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Feature Interview: Buffalo Tales

AAA Backstage recently sat down with the one and only Wes Carr to chat to him about his change in musical direction and new album Roadtrip Confessions.

While Wes Carr is the name you might currently know him by, I can assure you Buffalo Tales will soon become a house hold name when it comes to real Australian music. 

Obviously you are a well-known name in the Australian industry but recently you have begun a new venture starting with the change of your stage name to Buffalo Tales. What prompted this change in direction?

I think it was more to invigorate me as an artist and to get creative again. I felt like I was feeling quite stagnant for a while and it had all become something different than how I perceived it to be when I first started playing music at age 11. I had started off playing songs and making music that was my own and felt my own, and then I was in and out of bands for quite a long time and then I did the whole TV fanfare and it all just became something that I wasn’t entirely… I felt like I had become a billboard for something that I didn’t really believe in. I had a book called Cultures of the World and I read up about all these different religions and cultures and read that the Native American Indians if they dreamed of a Buffalo, wherever they were they had to return to their heritage again, wherever they came from. 

So that rang really true to me and I said, “What if I started going by the new name Buffalo?’ I then started writing more in that world/mindset and it just kind of became this thing. I read in the paper today they your name means a lot to you subliminally, so if you change your name it carries a whole energy about it. I thought that was really cool because as soon as I thought of Buffalo Tales as a new project I started writing a lot more and everything came back to me a lot more freely than it had before. It wasn’t trying to be something it was just about being.

I know it’s a cliché question but when it comes to giving aspiring musicians advice on the industry would you perhaps not recommend going down the pathway of TV but maybe suggest more conventional/traditional methods?

I think it really works for a lot of people and it’s really confusing for other people. It depends on you as an artist and where your intentions lie. If you want to be famous go on the show but for me it was nothing to do with anything other than music. It seemed like my last resort at the time and I was pretty frustrated. The world was changing, the music industry was changing, my last band had kind of faded and fell apart and I didn’t really know what else to do.

The music industry is a beast of its own and musicians don’t necessarily get the right chance in the industry because there is so much gatekeeping going on and it’s all bullshit. These days most musicians don’t really give a shit about that, they just want to play music. I think there is a barrier being broken and it doesn’t matter where you come from, at the end of the day it’s not rocket science it’s just music. 

Brigid interviewing Wes at Kerbside, Brisbane.

I love the title of your latest album Roadtrip Confessions, what ties these songs together? Is there an overarching theme?

Yeah, it’s loosely based on the idea of when you go on a roadtrip (and I’ve been on a lot of tours) you can be in cars for up to 10 hours with complete strangers and know their whole life story by the end of the trip. So I guess it’s loosely based on the idea that when you’re on a roadtrip with someone you tend to open up and talk about things you might never usually tell your mum. 

When it comes to writing your music, what’s your creative process? What inspires you?

Um, I think every day experiences and nostalgia and people that have had a real effect on me in life. I had a very unorthodox upbringing as I was couch hopping and living out of a suitcase from the age of 15, so I met a lot of crazy industry heavyweights at a very young age and worked in LA and went all over the place before I was even known with Idol or whatever. So I felt like I had lived this whole life without anyone really knowing about it and I guess it’s a combination of all those tales and working out who you are, where you come from  and what things mean to you. 

What music do you listen to in your down time?

I don’t really listen to much music actually because I get so consumed by it. When I want to create something myself I have to watch something really mundane and trivial and almost stupid. I have a nine month old baby now so I take any excuse to watch ABC for kids just to turn off this chaotic mind. In the Night Garden is just amazing. I like documentaries and that sort of thing more than sitting around and listening to albums. If I were to say musicians it would be Ryan Adams and Shakey Graves.

I read that you do a lot of meditation, how did you first get into it?

It started with a very horrible experience with frequent anxiety which I sometimes get, which is very de-crippling because it can really stand in your way. It has really stood in my way and manifested itself over the past like 15 years and has sabotaged a lot of my life. You know if you’re in your 20’s and you get anxiety you think, I’m a guy and I’m 20 and it’s not really cool to talk about your feelings so you go and get really drunk or get in fights. I think a lot of young males have that disposition to it and they handle it in a different way, which I was very guilty of and it sabotaged a lot of relationships with people and friends and it spiralled out of control. I had to reel it in again and then medicate it, I got better again and then spiralled again and it just became this pattern in my life. 

So one day I was just googling random things and I stumbled upon meditation. I mean I had heard about transcendental meditation a lot but I think with meditation it needs to find you and you need to find it as well. So I thought I would try it, I mean why not? And I found it really powerful; it changed my outlook on life. I mean the first time I found it fucking out there but it was a really mind blowing revelation for me so now if I do get anxious I try to use that as a tool to get me through it and it really works, it’s an incredible thing that can retrain your mind back to how you are meant to be thinking.

Do you think it impacts your music?

Yeah absolutely, I am a lot more grounded so therefore I can create from there rather than being up in the wishy washy space trying to latch on to anything. If you’re grounded you are a lot more open to communicate.

 I love your Rihanna cover of Diamonds, what made you want to play around with it?

Thanks! Well I really admire Sia’s work (who wrote the song) and she comes from Adelaide so I don’t know, it was just one of those things that happened when I was fiddling around with chords and I heard it on the radio and it all really naturally became this cover. 

You’ve been doing a bit of touring lately do you have any funny stories from the road?

The other night a lady came to my gig in Melbourne and thought she was in my band… I’m playing solo at the moment so I don’t know how she thought that. I thought she was joking until she brought out the tambourine! The whole show she was front row shaking this tambourine in all sorts of rhythms and timing while screaming ‘I’m in your band, I’m in your band!!’ which was very off-putting!

If you were to be in any other profession than music, what would it be?

Um I would be a gardener! I would also love to do something where I was making things, like physical things with my hands. 

If you were an animal what would you be?

A lion, I already have the mane.

What else can we expect from you in 2012?

More touring, I’ll be touring the States at the end of the year, which will be cool. I’m playing Woodford folk festival, which I’m looking forward to and maybe another album!

AAA's Hannah, Brigid and Melissa with Buffalo Tales.

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