by Cormack O'Connor in New Music on Friday 8 February 2013

Mick Thomas is one of Australia’s great singer/songwriters. Beginning his long and fruitful career with the band Weddings Parties Anything in early 1984, Thomas has gone on to release 11 solo albums. We sat down with him for a chat ahead of the Clarkfield Music Festival, a great initiative to raise funds for the Cambodia Kids Foundation.

LAEM: Tell me a bit about how you got into music.
M: Pretty much through my family who were right into music in spite of none of them actually playing. I was born in 1960 so it was a time when music was at the forefront of popular culture in a significant way. We just liked singing – in the car or around the house, it didn’t matter. Music just seemed really important.

LAEM: What do you believe lead to the demise of Weddings Parties Anything?
M: I guess it just seemed like the appropriate time. We weren’t getting on the radio and things had pretty much levelled out for the band so the prospect was keep it going playing the same gigs, with the same songs to a slowly diminishing group of people or try and find a way of getting out and about a little more and try some different things. The Weddings was an expensive band to tour and record so there wasn’t really the option of us toughing it out as an independent entity. I wanted to go overseas and the Weddings weren’t getting much beyond a well worn path in Australia.

LAEM: What inspires your music?
M: I’m not really sure. I think I’m on a quest to artistically find my own sound – something peculiar and particular that can be produced in a way that someone else might find it vaguely interesting.

LAEM: You’ve had quiet a music career. What have you been up to lately?
M: I have been working on a big internet based project called Founders and Survivors where I have written, collected and recorded about 20 songs based on Tasmanian convict family histories. I have sung a couple but the rest have been handled by a stellar cast – Tim Rodgers, Ben Salter, Glen Richards, The Wolfgramms, Shelley Short, Darren Hanlon etc. There will be an album and some live shows later in the year. It has been mammoth.

LAEM: How did you get involved with Clarkfiled Music Festival?
M: I have known the mob from the Cambodian Kids Foundation for a while and even gone over there to look at the fantastic work they have been doing.

LAEM: What do you think the best aspect about the Festival proceeds going to charity is?
M: It is very direct so the money raised goes right where it should and doesn’t get syphoned off into bureaucracy. If we have a good day, a village in Cambodia gets a new school or toilet block – as simple as that.

The Clarkfield Music Festival will be held on Sunday the 17th of March in Clarkfield, Victoria.