Tex Perkins has a reputation as a bit of a hard ass. A person who won’t waste his time on assumptions and has no time for people who try to meander through life and survive by knowing just enough to get by.
It is for this reason he is most journalists’ nightmare – a raging beast that refuses to acknowledge the notion that near enough is good enough. The kind of person who will chastise stupid questions but who is rewarding with his replies to people who have taken the time to do their job properly and actually research a little about the man, his life, and his music.
And to understand the music of Tex Perkins it is imperative to know about the man and his life as well, because the musical output is in direct parallel with the above factors.
He is a complicated man who places family above all (including music) but also encompasses his life with his music. He is a hard worker who does things his own way – and rarely takes a backward step.
He is a musician first and foremost, but also a pioneer in the art of experimentation and expansion; refusing to let any part of life or music dictate his direction.
He is an inspiration and an icon, and quite frankly doesn’t care one bit if that’s your perception of him or not.
Music is his life.
He is music.
And music is a weapon.
Over the years Tex has fronted many well known and influential bands including The Cruel Sea, Beasts of Bourbon, Tex, Don and Charlie (with Don Walker from Cold Chisel) and Tex Perkins and the Dark Horses, and it is the latter that sees him return to Cairns.
The Dark Horses have just released the third album of a perceived trilogy, with Tex saying he is excited to showcase an older but ultimately new venture.
“I like to do things in three’s,” he explained of the latest and finale of this trilogy, Tunnel at the End of the Light.
“The Dark Horses had an 8 year gap then we started making records and playing together again in 2010 so we’ve made three records over the last five years. Basically it’s been the same personnel. It’s mainly about a time period and consistency that binds them together in a trilogy. It does seem to wrap things up a little bit in my mind and it’s time now to build on a new trilogy.”
“As I said, the three albums (2011’s self titled and 2012’s Everyone’s Alone round out the trio) are bodies of work that have been bound together by time and personnel. It’s the same people within the last five years but I know a lot of people see a thread through these records…..I think the first record we made – not the actual first record because we were around in the last decade as well – but the first one in this cycle was after 8 years of not playing together so it’s really just a bunch of songs that had accumulated and there probably wasn’t a real theme or thread through that work and the next album was kind of a record that we made really quickly; it was more like an on the road record and now I think this third record, musically, it’s about the lessons we learned from the other two records. It’s the same kind of style but I think it’s stronger. There’s a stronger core to the music, even though it’s still slow, gentle music somehow it’s stronger and I think it’s just through the lessons we’ve learned staying together as a band. I think it’s the result of all that’s gone before.”
As with all records involving the name Tex Perkins, Tunnel at the End of the Light has a sense of uniqueness to it while still being a definitive Tex Perkins effort. It is moody and atmospheric, meditative and elemental.
According to the bio, its “dynamics and contrasts are vast, one moment you’re in an insomniacs bedroom the next you’re in the clouds”.
Unlike a lot of musicians, Tex is more than happy to explain this statement and give an insight into its meanings.
“It’s all about the atmosphere’s on the album,” he explained.
“One song is called ‘Almost Quiet’ and it’s written about a sleepless night and it’s the fairly personal images from my home life and there’s other songs that are quite expansive and it feels like you could be in space or on top of a mountain. The range of different atmosphere’s and settings on the record is quite large.”
As alluded to previously, Tex Perkins is a man who refuses to be sent to the quiet corner and spends much of his spare time creating new music in various incarnations.
He has played with and enjoyed being part of numerous bands in his career, and says that although his mind is often pulling in different musical directions he remains focused to one project at a time.
“Whatever project I’m doing at the time I completely, completely focus on. I will speak fondly of all my past musical experiences. I could probably speak poorly of them too if you encouraged me (which I don’t) but if there was one favorite thing then I would probably just do that. My favorite thing to do is everything.”
“There’s always a bit of plate juggling but I try to dedicate certain times to just the one thing and completely put my head in that. I know most of it is confusing for my audience. There is a bit of ‘what the fuck is he doing now?’ out there. ‘Why can’t he just stop and do the one thing and get that fucken right?’ So I don’t know, it’s whatever I am doing at the moment. That’s what I’m into.”
When asked about the larger than normal number of projects, side projects and various musical ventures Tex dedicates himself to, I put it to him whether it is the fact he gets bored easily or needs new challenges or more variety or just different inspirations and it turns out it is not just one factor that drives him.
“All of those really,” he laughed.
“I’ve been in the music industry for more than 30 years now and I think the Rolling Stones are the only band who really gets to do the same thing forever. Everybody else, if you want to stay in the game, you have to broaden your horizons and learn to accept a whole lot of other opportunities. I mean, I get things presented to me and opportunities presented to me……. and the idea of saying ‘no thanks, I’m just gonna do this, that will make it easier for everyone to understand’…… The idea of rejecting all of those other opportunities seems ridiculous. I know it gets confusing but hey, fuck it, that’s the way it is.”