new CD, Watermelon, has Waz and the now renowned rhythm section that forms the
main band joined in the studio by lap steel virtuoso, Peter Fidler. Completing
the all star line up, is one of Melbourne's best country guitarists/pianists,
These two great guitar players playing alongside Waz makes for some
great moments - reminiscent of the famous Allman Brothers.Waz's own skillfull
blending of the edgy and raw style honed in the grunge scene with his
traditional knowledge of acoustic instrumentation showcases the guitar playing
savvy of a seasoned performer.
The songs on this album have raised the bar yet again and stand out
tracks, The Plainsman, Back Again and Long Time Coming, show a maturity and
understanding of a true country rock balladeer. With a strong desire to emulate
the songwriting prowess of artists such as Delbert McClinton, Buddy Miller and
Jim Lauderdale, this recording also sees a maturation in his songwriting style.
Waz's unique style is born out of many varied
associations over his career. As a teenager growing up in Melbourne's outer
eastern suburbs, Waz discovered his neighbor to be none other than Harvey James,
who planted the first blues seed in Waz. Some of Harvey’s acquaintances were
renowned players of the time and it was no surprise to find Waz eavesdropping on
Arial rehearsal sessions.
The real lessons arrived a few years later via his high school music tutor,
American, Greg Hildebrand, one of Australia's premier Bluegrass performers.
Passing on ye olde art of the 'rolling thumb' and other string picking tips,
Hildebrand soon encouraged Waz to join him and others on stage at the Green Man
Club in Malvern, a popular Blues Venue in the late 70s.
There Waz learnt the standards and polished his act, eventually sharing bills
with the Bushwhackers and Bluesman Dutch Tilders.
By the mid 80s, Waz approach to
his instrument had shifted. With friends he joined anarchic party band, Black
Ruxton, whose punk-with-a-smile performances were welcomed by pub audiences.
Discovering a flange pedal and a songwriting talent of his own, Waz soon put
together his own outfit Brokenhead, a noisy trio that managed to bridge the gap
between Crazy Horse and the Melvins. Over the next three years Brokenhead surfed
its own "grunge" wave, issuing a fistful of EPs/singles on the Sydney indie
Label Waterfront, one of which, the 'Come Anytime' 7 inch climbed to #3 on the
US college charts in 1990.
Meanwhile, the band warmed local stages for the likes of Lemonheads and The
Aints while funding a self released album on the Destroyer label through Shock
Following Brokenheads demise, Waz packed his trusty jazzmaster and headed off to
the US where he rediscovered the beauty of the Blues, playing with a myriad of
house bands along the West Coast, culminating in support sets for Guitar Shorty
at Harvels in Santa Monica.
Missing home and needing a backing band to flesh out a new cache of tunes, Waz
returned to Melbourne and quickly assembled a group consisting of cello bassist
Ashley Winn and former Bad Boy Batacuda drummer Mark Grunden. In 1998,
Fulltronic was born.
In one raw, late night session, the band then recorded a ten track album at
Birdland Studios, overseen by producer Lindsay Gravina. The result was "a debut
that married original contemporary blues with a new groove and a sprinkling of
covers including a rousing remake of ZZ Tops 'Blue Jeans'" [Steve Tauske writing
Since 2000 Waz has released two previous albums as The Waz e James band; 'Calm
Before The Storm' in 2000
and then in 2004 a return to roots music, 'Hair
Of The Dog'. With the imminent release of his most accomplished album yet
'Watermelon', Waz is poised to reestablish himself in the Australian music
scene. No stranger to the independent charts, this one time Waterfront artist is
back on the open road and playing his heart out