For Pete Williamson, life continues to throw up the occasional tumult, despite the heady days of Mammal being far behind him.
Whirlwind, the title of his latest EP, encapsulates the triumphs and tribulations of his 33 years, not just the well documented awkward ending to a band which split before ultimately delivering on the promise, back in November 2009.
‘‘Life keeps throwing twists and turns, up and downs,’’ Williamson says.
‘‘Over the years I have had to learn to try and stay positive even when it seems like things aren’t working out.
‘‘The best thing about playing this style of blues and roots music (on Whirlwind) is that it makes me feel good, if that can rub off on other people then I would be stoked.’’
This new direction for Williamson on Whirlwind is actually a familiar one- Williamson played guitar on Pete Murray’s first two albums before joining Mammal, so he knows how to tone it down some.
He’s also pretty forthright about how it all went wrong for the band, who famously got a lot of stuff done in a short space of time: Australian tours, sold out London shows, multiple Big Day Outs, a US record deal and a five star live appraisal from Kerrang!
While some might have remained bitter about the acrimonious finish, and the dreams lost, Williamson is merely thankful.
‘‘Mammal had an amazing career in a short time,’’ he says.
‘‘We were very lucky to be able to do all that we did and worked really hard… it was very unfortunate that we had to break up and we really tried hard to keep it all together.
‘‘At the end of the day lifestyle and attitude conflicts between the singer (Ezekiel Ox) and the rest band just broke it down.
‘‘We were always fine when playing the show but the other 23 hours in the day turned into a nightmare.
‘‘In the end we couldn’t write music together or be in the same room because of the conflicts, so it had to end.’’
Williamson, relative of Australian troubadour John, says walking away was no easy task.
‘‘It was amazing to be accepted on the other side of the world,’’ he says.
‘‘(But) it was a very difficult band to walk away from because we were turning our backs on all our hard work and fans.
‘‘I wanted the band to go on forever like AC/DC. I regret having to cancel shows at the end and letting fans down, if you were on the inside of the band you would have known we had no choice.’’
So while Williamson moved on, he also went back, to his blues and roots origins.
‘‘I always had a strong connection with more roots styles,’’ he says.
‘‘I also grew up feeling a strong connection with artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Guy which got me into more traditional blues like Robert Johnson and Skip James.’’
Despite the trevails of recent history, Whirlwind remains an upbeat record.
‘‘I really wanted to write tunes that will work live and hopefully encourage some dancing so I intentionally kept the songs fairly positive,’’ Williamson says.
‘‘And I also make them about things I experience to try and keep them honest.’’
One track ‘‘Old Friend’’ is not about Ox however, but family dog, Joe.
‘‘He was a kelpie and the best dog ever,’’ Williamson says.
‘‘Unfortunately this year we had to put him down due to his old age, I was pretty upset about losing my best mate and the song is for him.’’
You could argue Whirlwind is also dedicated to another close friend, who planted the seed of Williamson’s love of the guitar.
‘‘My parents always encouraged me to learn an instrument, they started me out early on piano and then violin but I never really showed much interest until a friend started learning guitar,’’ he says.
‘‘I thought ‘Wow that is so cool’. Santa was very kind and got me my first electric guitar and I was hooked.’’
Williamson, is currently a man of three postcodes – Bendigo, Melbourne and the family farm near Kerang – but the rural setting stirs the creative juices the best.
‘‘I grew up on the farm and it is such a great place for being creative and writing music,’’ he says.
‘‘I have my music studio set up and can make noise jamming and recording whenever I want, it is pretty killer.
‘‘I am also really loving Bendigo, I have found a few cool spots for fishing and have had some tasty feeds cooking up the local Redfin.’’
Williamson will put down the fishing rod however and pick up the guitar for the next Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival showcase at the Newmarket Hotel on September 2.
He got his first taste of the festival at Goldmines Hotel last month at the hugely successful Ewes, Brews, Stews and Blues, and loved the flavour.
‘‘It is such a great pleasure to be involved and I am very excited about playing,’’ he says. ‘‘Having played at plenty of festivals over the years I think the key is to try and create a strong community vibe around it, great music and good times!
‘‘Everything takes time to build but if the people are having a good time then the word will spread and it will keep getting bigger.’’
Pete Williamson plays the third Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival showcase on September 2 at the Newmarket Hotel.
Courtesy of Bendigo Magazine