Inspired by an album recorded in a chicken coop, Tex Perkins took to the bush

Four years ago, Tex Perkins’ partner Kristyna showed her a rare vinyl she had unearthed on eBay: legendary Indian guitarist Shawnee Link Wray from 1973 bluesy, folk Beans and Fatback, an album recorded in a chicken hut.

It triggered something in him.

Fat rubber band from Tex Perkins.Credit:Martin Philbey

“I took a picture of it and sent it to [guitarist] Mast [Walker] and said, “Look what I got,” Perkins remembers. “He said, ‘That’s great, let’s do an album like this.’ [Soon after] he sent me a demo part of The devil’s due with a guitar and a voice. In four weeks we’ve had most of what you hear on the album.

He even decides to create a new group around him: Fat Rubber Band by Tex Perkins. They did not have a henhouse close at hand (Beans and Fatback was recorded on a farm in Accokeek, Maryland), so the five musicians recorded 10 original tracks (and two non-album covers) at Walker’s Stovepipe Studios in the Dandenong Ranges.

“Matt’s studio was a shed in the back, not a chicken coop per se, but you could open the side of it to the Victorian countryside,” says Perkins.

“I have always been fascinated and drawn to recordings and albums made outside of the studios. I like to hear room noise and accidental or fortuitous noises. You can hear the squeaking of the chairs, the tapping of the feet on the parquet, little bits that give the impression of being there.

“I love the field recordings, and we did it on this recording on the last track The low. We recorded the whole frog orchestra on a pontoon in the middle of a billabong. We went there with guitars after our gig and started recording stuff.

They recorded the songs as demos directly to tape, with the intention of perfecting them later. The result – a blues blend of mandolin, 12 string guitar, dobro, steel guitar, bass guitar and an organ – is organic, moving, loaded with desire, reflection, pain and redemption. The sound of the outside world is constantly creeping into the album, sometimes subtly and sometimes like the full chorus of the frog.

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