Augie March - “It’s a double edged sword, staying human.”

By Kimberley Price

The mesmerising and whimsical sound of Augie March has captivated audiences for more than a decade.

With punchy and imported messages delivered throughout their lyrics, backed onto dreamy and soft-rock melodies, the band has found fame for being something completely different.

And yet, Augie March simply snowballed into the music business which they now thank for giving them ever-lasting carers.

“Three of us are originally from Shepparton,” vocals and lyricist Glen Richards said.

“The other boys they were involved in music and started pretty early and I think they played in a cover band together for a couple of gigs.

“I just studied a lot. I was aiming to head to Melbourne from an early age, head to uni and I only really started writing songs when I got to uni.

“The other boys were a couple of years younger than me, I knew them, but didn’t know them that well, and we hooked up once we were all living in Melbourne.

“The band was definitely for a bit of fun and trying stuff out. Obviously I was still at uni and that was the main focus.

“I guess I’d always written prose and poetry and that sort of stuff and I think as soon as I figured out how to put three chords together I realised I wasn’t too bad at creating melodies and I found that it was definitely the more immediate medium to write in and more fun.

“I got together with the other guys really quickly after I’d written a couple of songs and demoed a four-track cassette and gave it to them and we had a couple of gigs within a week or too.

“That led to having hundreds and hundreds of gigs eventually.

“It was good to throw ourselves into the deep end.”

While this may sound like Augie March had it pretty easy, the band of five have worked extremely hard to produce the intrinsic, indie-rock music featured throughout their six albums.

“For some bands and some artists it does comes easy and they’re really lucky if it happens but they’re the tiny one per cent,” Richards said.

“Whether people believe it or not you basically sacrifice a lot of what other people take for granted in their lives.

“We did ok and we’re still going which is quite remarkable.

“I suppose we formulated the band at the tail end of the industry being one you can make a genuine living from.

“We would play a pub and then we’d say we want to play a better one, we want to play a bigger one and then we wanted to play in Sydney and then we want to head up to Queensland.

“We had fun and experiences and any decision about it becoming a career never really came into it.

“I think a lot of people just fall into these pursuits and then realise a few years later it’s your main thing.”

Augie March found tremendous success in the alternative music scene with their 2006 track One Crowded Hour, the title track on their third album Moo, You Bloody Choir.

“Even though we’d always worked really hard and built our music ourselves, at that point it seemed like it was all very natural and it was building to this album,” he said

“I can sort of remember how I that song came together.

“I think a lot of people are familiar with it but it probably got a bigger reputation than it got airplay, it never actually made it to commercial radio.

“I think maybe because it won the Hottest 100 that made it far more ubiquitous than it was.

“It was a mix of things. I was reading the memoir of a war time cameraman and it was actually called One Crowded Hour so that’s where I took the title from.

“I was house sitting for Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier so I was making a lot use of their book and record collection and their lovely little studio they had in Williamstown.

“I’d be listening to a lot of Bob Dylan and the blues and folk covers he did when he was young and really circular song writing – arriving at a place after a fair journey and really quite logical and natural.

“One Crowded Hour was one I the first times I actually sat down and made a conscious effort to write a song in a particular style.

“That said, it sort of took off and had a life of its own.”

On the whole, Glen Richards is very unassuming about the accomplishments of Augie March. With a repertoire of simply stunning songs, the band has incredible longevity.

But the secret to their formula of success?

“We’re five very different people, but I think one thing we have in common is that we find it very hard to take much seriously,” Richards laughed.

“It kind of works one way where you retain your humanity but the other is you don’t play the game as much and rise through the ranks.

“It’s a double edged sword, staying human.

“I think probably our best attribute was that we didn’t end up sounding like much at all that was out there and still managed to be fairly accessible.”

Join Augie March for one crowded hour (and a half) on the banks of the Murray on Saturday night.

Audio sources: 

Augie March - One Crowded Hour (Video) - YouTube
Audio source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LejMbZjZUvk

Interviewed by: Kimberley Price.

Voice: Vivienne Duck.

Produced by: Kimberley Price and Vivienne Duck. 

A Riverine Herald production.