Australian rock legend Tex Perkins is reprising his Helpmann Award-winning role as Johnny Cash for ‘The Man in Black’ tour. No stranger to Australian audiences, Tex rose to rock royalty as front-man for The Cruel Sea and Beasts of Bourbon. He’s also been involved in numerous bands and collaborations over the years. We caught up with Tex to talk about the ‘The Man in Black’ tour and his incredible career.
Could you start off by telling us how you got involved in music and how it ended up becoming your career?
It was during the punk era. I fell in with a bunch who were very much into the do-it-yourself philosophy. I guess we just threw together a band and we kind of just played for ourselves. After that, an opportunity was presented, and we took it and moved to the big smoke. Things just kept rolling on, and they have for the last 36 years or so.
What do you enjoy most about performing?
I enjoy getting over the dread of performing. I was always very tense and full of self-doubt before I’d come on stage. But as soon as I get up there, that all disappears. So, getting past that guilt is something that I enjoy most of all.
I love surrounding myself with creative people, and I think I probably enjoy rehearsals most of all. It’s just the musicians in a room together, figuring things out. There’s no pressure, and you just enjoy each other’s company and the pure joy of creating something together. Performing on stage to people is wonderful and it’s great to get that feedback, but a lot of pressure comes with it. I think my personal favourite moment is that one where you’re creating and bringing it all together.
What’s has been a stand-out moment in your career so far, if you’re able to pick one?
No, I don’t think there is one. That’s the great thing about my career; it’s so varied and so many different people have been involved, and I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Ironically, probably my least enjoyable periods in my career have been the most successful. Putting out a successful album, even though you’ve striven to get there, once you’re at the top of the mountain you’re kind of trapped by that success and pushed to keep doing that same thing. You go on tours, play the same thing over and over, and you’re ready to move on artistically, but nobody else wants you to.
I’ve enjoyed doing all sorts of things over the years. The complete random variety of things has been thrilling.
You have had such a diverse career and been involved with so many different bands and collaborations. Do you have a particular venture that is your favourite?
Can I give the same answer as the last question? (Laughs).
‘The Man in Black’ tour is about Johnny Cash. What inspired you to be a part of the tour? Is he someone you look up to?
I was approached by the producers of the show at the time. I think they just approached me because I’m a tall rock singer with a deep voice, and didn’t realise I have quite a history with Johnny Cash. He’s one of the greats. A great Johnny Cash song always has a combination of deep wisdom and a willingness to look at the dark side, but a sense of humour as well. It’s an irresistible combination. The ‘gallows humour’ that he favoured was always what attracted me the most, and I was always fascinated with the way he was able to bear his mistakes and his convictions.
You’re playing quite a few shows on the upcoming tour. Is there anywhere you’re really excited to play?
Well, I’m looking forward to coming to Canberra. But there’s a venue called the Palais Theatre in St Kilda that I’m particularly looking forward to playing at. It’s a beautiful place and I’m really looking forward to getting back there.
Tex Perkins The Man in Black tour will be joined by the Tennessee Four and Rachael Tidd at the Canberra Theatre Centre on Wednesday 16 May.