My latest favourite country music find thus far in 2012 has to be Lachlan Bryan – his album, Shadow of the Gun, is outstanding and he’s also a great live performer who understands that audiences need to be entertained (no small feat).

I spoke to Lachlan recently, exactly a week after I saw him play in support of Harmony James during the Tamworth Country Music Festival. In this first instalment (of several) we talk about that gig, and also about his sartorial choices for it …

I actually saw you – it would have been almost exactly a week ago in Tamworth, walking off stage about this time, I think.
Oh yeah, where was I? I was at Tamworth.

That’s right, and I was actually in the second row, so I had a good view of your suit and I have to say, I think you were the only man on stage in Tamworth in a suit at any stage.
Yeah, I know, it’s shame there’s not more.

Is it common for you to wear a suit on stage?
Yeah, it has been lately. I got that particular suit from the Lost and Found Market in Collingwood in Melbourne. It’s actually a really old suit but it was in really nice condition and it’s wool … but it’s really hot so I didn’t wear the jacket that day. It’s kind of hard to wear the jacket with a guitar, jackets are more suited to the keyboard, or just sitting without a guitar or maybe to play the piano or something. And if the jacket’s kind of weird when you have a guitar strap around it.

Fair enough!
But, yeah, I have just been trying to clean up my act a bit, I guess. I’ve even been having a shave.

Well, I did notice, seeing some of your older publicity shots, that there was some facial hair that I didn’t notice last week.
Yeah, yeah, like I said, I’m just trying to clean myself up and look a bit more presentable. I’ve never really had a job that I had to wear a suit for, so maybe I’m just making up for it by introducing a suit into my current job.

Well, I think you’re very brave to wear a woollen suit on stage at all, considering how hot the lights can be.
Well, particularly in Tamworth, but I did wear it for album launch up there; I got through the whole gig with the jacket on, so I was pleased with myself.

I think you should be. How was your festival generally speaking?
It was really good. I enjoyed doing that solo spot with Harmony [James], and I did a gig with my band [The Wildes] at the Family [Hotel], which was kind of my record launch on the Tuesday night. Kind of my favourite room in Tamworth is the back room at the Family. I’d never played in there before but I’d seen Shane Nicholson’s gig there last year and I think Kasey and Shane did a gig there a couple of years ago and I – I don’t know, I really like it, it seems a kind of intimate kind of place, so I enjoyed that gig and playing with Harmony, and I played with Bill Chambers for a couple of his gigs and did a duet with Catherine Britt at her gig. So, I did a lot of running around to other people’s shows and that suited me fine.

Tamworth does generally seem to be a bit of a running around festival, because I noticed you had Glen Hannah in your band and you also had – well I know that Jeff McCormack plays bass for a few people … Oh no, so this is Harmony’s band, sorry, but they played on your record, I think?
Yeah, yeah … Glen Hannah played guitar on the album and Jeff played bass. But they never play in my live band so I don’t really see those guys all that often, I obviously saw them in Tamworth, but they didn’t play in my live band up there, but they play on the album and they did a really great job.

Yeah, sorry, I was getting confused because they played with Felicity Urquhart the night before and I just – I thought I just was seeing Glen Hannah everywhere, so my brain thought he was playing with you too.
Yeah, Glen Hannah is everywhere, and he does a lot of graphic design stuff as well. So I seem to run into Glen on all sides of the music scene. He even did the front cover of my record.

Now, I was watching you at that gig and thinking you won over the audience, which is a really difficult thing for a support act to do, particularly because it’s not – you never know what you’re going to get, basically, when you’re playing support. Do you take a much deeper breath when you’re doing a support slot? Is it more nerve-wracking?
No, not really. I guess, in a way you have less to lose on a support slot because they’re not necessarily your audience and the worst that can happen is they stay not your audience and the best that can happen is that they become your audience. So, in a way, it’s fun like that, you get a chance, I guess, as you say, to win over new people, whereas when it’s your gig, when it’s your headline show, you have – I guess people have certain expectations of what you’re going to do and I tend to do every gig a bit differently, I don’t ever write a set list – which drives the band mad, by the way.

It would.
I never have a set list and I don’t know what I’m going to talk about before I go on stage, I always – pretty much always talk a fair bit, like I did at Harmony’s gig.

But I think that was part of the winning over, was the talking, because it made it more personal.
Yeah. I guess it’s a good way of introducing – I mean, I kind of think that sometimes when you go and see an act for the first time, you only get a vague idea of the songs. The first time you listen to something, particularly if you’re in a crowded environment, you only really get a bit of an idea of whether you like the songs or not and I guess that when you’re playing to a new audience, you have to excite people enough to want to buy the CD and get to know the songs a bit better. So, part of that sometimes has to be you entertaining them, putting on a bit of a show, and that makes me more comfortable anyway. But then, I guess, I just hope that if people do get the CD then they get that second chance with the songs and actually get into the songs.

Well it works, because I bought your – sorry, go on? You said something at the end, and I cut you off.
Oh, I just said, I guess, what I really want is to … if you’re doing a support gig like that – or any gig you just want to give people a bit of an impression of what you’re about and part of that is explaining what you’re about. I don’t necessarily explain what the songs are about all the time but I’ll explain kind of where I’m coming from, and when you do that, you just – you hope the people get the chance to hear the songs out of that – outside of that environment and get to know the songs better.

Well, it did work, because I bought your CD at that gig and when I bought mine, there were already quite a few gone. So hopefully you sold a few.
That’s good. I’d already – I had to leave actually before the end of that gig because I had to go and do an in-store performance up at Target, of all places. But yeah, that’s good, because I didn’t really look whether any CDs had gone or not, so it’s good that they did.

Part II of this interview will be published tomorrow.