The Waifs – Across The Ocean

The Waifs

The Waifs are back with their seventh studio album Beautiful You. The album is a stunning collection of songs that combines the individual talents of sisters Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn as well as Joshua Cunningham proving yet again that they are one of Australia’s most enduring and lauded folk, pop and roots bands. Donna Simpson does a quick Q&A with Across The Ocean to discuss the new album and tour.


Another album down, does it get any easier?

Yeah it does. We have a better idea of the whole process these days but we’re always still learning.

Is this the most exciting period for any band when an album is fresh out?

Oh totally. It’s like having a new baby and you get to travel around the world and show it off. Ha! That’s a funny way of putting it but you know you’ll have a fresh batch of songs to play, new pictures and lots of touring coming up.

Is there a sense of relief or pressure once it’s finally out there?

More excitement than pressure or relief. It’s a celebration of a lot of hard work.

Does it amaze you with the support of your fans after nearly twenty five years?

Yes and for that we are so grateful and often amazed that our fans have followed our journey for so many years. They tell us that we have been a soundtrack for their lives. A lot of them say they started listening to us when we first began and were or travelling. Now they’ve got their kids learning guitar to our songs. And we get to hear their life stories and how the music has played a role. That’s a cool exchange.

How do you maintain the juggle of family commitments with that of The Waifs?

It can get a bit tricky as we live in different parts of the world. Vikki and I have six boys between us ranging from one to eleven years old. We are mothers and we have a career that takes us away from home periodically. It’s a joyous juggle but not always a successful one. We try to tour on school holidays so we can bring the kids. Logistically it can be a nightmare but somehow we manage to make it all happen.

Do you find that you manage your time more efficiently now than ever before?

Hell yeah. Anyone who has kids knows that’s one of the first things that you learn. Being on the road these days, pretty much means bed straight after the gig. No parties for me anymore. Those days are over.

Is the process of writing and recording still challenging given that it isn’t as easy to catch up with everyone?

Not really, we write individually and come together a week before a tour to rehearse and learn each other’s songs. Sometimes we will have a Skype jam, sometimes email one another a song. The beautiful thing is that we’ve been playing together for so long that it’s easy for us to make each other’s songs work.

Since Temptation what do you think some of the biggest changes in the business have been?

I’m not sure. I stay away from the business side as much as I can these days. Temptation was only released about four years ago. I don’t thinking has changed in the business or industry In That time.

How do you think The Waifs sound has evolved over the last couple of albums compared to the beginning?

We’ve definitely explored with bigger sounds. Our first few records were very acoustic. Over the years we’ve added more electric guitar sounds, keyboards on occasion and also more three-part harmonies. Josh never used to sing, now he’s centre stage on the mic.

What would you say were the main influences for this album?

A love of playing music, the need to make a living and the thought that we still have something to give. Life has been a big influence.

Did you have a clear direction of where you wanted to take this album when you went in to the studio?

No. We rarely have a cohesive vision. It’s music in the moment for us. Our studio ethos is keep it live as possible and have fun.

With the digital age do you think the concept of an album is lost?

Not lost but diminished. There have always been and always will be artists that make albums as a artistic pieces with much thought into the flow and ebbs of the songs and how they work together to create a listening experience. As opposed to the hits and fillers approach. Our albums are more a documentation of our songs.

Do you think you’ll tour as extensively overseas as much with this album?

We’ll continue to tour North America but I can’t see the band breaking into any new territory. We’ve done our miles, extensive touring is no longer on the cards.

Have you been able to gauge what the vibe is in the US for The Waifs?

There’s not so much a vibe about the band as an appreciation for solid songs and performances . We have loyal listeners that enjoy the hearing the songs and we enjoy playing them. That’s the vibe.

What’s the plan for the later half of the year heading in to summer? An Australian tour?

We’re on tour now until November in Australia and some big outdoor summer concerts in early February. Quite a few USA tours through out next year planned. We’re planning something for our 25th anniversary in 2017.

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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