Guy Pearce will arguably be the Garden of Unearthly Delights’ most famous guest when he performs at the Garden next year, but he won’t be part of a theatre production.
Guy Pearce will arguably be the Garden of Unearthly Delights’ most famous guest when he performs at the Garden next year, but he won’t be part of a theatre production. The acclaimed Emmy Award winner and Memento, The Road and Animal Kingdom actor surprised many with the quality of his musical chops when he released his debut album Broken Bones in early November. The mature collection of honest and heartbreaking songs sounds like a calm Crowded House with a Nashville twist and received a four-star review from The Guardian, who called it the “surprise package of 2014”. He performed two launch shows after the album’s release in Sydney and Melbourne and will be joined by ex-Powderfinger guitarist and songwriter Darren Middleton at the Garden of Unearthly Delights in Adelaide. Modestly, Pearce says his debut solo show “went okay” at Melbourne’s The Toff. “I was a bit wobbly,” he admits. “Not to be unexpected.” Pearce, who won an Emmy for his outstanding performance opposite Kate Winslet in the acclaimed mini-series Mildred Pierce, says touring won’t be at the top of his agenda, and he’ll just do a couple of shows “every now and then”. “I still have that other job that I do, so I spend my life touring anyway, travelling around with films. I think if the opportunity comes up, and it’s easy enough to organise, then it will be great to do. I’m not going to go hard and tour like a lot of bands manage to do just because, as I said, I spend so much time travelling anyway. When I’m not working on film, I really like to be at home. I’ll find some sort of balance with it.” Pearce’s co-headliner for the Garden show, Darren Middleton, like Pearce, is trying to forge a new creative identity with his solo career, as the former Powderfinger member released his debut solo album, Translations, late last year. “We have similar personalities,” Pearce says. “I really respect Darren and have been a fan of him and Powderfinger, obviously, for many years. When this opportunity came up it just seemed like a really nice thing to do. I think to be able to share it [with him], not that it takes the pressure off, it just feels like a nice way into it without being too pushy. I feel really thankful that he’s allowed me to come along.” To say Pearce’s foray into music was unexpected is an understatement, as the album Broken Bones was a surprise announcement earlier this year. Even though he has been writing songs for most of his life, it wasn’t until Pearce performed in the Melbourne Theatre Company’s Poor Boy and met former John Butler Trio member Michael Barker, that Pearce got the confidence needed to release his material. But he says to describe Poor Boy as the catalyst for his musical endeavour is too strong. “I obviously met Michael Barker during Poor Boy and he was a great push for me. I feel like I was ready for somebody to push me at that point. He really was very inspiring. It was just inspiring as far as giving me some confidence in what I was doing musically and really allowing me to see that getting it out was worthwhile.” If Pearce hadn’t met Barker, the 47-year old believes he would have released music eventually. “I’ve been wanting to release music for years and years. I’ve slowly been building up my studio and my equipment and writing songs but just not publicly. I sort of knew once I got to the stage where I felt good about what I was doing, and then I would start to get some stuff out. I think Michael came along and made me see that I could start feeling good about my stuff sooner than I thought I was ready to.” In the publicity notes, Pearce explains that Broken Bones is about identity and that music is the most honest way he can express himself, as with acting Pearce delves into other people’s personalities and that makes him question his own. Has recording this album made him discover his true identity, or the path to his true identity? “I think it’s a path, yeah. I don’t know if it’s through the making of the album necessarily. I guess to some degree it’s through the making of an album that you become clearer about who you are but I think it evolves all the time. You might have an idea of who you are now and in three years time you look back and go, ‘Wow, I really thought I was that person and I might have been that person then but I’m not that person anymore. “Some things you feel really honest about and you might be misguided, and then other things you feel honest about and that insight really becomes richer as you get older. I suppose by doing the album… for example, I’ve always known that I’m somebody who has anxiety and feels fear, and on some level the only way to get over those things is to force yourself to do things that frighten you or that make you feel fearful, you know? So you kind of go, ‘Well, am I still a fearful person?’ Yes, I probably am, but maybe I’m getting closer to not being so fearful by doing this album.” Is this why Pearce wrote on the CD notes that “thanks to some very supportive people who care about my mental health, I’ve finally realised the vale of completing things and getting them out my head”? “Absolutely. Michael Barker said to me, ‘You realise you’re not doing yourself any good by doing this [keeping the music hidden]; you’re repressing something and you’re actually going around in circles.’ “I believe that he believed in my music. Then I went, ‘Oh… okay’, whereas before I went, ‘Well, I’m fearful of it but also the music’s not good enough, so I’ll be crazy to put it out there because I’m going to be slaughtered’. I’m very aware of how brutal it can be being an actor releasing music, so I didn’t want to do it until I felt more okay about the songs. He said, ‘Well, do you like these songs?’ `Oh, yeah – I love them’. He said, So do I’.” Guy Pearce and Darren Middleton Garden of Unearthly Delights (Aurora Spiegeltent) Tuesday, February 17, 7pm guypearce.net gardenofunearthlydelights.com.au