Tim Freedman brings one of his rare solo tours to The Gov to launch The Whitlams’ new single Ballad of Bertie Kidd, a six minute crime caper that describes a little known escapade in the long career of one of Australia’s most notorious criminals. Tim will settle in with his piano to tell tales, reinvent classics like Blow Up the Pokies and No Aphrodisiac and play some tracks from The Whitlams’ forthcoming album due for release in 2021. Tim talks about the new single, what’s ahead and playing back in Adelaide.
It must be great knowing that there is some optimism about being able to start touring again?
If anything I have over done it, I got a bit excited when the opportunities came by booking thirty five gigs in thirty two days. I’m putting myself through a rather rigorous re-introduction to work and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m practising hard, some nights I’m doing three shows so I have to be fit and rehearsed.
Has it been hard adjusting to being off the road this year for obvious reasons?
Not for me, the last ten years my model has been to just work two months of the year. I’m quite used to leaving show business for three quarters of the year. It is how I’ve managed to stay healthy to be honest. What I’m excited about doing is that the audience might not have seen a live show for seven months. Every city I’ll play to will feel like a country town that gets two gigs a year. I think there will be a lot of joy in the stalls, audiences will realise how much they have missed that interaction. When you get a good mix in the room with a nice piano it sounds twenty times better than a live stream through a computer.
My first show back felt bizarre and you don’t know how much you miss it until it has been taken away.
It is good for all of us to be reminded how important live music is, being transported somewhere, the well chosen phrases, being eye balled by the artist. Have your three drinks which makes us sound so much better and create employment at the venues, it is going to be marvellous. We go to these different towns around the country and they talk about these super spreader events where to much of the virus gets arounds but the venues and the artists don’t have a huge amount of support. In terms of the economy we are super spreaders, we go to a town, two hundred people decide to go out, go out to dinner, have drinks, travel eighty kilometres, book hotel rooms… we are good for the ecology of the economy, it is important that we can go to these towns and get things happening again otherwise they’ll be frustrated in their lounge room watching NetFlix.
What does the rest of the year look like for Tim Freedman?
I have some private business interests which you’ll be able to read about in my memoir in fifteen years time. This year I took the opportunity to write songs and go surfing and go broke! As long as you forget about the bank account plummeting I really enjoyed the energy of the solitude and quiet. Personally, I dug it.
Do you feel the pressure whether that is from yourself, the band or fans about delivering a new album considering Little Cloud was released in 2006?
I really wanted to make sure and one the reasons I didn’t want to rush back in to writing was audiences kept coming back to see us. I would scratch my head and I’m thinking wow, they don’t seem to require a new Whitlams album at the moment. More and more people were saying this is getting a bit strange why don’t write some new songs, Jak my guitarist was certainly getting on my back to get back in the studio and I decided, I realised how much I loved doing it, that if I didn’t start putting some new stuff out it would start dwindling and diminishing a little bit. I actually want to play more shows and bigger shows and I want to write again. I watered that pot in the corner of the room which is my ambition and bring it back to life and give it a red hot go for a few years after treading water for the last decade.
What drew you to write about Bertie Kidd?
I didn’t realise it was about Bertie Kidd and how he had a prolific criminal career until after I wrote the song. I was attracted to the slap stick nature of putting on the balaclavas too early and the cops noticing them before they got to the place they were going to rob. I thought it was a hoot but then it could be a rich story trying to describe how this young fella was drawn in to the whirlpool of this menacing and prolific criminal then start thinking about whether his mother will visit him in jail. That moment that there’s that much adrenalin that the young fella feels sick.
I thought it was a challenge to write the narrative. The fellow who told me the story told me that I would probably have to change the name cause Bert Kidd might not like you advertising one his failures. Bert as far as I can tell is happy to get his name around at the moment because he has this biography coming out. When I asked his biographer, I did him the courtesy of asking if I could name the song after him through his biographer, I have never spoken to Bert myself, and the biographer pointed me to some books such as The Fine Cotton Fiasco and there are a lot worse untrue things are said about Bertie than my hapless moment I describe. They said we like it and I started learning more and more about him after I had written the song to be honest. He had quite an amazing career as a criminal with some very crafty and imaginative things.
Is there an album in the works?
I’m hoping it is an album and there will be another single in February or March. Over the summer I’ll write a few more songs and it will be a short but full album. The song I was originally going to release first was going to be taking from the name of the tour Gaffage and Clink and that’s a quite important personal song and it’s about our relationship on the road, our tour manager Greg Weaver who passed away eighteen months ago, it is a happy celebration of touring with him.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Tim Freedman plays The Gov on March 31 and April 1 (rescheduled). Tickets from The Gov…