Jack Ladder: Love is Gone

At a glance the media portrayal of Jack Ladder seems to be one comprised primarily of his height, deep voice and the fact that he has opened for some auspicious international acts. In conversation with the man born Tim Rogers it quickly becomes clear that the twists and turns of his short career have shaped him as someone who is focused wholly on the music and searching for that elusive ‘sound' that seems to drive musicians to keep writing and performing.


The last few months have been a frustrating time for Ladder with a broken arm scuttling his plans to head over to the USA. "I couldn't put my hand on the guitar fretboard, I had to tune my guitar open," he laments. There are still plans to travel to America in October though Ladder seems to possess a certain reticence about making the journey over there to play to unknown audiences.


"The idea of going there is often much better than going in reality. Your hear about these bands going to America and going to to play for two people at the Space Lounge in LA. Its not really the ideal situation. It almost embarrassing saying you are doing it, its like cold calling."


Ladder has spent extended time in New York in the past and as a result of a fortuitous support slot for Okkervil River in Sydney he was able to connect with singer Will Sheff while he was in Brooklyn. This networking isn't something that comes naturally to Ladder and he admits "I've done tours with people and I never even spoke to them. I'm so bad at doing that stuff." The myth of the foreign act lifting the local band out of the obscurity is one that Ladder is also quick to dismiss.


"They make such a big game of it over here, opening for the right international band and having this illusion of international success. Its a load of shit. If anyone is going to have any real success they have to do it on their own rather than bludging off other people's audiences."


With a national headline tour approaching, Ladder has been busy rehearsing with the band that accompanied him so successfully on his most recent album Love Is Gone. Drummer Laurence Pike (Pivot/Triosk) and bassist Ben Waples (Triosk) are now joined by another member, allowing the band to develop its sound.


"I've got another guitarist playing with me now, fleshing it out and changing the sounds. Its a bit more spatial, not so R'n'B sounding. We're changing a lot of the old songs around, breathing new life into them and keeping them interesting."


The simplicity of the sound on Love Is Gone is one of the keys to how readily people have taken to the music. The rhythm section with its R'n'B and Stax vibe locked down the groove allowing Ladder's voice and lyrics to step forward rather than being held back within the music as they had been in the past. "Its all written around the vocal and the lyric. I knew what the songs were and it was them bringing out different accents and rhythms. They are such great listeners those guys, they follow the vocal and my accents and do things so intuitively," says Ladder.


Looking ahead to future recordings, Ladder is keen to work again with Pike and Waples. "'I'd definitely like to record with them again, its just a matter of where that will be and when. I'm pretty sure we can make it work. Its just the scheduling," he says.


Ladder admits he is currently looking to introduce new elements that will develop his writing style.


"Yeah, a lot of like longer form songs and more flat structures. Songs that don't go anywhere. Thats something I'm exploring a bit more, like Leonard Cohen 80s stuff and Suicide and 50s rock n roll stuff. A lot of Gene Vincent. You just get so bored of playing songs all the time, its about how to write songs that will keep giving you something every time you perform them. I thought for a while that to write real catchy tunes was what would keep me going but it doesn't offer enough substance."


There is a lack of pretension to Jack Ladder that comes across in his music, his conversation and even his public image. The simplicity of his monochromatic album artwork and his uncluttered look indicates that he enjoys working with basic elements. Even the name he took on followed that dictum " I just like simple things. Jack Ladder had a simple authority to it," he confesses.


Ladder heads into the next phase of touring and international travel with a critically acclaimed album under his wing and a clear vision of where he wants to take his music. That focus will no doubt see him around for a long time as he sidesteps any musical fashions of the moment and continues to explore the craft of songwriting.


Jack Ladder's Love is Gone is out now through Spunk.


Head to myspace.com/… for tour dates.

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