By Luke Voogt
Surf Coast singer-songwriter Jack Robbins will play his first live show in 18 months this August, as he prepares to launch his latest eight-track album.
“It will go pretty quickly, with us experiencing all of the different emotions at the same time,” said Robbins, the frontman of local band Forever Son.
“Before we know it, we’ll be back in the car driving home saying, ‘wow, that was our first show in 18 months’.”
Forever Son was among many local bands and musicians that performed in Isolaid when COVID-19 hit in March 2020.
After the online festival, Robbins spent 20 weeks straight playing live-streamed shows.
“It was kind of bizarre – you could go back to watching a movie and eating pizza a few minutes later,” he said.
“You don’t get any of the adrenalin or that connection with the ground.”
Since then, he and his bandmates have survived through retail and hospitality jobs, recorded their new album Welcome To Alchemy Park and are eagerly awaiting their first live show.
“It’s probably been the longest I haven’t played a live show,” he said.
“The last 18 months have made music seem further away from being a full-time gig than ever before. You start to second-guess yourself and what you’re doing.”
He and the band finished recording late last year and had planned to rehearse early this year.
But as restrictions lifted, they spent some much-needed time catching up with each other and family for the first time in months, which lengthened the process.
Subsequent lockdowns have created a massive backlog of bands and artists waiting to perform at venues in Geelong and Melbourne, according to Robbins.
“As soon as there’s a lockdown, all of those shows get bumped,” he said.
“You’re looking at lead times of two months now to book a show.”
The hiatus is strange for Robbins, who has performed live for almost a decade.
He grew up in Anglesea listening to his dad’s Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix and Cream records – his “doorway into music” and learning guitar.
“At 14 or 15 I wanted to learn how to play those songs and pretend that I was at Woodstock,” he said.
Robbins started as a “place-holder” front man in another band with some mates as they looked for a lead singer.
“And I’m still singing,” he said.
He later took his vocals to the next level performing solo before putting together Forever Son in 2009.
“I wanted to test the boundaries – I have a lot of respect for people who can command a crowd with just an acoustic guitar and their voice,” he said.
The name Forever Son embodied Robbins’ “childish enthusiasm” hanging from “the rafters” or “climbing on speakers” during shows, he explained.
The band features Geelong drummer James Harrison and bassist Max Fletcher, along with Melbourne guitarist Nathan Abbey.
They recorded their latest album in Robbins’ Winchelsea home studio, after he moved with his partner from Torquay last year.
“I’m a country boy now,” he laughed.
They cannot wait to play some tracks to “feel out what crowds like and don’t’ like” with their first gig planned for Melbourne’s The Old Bar – COVID-dependent – on August 26.
They also hope to book another gig at Geelong’s Barwon Club.
Welcome To Alchemy Park was more “rock and roll” compared to their folksier previous releases, Robbins said.
“I just wanted to dance more and get the crowd rocking.
“And we wanted to get a bit louder – it’s hard to be a loud folk band. If you’re playing rock and roll you can blast over the top of everything.”