Interview: Roo Panes on bringing Quiet Man to fruition as LP #3

When listening to the opening notes of “A Message to Myself”, the album opener of Roo Panes‘ third studio record, Quiet Man, the listener is stung with the evocative punch behind the English songwriter’s artistry almost immediately. It’s a craft Panes has developed beautifully over the course of the last few years, being embraced by audiences around the world. We catch up with the man himself to discuss this latest output.

Congratulations on the release of album number three. Did you start working on that right after Paperweight or did you allow yourself a bit of downtime before getting stuck into this new one?

Thanks, yeah I took some down time. About a year! I wasn’t sure if I’d be doing another, so there was no pressure to write and in the end these songs just arrived pretty comfortably – hence the name Quiet Man, it’s all about contentment.

You’ve recorded this in a pretty remote location in Devon – was the isolation of the studio a drawcard or was it more about who you were working with? It seems the location would be a good fit for the serenity and sense of peace your music invokes.

I think both were cool. The idea of a place removed from normality was a draw as you want to set the experience apart. It’s beautiful down there, and no real distractions except cows and tractors. Sounds silly, but is nice to drive quietly to a studio rather than battling with city traffic before you’ve started your day. I’d pick up a pasty and coffee on the way at a village bakery, was a good rhythm! Obviously, working with Chris Bond was a draw too, he’s a great guy and real talent and felt he’d naturally understand the material.

Who are your main inspirations musically? Further to that, which artists or bands do you enjoy seeing perform; not necessarily from the perspective of inspiration, more from who you like on a personal level?

On a personal level, my favourite gigs I’ve been to are Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and probably Sigur Rós. But I also love small pub gigs. I love that buzz when a small room goes completely silent for one person and where they’re taking them, hard to beat. I’m the kind of musician who doesn’t listen to a whole lot on a daily basis, and am not too clued up or cool about it all. I find myself loving all sorts though, from Bob Marley to Max Richter, trip hop to jazz. I listened to Van Morrison quite a bit lately because I was loving the freedom in Astral Weeks.

Everything you hear you pick certain things up from like that, but at the end of the day writing is self expression for me, not being ‘on the pulse’. I loved listening to Keaton Henson‘s classical album Romantic Works earlier this year, that was playing quite a lot!

Tell me about the music video for “My Sweet Refuge” – where did the idea of the fan involvement come from, and what about that process did you most enjoy?  Any challenges?

It was actually really straightforward! You can imagine these things being quite complex. But the response was awesome and people sent in such interesting clips. I think the stories and reasons for the clips were my favourite bit, reading why. I just thought it’d be a nice thing to get everyone’s interpretation and nostalgia relating to ‘refuge’ and thought it would help bring it to life.

You’ve got a headline date coming up at O2 Shepherd’s Bush in London – is that the largest gig you’ve had?  Are you nervous at all?

Um, yeah! Not nervous really, I know it’s a big place, but whoever comes we’re gonna make sure they have a great night!  ’m sure I’ll get butterflies before – but at the end of the day I enjoy it more when I just think of it as my living room and a bunch of friends!

Last time we spoke, you were mid-way around something of a road trip of Australia. I know there’s a bit of footage out there already but any chance of a longer form video or mini-documentary from that trip? Are we likely to see you returning to Australian shores any time soon?

Haha, I think that’s all we got sadly. I’d love to come again, was a great trip and have really fun memories. I’m not sure when though…I’m touring in Europe first and then we’ll see what happens.

Quiet Man is out now.