Familiar faces return home

By Anthony Probert | posted on November 11, 2017

THEY might be Albany’s biggest musical export, but they are really just a bunch of big kids that love playing music.

Despite 25 years together as a band and all the miles on the road, it’s that simple for The Waifs’ guitarist Josh Cunningham.

He spoke to The Weekender ahead of their return to the Great Southern next month where it all began, when Donna and Vikki Simpson (now Vikki Thorn) packed up their campervan and headed north as a pair of gangly guitar-slinging sisters.

They picked up Cunningham along the way and The Waifs were born – it’s well-known musical lore to loyal followers who have watched the band grow over two-and-a-half decades.

Rusted-on fans might also have been expecting an open-air concert to round out the band’s 13-date national tour – an opportunity to enjoy the band’s music with grass between their toes.

But Cunningham said The Waifs were looking forward to playing the sit-down entertainment centre show following their previous performance there.

“It was one of the best shows we’ve ever played in Albany,” he said.

“It’s a different way to experience the band. The music is all about the stories and the lyrics, so in a venue like that we can get down in the song in a different way than if there’s a party vibe going on.

“It’s a spectacular venue and Albany is very lucky to have it.”

Besides playing to a hometown crowd, Cunningham said the band was looking forward to taking the rare opportunity to spend a few days in town post-gig.

“When we play Albany it’s usually in the middle of a tour or at the start of one, and it’s straight to soundcheck, play the gig, stay the night and get back on the road again,” he said.

“We’re finishing the tour there, and we’re looking forward to hanging around for a few days to catch up with family and friends.”

Despite 25 years together as a band, The Waifs are far from packed in the front seat of a campervan when they are off-stage nowadays.

Thorn is based in the US, Cunningham has just built a house on his property in south coast New South Wales and Donna Simpson is based in Fremantle.

Cunningham said they just made the distance work.

“When you’ve been playing together for 25 years, that feeling of familiarity isn’t just personal, it’s musical as well,” he said.

“When we get in a room to rehearse together, it’s really like you’re picking up where you left off,” he said.

Cunningham said the band appreciated every opportunity to play together and were always true to their roots.

“When you do what you love and get to play music for a living it keeps your feet on the ground,” he said.

“We’re really just a bunch of big kids that love playing music.”

The Waifs play the Albany Entertainment Centre on December 9 to showcase songs from their latest album Ironbark, which celebrates their 25th anniversary, and to offer their loyal followers plenty of favourites.

Tickets are available from the AEC box office or online at Ticketek.