Not everyone feels more comfortable on the stage than off it, but Fraser A. Gorman is a natural performer. The Torquay-raised, Melbourne-based musician has a distinct flair for storytelling through song, and coupled with his Dylan-esque appearance makes for quite a captivating act to listen to. His first album Slow Gum was released earlier this year through Courtney Barnett’s Milk Records, much to the adoration of audiences both local and abroad. The Push caught up with Fraser to talk about performing, his latest musical offering, and growing up in regional Victoria.
You’re currently on tour in America and will soon be heading to the UK and Europe. How are international audiences responding to your music?
It’s all been really great! All the crowds have been really receptive on this tour. I think UK crowds in particular are great because they understand my sort of sarcastic humour. Music is a very universal thing, I’ve found that everyone who comes down to shows, wherever they are from, seem to dig it a lot. It’s a lot of fun this rock-n-roll business.
What do you set out to achieve with your live performances and how do you feel when you’re performing on stage?
I feel very comfortable on stage. Performing in front of other people or being “under the spotlight” or whatever has always come natural to me. I probably feel more comfortable up on stage than I do in normal situations. Haha. When I go see gigs, which I do very often, I go for a few things. I go to relax, to be entertained, to listen, to just enjoy the music. I go to engage with the performer. It’s a really nice feeling. And more often than not, I leave the show feeling exhilarated and inspired. I love watching musicians/artists pour a lot of their personality and emotion into whatever they are creating. So I guess in regard to my own shows. I want my crowd to feel the same way. Exactly how you go about doing that. I don’t know….. Hah. It seems to be going okay at the moment so I just keep giving it a red hot crack, ya know?
So far what’s been the most memorable moment from this tour?
There has been many, it’s probably too hard to list them all. We have played a lot of great shows on this tour and the crowds have grown substantially from the last tour. We played a cracker of a show in London. And I got to visit New York for the first time too which was really amazing. The whole thing has been so much fun.
Up to this point in your musical career what has been the biggest highlight for you?
Probably just releasing my first record, Slow Gum. It was a long time in the making and it was great to release it and feel more affirmed as an artist and sort of “plant a foot down” in the world of music, so to speak. It was nice to just let go of the songs and let people enjoy them. There have been heaps of amazing shows and fun tours along the way. It’s all pretty goddamn fun.
You’ve been compared to Bob Dylan quite a bit and you’ve mentioned in other interviews that you’re a huge fan of his. What’s it like being compared to someone who you look up to?
I get compared to Dylan a lot because I look a bit like him for a start (in his earlier years anyway). People used to say I looked like a young Bob Dylan since early high school. It never really bothered me because he’s definitely my favourite musician. I never really think too deeply into the comparison. No songwriter in this modern day will ever match his output or have the effect on music that he had. I love his music and always will, and I take the comparison with a grain of salt. If I ever write a song half as good as Boots of Spanish Leather I’ll be a happy man.
Your album Slow Gum was released only a few months ago and has been well received. Where does your inspiration come from when writing a song?
Writing songs for me is sort of like a vice. It’s a way for me to deal with things and to express myself. Sometimes I find it easier to get my ideas or feelings across in a song, rather than just moping about and whinging to anyone that will listen. As Ross Knight from the Cosmic Psychos would say, it’s just a way to get some of ‘shit off your liver’.
When you’re creating your music, do you try to you pay homage to any of your influences or do you try to completely blaze your own trail?
Both. Anyone who listens to my music would hear lots of references and nods to other bands that I like. Especially musically. Lyrically it’s mostly written through my eyes and my own experiences. So I guess in that respect I’m blazing my own train because that’s the only trail I get to blaze.
What has been your favourite song to create and work on so far, and why?
I like some songs I’ve written for different reasons. I wrote a song called Blossom & Snow, which was about my father passing away. And although that was a difficult song to write, it holds a lot of personal emotion for me. But on other hand, a song like Shiny Gun is really fun to play live and play guitar solos to and that kinda stuff. So I guess it’s all different. A song for every occasion!
What was it like growing up around Torquay and Geelong as a musician? Did you feel too remote or find you had to travel to get opportunities?
Growing up in Torquay was nice. I had a really nice childhood and have a great family who love and support me playing music. So that’s really cool. I got out of Torquay as soon as I finished school though because I knew that pursuing music down there just isn’t really practical. We had a great little rock-n-roll scene around a pub in Geelong called The National Hotel for a while. But that closed and time moved on. Since I started touring, I quickly came to realise that even Australia is pretty small, and if you want to pursue music you gotta be prepared to travel a lot. It’s fun at the moment so I’m just rolling with it. Lots of airports, junk food etc.
Last question: What’s one thing you know now that you wish you know sooner? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I think the biggest piece of advice is, don’t be complacent with your art and keep your wits about you. The music industry can be a difficult place and people will always try and take advantage of young artists. If you get an offer that you think is unfair, ask for a better offer, or decline it. Gigs and labels and whatever will come back around if you are good enough. Don’t sell yourself short.
And if you are a young band, and a promoter tells you that you have to sell your own tickets to your friends to get paid (eg. Do their job for them) and to get on the bill for a support gig or festival or whatever……Tell them to ‘get stuffed’ and move on….. Hah. Love Fraser.
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