One of Bendigo music’s most popular performers has found his voice again after a long period of soul searching.
It’s hard to fathom for an upbeat bloke known for his gregarious live shows, but Albert ‘‘Skip’’ Skipper admits he became a little lost after the band he fronted so memorably for a decade, Ethanol, called it a day in late 2010.
‘‘After playing with the same guys for over ten years I did hit a low point in my life,’’ he admits.
In the months after Skip wondered how he could contribute to the local scene again, before opting to foster the next generation of singers through his ‘‘own music school of rock’’ in RPM.
While immensely rewarding, it didn’t quite fill the void Skip was desperate to fill.
‘‘I love it but something was missing,’’ he says. ‘‘I wanted to play again but I questioned myself: ‘Can I do it without Ethanol? Did I rely on them to perform in public?’ I had so many songs on paper I just needed to find something different.’’
Thankfully Skip found Bride Stripped Back cellist Lauren Jennings.
‘‘I found Lozza (Jennings) and I thank her so much for bringing me back to life,’’ Skip says. ‘‘My heart is alive and kicking. We just happened to cross paths one day, then something jolted my brain days after so I approached her again and asked if she would have a jam with me.
‘‘I thought she would say no, only because we come from two different backgrounds in music. ‘‘She is classically trained and I’m a self taught muso whose watched and listened to friends who have inspired me from when I was a little tacker.’’
The pair would eventually form The Lost Heart Sirens, purveyors of all things love, whether it be the heartache or the humour.
‘‘This music is so different to what I’m used to, it’s so laid back, but then it can surprise you with the most uplifting feelings,’’ Skip says. ‘‘It’s a war siren calling out to those who need to feel these emotions.’’
He admits the Sirens was a fair leap from his previous work.
‘‘I’m the guy whose been doing the rock thing for so long, jumping around like a mad chook so it was easy to just relax and not be the front man,’’ he says.
‘‘The centrepiece of our sound is Lozza, her cello is so beautiful… it just makes you stop and listen and really affects your emotions.’’
Skips says they were both a bit jittery when they first sat down to play, but sensed they were onto something.
‘‘We were both very nervous but it just worked and we both knew that this was something very special indeed,’’ he says.
With Jennings on cello and Skip on guitar and foot drums, he admits there wasn’t much to it initially, but their first gig at Goldmines hit the mark.
‘‘It was amazing, I almost cried,’’ he laughs. ‘‘I loved the simplicity of just the two of us being able to create a big sound.’’
The Sirens eventually welcomed Shaugh McIntosh on keys (‘‘I didn’t even know he could play keys until I saw him walk in to a music store and he started tinkering and my jaw dropped… I just had to ask him to join’’) and the versatile Josh DeAraugo on drums.
‘‘(He’s) one of my very close friends who I look up to,’’ Skip says. ‘‘He is a brilliant muso and that’s a fact.
‘‘A majority of my muso friends are so much younger than me which inspires me to be better.’’
Signature track Pirates and Lovers has allowed Skip to reflect on his past.
‘‘I wanted to create something that really captured how strong love could be and that no boundaries could divide true love,’’he says. ‘‘And that’s why remembering how much mum and dad loved each other payed helped me write the song.
‘‘Watching mum and dad sing with a beaten up old guitar in open tuning singing love songs to each other are some of my greatest and inspirational times.’’
The Lost Heart Sirens will be part of the program for Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival in 2013