On the Record: Greg Hewlett on the New Boat Haus Album

Greg Hewlett: co-owner of Fixed, and semi-secretly one of the most exciting musicians in town, has released a new album.
There’s a big spread in our current print issue on Fixed Coffee & Baking. But have you heard co-owner Greg Hewlett’s new album, recorded as Boat Haus? (Recorded, FYI, by Fixed employee Jake Nicoll, who does a bang-up job.) The album is a winner, all synthy, summery fun. This is not a case of, “Oh, neat, a novelty album from a local business owner!” If you’re into this sound, you’ll agree it’s arguably one of the best local albums of the year. There’s nice variety within the genre Hewlett’s exploring here too, making it one of those albums where your favourite track on it will shift with every listen.

Must be nice to employ so many of the town’s great musicians at Fixed: I see Jake Nicoll & Aley Waterman have credits on the album. How did those collaborations/appearances come to be?

They are very good buddies of mine, and admiring their respective work as I do, I had to reach out. Same goes for Noah Bender, Tim Callanan, Ilia Nicoll, and Rodney Russell, who also appear. PS Jake was every bit as great a drummer and producer to work with as you’d expect.

Tell Us about this cat on the album cover

That’s (one of) Jess Gibson’s cat(s),  Zooey. I took that shot after one of my and Jake’s first jams for the project, sometime in February. On what is her gaze so transfixed? I was doing that trick of reflecting light off my watch to cast a ball of light over the floor and walls and ceiling. It caught her attention.

If I made you pick a favourite song off the album, which would you pick? Any reason why?

I’d be tempted to say High Street Hustle, what with so many friends being on it. Plus the shifting dynamics.

And if I let you pick another favourite?

Patron Saints has the best lyrics and chord progression I’ve written and a good outro.

Which one of these songs came out the hardest, or was the longest in the crafting? Why?

Me and Knoah banging out the trumpets on High Street Hustle was an amusing slog. Neither of us plays trumpet enough. Our lips would turn to mush after a couple takes so we’d take turns to give the other a rest.

Share a random fact about one of your songs on this album, or the album itself.

Stuart Highway (featuring the inimitable Ilia Nicoll) is written about that most lonely and formidable Australian highway connecting Darwin (on the north coast) and Adelaide (on the south coast). Cuts straight down through almost 3000 kms of desert. I took this road on a great red sands road trip in 2010 and still can’t stop thinking about it.

Name one influence on your approach to songwriting – whether it be a musician or a goal you have in crafting a song.

Sorry, can’t do one. Lennon circa 66-68, Dylan circa 64-66, 70s Bowie, London Calling, Power Corruption & Lies, Odelay, Kid A, Kill the Moonlight, Apologies to the Queen Mary, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, Nouns and Everything in Between. Must stop before something else that can’t be left out comes up.

 What’s a new album you’ve been loving lately?

Run to the Rocks by Run to the Rocks, They Want My Soul by Spoon, In Conflict by Owen Pallett, Sunbathing Animal by Parquet Courts.

“Inside Out” off the new Spoon album:

And if I lit your album collection on fire, what’s one album you’d think to save first?

Space is Only Noise by Nicolas Jaar.

There are many ways to evaluate a song. But for you, what’s one trait that makes a great song a great song? Name a song you love that fits that bill.

When a strong melody mingles with rhythmic bounce.

“If and Only If” by The Current Electric. 

Other than music (and running a café), name something else you love. 

These summer days in the backyard.

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