Rebello with a cause
Folk-rock singer-songwriter Trevor Rebello reckons he's going through a mid-life crisis two decades too early.
“You get to a point in life when you’re old enough to look back and say, ‘I did that right,’ or ‘I did that very wrong and I’ve missed an opportunity.’ Writing the EP forced me to reflect on those experiences, and I imagine that’s the sort of thing you go through during a midlife crisis, but I’m still in my twenties, so it seemed a bit soon.”
It’s a lot cheaper doing it this way – there are no Harley Davidsons in the parking lot…
“Recording an album is pretty expensive,” he says. “I probably could have afforded a Harley for the same price.”
Still, such feelings form the lyrical themes in the songs on the Slow Horses EP, and they’re rather profound fare – where can Rebello possibly go from here?
“Some of the songs here were written three or four years ago, so I am pulling on material from some time back,” he says.
“But two of the singles from the EP were written right at the end of the process, and both were written within a week, so it was a bit of a relief to know I could still write good stuff after that break.
“And if I can’t use myself as inspiration, I have plenty of friends and family members who would make interesting case studies.”
Does Rebello, as a writer, begin with the theme and develop a project from there, or does he complete something and then look at it, wondering what it’s all about?
“I start off with a musical, er, bed, and then, through the mood of the music, I’ll get to thinking about themes,” he says.
“By the time I’ve started actually writing down lyrics, I begin to get an idea of what the songs are about. You do get bands who just write down a collection of words, but I can’t do that.”
Rebello’s jangly folk style means he joins a set of contemporary artists who inattentive listeners will define as sounding a bit like Mumford And Sons. Is he alright with that for the moment?
“It’s not a bad thing,” he smiles, “even if people are just dropping you into a category because there’s a banjo in the arrangement.”
The roots music revival does help highlight music that can be played without electricity and on the spur of the moment; just standing in a corner with a guitar and some intent.
“I started off with just a guitar, and then we added drums and bass and banjo and all of that. But the idea was for me to be able to arrive with just a guitar or a second band member, and then, depending on availability of members or the vibe, we can put on different shows or different levels. It’s good to have the music coming to the forefront again.”
The cover art for Slow Horses matches the mood of the music. How aware was Rebello of highlighting the shared inspiration?
“Nothing really happens by accident, and the people I worked with on the project, from the producer to the photographer and the designer, through listening to the music and talking to me, got an idea of what it is I was trying to do.
“For instance, the font for the cover was designed to look like a cowboy Western whiskey bottle, which comes from a line in the song, Slow Horses. And of course, we wanted to bring in a horse theme, and more particularly, a weathered horse theme. Sort of ‘Where do weathered horses go?'”
“Mind you, I think we know where weathered horses go… But we were lucky – I have a friend who runs a farm where he rehabilitates horses, and he has some lovely animals for the photo shoot.”
Back to the music, into which Rebello packs a wide sweep of dynamics. Add that tendency to his relatively high-pitched voice, and it’s possible to sense a possible Meatloaf influence.
“Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell album was one of the first albums I ever owned,” Rebello confirms.
“I grew up listening to it. I loved that epic, theatrical rock and roll sound.”