The Pretty Littles frontman gives us the lowdown on the motivations behind the 7,500km-long Up The Guts tour – coming to a town near you this month.
Beloved jangly sloprock boys The Pretty Littles are known for their creative rhyming slang on Facebook (for me at least) and their extremely sprightly live shows. Jack Parsons is the hard-working, charming legend who fronts the band, and together with some musical pals he recently announced the Up The Guts tour. It’s notably different to most other Aussie-centric jaunts in three ways. Firstly, the very regional-focused route. Secondly, the youth workshops. And thirdly, how did these guys get such great sponsors on board for a tour that’s essentially about community and not cash?
“Well, I like how you asked the question kind of alluding to the fact that it couldn’t have been me,” chuckles Parsons. The person with the experience is James Clarke, an events manager and co-ordinator whom Jack met a few years back at Meredith Music Festival. “James worked for Melbourne Music Week, basically raising money and looking for sponsorship [opportunities]. So he’s like, ‘Your idea is inherently so difficult and unachievable that the only way you could do it is if you’ve got sponsorship.’ I was like ‘Sponsorship? What’s this?’”
The fact his objective was sort of hairy wasn’t entirely fresh news to Parsons; early on the guitarist/vocalist realised he might’ve been reaching for a pie in the sky. But he couldn’t help being inspired by author Matt Zurbo, whose novelHot Nights, Cool Dragons reinvigorated his feeling that music is an intrinsically worthy activity. “It’s just about playing music for no reason other than it makes you feel good,” Jack says. “You don’t need to be good at it, you just have fun. I wanted to have my band and drive around, go from pub to pub and just play for a feed and a bed or something like that, and just see what happened. Completely short-sighted! So many things wrong with that. If you even just scratched the surface… but I always loved daydreaming about it. It was the great Aussie adventure.”
Clarke and Parsons gradually collected their excellent line-up – ScotDrakula, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding, Ali E, Ben Wright Smith, Jo from Big Scary, the ‘Guts DJs’ and a revolving crew of local acts who will join the main players in specific towns – and secured the support of Cooper’s, Casio, Maton guitars, Arts South Australia and APRA/AMCOS. That these sponsors saw the value in Up The Guts is a huge testament to their philanthropy – and proof that they know a proper jam when they hear it.
Parsons was fascinated by everything he learned during the process, which feeds into the idea of the youth workshops. The sessions are scheduled in two-thirds of the townships the tour is stopping in, and present a chance for everyone involved in the project to give some useful, practical insight to youth aged 12-18. “There’re so many interesting characters on the tour that are involved in music in different capacities,” Parsons explains. “Jo from Big Scary: on the surface, she’s in a successful band, but then what else is she doing in her life that helps sustain it? Scott and Charlene’s wedding have toured the world extensively… but what does that actually mean? We’ve got a production team on board who are shooting the whole tour – what’s their involvement? It’s all the different creative aspects that people are bringing to the tour; a realistic insight into what it means to pursue these things as opposed to what kids might see on TV, or what they might get to experience from some massive festival coming through a town near them. I think that if I was one of those kids watching some huge scale production, it would inspire me to a point, but it would also intimidate me. ‘How the f-ck do I get from here to there?’”
The entire Up The Guts cohort comprises 18 people, who will all get on a “Spice Girls bus with a trailer out the back” and head off on the safari which begins in Hobart and ends in Darwin. While the practicals of getting everyone organised are going to be tricky (“there’s some bloody gluten intolerance folk in there”), Parsons is absolutely stoked to set out on this adventure of discovery and guidance with his friends. “I’m so pumped to see everyone play,” he says. “It will be fun, bloody oath.”
Up The Guts kicks off on July 22 in Hobart. Dates are below, but you can see all the details on tickets, workshops and the musicians involved on the Up The Guts site. It’s also definitely worth checking the tour Facebook page, because that’s where most of the rhyming slang is. Also, they’re running a competition to name the tour bus.
Jul 22 – Brisbane Hotel (Hobart)
Jul 23 – The Royal Oak (Launceston)
Jul 24 – The Butter Factory (Burnie)
Jul 25 – The Gasometer (Melbourne)
Jul 26 – The Golden Vine (Bendigo)
Jul 27 – The Bridge Hotel (Castlemaine)
Jul 28 – The Loft (Warrnambool)
Jul 29 – Shadows Nightclub (Mount Gambier)
Jul 30 – The Exeter (Adelaide)
Jul 31 – Spencer Hotel (Whyalla)
Aug 3 – The Desert Cave (Coober Pedy)
Aug 4 – Monte’s Lounge (Alice Springs)
Aug 5 – Jackson’s Bar (Tennant Creek)
Aug 6 – The Heritage Hotel (Grove Hill)
Aug 7 – Railway Club (Darwin)