Interview with Andy Bull

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Home grown Andy Bull is a force to be reckoned with. His new EP ‘The Phantom Pains’ has been causing stirs of excitement with its folksy soft rock sound crossbred with blatantly honest lyrics. Cream has a chat with Andy to make sense of mistaken gender identity, saving Lisa Mitchell’s tour, and why he’s never stripping for a magazine again.

HEY ANDY, WHAT ARE YOU UP TO TODAY?
I’m catching up on a whole mound of paper work and then I have other work later.

OUCH. SO WHAT DO YOU DO FOR MOOLAH?
I work a couple of jobs actually. I work in a kitchen and in an office, doing contract work for the two. So I get a chunk of work at a time and I can arrange my music around that.

AND HERE’S US THINKING YOU WERE JUST A FULLTIME MUSO. YOU EVEN HAD REALLY LONG HAIR AT A TIME. WHY DID YOU CUT IT OFF?
I started growing it when I was with a previous girlfriend. She went overseas and I kept growing it while she was gone and as I got more depressed because she was gone the hair just kept growing. Anyway, I moved on from the girl and cut it off.

YOU TEND TO GO QUITE INTO DETAIL ABOUT YOUR HAPPENINGS AND YOUR LIFE AND STUFF ON YOUR MYSPACE AND FACEBOOK BLOGS. DO YOU HAVE ANY REASON FOR SUCH INTIMACY?
I used to think no one cared but it’s a special feeling, knowing that people sit down and read something that you’ve written. I’ve got a Twitter account but there’s this pressure in the Twitter-sphere or whatever its called to constantly make quick tweets about things, so you just get bombarded with these apparent ‘pearls of wisdom’.

ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TOPIC, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT AXEL WHITHEAD TAKING YOUR CROWN IN THE CLEO BACHELOR OF THE YEAR?
I’m sure he was being an exemplary bachelor of the year. I actually went in so if ever someone asked me about it I had some sort of authority. Like you don’t want to be the guy who sits in the back who rips on everything. Everyone that did it was embarrassed saying “Aww, I’m not really this kind of guy” and I was thinking “Well what the fuck are we all doing here?”. Then you hear about the bloke who actually wins and you think “Thank God!”.

SO NOT TOO MUCH OF A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE?
Just kind of like “Why?”. But I’m glad I did it because now when people have an opinion about it I can say “Well I’ve stripped for a magazine”. But never again.

IN THE INTERVIEW FOR THE CLEO COMPETITION YOU SAID YOU SPEND SATURDAY NIGHT GOING AND CHECKING OUT LIVE MUSIC WITH FRIENDS. WHERE DO YOU GO FOR SOME DECENT LIVE TUNES?
I’ve seen some very good music at the Oxford Art Factory [in Sydney] but there are some smaller gigs that pop up.

AND YOU HAVE DONE A FAIR FEW LIVE PERFORMANCES; DO YOU HAVE ANY BEST OR WORST EXPERIENCES?
One night a dude came up and was hassling me about my voice, calling me a poof, but by the end he was dancing along. So I wrote a song about him called ‘Small Town Asshole’.

WE’VE NOTICED THAT YOU HAVE THE CASE OF PUBLIC GENDER CONFUSION. HOW DOES THAT SIT WITH YOU?
At first I was like “Cool, it’s like a point of difference” and now I don’t think the depth of anyone’s voice has anything to do with masculinity or femininity. What are men meant to sound like?

RIGHT ON! ANYWAY BACK TO TOURING, WHO HAVE YOU PERFORMED WITH LATELY?
Little Red, which was amazing, and Lisa Mitchell and her band. On the tour with Lisa, she cut her finger really badly from playing guitar so there was a momentary freak-out, then they realised that I could play piano for her. It was so much fun. Through that, Lisa and I became friends and we just did a song together recently.

‘DOG’, A SONG THAT HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY PUMPED ON THE RADIO. HOW DOES THIS SUPPORT FEEL?
It’s a nice bit of affirmation. This EP is more important to me than anything I’ve ever done before. We didn’t want to have any expectations; there were high hopes but no expectations.

AND WHAT’S STORY BEHIND ‘DOG’?
The song is about a conversation with your partner explaining that you’re depressed. I think it was Winston Churchill back in the day who said depression was like a black dog. So imagine depression being a shadow of your personality, like a black dog that follows behind you.

HOW WAS IT TO WORK ALL THE OTHER FEATURING ARTISTS?
They are all people that I have played live with and have chilled with. We recorded Little Red and Lisa Mitchell all at my house because we didn’t have any money, which is ironic because it’s the best thing I’ve done. So Little Red just showed up one night with some beers. We put up a microphone and they sang. Similar thing with Lisa. She rocked up at my door, had a cup of tea, pulled up the microphone and we had an hour to write. I used to read about collaborations, it would be all business, record companies setting up deals and money and all that stuff. Didn’t happen like that at all. It was just so easy, no sweat, no stress.

‘The Phantom Pains’ EP is out now through Universal Music.