Ian: I don’t think it as worse, just different really. Things just keep changing and it’s the way of the world. But the bottom line is people need, want and crave their music. So that will always be there and be the consistent. Sure, things will shift and change around, back in the late 70’s bands could play 6 nights a week in pubs and you’d have Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, The Angels and Australian Crawl all playing in a different pub in the same suburb and have them all packed-out. That doesn’t happen anymore but you’ve got things that have replaced it like the festivals Red Hot Summer, Day On The Green etc. It’s supply and demand. The demand for music will fortunately never go away.
Markus: How do you think streaming services like Spotify have effected the industry?
Ian: It’s very popular and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere and of course a lot less money is going into the right pockets, either the writers, musicians or singers. But it is what it is and that’s why the touring side of the inudtry matters more than ever right now, it’s the only way we can make money. But forever, challenges have come along, and we rise to meet them.
Markus: What inspires and motivates you to keep working in the industry after so much success?
Ian: Exactly what inspired me when I was five years of age, picking up a guitar. It never changes for me, if it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood. So I’d say the inspiration is exactly the same as when I was five years of age.
Markus: You have a lot of younger up and coming artists support you on your tours. Who is really impressing you right now?
Ian: Well, I don’t get to see to many play, I’m always head down, tail up. But, I have been really impressed with my son Julian Moss. He just released his first single just the other day, ‘Lonely Throne’, and I’ve taught him a lot of stuff but he’s coming up with other sounds and I’m going “Wow, how did you come up with that?”
Markus: And how have you coped during the last three years where many industries have struggled? And in many ways still getting back on their feet?
Ian: I was really lucky actually, I had just finished doing a tour with Cold Chisel, which we had the new album ‘Blood Moon’, right when we started seeing the lockdowns in 2020. So for me it was not too bad ending a successful run right at that time, so I spent the time writing and getting down my new ideas that I’d been saving in my head. I set up the studio at home and had a ball playing engineer and producer and mainly finishing off my songs.
Markus: What comes first for you, the lyrics or the music?
Ian: It’s mainly in my head I hear a tune. That’s what come to me first and it build from there, then the words come into it. Sometime the original lyrics may not even make the final cut but it’s mostly the music and the direction you want the song to be about. And then it’s the old adage – 1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration. Also, I’m not the kind of person who can do a tour or even a show then come home and write. Mostly when I finish the gig I want to turn off and relax, so all the little ideas have to sit and wait sometimes, I might just recorded them quickly on the mobile phone so I don’t forget them when I finally can get to doing something with them.
Markus: With being around in the music world for a lengthy time we are seeing a lot of the people you have surrounded yourself with passing away or suffering ill-health. Is this something you you are aware of in that you are grateful that you can still do effortlessly what you enjoy and love without too many complications?
Ian: Oh absolutely, I’ve had people say to me over the years, “You’re so lucky that you have a job”. And I’m extremely grateful. The fact I get to wake up and do a job I enjoy is not lost on me at all. I can honestly say I f*cking love my job.
Markus: Aside from your new album Ian, what is one of your solo albums you are most proud of?
Ian: ‘Matchbook’ will always have a place in my heart for obvious reasons being my first, but I’m actually really fond of my 2018 self titled album ‘Ian Moss’.
Markus: You’re playing Adelaide’s The Gov in April 2024, what do you love about Adelaide audiences?
Ian: Firstly I love playing The Gov, it’s an institution and iconic venue. The Adelaide audiences are great, they originally gave myself and Cold Chisel our starts really. I’ll always be thankful for that. It’s always a comforting feeling of coming home in a nice positive way.
Markus: And finally Ian, it’s been great chatting, how are you spending Christmas 2023?
Ian: Spending time with family and NOT working haha. A lot of artists work during the Christmas period as many people are requiring performers. But not me, I have the time off and spend quality time with the family otherwise I’m just working all year. And I need the break 🙂 See you on the 2024 tour Markus!
Catch Ian Moss at The Gov – Wednesday 10 April 2024 – Tickets here
For all other shows, click here