The shocking news that over the weekend we lost Tristan Goodall, guitarist, songwriter, proud South Australian, multi-ARIA winner and co-founder of roots/folk band The Audreys, has rocked all who knew him and plenty more who knew of him.
Goodall had left The Audreys last year due to ill-health, leaving it in the hands of his long-time musical partner, Taasha Coates, with whom he created the group – “the little band from Adelaide that could,” as Goodall put it when announcing his departure – in 2004.
“So many wonderful people helped us raise this fledgling band: the fearless musicians, the guiding hands, the tireless helpers," Goodall said in that Facebook announcement. “And you, out there, always encouraging. I am forever grateful to you all."
Wind Back Wednesday donned a retro jacket and a jaunty hat to join Coates in this interview from 2006, where past, present and future merged into one. Like The Audreys themselves.
TAASHA COATES, OF ADELAIDE’S smartly dressed, (really) old school roots band The Audreys is sitting in a Melbourne hotel room at 9 o’clock in the morning, feeling a little alone and lost without “my boys”.
Normally she travels in a pack, the band now a five piece. But here she is, in town to film an episode of SBS’s music trivia show RockWiz (her specialist topic? Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska) and save for the room service bloke who brought her breakfast there’s no one to talk to.
Yes, go on and say it ‘Aw, pet’.
Shame the TV show hadn’t invited the whole band though. The Audreys, who can sound uncannily like a 1930s Tennessee saloon band, as they showed when launching their album, Between Last Night And Us, at the Basement recently, would make an impressive entrance en masse with their retro look.
Imagine the cast of The Sullivans arriving at your local pub. What’s with that?
“Tristan [Goodall, co-founder with Coates] and his brother actually really dress like that all the time, hats and op shop suits, then the other boys got on board and then it became a ‘thing’,” says Coates.
“My sister helps me shop because I’m hopeless, along with no money.”
So we’ve established that you are sad and lonely and can’t shop.
“It’s a bit lame isn’t it?”
What other sad news can you share with the class?
“I can’t coordinate either,” she says promptly, before adding with an embarrassed laugh. “Oh, you’re going to make me sound like such a dope.”
Actually, dope isn’t the first word that came to mind about Coates when some friends of mine saw the band played recently. It was more like intimidating. It’s not the first time Coates has heard that said, though she can’t understand it believing she is “goofy” on stage.
“Maybe it’s the ‘fuck off’ t-shirt,” she says. Yeah, right, the one she wears under the Kitty Sullivan sleeveless woollen sweater.
Maybe the intimidated few are trying to figure out why a bunch of youngish South Australians are making such convincing olde time American music. After all, as their banjo-enhanced, slowed down version of the INXS song, Don’t Change, suggests, they were children of the ‘80s.
As a teenager Coates was into “Wham, and really, really classy stuff like that” and when she and Goodall began playing as a duo they were doing pop songs and slowed down, folky/country versions of ‘80s hits.
“I think that’s why our songwriting has a pop sensibility even if we use traditional instruments and old sounds,” Coates says before revealing the “road to Damascus” moment of revelation which set them back some 50 years.
(The Audreys circa 2006)
“Tristan and I were listening to the Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, the Be Good Tanyas, Bruce Springsteen, while we were doing these duo [pop] gigs. One-day our Kombi broke down while we were in the Macedon Ranges while there was a music festival going on. We got stranded at this winery during the storm and we found ourselves jamming with this bluegrass band for a couple of hours. Those guys were like you’ve got such a great voice for country and I was like ‘really?’ and they were saying how much they love our banjo stuff.
“On the way home we went what have we been doing trying to write pop songs when we should go with what we love?”
Although they began playing music together in Melbourne, after dropping out of university in Adelaide, when Coates and Goodall had their revelation, they decided to form The Audreys back in their hometown. Why? It’s not exactly music central is it?
“Firstly, because if it all fell over and we were starving our parents live there and they’d feed us,” Coates chuckles. “Plus, we also wanted to be an Adelaide band because it felt like home.”
Is there something identifiable in The Audreys that says Adelaide? There aren’t any songs about people being killed while walking along the riverbank for example.
“Oh, stop that,” Coates says with horrified laughter. “I dunno what it means to be an Adelaide band but I think I want to change people’s perception of it, on the east coast.
"Cool bands can come from Adelaide.”