DIARY - 26/9/2010 - PETER MCWHIRTER INTERVIEW
HUMS A HOT TUNE
BY A FULL MOON ON WOLLONGONG BEACH
on the yellow sand/ watching the ocean swallow up the sun/ the cool wind
blows through my guitar/ and the strings begin to hum." - Humm
- Peter McWhirter.
is a firm believer in the power of the ocean - and also the sand.
The singer-songwriter also credits a full moon on a deserted Wollongong
beach for his first big break - as a teenage schoolboy.
McWhirter wrote his debut single Humm by moonlight during his solitary
sleepless night in the sand.
"I headed to Wollongong with some mates," McWhirter, now 21,
told Nu Country TV.
"They left me about 11 p m. I was on the beach about eight hours.
I had a book, a pen and pocket full of sand. It was a full moon. I couldn't
think of the idea for the song so I waited and waited in the sand. It
was sand more than anything - sand gets warm during day. At night it's
cold on top but still warm underneath. That's where I got the idea. I
was covered in sand to keep myself warm. In the early hours of morning
I had the song written so I headed back into Sydney to show people."
The Harrington Park singer was a student in the performing arts faculty
at Campbelltown High School when the song was born.
The school, replete with campus recording studio, was also a launch pad
for Tamworth Starmaker winner Travis Collins and fellow young singer Christie
McWhirter and fellow students wrote songs and recorded demos of songs
at the studio as part of their secondary education.
But the singer chose a different beach to film the video for the song
from his debut CD Lucky As A Se7en.
"We went to Warriewood beach, close to Manly," McWhirter recalled.
"We wanted sunset but the sun sets on other side. We said why not
film in the early morning. We were there from six in the morning to 12.
It would have been nice to have a well-known actress in that."
He scored his deal by winning the 2009 Telstra Road To Tamworth quest,
performing originals including Chasing Girls and Not Gonna Happen.
But, alas, those embryonic originals hit the cutting room floor when the
boy from the wild south west of Sydney flew north to Nashville to cut
his debut album.
But first McWhirter performed at a major music festival on the banks of
the Cumberland River.
"I played the Riverfront Stage," McWhirter recalled.
"It was scorching hot, it scorched my eyebrows. When I went on stage
there was a big roar from about 5,000 people. I didn't think anyone would
know me. But I was signing stuff through the fence. I didn't even have
a CD out then but people had photos of me in the CMA Magazine. Little
Big Town also played there."
MOFFATT - OUT OF THE SALTBUSH
it comes to making good decisions/ I'm the type of guy who listens to
his head, and not his heart every time/ lately I've been thinking how
did I get in this position, wrapped around her little finger so tight."
Crazy Is What Crazy Does - Peter McWhirter-Michael Carr-Drew McAlister
Australian Mark Moffatt - pedal steel guitarist in Melbourne outlaw country
band Saltbush - produced the visiting singer's album shortly afterwards.
Moffatt hit Nashville in 1996 as a producer for expatriate Australasian
publishers Barry and Jewel Coburn and clients diverse as Keith Urban &
The Ranch and Stacey Earle - sister of seven times wed warrior Steve.
The long tall Queenslander earlier scored Australian pop chart success
with his band The Monitors.
He has also produced Tony Joe White, Deana Carter, Rachael Warwick, Jasmine
Rae, Mark O'Shea, Morgan Evans and a brace of other artists diverse as
Slim Dusty, Tim Finn, Nick Cave, The Saints, Divinyls, Split Enz and Yothu
Moffatt recruited Music City session players for the disc that featured
just two McWhirter originals and eight American covers after a collective
cull by producer, artist and management.
"We had about 40 songs to pick from," McWhirter revealed.
"As much as I would love to have my own originals on there I wanted
to look back on this album and say this is my favourite album - my debut.
We chose songs that fitted the idea - wouldn't say it was a theme as it
hasn't actually got one. They're the ones we came up with. I took eight
of my songs to the meeting. I'll hang onto those songs but I would love
to have someone else to record them."
McWhirter wrote Crazy Is What Crazy Does with Michael Carr and
The singer thanks a fellow student and coming of age girlfriend for the
song that survived the cull and made the album.
"I didn't know how to get to Mike's house so we wrote it at my home,"
"We were sitting around staring into space, strumming guitars and
started playing. It's actually about a girl."
So how did his sweetheart subject respond to the song?
"She hasn't heard it, I think she refuses to hear it," McWhirter
"She is a friend from high school. We went out for three years. That's
never back down from a good fair fight/I will find my way through the
darkest night/ and I'll never be wrong for doing what's right." -
I Will Stand By You - Robert Ellis Orrall-Angelo Petraglia-Steven Lee
how quick was the recording?
"We tracked 10 songs in one day," McWhirter confessed.
"My vocals were recorded in Mark's basement studio. I went from
staying at Holiday Inn to sleeping on my producer's couch."
Although McWhirter only recorded two originals he earns royalties
for his expat publishers - their Massachusetts born writer Robert
Ellis Orrall landed three songs on the disc.
They include new single I Will Stand By You, since cut by The
Judds for their reunion album.
So did Moffatt
pitch him the Orrall songs?
"No, he made the approach to me in person," McWhirter said,
"the writer got to pitch his own songs."
And where was the video for that song filmed?
shot the video for that in a warehouse in Rockdale," McWhirter said.
"There was a projector screen behind me. They put sand on the floor
to get that walking effect and filled up a kiddy pool full of water. I
had to hop in, stand in water and get guitar wet. It was eight at night
The other Orrall songs were Girls In The Summertime and Now.
LINDE - DEVIL'S DAUGHTER
the devil's daughter/ she gave me hell all through the night/ one part
fire, one part water/ one who can leave you paralysed." - The
Devil's Daughter - Dennis Linde
also recorded a lesser-known song by recently deceased icon Dennis Linde
- writer of Burning Love and Goodbye Earl.
"I first heard The Devil's Daughter in Nashville," he
"Mark said 'what do you think of that?' I liked it when I first heard
it - it was his demo (not the recorded version by Fiddlin' Frenchie Burke.)
It's one of my favourite songs on the album."
So is Someday Soon - a tune penned by expat Australasian mentor
Keith Urban, Texan Radney Foster and Darrell Brown.
"It's an absolute honour to have that song on my album," he
The singer, busy with touring and interviews, has had no recent luck with
"I'm going through a dry spell at the moment," McWhirter joked.
"Sinead Burgess has my magic song writing capo - she won't give it
back. I'm not courting her - just trying to get it back."
AS A SE7EN
a far cry from his embryonic era when he got his first guitar at 10
and was just 13 when he wrote The Christmas Beatle.
"It was a novelty Christmas song," said McWhirter who sang
around the campfire with his harmonica-playing father.
"They only come out at Christmas time, you never see them with
bright colours. They're all brown ones."
The singer performed it in a school spectacular on ABC-TV and Foxtel.
Now his videos are staples on Pay-TV channel CMC and Nu Country TV
and his music adorns ABC and community radio.
first concert was in Canley Heights doing Uptown Girl," he
recalled. "My dad would drive me to venues as I was too young for
a licence. He's an architectural draughtsman who plays harmonica. I first
played music when I went camping with my dad and his musician mates. We
went to the Wambie camp. They would crank out their guitars around the
camp- fire and play all sorts of songs - The Eagles, Cold Chisel. I started
writing at 12."
McWhirter is now touring nationally to promote his album with former Canadian
rodeo rider Corb Lund on his fifth visit down under.
They met at the CMC Rocks The Snowys Festival at Thredbo in March.
"Corb is a real inspiration," McWhirter added.
"I remember meeting Corb and his manager. We got on like a house
on fire. I love his stuff - he has his roots in the rodeo scene."
So will the singer follow in the slipstream of Adam Harvey who toured
Canada with Jason McCoy?
"I have no plans to tour Canada with Corb at the moment," McWhirter
"I want to make the most out of touring here with him and his band."
Lucky As A Se7en is out on ABC-Universal.
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