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Josh Rennie-Hynes Interviewed

We talk with Aussie-now-living-in-Nashville expat Josh Rennie-Hynes

Josh Rennie-Hynes – Photo: Citizen Kane Wayne

By Rob Dickens

I talk with talented ex-pat Australian Josh Rennie-Hynes who, on the back of a prestigious Australia Council for the Arts grant, has been living in the USA for a few months. His beautifully-weighted new album Patterns, recorded in Nashville, will be released on September 27, 2019.

Patterns impresses mightily with its electric guitar-chord-laden back drop, a rich diversity of songs and the artist’s ability to use ebb and flow arrangements that enable his vocals to flourish.

We talk with Aussie-now-living-in-Nashville expat Josh Rennie-Hynes

Rob: Hey Josh I’ve seen you perform quite a few times in our native Australia, both solo and with Stephen Grady (as The Ahern Brothers). First up, you have been living in the USA for a while now (is it almost twelve months?), tell me how you have had to adjust to living there compared with Australia.

Josh: Hey Rob, nice to talk with you again. I’ve been living here for just over a year now and honestly I found the adjustment to moving here quite easy. I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out, but Nashville’s been very kind to me so far.

R: I understand you moved into East Nashville. The precinct houses many artists and it seems to be a very supportive and tight music scene. I also understand there is some concern over gentrification as Nashville continues to expand at an extreme rate and housing costs rise rapidly. How do you find the area?

J: It seems to be at that point now, there’s a lot of new buildings and construction happening and gentrification is occurring in pockets. As an outsider moving here it’s interesting to observe because everyone here has a different perspective on it. Some are doom and gloom about it and some are grateful for what the influx has brought in – Nice restaurants, bars etc. I try not to focus too much on it to be honest, I’m just here doing my thing and I think East Nashville is a special place.

R: Nashville is of course an amazing city and pound-for-pound has the best musicians in the world – amazing session players, many recording studios, so much talent and professionalism – even sound checks at gigs are done with little or no fuss. Has it been inspiring to you and how?

J: It’s been hugely inspiring, for sure. It’s a tight knit community, warm and welcoming. That’s what blew me away when I first got here – people are open and down to help each other. Almost everyone you meet here
is either an Artist or musician so everyone is on that level, which means no one has time for pretentiousness or bullshit. The bar here is set so high that it’s impossible not to feel inspired when you’re surrounded by
that.

R: The last time I caught you on stage was for one of your AmericanaFest showcases last September (at The Local). You showcased quite a new sound, a rockier and jangling guitar vibe to match your renowned
vocals. Tell me about the new sonic direction.

J: After wrapping up the Ahern Brothers and moving here I was ready for a change in sound and direction. I’d been writing and playing a lot more on electric guitar which took me to new places. I was listening to a lot of Neil Young’s albums with Crazy Horse at the time, too. The energy and feel of some of those records hit me. Then it was a matter of putting together the right band here to bring the songs to life, and finding the
right studio to capture it.

R: “Patterns’ was recorded at the famed Sound Emporium in downtown Nashville which boasts clients such as Kenny Chesney, Kacey Musgraves, Drive-by Truckers, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss. Tell why you chose to put
down your new songs there and what the experience was like working in that studio.

J: It was an amazing experience recording in there, Rob. I walked in on the first day and saw the photos on the walls of all the greats who’d recorded there. How can you not feel inspired? For this record I wanted to
capture a certain rawness, to get the feel of a band playing live in a room. Sound Emporium is perfect for that, it just sounds great in there, the drums in particular. We tracked it all live to tape, 12 songs in 3 days.
It was solid going and we worked our asses off to capture the best performance of each song.

R: The album has a wonderfully rich, full sound. Who played on the record and how did you hook up with them? Singer/songwriter Erin Rae is in increasing demand – how did you enlist her honeyed vocals on
“Home to You”?

J: Once I moved here I went about forming my recording band pretty much straight away. I had Allen Jones on drums, Christopher Griffiths on Bass, Micah Hulscher on keys and Alex Munoz played guitar and produced it. Alex came onboard about one month out from recording and we instantly hit it off. He really owned his role as producer and I trusted him fully. I had a pretty clear vision for how I wanted this record to sound, it was just a matter of getting the right players and producer to serve that, I’m super proud of these guys.

I’d always heard ‘Home to you’ as a duet, and Nashville being Nashville I just asked Erin and she said yes. We re-recorded that duet live together down at High Cotton Studios at the start of this year. It was the final
piece of the Patterns puzzle.

R: There’s some interesting subjects in the new lyrics – LSD, complicated relationships. Do you write based on your own experiences or observations of others (don’t give too much away if you don’t want to! ha ha)?

J: I wrote mostly from my own experiences, yeah. Sometimes it’s from other perspectives. Depends what I’m feeling or what the song is trying to say, I generally just try to listen to that. Sometimes it’s a line or two
that’ll guide it, sometimes I’ll just write stream of consciousness. I don’t have a hard or fast rule for song writing, I just try to follow what feels good.

R: The song “Ghosts” is stunning. Tell me the derivation of this and who plays fiddle on the track?

J: Thank you. I had Kristina Weber play fiddle on that one. It’s a song about reckoning with the past and trying to make peace with it in some way. I wrote that at a time when I was battling some of my Ghosts. It’s a
slow burner, for sure.

R: How do you plan to promote the album, both in the lead-up to its release and after?

J: I’m releasing the album through Soundly Music here. They’re a great team of humans based out of East Nashville and they’ve believed in myself and this album from day one. Once it’s released I’ll be touring a lot
all around the US and getting out there to find my people.

R: You have been getting some great reactions to your work to date – Wide Open Country, No Depression, NPR and Paste have all commented favourably on you and your work – You must be happy with what you
have achieved?

J: I’m happy with what I’ve achieved so far, yeah. It’s been a trip moving here, it’s re-invigorated me in many ways and pushed me, too. I’m not great at stopping to smell the roses for too long, but I’m proud of how
my career is unfolding and I’m always excited for what’s around the bend because who the hell knows.

R: Josh, Congratulations on the new release which will surely get a great response. I sincerely hope to catch up with you in Nashville around this year’s AmericanaFest. Thanks for your time!

J: Thanks a lot, Rob. Pleasure talking with you as always!

Here’s the official clip for one of the new J R-H’s songs “Pieces”:

OFFICIAL ARTIST WEBSITE

Via Baby Robot Media

We talk with Aussie-now-living-in-Nashville expat Josh Rennie-Hynes

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Author: Rob Dickens

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