Having spent the first 4 years of their career busking in Melbourne’s CBD, living off spare change and CD sales, Melbourne (via NZ) blues rock 4-piece BONJAH decided to back to where it all started for them in celebration of the release of their 3rd album Beautiful Wild.
Released on April 18th, Beautiful Wild debuted in the top 40 Aria charts, went to number 13 on the Australian Aria charts and hit top 3 on the AIR charts, a pretty impressive feat for a band who a few years ago were struggling to find a gig and living off weet-bix and canned peaches.
To thank their fans for all their support, BONJAH played 2 free shows on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke streets in Melbourne CBD, photographer Carl Dziunka was there to capture the guys in action.
Words by BONJAH guitarist Regan Lethbridge.
“Lovely chap, he stopped by and watched a few songs. The man has a voice that will melt any human being. It’s awesome to see real music resonating in a world full of massive marketing budgets & manufactured music.”
“The turn out was amazing… Crowds back in the day were always so supportive. People used to sit on the steps, chill and listen and always have a chat in between sets. We have seen a 4 year old dance like I’ve never seen and an 80 year old man break it down. On the street you see & meet all walks of life. From memory in around 4 years of playing in the CBD we only had one negative moment where a guy dropped a note in our case saying ‘you give me a headache’ or something. We just had a laugh, plugged back in and kept playing. Poor bugger”
Busking: Just Like The Early Days
“When we first moved here from New Zealand we couldn’t get a gig for the first month or two, one day we were walking through the mall & saw solo performers playing on the street and selling CDs. We made a few calls, got a permit & gave it a crack. We were so excited the first day playing when we made a few hundred dollars or so we took a photo of it, then went straight to Aldi.
We realised pretty early on if we played on the street selling CDs a few days a week we could sustain a living from it, fund recordings, tour and be full time musicians – that excited us. The thought of playing music most days and selling thousands of CDs was cool, it’s such a great period in our career looking back. Some the friends we made are still some of our closest friends now. I think we were one of the first bands to set up and play in the mall, the council were always so supportive of us. In hindsight they saved us from getting real jobs or heading back to NZ.”
Glen ‘Moz’ (singer) and Dave (bass)
“Moz and Dave. Moz wrote all of the lyrics for the new record. It’s incredibly personal stuff and the guy still blows me away after knowing him for half my life. He is one of the most kindest, gentle people offstage, I’ve never once had an argument with the guy. Get him a on stage with a mic and something switches and he becomes this amazing performer and vocalist.”
Regan’s Ol’ Guitar
“I bought along my fender strat for old times sake, it’s one of the first guitars I owned and used to busk with it regularly. It’s not an expensive guitar, but it plays really nice and means the world to me. I put a John Lennon sticker on it years ago as there was small crack in it that I couldn’t afford to fix.”
“Having a jam together trying out a few new numbers. On the right we had a bunch of Beautiful Wild albums. It was such a good buzz going back to our roots & having a jam on the street again.”
“Just the band enjoying jamming together.”
The New Album
“Dave signing our new record Beautiful Wild. We wrote the album over 18 months, recorded it in 10 days with Way of the Eagle, it’s our first release for 3 years. We are proud of it and can’t wait to get stuck into album number 4.”
Beautiful Wild Album Launch
Friday May 9 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne.