The Whitlams have formally launched their new, folk and country-centric spinoff project – dubbed The Whitlams, Black Stump Band – with an emotive new single titled ‘The Day John Sattler Broke His Jaw’.
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It’s a soaring, soul-baring detour for the Sydney indie-rockers, replete with sizzling harmonica, twangy banjo and a smoky, stomping guitar solo. It’s reflective of the supergroup’s roster, which alongside Whitlams frontman Tim Freedman and drummer Terepai Richmond, is rounded out by Rod McCormack (on banjo, papoose and acoustic guitar), Ollie Thorpe (pedal steel and electric guitar), and Matt Fell (bass).
The track arrives alongside a video helmed by local filmmaker and photojournalist Johnny Barker, who incorporated archival footage from Australian culture in the early 1970s – including the actual moment the track is based on, when South Sydney footballer John Sattler had his jaw shattered in the third moment of the 1970 Grand Final.
Take a look at the video for ‘The Day John Sattler Broke His Jaw’ below:
In a press release, Freedman explained that The Whitlams, Black Stump Band was conceptualised during his solo tour across Australia in support of last year’s ‘Man About A Dog’ single. Driving between Gunnedah and Mudgee via Black Stump Way, he was surprised to learn that ‘Man About A Dog’ had been added to country radio, having never considered The Whitlams to be viable for as much.
“I must admit it was a surprise to be played on Kix Country and Triple A Murri Country,” he said, “but it was very cool. I have to get out of the city more.”
So the story goes, the idea for a country-focussed supergroup sparked in Freedman’s mind once he reached Mudgee, promptly calling Fell – a longtime collaborator of Freedman’s, having produced his 2011 solo album ‘Australian Idle – and telling him to “put together your dream band”.
As for the single itself, Freedman opined that ‘The Day John Sattler Broke His Jaw’ “might be the greatest song ever written about rugby league, but it is so much more”. On its accompanying video, he added: “It’s a really special clip, with Johnny incorporating footage from the time.”
Though ‘The Day John Sattler Broke His Jaw’ marks the formal debut of The Whitlams, Black Stump Band, it’s not the group’s first release. Last August, they released a redux of The Whitlams’ single ‘50 Again’, which itself had landed two months prior.
The band played their first live show this week, performing at the Camelot Lounge in Sydney on Wednesday (April 6). They’ll follow it with two more NSW shows in April, playing the Longyard Hotel in Tamworth on Friday April 22 and the Victoria Hotel in Bathurst on Sunday April 24.
Come July, the group will embark on their first full-scale tour, a 11-date regional run spanning the Australian east coast. Find the full list of tour dates below, with tickets for all shows on sale now via The Whitlams’ website.
The Whitlams’ seventh full-length effort, ‘Sancho’, was released in January via EG Records. It marked their first longform release in 16 years, with their sixth album, ‘Little Cloud’, having landed in 2006.
In a four-star review of ‘Sancho’, NME’s David James Young said the record “fondly recalls boozy tours full of in-jokes and sing-alongs, jaunty piano and waltzing drums underscoring the whole affair”, opining that “perhaps the best thing about ‘Sancho’ is that the world it’s inheriting feels that little bit warmer and safer due to its presence”.
The Whitlams, Black Stump Band’s ‘John Sattler’s Jaw Tour’ dates are:
Thursday 28 – Mackay, The Metropolitan Hotel
Friday 29 – Townsville, Mansfield Hotel
Saturday 30 – Cairns, Tanks Art Centre
Wednesday 3 – Gunnedah, Town Hall
Thursday 4 – Orange, Civic Theatre
Friday 5 – Queanbeyan, Royal Hotel
Saturday 6 – Bowral, Bowling Club
Sunday 7 – Gundaroo, Tallagandra Hill Winery
Friday 12 – San Remo, Westernport Hotel
Saturday 13 – Queenscliff, Town Hall
Sunday 14 – Upwey, Burrinja Theatre