Looking back over Xavier Rudd’s stunning career, one could easily ask what is possibly left for him to achieve. Already one of Australia’s most loved artists, he has earned accolades of every kind, Gold and Platinum certification, and legions of fans worldwide. Yet, with each new release, Xavier Rudd continues to surpass expectation and produce his finest work to date. Storm Boy, Xavier’s ninth studio album, continues this upwards trajectory. Led by the radiating single Walk Away, Storm Boy is both classic Xavier and something a little new. Produced by Chris Bond (Ben Howard, Tom Speight) and mixed by Tim Palmer (Pearl Jam, Bowie, U2) it is a record that reflects the power of Xavier’s songwriting – his timeless, philosophical lyrics and his masterful sculpting of melody. Beginning his career with 2002’s definitive To Let, Xavier Rudd put his message out into the world and was answered immediately. Fans from all over the globe were drawn to the distinctly Australian-looking musician, activist and surfer. It was the start of a journey that would span well over 15 years (and counting); taking Xavier to almost every continent on the planet, where he has connected with people from all cultures and walks of life. There are no borders that apply to Xavier Rudd’s music.
Catch Xavier Rudd at Old Man’s
Where are you currently based?
In the Currumbin Valley at the moment.
How did the band come together?
The band came together pretty organically. Two of the members played on the record, and the drummer, Lisa, was suggested by my last drummer, Bobby.
Will the band be a staple for the future?
You never know how things flow. I feel so blessed to share the stage with these talented musicians, but the music determines the line up, so we’ll see what happens. It’s always been ever-changing.
You maintain a consistent worldwide touring schedule, what do you find most challenging and rewarding whilst being on the road so often?
Delivering our music in a time of need around the world is special. We celebrate positive vibrations and change for a better world with so many amazing people around the globe, and I feel like it’s not about me so much, it’s about the bigger picture. It’s greater than how I feel. So if the travel or whatever is tiring, I remember this.
Your vision shows a balance between spirituality and rationality. I know you’re not a believer, what is your relationship with religion?
I’m not religious in the sense that I don’t believe in a God and I don’t follow the tenets of organised churches, but I believe in nature and everything that surrounds me: I love Earth, the sun, the sea and animals. Music is my only church.
If the most important religions had focused their doctrines on Mother Earth instead of higher beings, do you think we’d love and respect our planet more?
I think so, those beliefs influence our daily lives, but there are also many religions that teach us to respect the gift of nature. In truth it would be enough to think of ourselves as part of planet Earth and love it for everything it gives us. We should always evolve in a positive and respectful manner, as opposed to being omnivorous and predatory.
You’ve often supported environmental causes in the last few years: what worries you most about the current situation?
The most pressing theme is climate change, the most serious. The policies brought forth by United States president Donald Trump scare me, as well as those of large multinational companies. We have to stop just talking and act quickly.
Let’s make a list of your three most important songs on the environment. What are they and why?
The first one would be Come Let Go, the lyrics talk about focusing on simple things, letting your mind go and abandoning material possessions, appreciating the pure pleasures offered to us by nature. Then comes Spirit Bird, probably my most powerful song: it narrates a mystical experience I had in the desert after an encounter with a cacatua, a sacred Australian bird. I’d never been so close to that animal, so I was paralysed in the sand and started having visions in my mind. I connected them to my ancestors, as if the bird had brought me a message from them, a message I transferred into the lyrics. The third is Creancient, a song I wrote in the Amazon rainforest after I took part in a ritual in the river. My face was covered in mud, then I opened my eyes, looked at the forest and the chorus’ words were immediately revealed to me: “Rise up to creation, spirit of the ancients”.
Your songs are always an inspiration to many free spirits around the world. What is your idea of freedom?
There isn’t a single concept of freedom: I think anyone can be free if they want to and if they’re sure they can rid themselves of the conditions imposed by religions and the system. The only way to consciously overcome our slavery is to know what is causing it.
Nowadays you’re always busy with long tours around the world. Do you still manage to travel for pleasure?
I try to travel even when I’m playing around the world, combining the two things. Recently, I was lucky enough to perform in Costa Rica and Hawaii, and I took a few days to visit these marvellous places. Now a beautiful tour awaits me and I can’t wait to go to Italy to play my new songs, the album is really great and you’ll like it for sure.