Of all the interviews I have done with performers the most accommodating, humble and friendly are country music makers.
Adam Harvey is no exception, apologising for being a bit late and misspelling my name in text messages, as he walks through the office door. There are no airs and graces, just good humour and a genuine appreciation for the chance to talk about the show he and fellow Australian country music star Beccy Cole are bringing to the Mid-North Coast next week.
The pair have know each other for 20 years and this marks their ninth tour together. “Back at the start of it all, I was rocking her baby [now 18-year-old son Ricky] to sleep backstage,” Harvey says. When asked how life has changed since those early days, he says he is now more comfortable in his own skin. “You know what you want to say and are more relaxed about doing it. You’re happy to let folks know ‘this is the message I want to put out there’.”
Cole has described working with Harvey as like “putting on a comfy pair of jeans”. How does that make him feel? “Old and haggard. Like vinegar whereas she’s like a good wine that gets better with age. She’s truly the best live entertainer I have ever seen … quick witted, energetic and always gives 100 per cent.”
Harvey says they take the mickey out of each other and you can tell they are great mates. The show banter they have put together for each of the songs from The Great Country Songbook Vol II reads more like a comedy routine. “It’s great to be able to do an album and tour with one of your best friends.”
Cole now lives in Adelaide but was previously resident on the Central Coast as is Harvey and his family. “Beccy and my wife Kathy are great friends, but we don’t get to see her as much now she has moved.” Harvey says they “know too much about each other” so they will always be close.
It was natural to choose Cole for the album of country music’s great duets, but Harvey says it was tough to narrow down which ones to include. “It could have been the Encyclopedia Britannica, but we went with the best known and our favourites. Some just had to be on there, like Jackson, My Elusive Dreams, Islands in the Stream, and Beccy’s favourite You’re the Reason our Kids are Ugly.
“People still love them ... it’s escapism. Older folks get reminded of times they shared and younger ones have been brainwashed listening to them as kids.” The show also features some of their own songs in the second half, and Harvey says there will be some surprises. “Often the audience will yell out a request, and we’ll wing it if we haven’t rehearsed it.”
Both these popular performers are known for their crazy sense of humour so there is plenty of fun and pranks on tour. “Beccy would say I’m way out in front. One of the best [pranks] was when I let off a stink bomb while she was on stage. She was at the mic singing Poster Girl and I slid this stink bomb across the wooden stage and it landed right at her feet. She was in tears, and people were thinking it was the most heartfelt version of the song ever. But I’ve had the old ice esky dumped on me on the dunny. It keeps you on your toes.”
Touring is a whole lot of fun when you surround yourself with good people, he says.
Next on his agenda is a solo album for 2018. “I’ve just signed with Sony for three albums which is nice. I’ve been writing with Troy, and Beccy and a bunch of other people I respect. You get inspired when you’re on tour.”