Eric Weideman has spring in his step.
The 1927 front man is leading a hot band on a run of dates as long as your arm.
“There’s fresh energy around 1927,” he says, as a mob of kangaroos bound by, a hundred metres away from the porch of his property in Martin, south east of Perth.
“We’re seeing new people coming to the shows, lots of guys now not just girls like it was in the ‘80s and the ‘90s,” he chuckles. “Back then we could barely hear ourselves playing over the screaming.”
You know the story.
Way before Australian Idol and The Voice existed, a wily kid named Eric Weideman was talent-spotted after a scorching performance on Red Faces for Hey Hey It’s Saturday!
Weideman teamed up with former Moving Pictures songwriter Garry Frost, his brother Bill Frost and James Barton to form 1927, gigged until they were tight then landed a hit with smoky, rocking chugger That’s When I Think of You. It was the first single taken from debut album…ish (1989), followed by yearning power ballad If I Could, a song that still blindsides you with its vulnerability while you’re doing a supermarket run, pumping fuel or hearing it in piping through a passing car. They weren’t done, releasing You’ll Never Know and Compulsory Hero, all from …ish which topped the album charts and helped the band win at the 1989 ARIA Awards for Breakthrough Single and Breakthrough Album.
Next came The Other Side (1990) which went to number three on the ARIA Album charts backed by soaring pop hit Tell Me a Story. They has some chart success in Europe and America then a self-titled album followed and, well, the wheels started to fall off.
In-fighting, financial stress and a lack of spontaneity when playing live meant something needing to change.
“When we went to play shows everything was to a sequencer, there was no room for experimentation,” he says. “I just wanted to play music! In the mid ‘90s I thought, I don’t need this, it’s no fun. It was no fun.”
1927 disbanded and things went quiet.
One thing remained though: the songs.
Cut to the late noughties,
Weideman received a fateful call. A booking agent suggested there was a demand for 1927, people wanted to hear 1927 play those jams live. Could he supply?
“I decided to go back into 1927 stuff in 2009, before then there had been a lot of drama and people with egos. I always wanted to just play music, I don’t care about being a superstar or being chased down the road by groupies,” he says. “It’s been great, we’ve been touring solidly ever since.
“People ask me: ‘Aren’t you sick of playing If I Could?’ No I‘m not, it feels different every time,” he says. “I didn’t write it, the guy who wrote it wrote it for his fiancé. As I said, now we have a new crowd coming to the show and they sing along without drowning me out (laughs).”
Paul Kelly famously said: “Every song played live is a cover of the original recording.”
“Exactly. It’s a love song where you’re laying down your sword. The thing I love about the song is how much people love it. I love the energy that comes from the people,” he says.
“It’s not about me performing, it’s about the feeling I get back.”
The wheels are well and truly back on
“The last 10-12 years has been very fulfilling for me.
I’ve taken the band to a different audience.” Indeed the demographic of 1927 has changed and developed. The songs have managed to reach a new generation of music fans – punters who know greatness when they hear it.
“People have a different vibe, it’s a great mix of genders now. And I don’t mind saying it’s fuckin’ good every night! There wasn’t many times previously when I said that. I want a bunch of musicians who can play songs, I don’t want everyone playing for note for note. I always encourage people to bring their own flavour every time we play.”
Weideman is a road-dog. Right now he’s happy at home with his wife and cats Pablo, Keiko and Geshe but he’s itching to get back out there. “I love touring.There’s nothing like getting on stage with a bunch of guys, playing for 90 minutes and having the room to breathe. None of us are perfect musicians. I reckon I probably muck up once a night, everyone does, that’s the beauty of live music.”
If I Could,That’s When I Think of You,You’ll Never Know, Compulsory Hero and Tell Me a Story all go over well and blend with newer stuff from Generation-i (2013) such as Stop The World,The Story Never Ends and Nobody Knows.
“I say to people, ‘Whatever you think you’re going to see and hear is not what you’re going to see and hear’. If you haven’t seen this version of 1927 perform these songs live, well, I won’t say you’re in for a shock,” he remarks, a glint in his eyes, “you’re in for a treat.”