By Luke Voogt
Despite 52 years in music and one of the most iconic Australian songs of all time, Russell Morris credits much of his success to “blind luck”.
“Every now and again you throw some mud at the wall and it just sticks,” he told the Indy, ahead of his next Geelong show on Saturday.
“You never know what the public is going to like.”
Morris was working with Powder Finger’s Bernard Fanning and prolific American producer Nick DiDia on a new album at Byron Bay on Tuesday.
“We’ve got vocals today and keyboards tomorrow,” he said in a break from recording.
Morris described the new album as “a little tougher” than his past few blues records.
“If I did another blues album, people would greet it with a collective yawn,” he said.
Experimenting with vocals and a few happy accidents had given some tracks a quirky edge, he said.
“I was struggling on one of the vocals and getting the phrasing right – it’s come up bizarre but interesting.”
Even after releasing a more than a dozen albums in his career, Morris said waiting for the reaction to a new record was “really scary”.
“You can dance as fast as you can, put the red noses on and clown shoes, but if people don’t like it, there’s not much you can do about it.
“People either dine out on it or just leave it for the birds.”
Fans would have to wait for the new album, Morris said.
“We probably won’t start playing it until February and we’ll release it in March.”
Instead ‘The Real Thing’ will have the crowd singing ‘oh-mow-ma-mow-mow’ and ‘na-nana-na’ when he comes to Sphinx Hotel on Saturday night.
The catchy nonsensical chants of The Real Thing and Hush are arguably more famous than the lyrics, in the psychedelic rock songs.
“I think we were lost for words,” Morris admitted.
“It was just the time – there were lots of songs like that with chanting.”
Morris again had success with three blues albums in the last decade.
“Shark Mouth was just a nice little blues album – I was never thinking it would (go) platinum,” he said.
“I thought I’d had my time in the sun.”
Making the bigtime was easier in the ’60s than now, Morris admitted.
“We thought it would be over at 25. It was adventure, we didn’t think it was a career, we thought it was a bit of fun.”
The internet was a “double-edged sword” that allowed today’s aspiring musicians to reach larger audiences but destroyed record sales, Morris explained.
“(Bands are) being paid peanuts and they’re trying desperately hard to stay together. Wow that’s a hard row to hoe.”
Morris’s voice was still going strong at age 70 thanks to his singing teacher, who also taught John Farnham, he said.
“John and I were very lucky; we had a great singing teacher. Our voices have hung in there.”