cover story Features August 12, 2019

Michael Gudinski on The Teskey Brothers’ second album: “The music speaks for itself”

Michael Gudinski on The Teskey Brothers’ second album: “The music speaks for itself”
Image: The Teskey Brothers / Facebook

Michael Gudinski isn’t just celebrating ’ second album entering the ARIA Album Chart at #2.

In fact, he believes it’s just the beginning of the Run Home Slow story.

“It’ll remain in the upper reaches of the charts until Christmas,” Gudinski predicts to TMN.

“It’s already caused great excitement on radio and TV but we’ll be getting more over the coming weeks as the word gets around.”

It’s a far cry from their self-released debut Half Mile Harvest which peaked at #18 in June ’2017, and this week returns to the chart at #27.

Gudinski says it’s one of those great records which cut through all age demographics, from fresh-faced Spotify playlisters to white-haired vinyl purists.

Gudinski’s Mushroom Group of Companies includes The Teskey Brothers’ record label, Ivy League, and publishing, Mushroom Music.

“Chris Maund (chief operating officer of Mushroom Labels) and Marihuzka Cornelius (A&R manager at Ivy League who signed them) set it up beautifully,” he says.

“There was no rushing the record, no shortcuts, we didn’t want to sanitise this great soul sound they have.

“We’ve been very careful not to hype anything about this band, because the music speaks for itself.

“We started out first with various ABC Radio networks and now expanding it.

“The reviews have been stunning – and so they should. It’s so nice to see a record like this get so much respect.”

Run Home Slow has in its first week also gone into the UK Top 50, and Top 10 in the Netherlands where it’s also topping the vinyl charts.

The band is returning overseas for dates in September and then again February.

There are in between nine theatre, club and festival dates in Australia November 1 to 30, and a one-off in Auckland in December.

SOMEWHERE IN WARRANDYTE

The Teskey Brothers’ story begins in a laid back hippie-art hamlet Warrandyte in outer Melbourne.

It’s got gum trees and galleries and coffee shops, the Yarra runs through the natural bushland of the state park and it’s at the Saturday morning market where Josh Teskey (vocals & rhythm guitar), Sam Teskey (lead guitar) Brendan Love (bass) and Liam Gough (drums) would busk as teenagers.

“It’s where their inspiration comes from,” says their manager, Jeremy Furze, one time Unified financial controller who came on board after being knocked out by their live shows.

“It’s a beautiful spot and the greenery is inspiring, you can really get into a creative headspace.”

This is where the band set up their Half Mile Harvest Studios.

They made their debut album there, using early ‘70s analogue gear and 2” tapes.

This made sense: they initially shaped their collective vision on the Melbourne blues scene from that era.

By sheer coincidence, Run Home Slow has the same spirit (and vinyl packaging) as some of Mushroom Records’ ‘70s classic albums from The Dingoes, Chain and Sid Rumpo.

In the meantime, they worked Europe and North America with shows that were consistent and always electrifying and grew their fanbase with no hype.

They picked up booking agents around the world, and then they hit South By Southwest in Texas in March 2018.

Furze: “I’ve never seen them do a bad gig. They’ve been so long together. They have very little technology onstage, they just get up and play.

“At their first showcase at SXSW, the venue’s PA didn’t work so Sam plugged Josh’s microphone into a guitar amp and sat down in front of the stage and said, ‘We’re going to do this anyway’, and it sounded fantastic.”

Those shows got them a North American record deal with Glassnote, and Decca/Universal came in for Europe.

Taking mental notes also were festival promoters and music supervisors, who have since asked to be part of the Teskey orbit.

WHAT THE BUTLER DID

For Run Home Slow, the band returned to Warrandyte.

They took the same approach as the first but this time they brought in San Francisco producer Paul Butler.

He shared their love for analogue recording, kept the vibe up in the studio, and brought out to the fore, elements in their live show as psychedelia (Sun Come Ease Me In’), southern rock (Paint My Heart’), Americana (‘San Francisco’) and Dixieland jazz (‘Sunshine Baby’).

Furze says expectations were inevitably higher than when they made the first record, with more eyes on the project.

But to their credit, The Teskey Brothers focussed on what was important to them.

Furze explains, “Mentally they’ve approached mostly out of the chart and radio world, and been quite successful.

“That sort of stuff didn’t really feed into their conversation as this album was coming together.

“But they were certainly aware of their fan base and wanting to deliver something that would please those people, and wanting to push their own boundaries.

“I guess they’ve always done things their own way. I’m sure they felt pressure.

“But at the end of the day they made the record they wanted to make … and on that basis they achieved that and it was a huge success.

“I think they did a real brilliant job.”

BEHIND THE VISION

Cornelius, who first began talking to them in late 2016 about an Australian record deal, explains that from an A&R perspective, “The overall vision was for the band to show a progression in growth on this record.

“I think they’re one of the most accomplished bands I’ve seen in terms of their musicianship. It’s undeniable, and they’re proving it because they’re appealing to everybody.

“I see them as a band that appeal to my generation (Gen Y) and I could play them to my dad and he’d say ‘That’s amazing’.

“They submitted over 20 songs for consideration and it was really clear to me from the first few songs that included ‘Man Of The Universe’ and ‘San Francisco’ that they’d gone from a band that played the blues to a band that had well and truly found their own sound.

“This is the first time they had worked with a record label, with A&R, and with a manager.

“They’ve never done anything as a means to an end. It just comes out of them.

“They were not strategizing what sort of record would work in America.

“They wanted to make a record that they were proud of. They achieved that, and in the purest form.”

Run Home Slow also debuted at #2 on the ARIA Vinyl Albums Chart.

Cornelius says that it’s a significant achievement, as in this era of streaming, it was conceived as an album.

She explains, “It’s a complete record. It transports you somewhere where people will discover and appreciate.

“They’re all vinyl fans, and a lot of thought went into the tracklisting on how it would feel on the different sides, and on the entire journey.

“I always knew that when people found The Teskey Brothers, the music would speak to them, and that’s what’s happening.”

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