Australia’s Warren Ellis is one of the most respected, wondrous composers and multi-instrumentalists working today. While he is acclaimed for his association with Nick Cave, as a member of the Bad Seeds, Grinderman and in collaborations on film scores like that of the recently released western Lawless, Ellis is perhaps most beloved for his work in a dynamic and powerful group called Dirty Three.
The band recently released Toward the Low Sun on Drag City Records, and they’re playing Pop Montreal on Sept. 20 and Vancouver on Oct. 1. Toward the Low Sun is Dirty Three's first album together in seven years, a veritable eternity for fans but, according to Ellis, necessary for the health of the band.
“We were all busy but things happen for a reason,” Ellis says. “We’d had problems trying to record and it didn’t seem to be exciting but every time we’d play live shows, the excitement was back again. There was an energy there that we’d always loved about the band and the way that we played together from the outset. But the more records you do, the harder it is to find a way in.”
“It needed something we don’t really do very often,” he continues. “It needed a chat and a look at things. We realized that the last few albums that we’d done had been an attempt to put everything in a smaller package with shorter time frames and see what effect that had. That took away a certain improvisation that happens when we play in more open-ended settings. The record kicks off with the first two tracks that we did and, when we heard them, we realized that was the way back in.”
While the Dirty Three were driving up to Canada, Ellis and I had an insightful chat about the band’s self-awareness of its power and limitations, the making of Toward the Low Sun, Ellis’s past, present and future film scores and soundtrack work and his fondness for Canada. He loves Neil Young, Montreal and Suoni per Il Popolo.
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See Dirty Three at Pop Montreal on Sept. 20 and in Vancouver on Oct. 1.
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Ian Blurton’s Change of Heart
5 for 20: Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three