LIVE: Knotfest Australia (Brisbane), 2024


RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane, May 24

by Samuel J. Fell 

[First published in Rolling Stone (online), March 2024]

I was somewhere out the back of Machinery Hill when the Jack Daniels began to take hold.

You know, to paraphrase.

But there were bats. 

Lots of bats. 

Swooping low, big wing-span bats; fruit bats, lodging in the Morton Bay Figs that shroud the edges of Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds, an oval of Queensland-green grass surrounded by grandstands serving a time gone by, surviving (now, just) in the middle of that small wedge of prime real estate along Gregory Terrace and the start of the bare, concrete reach that becomes Lutwyche Road, booming low and slow out past the hospitals and the freeway on-ramps toward the outers; the hot and dreary suburbs, the fibro shacks on overgrown plots and brick veneer two-bedders fronting onto rumbling through-roads; Brisbane…

But the believers are under the bats. Out the back of Machinery Hill. Out the back off the green grass, on the concrete, pissing in the plastic piss-palaces and perusing the places – the food places, the merch places, looking for a place to sit amidst the constant-ness of it all. 

Early, it’s Speed; that’s a place. Constant. Hardcore. Angry but joyous, which defines most of the day, the third and final day of Knotfest, rumbling dirty up the east coast, not stopping hardly at all; no quarter asked, none given. Heavy metal; make your excuses at your own cost.

They thrash about in their own way and I, having traversed the covered carpark and the striped black and yellow tape and the chat and the ‘lemme check yr bag, bro’, ‘yeah, man’ dance, come out onto the terrace and immediately follow the music, and so I find Speed thrashing about in their own way, and it’s not my way, but man… it’s infectious as shit, and – for the first time all fucking day, and make no mistake it’s a long fucking day – I get someone else’s groove.

And so I hit my booted heel into the ground in time with the beat. 

And I start moving my head in time with someone’s beat

And this defines the day. The beat.

And the riff. The Beat and the Riff… this is heavy metal, no? Agree or not.

And, indeed, agree or not. This is also heavy metal, for, like politics or religion or any other shit on this goddamn glorious sphere upon which we all stomp, it’s all subjective; you dig it, or you don’t. But, in the instance of Knotfest 2024, we dig it or we don’t in the same space, about the same thing. ‘Metal’ is an umbrella term – you don’t have to dig it all, but at its core, we’re all here together.

And so we are in Brisbane on this sultry late-summer’s day. The sky hangs low like an elephant’s undercarriage, more often than not loosing a fine drizzle upon all us metal faithful, spending our Sunday in the sanctity of the beat and the riff and the Cathedral of Fuck You (“This is our church,” sings Elizabeth Hale of Halestorm later on, as they finish their set) where no one is left behind and we’re all one and together.

Metal crowds – the nicest and best of all musical crowds.

After Speed, on the right-hand-side stage, is Skindred from Newport in south Wales who delight in the drop… the long groove that then drops into the ‘headbanger’s delight’ – man, I did not (having not heard their music prior to this very weekend) expect this from this crew, but (again), I find someone else’s beat and I also find (quickly and effortlessly) how easily I can adapt to how they’re shaping metal and so I listen to vocalist Benji Webbe

(Cheeky motherfucker that he is – “Who needs a t-shirt?”, holding up a band t-shirt [crowd yells that they do], “Fuck you, sixty dollars once you’ve left.” Throws it back over his shoulder)

and, yes, this is (to some extent, at least) ‘My Jam’. Or his, or hers next to me, or anyone’s roaming about the grounds. I came into this day with a list of who I wanted to be in front of and Skindred weren’t on that list but they are now.

And I’m more than happy with that, and this, as was inevitable, is where the Jack Daniels comes into play. But, as we’re all in Sunday Sanctuary together, who gives a goddamn?

Escape The Fate step to the pulpit next up and begin with ‘Forgive Me’, a song which any self-respecting clergyman would denounce (as it contains the line, ‘I killed myself today’), but let’s be honest – how many men of the cloth are here today? Unless, by cloth, you mean some sort of black t-shirt with any number of slogans printed upon same…

[Examples of t-shirts spotted at Knotfest, 2024…

  • Kanye? Never Heard Of Her (with a picture of Lemmy) – Classic
  • I Like His Beard (he, next to her, wears a matching shirt saying, ‘I Like Her Butt’) – Fair play
  • My Beard, Your Boobs – Classy…
  • It’s A Slut Party Right Here – FFS, I almost wish I was in actual church…]

ETF, again, aren’t my tin of overly-priced booze, but you’ve gotta tip the hat where it’s due; new(ish) guitarist, Matti Hoffman is a monster across those six strings and when the band see fit to drop it all down to the tacks, the tacks, then it’s as good as most else I hear all day long.

Knotfest is set up in the same vein as CMC Rocks, or as Big Day Out used to run – two huge stages, side by side, one being used while the other is hurriedly prepped – crew scuttling about gantries and hauling cable like ants before a rain storm – the change between sets, then, effortless, hardly more than a handful of seconds all day long (and, on the odd occasion where there is a short delay, some wag in the booth presses play on the likes of Vengaboys’ ‘We Like To Party’, or Backstreet Boys’ ‘Everybody’) and so the morning lethargy burns off and we begin the run into the long, hard, flat afternoon moving from stage to stage, a whirlwind of guitars, thumping and churning and rolling about on the flat-trodden grass, slick underfoot as the drizzle carries on.

Thy Art Is Murder do exactly as you’d expect them to, razor-sharp, tight as a drum; Wage War simplify things somewhat, more four-to-the-floor thrash, punctuated, as they’ve been want to do in the past, by a solo acoustic number that fits well within the confines of the middle afternoon, Briton Bond’s voice careening back off the stands, filled with people sitting, watching, waiting.

Everyone is waiting.

Waiting for what? I don’t know and so lope off to find food, somewhere to sit myself, watch the bats, the people. I watch Asking Alexandria too, at least for a bit as their brand of metal – metalcore? Touches of industrial? Too much singing, not enough growling? – isn’t for me and so I wander through the market past the lockers, smoke a cigarette in the corner, flick it in the bin and head back onto the worn grass in the late afternoon as The HU come on stage, and this is wild shit.

Mongolian folk metal, if you can dig it, which most seem to be doing – their set is underpinned by an almost constant low and heavy drone, it (the music as a whole) seems to slowly emanate from the stage, slowly seeping out and out and through you until it hits brick up the back of the old stands and then rolls right back – the traditional throat singing enhances the drone and so it all seems to follow you, no matter where you’re lurking onsite…

Filling cracks and crevices.

They are fucking happy to be here, man, they raise their arms to the sky and growl their appreciation, which is hurled back ten-fold, indeed, and the use of the traditional morin khuur (a bass guitar / violin kind of combo, two strings, played with a bow) is of a level above even the next, and the next… sounds you’d reckon Dimebag Darrell would get excited about.

It’s getting dark around now. The bats, they’re out and they swoop low and look to settle but lift at the last second and then they’re gone, lost in the evening mist.

Halestorm bring an immense energy to proceedings, Hale vivacious and vicious all at once; strobing stage lights cut patterned lines through the falling rain, for quick nips of time brightening the dark corners, high in the stands down the back, booming up iridescent as the Riff comes in, all of it breaking down into a sludgy puddle that seems done and dried all too soon, but then one switches their attention to the left side stage and Lamb of God begin, and this is metal, the heaviest of metals, the most precise and yet rangy and fucked up metal of the day, frontman Randy Blythe a goddamn pinball of pent up aggressive energy…

He bounces and never stops, jumping off drum risers and fold-back speaker alike; he holds court, talks to the crowd, riles them up and pushes them back, pushes them around and the circle pit down the front churns and churns and those of us back a ways, about the base of the sound tower, nod our heads heavy in time with it all, and truth be told, this set is the first of the day that finishes far too soon, way too soon, they do finish though and the lights flash a dirty yellow and then it’s done.

Out the back, on the front terrace or in the alleys between stands or on the slick and hard concrete behind Machinery Hill, people are milling about and it’s blurry; time and space constantly warping… is it the drink? Maybe. The dull thud in heads that mutes the sound? Perhaps… people are still waiting.

I stop and lean against the wood outside the Cattleman’s Bar, take stock for a moment but fall into impromptu conversation with Dylan, who’s only got one shoe having lost the other in the LoG pit and so his sock is sodden but he couldn’t give less of a shit; he bums a few tally-hos and we talk about bands and the act of worshipping in the high church of heavy metal, which he seems fairly well attuned to, and then his phone rings and he hops off to find his mate. Hops off to continue waiting, like everyone else.

They’ve been waiting all day.

For Disturbed? Yes, for many. Disturbed have been doing what they’ve been doing for some thirty years – three decades of ‘The Sickness’, three decades of their nu-heavy hybrid that is, by now, tight as a new snare and so they Deliver. I observe from the side, from high up in one of the stands, from the back. I don’t like their music, I never have, but one cannot deny how fucking good they are at what they do – this is music done clinical; for many, when they’re done, it’s a devastation.

But, of course, it is now time. This is what people have been waiting for; people who’ve been wandering about all day taking in the Beat and the Riff but, really, waiting for the Beat and the Riff that they’ve known for decades, that they haven’t seen in the flesh since 2001…

And so it is then, that Pantera take the stage, and people push forward, eager faces lit large by the flashing strobes… and there they are, Rex on his goddamn bass and Zakk (you can never see his face, covered, head down, intense) and Charlie (metronomic, the Beat) and Phil, Phil, fuck I’ve missed you, brother…

And then the sound gives out.

They don’t know it through and so continue thrashing through ‘A New Level’ having a fucking ball, but us out in the dark are howling, screaming, trying to be heard (the drums and vocals are still alive) – ‘fix the fucking sound, man, the sound…’ Word gets to the band and so they stop and there’s a pause – the quietest period of the entire day – and then, a minute or so later, they’re back and so they begin again, ‘Mouth For War’, and they’re off.

To my mind, to my devastated mind, the sound never quite comes back to how it was though, Wylde’s guitar remains too low in the mix (you’ve gotta strain to hear it, strain…) but damn, man, Pantera after all this time – and they (Rex and Phil) have schooled Zakk and Charlie (pros, total pros, as you’d expect) and so the sound is Pantera – Vinnie and Dimebag loom large, each a face on Benante’s kick drums… For the fans, for the brotherhood, for the legacy, printed on t-shirts and posters and all over the fucking place, that’s what this tour is.

And they own it. They whip and howl through what is surely the shortest set of the day. It cannot be over… ‘Walk’, ‘Strength Beyond Strength’, ‘Fuckin’ Hostile’, vague memories of favourites swim through the murk later on… but it is over and we’re left standing on wet grass in the middle of an arena, Brisbane lit around us as the sound fades and finally, finally dies. The band hug on stage, they salute the faithful, and it’s done.

The bats have gone, and I imagine, as I trudge out with my brethren, that the flat-track concrete out the back of Machinery Hill is quiet now. Rain drips from the figs and the closer you get to the front gate, you can hear slow traffic out on the Terrace, the sound of real life.

My head thrums. With the Beat and the Riff. All together, some sort of sonic melange, a day’s worth of heavy shit, stuffed into my head. People sing as we walk through the carpark but the further away we get the more the crowd thins and the sound and the singing and the laughter die off and then I’m alone on a slick street somewhere in Brisbane, Knotfest behind me, but the Beat and the Riff living on.

Album – Neil Young & Promise Of The Real

[Published in the Spectrum section of The Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 30]

The Visitor
Reprise Records / Warner Australia

Neil Young is Canadian, but he loves the USA. It’s of these two facts that we’re reminded straight up, via the first two lines of Young’s new studio album, and they lay bare said album’s statement of intent: Young is only a visitor to America, but he’s come to love it and all it stands for. As the album unfurls though, and as you’d expect, Young realises that not all is well these days – where ‘The Visitor’ differs to past work however, is that it isn’t a protest record, it’s more one of hope, the underlying message being that we, the people, can restore this once proud nation to its former glory. Backed once again by the excellent Promise Of The Real, fronted by Lukas Nelson (son of Willie), ‘The Visitor’ presents some choice cuts, like the Crazy Horse-esque opener, the bluesy ‘Diggin’ A Hole’, and the groovy, stripped back guitar-led ‘Stand Tall’. And there are some odd inclusions, like the almost national anthem-like pomp of ‘Children Of Destiny’. It’s this discordance that is the album’s Achilles heel, but by persevering, by really listening, one can overcome. Which is of course, what Young wants you to do.


Samuel J. Fell

Album – Suicide Swans

[Published in the Spectrum section of The Sydney Morning Herald, Nov 11]


With second long-player Augusta, Toowoomba quintet Suicide Swans have endeavoured to expand their sonic repertoire – a common aspiration as a band approaches that difficult second record. More often than not however, a band falls into the trap of broadening too far, sacrificing cohesion and identity in the process. With Augusta, Suicide Swans have managed to not just broaden their musical palette, but present it in a way that’s undeniably theirs. An exemplary understanding of each other’s strengths, along with outstanding use of Wurlitzer, complimentary guitars, fiddle and subtle rhythm section sees a thick vein of commonality running through the record’s ten songs, whether they be of the rock ilk (Horses, with its pulsating guitars); grey-sky lament (Let Me Be); or of the style with which the band made its early mark, that of more traditional Americana (the fiddle-laced Canyons; the acoustic Wall and Come & See). It’s this ability to explore new avenues without the results sounding alien or out of place together, that makes this such a good record. Four-part harmonies abound too, harsh voices made beautiful in the context of one of the best roots albums of the year.


Samuel J. Fell


Feature In No Depression Magazine (US) – Yirrmal & Indigenous Australian Music

Appearing in the summer issue of legendary American roots music magazine No Depression, SJF has a long feature on up-and-coming artist Yirrmal, and the scope, influence and identity of indigenous Australian contemporary music.

Issue out in mid-May.

And consider subscribing to No Depression – for only $6 a month, you can support ad-free, in-depth arts journalism. Head to the website HERE.

Bernard Fanning

[Published in the July/August issue of Rhythms magazine, Cover Feature, July/August 2016] 

While BERNARD FANNING’s new album stems from a feeling of unease, it blooms as one of the songwriter’s strongest releases. He talks to Samuel J. Fell.


It’s a Monday afternoon. Late autumn and sunny. It’s crystal clear and the air is sharp, cool in the shade courtesy of a light breeze but warm in the sun, brightening the scene; makes the grass seem greener and the surrounding shrubs livelier despite the fact there’s been no rain for a month or so.

Bernard Fanning sits on a day bed, leaning against the wall of his small studio, up on a hill above Byron Bay. You can see it down below, spread along the coastline in among the trees against the water’s edge. Out in the bay itself is Julian Rocks. It’s so clear you can see the whitewater breaking around their base. The lighthouse sits atop Cape Byron, slightly to the south, the sunlight glinting off its tall, white walls, standing guard over the most easterly point in Australia.

Fanning sits taking it all in. It is, as I’d mentioned to him when I’d first arrived, a view you’d not get sick of. He agrees and during the couple of hours we spend sitting out here, we both periodically gaze out over it all. It’s calming. Serene. Seems to me to be a perfect place to put together a record.

Fanning, in light blue jeans and black jacket, hair hanging down to his shoulders, flipping across his face, grey stubble, pale skin, is in good spirits. He smiles a lot and his laugh rings out across the green, sloping garden, occasionally startling lorikeets playing in the trees hanging over the driveway to the side. I’m always wary prior to speaking to prominent rock stars, well aware they could be completely consumed by an inflated sense of self-importance, nothing more than preening posers.

But Bernard Fanning’s not like that. Sure, he’s a prominent rock star, he fronted one of the most iconic Australian bands of all time in Powderfinger. His solo debut, Tea & Sympathy, was incredibly successful, five-times platinum. But he’s just a guy with a wife and kids, sitting here having a chat about music, about the state of the world, life in general. Just shooting the breeze like any of us.

Inside the studio, producer Nick DiDia is tinkering. Occasionally, music drifts out from the open door around the corner, soundtracking certain parts of our conversation. “It’s shit, isn’t it,” Fanning says at one point as he looks out across the Pacific. He laughs again. I do too as I follow his gaze. “Yeah,” I say. “Terrible.”


Bernard Fanning’s new album, his third solo effort, is Civil Dusk. It’s the first in a two-part series, the next being Brutal Dawn, slated for release sometime next year. Civil Dusk was written in part in Kingscliff, a small coastal village a little further north, and partly in Madrid, Spain, where his wife is from. It was all recorded here, aside from the demos, in this little space on top of a hill overlooking Byron.

Civil Dusk, the term actually comes from civil twilight, which is a photography term,” he tells me. “It’s when the sun has gone down beneath the horizon. Scientifically, I think it’s when the sun is six degrees below the horizon. But pretty much everything is still visible, but not in direct light. And it looks different. So that idea, that metaphor…”

He trails off at the end of that sentence and switches focus to the term brutal dawn, which we both agree is the perfect name for an album by a Norwegian death metal band, but the sentiment is clear. Civil Dusk is about things not being quite as they seem, or quite as you remember them, and they’re about to change. Perhaps to be revealed once more, in a different light later on, under a brutal dawn.

I ask him if, as a person, he’s a worrier, if he’s prone to anxiety. “Oh yeah, totally, I’m a real worrier,” he says candidly. The reason I ask this is because in the bio that accompanies the new record, he’s quoted as saying, “Each day, I wake with a feeling of unease.” It’s a line which ties in with the idea behind the record, the civil dusk preceding a brutal dawn.

“Yeah, doesn’t everyone?” he asks with a laugh when I read that quote back to him. “It sounds a little too depressing. I don’t mean… it’s unease, it’s not full-blown anxiety. It’s more like, I’ve got shit to do, lots to do. As an artist and a human being. Firstly as a dad, the basic stuff of making breakfast, getting school lunches ready, you know. Making sure everyone’s got two shoes on when they leave.

“[But] it’s a combination of everything. When I’m writing, I don’t sleep very much. I wake up a lot of times at night, and often with the last idea I had before I went to bed, kinda ringing in my head. And it’s pretty annoying, and pretty annoying for my wife. It’s hard to shake when you have an idea that you haven’t abandoned yet, that you haven’t managed to go, ‘I’m not gonna keep going’.

“And what I mean by that, that’s a completed song as well. It’s not like, ‘That song’s finished’, it’s ‘I’m not working on that anymore’. Because inevitably, a few months later, you’re gonna find holes in that idea and go, ‘Fuck, I wish I’d done that’.”

I venture that this is the lot of the artist, that no matter what you do, you’ll never really be satisfied. Or at least you’ll think you’re satisfied, only to realise a little while later that you no longer are. “Yeah, that’s exactly right. You have this momentary satisfaction,” he says. “Anyway, the anxiety thing, I don’t want to play that up too much… it’s more because I usually get up first in the house, at around 4:30, and I read the paper. And that usually starts that feeling of unease, just reading about the state of the world.

“And that impacts a lot on the way that I write.”

Despite this assertion, Civil Dusk isn’t a record populated with songs dealing with literal world events. It’s not an album that bemoans the state of the world, not in a direct sense anyway – Bernard Fanning, who in the past has been very vocal about, and supportive of, a number of pertinent social issues, isn’t setting out to preach to a world he sees as wrong, or broken. Civil Dusk seems to be more about a feeling and a state of being, as opposed to presenting like a list of injustices, set to song.

As well, these feelings are framed through a series of love songs, whether happy or sad, disguised somewhat – the meanings are visible, but not in direct light, the songs civil dusks in themselves.

Another strong thematic vein that runs through the record is the idea of decisions and their resulting consequences. “I guess that’s another symptom of age and being forty-something,” he muses. “Looking at decisions I made when I was in my 20s and things that I thought were a great idea at the time. I mean, I’m in the unfortunate position… of having a lot of the things I’ve said, recorded, when I was in my 20s and maybe not at my smartest.”

He laughs again. “So, things like that. But also looking at that in the wider sense, how are things like, even on a personal basis especially, Powderfinger breaking up, how that has impacted on me and other people around me, stuff like that.”

“I don’t really want to be drilling down into the detail of what the songs are about, because I don’t really like doing that,” he then says, changing position on the day bed. “I want people to have their own discovery of songs, they have that thing where they… it’s what I do, put myself in the position of the author, pretty much all the time, when I’m listening to music.

“If I can really relate to it, then I can sing that song with a real kind of verve, it resonates with me. Otherwise, it doesn’t really impact… I like people having the opportunity to do that themselves, without it being all explained and spelt out to them. I mean, you don’t really need to do it anyway.”

“The future’s suffocating on an echo from the past.” A line from ‘Belly Of The Beast’, the final song on Civil Dusk. One could interpret that in myriad different ways. It’s a strong line though, one of the strongest on the album. It sums up the civil dusk, the decisions and resulting consequence. It’s powerful.

Fanning laughs again, and I sip from my cup of coffee which is cold now, and light a cigarette, moving over to a sunny patch on the grass. We both look out over the ocean and we’re silent for a bit.


“All I knew is that I wanted to base it around acoustic guitars and pianos, that’s all I knew,” he says when I ask him what his initial MO was for Civil Dusk. “Whether I had a band or not, I didn’t know, and then I soon found out I’m not an accomplished enough musician to do a guitar and vocal record that would stand the test of time.

“I wanted to do most of it myself, I wanted to play most of it myself, which is kind of… Departures was the opposite of Tea & Sympathy, and now Civil Dusk and Brutal Dawn are the opposite of Departures. They’re reactions to what you’ve done before. And also stepping stones, I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.”

I suggest that despite how different this new album is to Departures, his second solo record which came after 2005’s Tea & Sympathy, to him it would no doubt seem a natural evolution. “Yeah,” he concurs. “Totally. But at the same time, I can understand why some people when they heard ‘Battleships’ for example, were like, ‘What the fuck?’

“Because for me, that was part of the whole evolution of making that record, going through all the processes of getting to that song, but that ended up being the first thing that a lot of people heard.”

Civil Dusk is very much a return to vintage Fanning, for wont of a better phrase. Where 2013’s Departures was much more of a rock record, this new one is closer to his solo debut in that the songs, all of which were built around acoustic guitar and piano as he’s explained, are softer and more intimate, there’s more of a folky vibe, a rootsy vibe.

This isn’t to say there aren’t capacious and loud moments. ‘Wasting Time’ is almost a throw-back to the Powderfinger days, and ‘Change Of Pace’ too is upbeat and up-tempo, chugging along, very aptly named, appearing as it does mid-album after a couple of slower numbers. Sonically, the album is very warm as well, it throbs with a low warmth, due in large part to Fanning’s want to use only timber stringed instruments.

“It’s what appeals to me, it’s what actually hits me in the chest when I’m listening to music,” he says on this warmth. “I’m totally open to synthesisers and whatever else, but even when it comes to guitars, I prefer an acoustic guitar to an electric guitar, just the sound when I’m writing, I feel that richness. When you’re sitting playing with it, you feel it in your body.

“You do with an electric guitar as well, but it’s manufactured a bit, and that’s why my favourite thing to write on is a piano, because it’s like a fucking band. It’s massive and delicate and super melodic and has all those different ways you can voice things… so that’s why I wanted to do that. That’s what gets me. And I listened a lot, while I was writing, I listened a lot to Late For The Sky by Jackson Browne… it’s a fucking masterpiece. I really liked how this record was talking about the problems of society, through the prism of the problems in relationships.

“I’ve always tried to do that, and I’ve never particularly been able to articulate it for a whole record, and this is the closest I’ve got to being able to do that, I reckon.”

It’s fair to say that of any of Fanning’s records, whether on his own or with Powderfinger, Civil Dusk is his Late For The Sky. And this isn’t comparing Fanning to Browne. It’s comparing a style of songwriting, and in this instance, Fanning has produced some of his best work.


We finish up the formal part of the interview but stay sitting where we are, looking out again at the view from our vista in this ranging garden up on a hill on the New South Wales north coast. Fanning asks me what music I’m listening to at the moment, and we spend the next ten minutes or so discussing what we’re hearing that we like, what’s worth getting into. He writes a few of my suggestions down in his phone, always on the lookout for something new to stimulate his never-ending lust for good music.

He’s added something of his own to that canon with Civil Dusk. Whether it strikes as many chords as his solo debut, remains to be seen. Tea & Sympathy was an extremely high bar to set after all – indeed, as I drove up here, I couldn’t get ‘Wish You Well’ out of my head, having listened to it as part of the research for this story.

Regardless, with this new album, he’s done something worthy, something good.

“Well, I guess I’m in a situation where I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of having been in a band that was really, um, popular,” he muses when I ask him where he’s at, as an artist. “I’m starting to have a better understanding now of why as well. Because we never thought about that stuff when we were in the middle of it, we were always thinking about what we were doing next.

“I guess now I’ve had a bit of time to look at it. And it’s from what people tell you, how the songs of the band impacted their life, concerts or whatever, and I’m really proud of what we did. I think it’s really good, and so far has stood the test of time. It’s 20 years in September since Double Allergic came out actually.”

We both marvel at that thought – how can it be two decades since the release of one of the band’s most enduring albums? Fair boggles the mind. Fanning’s come to terms with it though, as well as the rest of the band’s success and it seems to have set him up well, for where he’s at today.

“I’m really excited about getting connected again with writing music that hits me really hard, and that will make an impact on people, emotionally. Primarily on me,” he concurs. “And I’m the only barometer that I really have.

“And obviously Nick, we’ve got a studio together now, so it’s pretty likely that we’re gonna be making a lot of records together for a long time. I’m really excited about the idea of just keeping on making records. I didn’t know, when I turned 40, whether I wanted to keep doing it or just try and do something else with my life… it took me a little while to work out what I wanted to do.”

“Making a break from living in Brisbane and being in Powderfinger has really invigorated me as well, given me a lot of energy to get back into work,” he adds. “And now having a studio, with this horrible view…” Another laugh.

I tell him it’s paying dividends, that I’ve been enjoying the record, and that it’s a grower, an album you really need to explore. “I hope that’s [the case], I would hope that it takes ten listens to go, ‘Oh fuck, that’s fuckin’ awesome’, the back of the record especially,” he enthuses.

“Because you know, from growing up listening to records, you tend to start with track one and you go through and get to know the back of the record later, maybe months down the track. And we put a lot of work into the sequencing with that in mind, so that there’s rewards for perseverance.” Another laugh. “That’s the thing with working with Nick, we both put such value on the ‘album’, because that’s how we grew up loving music. I would hope that that would have some impact on younger people who listen to this record. And with people more my age too I guess.”

Soon afterwards, we finish up properly and Fanning walks me out the front to where I’ve parked the truck. We shake hands and he stands for a bit before turning around and walking back towards the studio where DiDia is still tinkering. He’s in a good place, and regardless of whether he wakes with that feeling of unease or not, it’s translated into some deep and thoughtful music, which befits the man responsible for some of this country’s most iconic songs.

It may be the civil dusk before a brutal dawn, but Bernard Fanning is doing all he can to make sense of that. And that’s all he can do.

Civil Dusk is available from August 5 through Universal Music. The second instalment, Brutal Dawn, will follow in early 2017.