From busking the streets of Melbourne with a rusty old saxophone, to fronting bands at Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festival, Tommy Spender’s bio reads like a Hunter S Thompson novel, but with music replacing all of the hard drugs. In the last 2 decades, he has immersed himself in Melbourne’s music scene, in between traversing the country to play, record and produce his own brand of seductive soul power. By day Spender writes and records music for tv and radio commercials, produces bands and teaches primary school kids garage band. But at night, Spender climbs into a musical crawlspace inspired by the likes of Damon Albarn, Prince and Leonard Bernstein. In here, he creates the perfect space for storytelling and isn’t afraid to employ any instrument, effect or program to make his point. Covering saxophones, guitars, percussion, basses, harmonicas, voices and laptops. He can also whistle like nothing you might have heard before.
This is a compelling and unique world and it’s starting to attract a lot of attention. In part, this is due to a close circle of musical collaborators that includes some of Australia’s most respected artists, such as Gotye, Clairy Browne, Mphazes, Mama Kin, Ainslie Wills, and Dune. It is these passionate compadres that have assisted in the recording of Spender’s debut ep Modern Pest, delivering a masterpiece of eclecticism and a scrapbook of thoughts that spans a lifetime, several cities and a fistful of genres. It’s a long way from the days of busking by the Yarra with a rusty old saxophone, but in many ways the song remains the same. As Hunter S Thompson once said: “..buy the ticket, take the ride.”
Tommy appears on the Face The Music 2014 program.