Busby Marou: Belief in the Busby
From Rockhampton to touring Australia, the USA and Canada, you can’t wipe the smiles off the Busby Marou boys’ dials. Over the past couple of years, the pace has certainly quickened, and with the announcement of their ‘I Still Don’t Believe’ national tour, there’s no sign of slowing down. Pearl Davies spoke with vocalist and guitarist, Tom Busby about quitting his day job, getting signed, and travelling to SXSW to end up at a forest silent disco at 3am.
You’ve exploded on to the Australian and international music market — how does it feel? We’re finally doing something that we love — we’ve been doing it forever but now it’s a full-timer. I shouldn’t say this but, at times, it’s really tiring, and it can be stressful being on the road and touring. We were getting flogged about six months in, doing three tours at once, you know — doing our own tour [and] supporting Pete Murray and KD Lang at the same time. We’ve learnt a lot, both on stage and off — maybe not to drink so much (laughs). It’s been an incredible experience.
What did you do to get your music out there and noticed, besides playing your ass off at shows?
Being from Rockhampton, it’s been hard. In a lot of the regional towns we went pretty much unnoticed. [But] we just kept playing and playing, improving and improving. We did an EP with Pete Murray. He helped us. He’s been a bit of a mentor, putting us on the right track. In 2010 we were fortunate enough to be successful in with a Breakthrough grant. Not only were we rewarded with $25,000 for the album and our music but…the panel put us in front of some good people.
You've recently been overseas to the US and Canada. Do you have any juicy stories, give me juice: Ok i've got a story for you! On the last night of SXSW, Jeremy went home and my manager and I were like, ‘you know what, I’m not ready for bed’. So we went back out and everything was closed. We met some locals, and this one guy was like ‘come to a party’, [and] 25 minute slater, we were jumping through waterfalls and down ledges… running over train tracks. It was pitch black — three in the morning. Then we stumbled across this forest and, man, I felt like I was on the set of Avatar. It opened up to a huge field with maybe a thousand people there with headphones— It was a silent disco! It was amazing! My manager didn’t tell his wife for a while — he was supposed to be working real hard over there, but it was the best time of his life.
How did it feel having to leave your day jobs to pursue this dream?
It’s a hard thing to do, no matter when you do it — the timing’s never right, or never wrong. So you’ve always got in your mind that you’ve done the wrong thing. We finally did it. It was a scary feeling leading up to it [but], personally, I’m feeling so much better about myself. I had music on my mind 24/7, so it’s been really rewarding. Financially, it’s a struggle, but hey — it’s good times and the rewards are on the way. We’re working towards a long term goal not a short term goal.
Your management, Foot stomp Music, did you find them or did they find you..?
A bit of both actually — we found each other. Again, this came through the contacts we made through the He Will Have His Way album. One of the producers was Craig Hawker, and he pushed us, or urged us, onto Graham ‘Asho’ Ashton at Footstomp. They hadn’t heard of us but they said Craig’s got a great track record. So we all just said we’d have a go — see how it went, and within a few weeks we were on rotation on Triple j. Footstomp was first a mentoring and management company, then became our label. It’s been great. We’re all very close friends now and, no matter what happens, we always will be.
Do you still enjoy a low key gathering to kick about or has it come to be all about the business?
Yeah, there’s something about a smaller crowd. We were touring and hit this town called Merimbula. It was in an RSL club I think — it could have fitted about 1,000 people in it but we had about 90. We called everyone up and sat around in a circle and just jammed— it was unbelievable. Everyone was joining in. It was just so much more personal, you know, it was great.
You have 17 dates on the ‘Still Don’t Believe’ tour — what then?
We’ve got a few big festivals that are getting locked in and a few big gigs. There’s a thing going down in October that hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it will take us overseas again. We then want to do some more writing. We can’t wait to hit Newcastle — Jeremy loved our last gig there, too.