Long before Mumford and Sons were winning the Hottest 100 and Laura Marling was being a teenage prodigy, Seth Lakeman was being dragged to his parents’ folk club every Sunday. Since then he has been nominated for a Mercury Prize, sold thousands of albums and played some of the biggest festivals in the UK. Despite this, he recorded his latest album Tales From the Barrel House in a mine using tools and chains as percussion.
“I wanted to play all the instruments on the album because there are all these stories of people who worked with their hands, and I wanted to do it with my own hands” says Lakeman, “The album has defiantly got an edge to it that is cohesive and it continues throughout the whole record. But there’s no doubt you can add other stuff to it a background singer and some conventional percussion but I think it’s left at a place where it represents the songs really well.”
However despite his enthusiasm for the record, his first since leaving EMI, he was hesitant to release it commercially. Instead he made it available as a limited edition release from his website.
“We sold 10,000 within a month and a half and then we released it here again commercially and digitally. Thankfully it’s spreading out to other areas. I’m really happy the happened”
It isn’t just his recorded output that’s been making waves. Having played almost every major UK festival, and an endless list of venues, we’ll finally have a chance to witness his live show this month as he tours Australia for first time. But he’s quick to warn me that it won’t a formal, sit-down affair.
“Over here we like to play stand up shows and people want to dance and drink and enjoy it.” He laughs, “It’s really driving and all the stories are there from the couple of records that we’ve got, but also we try and give people a really good time.”
The venues on this tour are a far cry from the large ones Lakeman and his band play in the UK, with many half the size. But rather than seeing this as a downside, Lakeman is excited about how it will sound.
“Thankfully because we play acoustic instruments they translate better on a smaller stage or pub than a bigger venue. We don’t like playing in this country to 900 people because with the instruments we’ve got we can only get so far with them. We’ll be ripping them apart when we play and shredding them but there’s no doubt it works really well in a smaller, intimate environment. Much better, I think.”
Local troubadour Carus Thompson will joining Lakeman along for the ride after spending a lot time touring around Europe. It seems the two of them have quite a history.
“ Me and Carus have known each other for about 10 years. He comes over here a lot performing and he’s come along as support about three or four times. So it’s about time,” Lakeman laughs.
While his Mercury Prize nomination marked a turning point in the mainstream success of folk, he doesn’t feel threatened by other artists stealing the limelight. In fact, he believes it is a good thing.
“In the UK folk music has always been pretty steady of a genre and the way it’s broken out in this country and has spread to other territories is definitely a trend thing I think.” He pauses before adding “. But it’s exciting for folk music because you can ride the coattails of that.”
Saturday 7 April – Harvester Moon
2330 Portarlington Rd, Bellarine VIC
Sunday 8 April – Bennetts Lane,
25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne VIC
Monday 9 April – Bennetts Lane,
25 Bennetts Lane, Melbourne VIC
Tuesday 10 April – The Vanguard
42 King St, Newtown, Sydney NSW
Thursday 12 April – Clancy’s Fish Pub
51 Cantonment st, Fremantle WA
Friday 13 April – The Hyde Park Hotel
331 Bulwer St, North Perth WA
Saturday 14 April – Fairbridge Festival
Sunday 15 April – Fairbridge Festival