|Cover pic by Andrew Kidman|
European autumn 2009, and I’m standing outside the Hotel Ibis at 49 Stationsplein in Amsterdam, just down from bustling Central Station. Three days ago I’d been in France for the wedding of a friend, but had since hopped a fast train to the ‘Dam, the City of Excess, where good men go to die and the rest of us stagger out sated and full.
The reason I’m loitering outside a plush hotel instead of seeking the myriad sin this city produces in spades however, is because a few days before leaving France I’d been tipped off that Jordie Lane would be in Amsterdam this same week. Given we go back a ways, I’d shot him an email and we’d arranged to meet, to hang out for a day or two, sample some of the local brew and generally shoot the breeze. Our initial contact that week was actually through the Instant Messaging aspect of Gmail; “Mr. Lane,” I wrote. “Word on the street is yr gonna be in Amsterdam this week... me too. Playing anywhere?”
His reply came back forthwith. “Really??? I am there right now. No, I ain't got gigs, trying to have a holiday. But feel a bit lost not playing, I must say.”
To those who know Jordie Lane, whether personally or through his finely crafted, Americana-tinged music, the idea of him not playing is indeed quite odd. He’s well known on the Melbourne scene (and increasingly, the national scene), as an artist of the utmost veracity and doggedness when it comes to playing, writing, or anything to do with his craft. What makes this situation even more peculiar as well, is that as I waited for him outside the hotel, it was barely even three months since he’d released, in Australia, his debut long-player, Sleeping Patterns.
This was a record that was long overdue by anyone’s standards, it was a record which when finally released (as it had been the June just gone), garnered almost instant critical acclaim. It was a record which heralded the arrival of, as has been noted in the press, “one of this country’s brightest new roots music stars.” It dropped, and then Jordie Lane fled overseas after the briefest of promotional tours.
I’ve been lucky enough to track him down though, and as I lean against that hotel wall, having waited for fifteen minutes or so, I hear a whistle and looking up I see a be-hatted head amongst the sea of bikes chained up outside the station, the man himself strolling nonchalantly towards me, guitar case in one hand, bag in the other, Jordie Lane, loose in Europe, seemingly without a care in the world.
We head straight for Dam Square where we sit in the sun and drink large mugs of Heineken and he seems happy and I’m happy to see him but underneath, under the smile and the idle chat, I realise that despite all this, he’s basically dropped everything, and is hiding. Hiding from the release of an album he laboured for years to make.
“I was really fucked up,” Lane comments with a goofy laugh when I remind him of that time. We’re talking in the beer garden at The Park, the pub in Suffolk Park, just down the road from Byron Bay, a good two years almost, after our time together in Amsterdam. “I don’t know why I was, but I was in a very confused, post-high kind of phase, because finally the record did come out and it got a really good response, we did some great shows on the tour and that was really exciting.
|Jordie Lane pic by SJF|
“And then I left the country for Europe, didn’t know why I was going there, I can’t even remember what the original purpose for me to go to Europe was,” he goes on. “As far as my musical headspace though, I was not keen on anything at that time, it was a bit of a bad spot for me. I know I had the guitar with me, but I was too scared to play it to people… it’s true, I was petrified, I don’t know why.”
The reason we’re talking now, amidst the bustle of The Park’s lunch rush, is because Jordie Lane has recorded (and by the time you read this, released) the follow-up to Sleeping Patterns, the sublime and strange and elegant Blood Thinner. We talk for about an hour, and the strongest thing I take away from the interview is the stark juxtaposition of how he was then, to how he is now. Then, he was covering for something, something he hadn’t yet come to grips with. Today, he’s genuinely happy, he’s ebullient, he’s a man who’s climbed the mountain, planted his flag at the summit, and made his way back down. He’s conquered. Although it certainly wasn’t an easy experience.
Samuel J. Fell
Excerpt - published in August issue of