Howard’s Way

A great review and interview with Jack Howard.

Author:  Jeff Jenkins, Rhythms.

Date: 20 May 2014.

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Article Text

On a recent Saturday night, Jack Howard re-enacted his sharpie dance moves from the classic ‘Betty’s Worry or The Slab’, in front of thousands of people at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre when Hunters & Collectors did what was believed to have been their final Australian gig. The following night, Howard played with The Long Lost Brothers for less than 100 people at Brunswick’s Retreat Hotel.
This guy just loves to play.

It’s been a massive 12 months for Jack Howard. The Hunters & Collectors trumpet player has seen his old band re-form, play at the AFL Grand Final, support Springsteen, and be honoured with a tribute album.

And coming up is a gig with The Rolling Stones.

Howard has also become a permanent member of The Break, the surf/space rock outfit featuring Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst, Jim Moginie and Martin Rotsey, and the Violent Femmes’ Brian Ritchie.
The Break backed Rodriguez on his 2013 Australian tour.

Remarkably, Howard has now found time to release his sixth solo album, Day Of The Dog, with his band, The Long Lost Brothers – guitarist Nicky Del Rey (Intoxica), bass player Mark Ferrie (Models), pedal steel player Ed Bates (The Sports) and drummer Cal McAlpine (The Large Number 12s).
Howard also does a tribute show – Jack Howard & The Ambassadors of Love Play Bacharach & David.

Mark Seymour recently introduced Howard as “one of the most outrageous men I’ve ever met”.
He’s also pretty handy with a shot put (best distance: 13.82m).

Q. One day, the Palais; the next, the Retreat. A very different experience for a performer?
A. Well, the Retreat show was pretty damn good, I have to say. The Brothers are an awesome band, so it wasn’t a letdown at all.

Q. In ‘Royal Reserve’ on the new album you sing, “Less is always more”. Is that how you approach making music?
A. Hmmm, I guess so. I’m not a very note-y player. It’s more about the expression and the song for me. You’ve got to serve the song, not the other way around.

Q. Can you give us one sentence on each of The Long Lost Brothers?
A. Nicky Del Rey: the riffmeister! Like country gold.
Mark Ferrie: rich, like a fine single malt whiskey.
Ed Bates: the magician, the conjuror of sound.
Cal McAlpine: my rock, the wind beneath my wings.

Q. You also do a Bacharach show. What impact has he had on you?
A. As horn and string arranger with H&C, my own stuff and with heaps of others, Burt has been a very big influence.

Q. What was the highlight of the Hunnas re-formation?
A. There were many, many highlights, but playing with The Horns Of Contempt again was wonderful.

Q. Was it pretty much the same as the old days? Do people change?
A. Oh, everybody was much more relaxed than in the old days. We were in wine-fuelled hysterics most of the time.

Q. Did you get to meet Bruce?
A. No, dammit!

Q. What about the horn players in the E Street Band: is there a horn players’ union – do you tend to hang out together?
A. Jake Clemons watched us from side-of-stage, but the timing was bad between our sets. So much for the brotherhood of horns!

Q. What was your favourite cover on the Crucible album?
A. I really liked Alpine’s ‘Hear No Evil’, but there’s plenty of great stuff on there.

Q. A lot of people thought the Palais shows would be it for the Hunnas, but now you’re off to New Zealand for a show with The Rolling Stones [November 22]. Was it a case of, “You can’t say no to the Stones”?
A. Would you?

Q. Are you a big Stones’ fan?
A. I’ve really gotten into them over the last few years because I’ve been a part of so many Cherry Bar tribute shows. I love Exile On Main St.

Q. What was it like playing with Rodriguez?
A. Pretty amazing. He was riding the Sugar Man wave at the time, so the tour was huge. From a player’s point of view, you had to be constantly on your toes because he was very unpredictable with the set list!

Q. What’s next for The Break?
A. We’re playing at the National Gallery of Victoria on August 29!

Q. Finally, there are a couple of references to tequila on the new album; is that your favourite drink?
A. No, it just rhymes better than whiskey.

June 27 – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh

May 24 – Anglesea Golf Club
May 30 – Yarraville Club
May 31 – The Flying Saucer Club, Elsternwick