WAGONS
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WAGONS

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | MAJOR

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | MAJOR
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Australian outlaw country? Sold!
In some ways, Rumble, Shake and Tumble is as straight ahead country as Johnny Cash or Hank Williams, but there’s a pulse behind the twang on this album that leans more toward indie rock and seems to teeter closer to The Replacements than Willie Nelson, even though there is a song on the disc named after (and obviously dedicated to) the Red Headed Stranger.
I had no idea that Melbourne had a Nashville contingent, but Rumble, Shake and Tumble music proves it does, and you can’t spell “Aussie” without U.S.A.
- Marquee


Americana, by definition, wouldn't seem to translate well overseas. But Rumble, Shake and Tumble, from the Australian band Wagons, is stuffed with hard-hitting roots music, American-style. The group crafts a just-right mixture of the self-deprecating, the self-destructive and the self-referential throughout the album, and the result is suitable for blaring out of every bar from St. Louis to Sydney.

A rough-edged ode to the fine art of messing up a relationship, "I Blew It" is part apology, part acknowledgment of mutual culpability ("We always knew I'd blow it, didn't we?"), and part celebration, all crafted by a bunch of whip-smart Aussies brave enough to write an ode to Willie Nelson and throw in an occasional dash of Nick Cave-worthy sturm und drang. "I Blew It" may not be revolutionary, but it's a refreshing take on the familiar. - NPR



The Aussie group Wagons, lead by Henry Wagons, comes at us with roots in the deepest of Americana, despite the distance of their hometowns. In just about every song those influences are prevalent: a voice like Johnny Cash, a swing like Elvis Presley, and an insightful honesty like Hank Williams. Wagons’ accent from down under comes out occasionally, but then only when you’re listening for it. At other times, though there is always a basis in rock and country, there is a hint of cabaret and soul that sneaks into the melodies. It is absolutely necessary to note how authentically American the band comes off, even though they hail from the literal opposite side of the globe.

If you want to get to know this band, press “next” before you hit “play” on their latest release, Rumble, Shake and Tumble. Track one is an obvious radio song, and as soon as the second song begins, you’ll get the unfortunate news that Wagons are willing to completely change their sound to make a single radio hit. Thankfully, the rest of the album really is magnificent. Past that first track, you’ll find a band rooted in gritty country, rock ‘n’ roll, and infectious foot stomping.

From just after that opening tune (“Downlow”) all the way through the disc-ending “Mary Lou”, Rumble, Shake and Tumble delivers exactly what the album title says it will. With his deep bass, low grumble, and drunk-ish slur, Henry Wagons is able to convey surprising tenderness even when singing over raucous clanging and pounding. “I Blew It”, the second track on the album and first one that gives you a true feel for the band, is a perfect example. While the band of six kicks down a proverbial steel door with their pounding, Henry laments a verse complete with qualities that run throughout the entire record: rugged masculinity, humour, humility and regret: “I dodged a few bullets in my time / Narrowly escaped with a fully intact hide / One thing I completely screwed / Yeah, I blew it when it came to you.”

That same way with words prevails throughout the record. Henry delivers his lyrics with a brutally honest, at times depressing, yet somehow witty tone. His apparent propensity for looking on the bright side prevails, even if his words on paper are less than hopeful. The mid-way verse of “Moon Into the Sun” begs, “Everybody tells me things will heal with time / But I have seen these hands spin a million miles / Please, please lift me from this downright funk / Douse my flames with a fire truck.” Later, somehow almost happily, he proclaims, “Oh how I love you, how I love you true / My life has been a fuckin’ mess without you.”

However, it’s not all sun-poking-through-clouds. In fact, if you don’t focus on the lyrics, you’d probably get the impression that Wagons are a rather fun-loving band – what shows through most is their rascality and probable back bar gruffness. At other times, there is a straight humour, an appreciation for life that makes you forget some of the downtrodden sentiments of songs. A chant of “It’s sizzlin’, cracklin’, smokin’ and fizzlin’” to describe his burning love is a refrain throughout “Love Is Burning”. In “Willie Nelson” – an ode to a favourite – Henry demands he’d like to know something special about Willie, to which his bandmate (credited as Matty Softmoods) responds quite seriously with a chant: “He likes some salt and pepper with his evening meal.”

The standout ballad on the album, “My Daydreams”, is an acoustic ode to a long distance lover, a home missed, and a rattling mind. Again, Henry’s brutal honesty is like a punch to the stomach. The song gains a Neil Young-ish rust with each progressive verse, and does not leave much room for the funny stuff.

As Henry himself puts it, “I wanted the album to reflect the washing machine turbine we have been put through. This musicians’ spin cycle has been an amazing and dizzy time. I wanted to capture it on record, complete with highs and lows.” And it worked. Throughout the record, you get the impression that it could have been recorded live. You can hear every personality of the six (and sometimes more) member band as if you’re watching them together on stage. There is an energy you can feel and a connection that is palpable. Henry may be the bandleader and driving creative force, but without the band to stand alongside him, the sound would not come together nearly as well. And thanks to that combined energy, you can understand the spin cycle he wants to convey

The album-closing “Mary Lou” is a much darker, more simplistic, angrily honest tune. Though the bulk of the song is played with an acoustic guitar plucking single notes amidst an escalating backdrop of ambient sound, it ends with a simple and sombre verse put to serve as an afterthought, recorded of different quality and written as a near entirely different tune. An interesting way to end an album in completely opposite fashion than it carried for its lifespan, but what other way to end a roller coaster ride than - Pop Matters


Former English teacher Henry Wagons turned up stateside a year ago for a solo slot on American Songwriter‘s Thursday night showcase at the Basement for Next BIG Nashville. At the time, the songwriter drew comparisons to ZZ Top, The Doors, and Nick Cave, and also provided some humorous banter for our mini-documentary.

Now, the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter has brought along the rest of the boys – a five-piece country rock outfit appropriately dubbed Wagons – who have been making waves down under since 2000. The group’s new record, Rumble, Shake & Tumble (Thirty Tigers) draws on American country, folk, and rock and roll, as seen through the eyes of a rumble, tumble crew of Aussies.

Wagons says the group’s lead single, “I Blew It,” (from which the album’s title phrase is taken) “arose from trying to take stock of what I was left with when coming out of a freshly broken relationship.”

“There I was, with a newly finished hamburger wrapper on my bedroom floor, a grande cup full of tears, greasy fingers and a half empty bottle of whiskey next to my feet. Back then, when I looked around me, I didn’t have too much to be proud of when I did my life’s inventory. Some people thrive in those situations, and plenty of good songs arise out of living and reveling in those kind of conditions. Not me. I’m more of a ‘glass half-full’ kinda guy, so I tried to concentrate on the stuff I still had above and beyond my immediate circle of tear-soaked junk food shrapnel.

“’I Blew It’ is an attempt at writing a rollicking, up-beat, break up song to help kick myself into the moving on stage of the break up as soon as possible. It was trying to embrace, and even celebrate, the fact that I totally and royally ‘blew it’, put it behind me and start to re-build in what I hoped would be a better place for everyone. I do still occasionally end up with a hamburger wrapper on the floor and whiskey bottle by my feet, but thankfully its in much better circumstances.” - American Songwriter


When I first saw The Proposition, the 2005 Australia-based Western about an outlaw (Guy Pearce) forced to kill his older brother, I was taken by what Vincent Vega (to mix movie metaphors) is the “little differences.” The narrative was familiar and there were cultural parallels (at least cinematic) between late nineteenth century Australia and the American West and Southwest.

This is the feeling I get when listening to the Australian roots-rock band Wagons recent fourth release Rumble, Shake & Tumble. There are elements of the familiar that are then twisted and elevated to strange and inspired places. the album kicks off with Downlow,a tale of clandestine romance done in as a jangly Tom Petty-style number complete with scorching lead and 80’s-era humming synths. I Blew It is thumping rockabilly tune that has Henry Wagons careening his baritone growling a lost-love lament. Moon Into The Sun is a front-porch ditty that shimmers with pedal-steel and hillbilly Buddhist pronouncements like “Everybody’s as happy as they want to be.”

Willie Nelson is a slinky-stomp ode to the Texas Yoda, well to the idea of him anyway since there’s really no details in the song relating the the legendary icon. It’s more testament to great music and a reason to jam. Love Is Burning channels fellow Aussie (and script writer for the aforementioned movie, The Proposition.) Nick Cave and is smoldering with lust and menace like a ,well, a Nick Cave song. My Daydream is a spacey country-tinged number that sound like a collaboration of Gram Parsons and David Bowie ( Singer Henry Wagons’ voice even sound eerily like the Thin White Duke at times.) Save Me is a Civil War-style and honky-tonk mash-up telling a tale of dispare and redemption

Henry Wagons drummers/bassists Mark Dawson and Si Francis, guitarists Chad Mason and Richard Blaze, and keyboardist Matthew Hassett made a big noise at the 2011 SXSW a nd it’s easy to hear why. Rumble, Shake and Tumble is a study in American music from an Australian bands perspective. the album will have you coming back again and again to peel back layer after layer of influence and nuance served with an edgy - Twang Nation


Australia's fascination with Americana is well established, thanks in no small part to the efforts of artists like Kasey Chambers, the Greencards and Home Fires. Indeed, the extent of that devotion has never been clearer than on Rumble, Shake and Tumble, the descriptively titled new album from the Aussie band Wagons.

The seven piece outfit, helmed by namesake singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Henry Wagons, finds them fawning over their forebears ("Sometimes I listen to Elvis/Sometimes I listen to Cash/Sometimes I listen to Waylon/But it all goes back to the one and only... Willie..." Wagons wails on the adoring "Willie Nelson"), but given their insurgent stomp, they're not content to simply offer their admiration. In fact, theirs is a staunch, defiant sound anchored by a deep bottom end with an occasional country sway. The rousing "Save Me" encourages sing-along participation, but the menacing glare of "Mary Lou," "Life's Too Short" and "Love Is Burning" could keep the timid at bay.

While the music sometimes suggests what would happen if Johnny Cash mixed it up with Nick Cave, there's a tip towards tradition that boasts more than a hint of reverence as well. It seems a down home demeanor and an arched attitude needn't be mutually exclusive.

DOWNLOAD: "Willie Nelson," "Save Me" LEE ZIMMERMAN - Blurt


Either Wagons are enjoying the greatest purple patch of their career, or they have a very powerful street team. After taking out Best Live Act honours yesterday, the Melbourne outfit have topped the Best Album category for their watershed record The Rise and Fall of Goodtown, outpolling the likes of Rowland S Howard, Mum Smokes, Crayon Fields and The Stabs.
Released through Spunk in April, Goodtown recently landed the band two publically voted EG Awards for Best Album and Best Group. It was accorded “On Rotation” status by M+N in May.
Speaking to M+N yesterday, singer Henry Wagon said the band have been overwhelmed by the recent slew of accolades. “I can’t believe we won these categories,” he said. “It’s truly humbling. The idea of beating the runners-up seems totally obscene to me. Thanks to everyone who voted. I think you may have made a blunder, but a very pleasing one for me.”
Despite a relentless touring schedule in ’09, Wagons show no signs of slowing down. They will perform at the Big Day Out in January, support US outfit Calexico in March and are in talks for a potential European tour in September. They will also begin work on the follow-up to Goodtown in late 2010. - Mess and Noise


1. Wagons
“The whole show is permeated with the sense of fun and enjoyment you might associate with the touring circus shows of yore.” This is how M+N contributor Patrick Emery described Wagons’ vaudevillian show at Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club on Cup Eve. The band are enjoying a recent surge in popularity thanks to their fourth long-player, The Rise and Fall of Goodtown, which yielded gongs for Best Album and Best Group at last month’s EG Awards. Topping a poll that includes The Drones, The Dirty Three and Eddy Current may be a surprising result, but as frontman Henry Wagons told us in a recent interview, it’s in the live arena where they always bring “The Shit”. “I'll be singing, sweating and bleeding down to a wet pulp whether its a packed Corner Hotel in Melbourne or the last dregs of a buck's night in Coolum,” he said.
2. The Drones
3. The Dirty Three
4. Eddy Current Suppression Ring
5. My Disco - Mess and Noise


Henry Wagons, dressed as the Jack Black of country music, announces in a quintessentially Australian accent that the wet coupled with humidity that fogs his glasses and makes him look more of a “dork, nerd” than he really is, is “not fucken appreciated, Brisbane. Not wanting to be a whiney arsehole,” he insists he’s having a great time and leads Wagons into their second track Love Me Like I Love You which sounds like a colaboration between Sixfthick and Nick Cave.

Straight outta Melbourne, fresh from Falls and BDO, the band are tight as fuck, driving, stomping country rock at it’s best. Guitarist ‘Iron’ Jeff Maiden on his big red hollow body shreds through Drive All Night Till Dawn. The gruff plodding of Man Sold is bookended by covers of Elvis’ Never Been To Spain and Melbourne band Wayfaring Strangers’ Willie Nelson.

The sinister fun of latest single Goodtown is the predictable closer, ending with four-part a cappella that is perfect until the last laughable note, which Henry shrugs off with a “We’ve been Wagons, seeya later!” - Faster Louder


Tonight belongs to the charismatic and bespectacled; tonight is a night of loving homage tinctured by tongue in cheek.

Henry from Wagons and Justin Townes Earle are gregarious performers with charmingly nerdy exteriors. Their magnetic stage presences fill the capacious Thornbury Theatre despite the tables and chairs set out for diners that makes the sold-out show seem sparsely populated. Resplendent in their coiffs, Nashville shirts and rockabilly tattoos, the crowd is appreciative of Wagons and Earle, both of whom revel in the melodrama, melancholy and mirth of the musical heritage they draw from.

Wagons warm up the chilly night admirably. As always, Henry Wagons’s sultry baritone and the band’s jauntiness are a sheer delight heard live, while the almost vaudevillian nature of their show — Henry’s comedic songs and between-song banter are that good — is happily entertaining. - Anagrammatically


It’s always great watching a band relax in front of a hometown crowd at the end of a tough slog on the road. The sense of comfort and relief is unmistakable and makes for a genuinely warm, enjoyable performance.


And so it was as the Wagons rolled into Melbourne for the last show of a long national tour, waving goodbye to the Tarago and hello to the studio. Frontman Henry Wagons, sipping from a hefty glass of red, was beaming onstage. The lively showman, whose rad little beard couldn’t hide his constant smile, promised a party and wholeheartedly delivered.

It was a tight set consisting mostly of tracks from the most recent album, The Rise and Fall of Goodtown. The band opened with ‘The Gambler’, and kept up the energy early with ‘Drive till Dawn’ and ‘Love Me Like I Love You’. After touring the material for more than a year it was well and truly polished and the group played wonderfully together.

Wagons is undoubtedly at his best when he’s able to jump around and let loose, and his deep, husky voice lends itself especially to grimy country riffs and jocular lyrics. So the show did lull a little during ‘Alone With Me’ – a kinda cheesy attempt at something slow and sentimental – and veered somewhere else completely when bassist/drummer Si the Philanthropist took to the mic to rap, which was so out of place that I couldn’t help but giggle.

Still, the band never took itself too seriously and was obviously having a ball on stage – easily enough to carry these rare odd moments.

The Corner was also treated to a taste of the new album. This particular track, ‘I Blew it’, was written while the band was touring with US alt-country sensation Justin Townes Earle, and it showed. The bottom-of-the-bottle ditty about lost love had a knee-slappin’ tempo and sounded a little twangier than the rocky Wagons of old, but the crowd enjoyed it. A sign of good things to come.

Covers of Elvis’ ‘Never Been to Spain’ and, later, The Wayfaring Strangers’ ‘Willie Nelson’ won the loudest responses of the night. “We just want you two sing two fuckin’ words,” roared the frontman during the ode to the 70s country icon, and the rowdy audience was all too happy to oblige.

The band finished the body of the performance with another singalong fave, the cheery ‘Goodtown’, before briefly disappearing offstage.

Wagons kicked off the encore sans band, with a spotlit, acoustic ditty about his home municipality, ‘Waverley’; the audience shared a good ol’ chuckle over local references to knives at the train station and mischief in Jells Park. The band returned for the much gloomier ‘Pamela May’, which took the mood down a notch, but powered home with the spirited ‘Jail, It’s Hell’. Wagons ran around collecting every mic he could find, yelling madly into them, as the band belted out their final big sounds.

A fitting, high energy finish to a show that should tide over Melbourne until the band emerges from the studio. - Laneway Magazine


Melbourne alt-country band Wagons have never been the kind to shy away from arduous national/regional tours. Over the past few years they’ve probably seen more of Australia than Slim Dusty, and while in Sydney for the Big Day Out festival, Mikey managed to find some shade for a little conversation with the band.

It was blazing hot, and Henry Wagons & Co. were definitely feeling the sweat build up – joking that the day might turn into some perverted wet t-shirt competition. Despite travelling extensively, Henry reveals that the band aren’t really ‘bush people’ and talks about their newest record and the year ahead. - Music Feeds


Four records in and Wagons have well and truly hit their stride. On the new album The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown they have, in 33 minutes, captured the essence of what real country and soul music is all about. The wide open spaces, love won and lost, death, God and Satan.

From the retro-Western artwork, with its sepia tinged images of communal country life and long haired rural girls, to the clashes of country and gothic rock, this is an ambitious project. One that in greedier hands would have been granted a more generous running time and overblown themes. Henry Wagons has the good editing ear to bring the cows home early and the record benefits greatly.

The most prominent feature of the album is Wagons’ voice, a rich and deep baritone tone that begs inevitable comparison to Johnny Cash. He has mastered a fine balance between the weariness of outlaw country and the bold drama of Las Vegas soul. He has also found a way to incorporate the low register of contemporaries like David Eugene Edwards (Wovenhand, 16 Horsepower), especially on the swampy murkiness of Evette, with its tale of a poisonous woman.

Wagons nail it best when they take the dusty side road, the southern American tales of dying love wrapped in lovely strings and swampy organ. These darker and moodier songs deal in more overcast atmospherics. As a result, they feel more genuine. Love Growing Old is an unsettling tale of pessimism; creeping and ominous it conjures up images of a conflicted man in a large, empty and decaying house with one last thing to live for.

A cover of Hoyt Axton’s Never Been To Spain is given the full Tom Jones/Neil Diamond treatment, with horns and a grandiose, swelling – œ70s soul ballad feel. Moonhorn Lake comes from the same era but differs with its front porch setting, gorgeous guitar line and Steve – œHarmony’ Hassett’s ghostly backing vocals.

Love Me Like I Love You is one of few missteps on the album. It is a surly pastiche that just seems too clumsy alongside the other tracks. If they had pulled back the barbershop chants and come up with rhyming couplets with either more subtlety or humour (like Nick Cave’s recent frappuccino and wisteria lines) then they could have saved the song.

Wagons are travelling down a well-worn trail, following in the footsteps of a million other strummers and crooners. They approach their influences with both reverence and a knowing smile. Either way you look at it – tribute or pastiche – it somehow all works in a wonderfully intriguing way.

The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown is out now through Spunk Records. - Faster Louder


Wagons are a motley bunch, though far less than their 'self-sufficient country cult' promo shots infer (watch where you point that rake, Henry!) The songs flirt with a shade of dark mythology - the kind we're used to Johnny Cash broaching - but taken on by city dwellers.

The full band came about in 1999, with a mind to interpret the songs of their hairy-faced leader, a troubadour aptly named Henry Wagons. Henry's big, authoritative baritone rings like the narration of a bed time story. Maybe a half-scary one at times, a jolly one at others. You are left hanging on Henry's every word - it's an undeniable sound. Luckily every word is carefully placed in a tale worth listening to, on this new album 'The Rise and Fall of Goodtown'.

'...Goodtown' sees Wagons being given some unusual production treatment, in the form of help by electronic composer Qua (Cornel Wilczek). Far from from a bare bones folk record, it's steeped in resonant, epic layering which peak and trough in perfect unison with simple, stirring melodies. Adds a nice peppering of dramatism to it all! A real storybook of a record.

They are playing far and wide on their 'Goodtown Roadshow' tour...
Here's a couple of dates, more on their myspace
- Triple J


“I am the Santa of Meredith ’09,” declares Henry Wagons before launching into a countrified version of ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’, which they recorded a day prior for a Spicks and Specks Christmas special. Regardless of whether you were naughty or nice, on this overcast Meredith Sunday, Wagons come bearing gifts. The band are truly at the height of their powers after relentlessly touring fourth album The Rise and Fall of Goodtown cross country, and they bring the proverbial “Shit” at a time when revelers are either packing up their tents, halfway to Geelong or cowering in a quiet spot somewhere gnashing their teeth.
Opener ‘Drive All Night ‘Till Dawn’ is enough to bring some stray onlookers into the fold, and by midway through a steady crowd has built. Henry Wagons keeps us all in our “happy place” with his between-song storytelling and witty repartee. He recalls how ‘Eagle on The Hill’ was inspired by a shitty roadside landmark that the band collectively defiled; blames his Cheap Monday jeans for a zipper malfunction; and speaks about his love for fat Elvis before a rendition of ‘Never Been To Spain’, changing the chorus to, “I ain’t never been to Meredith”, which draws warm cheers from those brave enough to open their mouths. ‘Goodtown’, with its honeyed harmonies and menacing outro elicits the biggest response, while a skip-hop interlude by percussionist Si the Philanthropist and drummer Mark “Tuckerbag” Dawson is funny and catchy, but never patrionising or glib. Wagons just can’t help but be authentic and engaging – even when they’re taking the piss. - Mess and Noise


Henry Wagons gives DARREN LEVIN the lowdown on the 10 tracks that make up Wagons’ epic fourth LP, 'The Rise and Fall of Goodtown'. - Mess and Noise


Before the main event were Melbourne scene stalwarts Wagons. Of the plethora of local acts to pick from, you know you’re in good company when a headliner chooses Henry Wagons and his troupe to open the stage. Equal parts Cave, Cash and Rogers, Wagons are like the host band at some kind of hellish rodeo, producing country tunes that are as greatly dark and murky as they are dance-inducing.

Henry possesses one of the best presences in town and he wasn’t shy to flaunt it all over the festival Hall stage, riling up responses from the crowd and serenading/taunting various members of security staff. The band’s cover of The Gambler – told to be at least 55 per cent as good as the original – held up about 55 per cent of the set, too. The rest was all great, let it be known, but this one just stood out the most. Wagons proved to be the right way to welcome Kasabian, even if the pairing wasn’t altogether a predictable one - Faster Louder


Wagons’ fourth LP 'The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown' sees the band move beyond their earlier country-based sound, writes TREVOR BLOCK.
There’s a country-esque song waiting to be written by someone – perhaps Henry Wagons – called ‘I Love This Record (But I Gave My Copy To A Beautiful Woman)’. Based on true events, it would explain why this review is a little late, coming as it does part-way through the national launch tour of Wagons’ The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown and while the video of the title track is already on high rotation on Rage.
Album number four sees the band move a fair way beyond their earlier country-based stuff – but then, Wagons have always played around with the format. Theirs is a more urbane urban strain, though not without the odd tip of the trucker cap to Nashville or Tamworth when it suits them. It’s that willingness to fool around and take risks that makes the inner-city’s take on the genre more entertaining than their rural cousins who seem perpetually bound to convention.
Despite the concept album-alluding title, there’s no overall narrative thread to Goodtown. Each song stands as a short story of its own: sketched out, filled in and brought to a conclusion. There’s no smooth sequence of sounds either. Within the first two tracks, you get a vicious boogie-style tune to kick things off (‘Drive All Night Till Dawn’) followed by a lilting folky number (‘Goodtown’).
If it’s hard to imagine a limp dick like Troy Cassar-Daly singing the “and I always bring the shit” line of the opener, it’s even harder to imagine how anyone else but Wagons could pull off ‘Goodtown’. The song starts out soft – but not at all not twee – before flipping over into something much darker, both musically and lyrically, as we learn that life in Goodtown is not all it’s cracked up to be. Indeed, the only way out, as Henry Wagons laments, is in a box. This jostle of style and pace works well across the rest of the album, and the production by Cornel Wilczek (aka Qua) moves with it – whether letting everything well up into massive Jimmy Webb-style choruses, or bringing Richard Blaze’s harsh guitar chops right up front.
"Despite the concept album-alluding title, there’s no overall narrative thread to 'Goodtown'. Each song stands as a short story of its own: sketched out, filled in and brought to a conclusion."
Back in the ’80s, Sydney cow-punk pioneers The Johnnies often played Oklahoma-born country legend Hoyt Axton’s ‘Greenback Dollar’, while Adalita recently recorded a version of his sly ‘Double Dare’ on the Suburban Mayhem soundtrack. He also wrote ‘I’ve Never Been To Spain’, which was a bit of a live favourite for Elvis Presley and is covered by Wagons here. It’s an odd tune, which strays and meanders around its subject matter with a kind of wide-eyed naivete that borders on plain dumb. But Wagons play this kitsch song dead straight, and pull it off beautifully. They know that having your tongue too far in your cheek can kill a song.
As usual, there’s no overt lust or even sleaze in Henry Wagons’ lyrics, although he admits the possibility in ‘Keep Your Eyes Of My Sister’. It’s the only cut here that really hints at sex, even if it does come with a twist: “You just like her/Cause she looks a bit like me.”
Wagons’ love songs are framed as great sweeping statements of dedication that often leave him drowning in a river of desire – whether it’s for mysterious women as in the seductive ‘Evette’, or for the lure of the poker table and whisky bottle in ‘The Gambler’. (Unlike the protagonist in the Kenny Rogers song, this guy has no idea when to fold ‘em).
The album closes with ‘Lightning’, a dark stormy cut that wouldn’t have been out of place on the band’s previous efforts. They too summoned lightning and invoked the Devil at some stage.
The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown is a great record; clever, entertaining and showing immense growth and change. Here’s hoping that it gets Wagons to that elusive Goodtown – or wherever else they want to go.
+
Wagons’ The Rise And Fall of Goodtown is out now through Spunk
- MESS AND NOISE


Some years ago a brash American told me he could smash a brick in half with his bare hand. More concerned with his brazen attitude than in awe of his alleged physical strength (which, I suspected was more likely empty bravado), I countered that such a feat “wasn’t bad”. “Not bad?” he thundered in reply. “I’d like to see what you could do!”

If Henry Wagons’ choice of weapon was the bare hand, he’d be chopping through metre-thick blue stone walls. But brute physical strength is irrelevant to Wagons and his superbly talented band. Henry Wagons is a songwriter and performer of disturbing strength, an assessment that must surely be set in stone with the release of Wagons’ fourth album, The Rise and Fall of Goodtown. The album opens in absolute style: Drive All Night Till Dawn defines the contemporary southern rock driving song, its aesthetic a cross between the blue jeans, whisky and speed of the Allman Brothers and the sneering arrogance of the Cruel Sea hurtling down the Hume Highway in a faded Kingswood.

When the car stops, it’s in Wagons’ dystopian Goodtown; here the hick-country feel suggests – like an antipodean incarnation of David Lynch’s Smalltown, USA – the smiles on the outside betray a seething underside. Escaping to the world of romance, Wagons lapses into rich baritone in Love Me Like I Love You, the lush tones of Wagons’ vocals walking the fine line between wooing and stalking. On The Gambler we’re transported to the world of Elvis Presley on the eve of the King’s drunken stumble into self-parody; later on, the cover of Never Been to Spain completes the ode to Presley.

Moonhorn Lake channels the infinitely glorious spirit of Johnny Cash, the lyrics a colourful narrative of humanity, geography and emotion and Love Growing Old is the quintessential love song, replete with acoustic guitar and cello. Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister is back to redneck territory, complete with banjo and piss-taking lyrical humour, and the atmospheric qualities of Lightning are enough to usher in the ultimate apocalyptic scenario.

But it’s the multi-dimensional Evette that demonstrates the versatility and arrogant brilliance of the record. The mood starts quietly, a tight but intense country blues aesthetic. The moment drops, and there’s a hint of Bowie strung out in space, before Wagons dares the object of his affections to forget about him. Faced with such an encounter how could you ever forget? This is a moment ingrained for life.

The Rise and Fall of Goodtown isn’t too bad at all. In fact, it’s more impressive – and infinitely more enjoyable – than breaking your hand trying to break a house in an act of self-indulgent idiocy. This is an album that speaks volumes, and where the pen, the guitar and the voice triumph over the usual mindless musical violence that dominates the mainstream music industry. Long shall Wagons reign supreme over all and sundry.
- BEAT MAG


More distinctive country rock from Melbourne cowboy Henry Wagons

The fourth album from Wagons, led by dusty storyteller Henry Wagons, is possibly the most immediate and focused
collection of tunes to date from one of Australia’s greatest interpreters of Americana. The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown
casts gamblers, protective brothers and outlaws in a compact half hour of miniature western epics. Wagons’ songs have
dramatic sweep, twanging authenticity and haunting atmospherics, such as the eerie keyboard drones of Love Me Like I
Love You and the sci-fi shimmer of Evette (complete with a lovely Bowie-esque interlude). There’s a kind of dustblown
soul in a cover of Hoyt Axton’s Never been To Spain, while the rousing choruses of the blues-drenched Goodtown are a
weird and wonderful blend of The Band and Brian Eno. And the whole thing is delivered in Wagons’ rich baritone, adding
weight to these already vivid and convincing songs.
- RAVE MAG


Melbourne’s Wagons were humble in their beginnings with a more downtrodden country sound,
but over the course of several albums they’ve evolved into a full ensemble of Western swing
and stampeding rock. The Rise And Fall… is a grand, loping beast of music with a 70s sound
that you’d expect to have been borne out of the oversized state of Texas.
The fact though that Wagons have perfectly captured that Austin country and western sound
only goes to demonstrate the vivid picture they’ve painted here. The family-sized photo that
adorns the cover mirrors the ensemble’s size as songs such as ‘Goodtown’, ‘Love Me Like I
Love You’ and ‘The Gambler’ are lavished with acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, brass
and rousing choruses of folks. At the band’s epicentre is Henry Wagon, the man whose baritone
timbre strengthens and seals the deal – most notably intoxicating in the stripped-back and
sombre ‘Moonhorn Lake’.
While not an album filled with fire and brimstone, these 10 tunes are soaked in a melodrama
and production that takes tunes like ‘Evette’ off the open highways and places them in the
reverb-drenched realms of bands like Queen. And just as it seems that things are going to get
out of hand, thankfully the reigns are pulled in with ‘Love Growing Old’ and ‘Never Been To
Spain’, which perch themselves on Henry Wagon’s Johnny Cash drawl and a Grand Ol’ Opry
brass section.
It’s not an album glossy enough to cross over and it’s not threadbare enough to hatch some
mystique of urban cool – so it’s an out of step band that forges its own path here, saturated with
the hard miles walked by many pickers and guitar slingers before them and keeping the horizon
in the distance vast and wide. - TIME OFF


The Wheatsheaf (or The Wheatie as it’s more widely known) is Adelaide’s best and most laid back suburban pub for enjoying good sounds. With the rain uncharacteristically falling on this tin shed / beer garden, the sold-out crowd were kept warm by more than just the fully cranked gas heaters.
Adelaide’s own No Through Road have been impressing their audiences for some time now with their tight, happy sounds and familiar rhythms. Any less-than-famous band with the gumption to name an album Winner deserves a listen, if not a bit of respect.
After enjoying their support act and a few Moo-Brews, Wagons meandered nonchalantly onto the stage. They are, in their own words, a melodramatic pop / rock / tango band travelling around the country on The Goodtown Roadshow tour. With their very charismatic and highly hilarious frontman, Henry Wagons, their sound could be better described as alt-country with a timeless and irreverent twist. With the look of an ageing hippy, this young lead singer was very much at home on stage and not afraid to pick fights with audience members, attempt to pick up someone else’s girl (for one of his bandmates), drop the C-word and even indulge in some chat about fisting. The inappropriate humour went over well, but the audience seemed to enjoy the dark and brooding tunes even more. It was, first and foremost, a rollickin’ good time with no slow songs, plenty of dancing and a fantastic Willie Nelson tribute sing-a-long. The band members impressed with their abilities to switch instruments. In fact, they were having such a good time that they hit a local karaoke bar afterwards to blast out some more noise. Henry has been blessed with a voice that seems to resonate all the way from hell itself. It’s possible that this man could be the devil in disguise, sent here to trick us into thinking that what he was saying and singing is socially acceptable and we should all follow him blindly into the abyss. It seemed that many there last Friday night would have been willing to go along with (almost) anything he’d suggest and one would surely hope that it would be regretted afterwards, assuming, of course, it was possible to live to tell the tale.
A night with Wagons is highly recommended for anyone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and is looking for a rollickin’ good time. Their album, The Rise And Fall Of Goodtown, is out now and they are travelling up the East coast over the next few months. Henry is also appearing at The Grace Emily in early October on his own and look out for his appearance on RocKwiz in the coming weeks. Check ‘em out!
- FASTER LOUDER


Wandering down to the local bar for a Sunday night easy feast of fine pub grub an unsuspecting group of beer drinkers stumbled across one almighty gig.
Melbourne band Wagons, headed by a Nick Cave-esque sounding front man with all the charisma a successful rock star needs, tell some wonderfully rich stories via tunes from their fourth album The Rise and Fall of Goodtown.
Finishing up a five-day five-gig tour of Western Australia, front man Henry Wagons, wearing a sports-style headband, told the crowd the band was far from exhausted - they were just warming up.
And warm up the Sunday night crowd the Wagons did, with their rollicking brand of country/rock/pop songs, many of which told vivid stories country-ballad style. The band's tunes are often compared to Johnny Cash's style of song.
Wagons' booming baritone is powerful, and backed by a group of talented musicians who produce fun music with feeling.
Matty 'Soft Moods' Hassett, on keyboards, provided brief moments of respite from the band's rocking tunes, directed to perform his favourite romantic old school television hit Greatest American Hero (Belive It or Not) at various times during the gig, providing an entertaining interlude to the band's signature tunes.
Steve 'Harmony' Hassett's vocals provide depth, while the band members regularly rotated instruments demonstrating their talents across the musical board.
Wagons ended up thrashing the drum set as the others showed off their vocal talents too.
A hip-hop number provided a massive contrast in style and yet another highlight, while a joking call from the crowd for some John Denver songs was met with contempt from Wagons who unleashed a bit of the scary fury he's known for on the guy in the back corner of the bar.
Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister was another humorous highlight, with the band's favourite live tune Never Been to Spain a hit with the small-ish crowd.
Stay tuned, for this band is headed back west at some stage later this year.
Once you see these guys live you have arrived in Wagons' Goodtown, and as the tune goes "once I'm there I'm never coming back".
- WA TODAY


Wagons lurch into a set equally musically superb and hilarious with ‘The Gambler’, followed
closely by ‘Love Me Like I Love You’. Looking now more than ever like a reincarnation of
Tenacious D’s Jack Black, elegantly dishevelled frontman Henry Wagons sports a white
headband and, with a possessed gleam in his eye and fire in his every move, he attacks his
acoustic guitar with an almost comical degree of force. While his deep voice is as superb as
ever on the likes of ‘Drive All Night Till Dawn’, Adelaide-inspired oldie ‘Eagle On The Hill’, and
‘Never Been To Spain’, Henry’s stage presence, combined with his typically hilarious
between-song banter, threatens to overshadow the music itself. The brilliant ‘Goodtown’ is the
set highlight, with both multi-instrumentalists Mark Dawson and Si Francis belting the bejeesus
out of the one drum kit for the song’s epic climax. After a solo turn through ‘Keep Your Eyes Off
My Sister’, Henry brings the lads back for ‘Man Sold’ and a closing cover of the Wayfaring
Strangers’ ‘Willie Nelson’. In a brief but bizarre encore, Henry switches to drums while Francis
and Dawson, “fuck this country music” and transform into rappers in the tongue-in-cheek
moment of the year. The night ends with a firebrand blast through ‘Jail, It’s Hell’ that has Henry
sauntering through the crowd like a man possessed.
- TIME OFF


Constantly heralded throughout the evening as the greatest live band in Australia, perhaps with tongue firmly in cheek or perhaps not, Wagons had a lot to live up to when they crashed onto the stage at 11:30. This band was fucking incredible. With the snarl of Tex Perkins, the hostility of a drunk Tim Rogers and the lyricism of Johnny Cash; lost and hallucinating in the Australian outback, Henry Wagons IS the figure every frontman with balls aspires to be… and he’ll beat the shit out of you for making such claims and laugh at the irony. It was hard not to conjure up images of Jack Black as he bantered at the crowd and abused the hecklers: “oh you want me to shut up and play a song? Maybe we’ll play you some Matchbox 20? Fuck you c**ts!”
Behind this facetious exterior there lay highly skilled “songsmithery” in keeping with the theme of the night and a completely natural affinity for performance. Each member of Wagons played a significant part and if just one of them was missing, the wheels would have fallen off. HA HA HA.
Man Sold hit you deep down in your gravelly smoke filled lungs and latest single Good Town was a blue grass, knee slapping jingle worthy of a barnyard shindig. The Gambler was musical fabling at its finest, adopting a rallentando in its final moments to mimic a roulette wheel coming to a halt: a simple concept yet extremely effective.
After thanking the right hand side of the crowd for “having no participation in the set what so ever” Henry Wagons and compadres bailed out… only to return, swap instruments and run through an Aussie hip hop joint.
Go see this band when they return in July and reinforce your faith in Australian music.

- FASTER LOUDER


Fresh from touring the northern states as part of a national tour electrified by the buzz of a new record the exquisitely underrated Wagons rolled back into Melbourne’s welcoming arms before a sell-out Corner crowd on this windy Queens Birthday long weekend.
As frontman Henry Krips took the stage, his grizzly beard and tufts of poodle curls tucked beneath a yellow sweat-band reminiscent of Richie Tenembaum, the ghost of Elvis circa the well-committed-to-the-button-busting-seam-ripping-fried peanut-butter-jelly-sandwich-phase was seen strutting gloriously, entertaining the audience as he bitched and moaned about weeks in the touring van, being forced to listen to Beyonce and a lifestyle based upon egg and lettuce sandwiches. The endearing level of glee in Krips’ rants gave away just how much Wagons are enjoying the surge in attention their new album is bringing them. The cheesy low-brow playfulness of new album The Rise & Fall of Goodtown, departing from the self-described sad-sack reflections on death, as somber as a Will Oldham record and just as hard to dance to, has brought new eyes and new ears to the fourth-album by Melbourne’s Wagons.
The Wagons sound, a rootsy country-noir twang that revels in the epic storytelling of sixties melodrama like a lovechild of Gene Pitney and Johnny Cash, uses appropriate levels of backing horns, a ‘man-choir’ and Krips’ fantastic vocals channeling a deep Roy Orbison croon in three minute gems.
Krips is a born entertainer, and his frequent witty banter threatened to overwhelm the songs, if not for the strength of Wagons’ songwriting, the tight band and wonderful harmonies as they throw their all into the ring.
The delightful cover of the Wayfaring Stranger’s Willie Nelson had feet bopping, as did the road anthem Drive All Night Till Dawn, and the lyrical genius of Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister earned some well-deserved laughs with, ‘And though I respect your taste, and a friend you may be /You just like her because she looks a bit like me’.
But it was the dark lusty blues of tracks like Evette, Love Me Like I Love You, and Never Been to Spain that showcased Wagons at their peak. Their lead single Goodtown, which has been getting airplay on local radio, presents the ubiquitous big-city escape to a greener patch of grass, followed by the crushing realisation that you still hate your life but now you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, exquisitely termed by Henry as ‘a sea-change gone to shit’. Such cynicism has never been so catchy.
- FASTER LOUDER


Discography

2002 - Trying to Get Home
2004 - Draw Blood
2007 - The Curse of Lightning
2009 - The Rise and Fall of Goodtown
2011 - Rumble, Shake and Tumble
2012 - Expecting Company? (Henry Wagons)

*all albums have received plenty of national airplay in Australia and in USA and Canada

Photos

Bio

WAGONS are unanimously lauded as one of Australia’s great acts. Led by the rare charisma of frontman Henry Wagons they offer heavy doses of stomping outlaw country, irresistible crooning and classic pop.

In both the live forum and on record, the band draw upon an uncommon range of influences given the current musical climate, including jump suit era Elvis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, the grit between the floorboards at the Ol’ Opry, the spit in 70’s trumpet sections and Cormac MacCarthy’s psychedelic Westerns. Their live show is a performance like no other, treading a line between a Vegas 70s showroom extravaganza and a bunch of fresh faced undertakers letting loose at a
rained sodden rock festival. Having spent the last few years
supporting and touring with the likes of Justin Townes Earle, Lucinda Williams, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zero’s, Calexico, Bill Callahan, Will Oldham, Okkervil River, John Hiatt, Jolie Holland and just recently completing a 16 date USA tour including AMA and SXSW showcases, it is safe to say that Wagons are road hardened, formidable live band.

2009’s album The Rise and Fall of Goodtown, the band’s fourth, saw them them win best group and best album in the 2009 Age EG Awards, local band and album of the year in
Rhythms magazine as well as in the Mess and Noise Readers Poll along with a string of further feature album, best live act and record of the year accolades. Henry Wagons was also named one of the ‘Top 100 Most Influential Melbournians’ by
The Age Melbourne Magazine.

Their latest album, Rumble, Shake and Tumble went public on May 6 2011 and has already garnered much critical attention including 4.5 stars in The Age and a further string of four
star reviews.

“Henry wagons is like Dr Suess meets Conway Twitty, a great performer, a good man, and a bad driver!! Henry struts like a Tennessee walking horse on PCP.” - Justin Townes Earle

“Wagons’ take on Country is based on the early classics and drenched in humor. But the music’s no joke - it’s well written, imaginative, often cinematic and critically-acclaimed for its authenticity.” - City Beat / Cincinnati USA

“The theoretical love child of The Doors and ZZ Top had inappropriate relations with the theoretical love child of Johnny Cash and The Bad Seeds. Henry Wagons somehow channels that haunting spirit of the Wild West, while simultaneously
pointing a six-shooter in your face daring you to change the CD” - American Songwriter Magazine

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QOUTES

"Henry's ragged vocals and the band's seasoned exuberant ensemble shuffle made for the most likeable local album"
NOISE POLLUTION/SMH

"Melbourne band WAGONS are a group of gentlemen with incredible talent, range and ability. In less than no time they have become one of the biggest tickets in the country"
LIVEGUIDE

"Wagons are entertainers. Their leader Henry is in typical cantankerous form as he fires one barb after another in his usual razor-sharp-witted vein. This head-banded, humorous man has made the theatre his own tonight he and his Wagons deliver another illuminating showcase."
NICK ARGYRIOU, RHYTHMS MAG

"Wagons offered country, covers and carols – all with class and charisma to burn."
FASTERLOUDER

"Wagons just can’t help but be authentic and engaging"
DARREN LEVIN, MESS AND NOISE

"Henry Wagons that is rivalled by only Jarvis Cocker for charisma. He loves it. We love it. The band are experts and Si's rap song is again dangerously close to the best thing ever"
THE VINE

"Wagons is likely out of his mind, and seems determined to jar you right out of yours"
RIP IT UP

"Henry possesses one of the best presences in town and he wasn’t shy to flaunt it all over the festival Hall stage, riling up responses from the crowd and serenading/taunting various members of security staff"
FASTERLOUDER

"Straight outta Melbourne, fresh from Falls and BDO, the band are tight as fuck, driving, stomping country rock at it’s best"
RAVE MAG

"Constant touring has shaped them into a tight, fun and rewarding band"
DOUBTFUL SOUNDS

"There's a touch of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; but Wagons, besides owing a major debt to the 70's, have managed to filter and master enough of their influences to cut fresh ground for themselves, and make an album thats short and sharp and very entertaining"
ROBERT FORSTER (THE GO-BETWEENS)
Monthly Magazine

"The next certified Australian rock star, he has Johnny Cash's oration and can be equally cantankerous, morbid, vulnerable and downright funny."
HERALD SUN

****, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
BERNARD ZUEL

"Henry has been blessed with a voice that seems to resonate all the way from hell itself. It’s possible that this man could be the devil in disguise, sent here to trick us into thinking that what he was saying and singing is socially acceptable and we should all follow him blindly into the abyss."
FASTER LOUDER

"Wagons have been th