Australian musicians don’t come much more beloved and admired than Glenn Thompson and Adele Pickvance.
Best known collectively as the rhythm section for the second incarnation of The Go-Betweens, Glenn is also a member of Custard. The pair’s latest record, Carrington St
, sees them collaborating on the purest pop of their careers.
“We didn’t set out with any specific idea in mind other than to make the best record the two of us could possibly make with the skills and equipment we had available,” Thompson says. “It’s funny, I listened to it again just recently because I had to check some files, and I hadn’t listened to it for ages, and I just thought, ‘huh, that’s not bad! That actually sounds pretty good!’ So I’m happy.”
Thompson and Pickvance can take particular pride in Carrington St
, given their involvement in every stage of its creation. Recorded at Glenn’s studio in Sydney’s inner west, the pair didn’t bring in any outside producers, mixers or engineers to work on the album.
“I’ve been collecting gear for about ten years,” Thompson says of his labour of love, “and more importantly, I’ve been collecting the knowledge of how to use it... I didn’t used to know anything. I’d just get to the studio and play my part and think, ‘well, I don’t need to know that stuff’, which is fine. But then it got to a point where I thought, ‘well, I can’t afford to go into a studio and say that anymore, I have to figure out how to do it at home’. I’m really into it now, I love that side of it.
“I’m a student of the University of the Newsagent. I learn by reading magazines. I did that when I first got a computer, to figure out how to use it, you know, how to use different professional programs... I go and get all the magazines on a particular subject and read through them, and even if I don’t understand what they’re saying, I always pick up a bit here and there and then it starts to make sense. I still do that.”
It might surprise some readers to learn Thompson is based in Sydney at all, given his association with so many great ‘Brisbane’ bands. “I moved to Sydney in the last year of Custard,” he says. “In fact, three of us did. Matthew (Strong) and David (McCormack) and myself moved to Sydney. I just think we were looking for an adventure, for somewhere new to live. At that stage, too, Custard’s management was in Sydney, and we were always flying down to Sydney for all sorts of gigs. So we decided to just move down there… and then the band broke up. It was bizarre. We’d just moved there!”
Custard stayed broken up longer than most bands of their stature, but inevitably reunited in 2009. They’ve played one or two gigs a year since then. Late last year, McCormack hinted at the possibility
of new Custard material, and Thompson’s not about to rule it out.
“Yeah, that's actually on the cards,” he admits, “definitely. We've played a few of these shows, and it's hard to call them reunion shows now, because there's been so many of them. I think we've done five already. I feel like the band's just going again, but on a different level to how it used to. It's been great. It's just been so easy. It's funny, we all got together and rehearsed one day; the first half an hour was a mess and then it all fell into place. So, yeah... I reckon there's going to be some new stuff sooner or later.”
Thompson says there are also more records from Beachfield, his solo moniker, “on the horizon”. But for now, the focus is on Adele & Glenn, with a European tour scheduled for October and the distinct possibility of another album from the duo after that.
“I actually want to make another album as soon as we finish this one. It's good having two people who can work really closely every step of the way, because quite often Adele's ideas are not ideas I would have had. But they work! It's good to have that. I always think the best bands are the bands who are made up of people who are quite different... if you get a group of guys who wouldn't normally be at the same party together, it can be pretty interesting.”
Having had such a storied career, Carrington St
is just the latest in a long line of great records to bear the Thompson name in its liner notes. Just don’t ask him to choose a favourite child from that discography.
“There are none that really stand out in my mind as a favourite, but there are none that I wish didn't happen, either. Making a record is a really different experience each time. You work on a project and you're in a certain headspace at the time, you work with certain people... they're all documents of different periods of time. I look back at them a bit like, you know, 'oh, that was when I was living in that house, with those people'.
"There are good bits and bits that probably aren't so good, but seemed like good ideas at the time." Carrington St will be released in June. Adele & Glenn play Black Bear Lodge Thursday May 31.