I was lucky enough to chat with Joe Pug for the second time last week ahead of his return to The Tuning Fork for his second ever NZ tour. 

He’s had a busy year, on both the work and family front. He’s writing a new record, or still writing the new record if you read my interview last year. 

“This new record is going to be a pretty simple thing to record because of the style I want to do it in. The hard part is just the writing of it, and I’ve been doing a lot of writing but none of it has been very good!” He laughs. 

“I’m in this spot where I’m just keeping my shoulders on the boulder and moving it up the hill, and when or where the top of that hill is, I have no idea,”

He comments that he thinks it’s not up to him anymore and something inspired will happen, when it happens. He’s not in a rush to put this record out and believes it needs to be fantastic, not just fine. 

“The songs are fine that I’m writing, but in this day and age there’s no point in putting out a fine record. It’s hard enough to be heard if you have a great record. I can do this circuit of these places in the States and Europe and people wanna see the show and the songs and stories I have as is, and so I can and will just take my time!” 

I asked him about writing songs he didn’t like and how he gets that feeling, and who he talks to about that.

“I feel like I can say songs are not good, I know the feeling of writing a good song, I know what it sounds like. For me. These just haven’t felt like that. I have a close circle of musician and writer friends who I will bounce this stuff off and they’ve pretty much confirmed my thoughts.”

He’s loving the chance to tour and play the songs from his back catalogue and when the new songs get mixed in, he needs them to be worthy.

Asking someone to lay out 25 bucks for a vinyl, get a babysitter come down to the show on a Tuesday night, spend 35 bucks to come in and park, and spend their free time and energy, it’s a big ask, and so I would like to perform and inspire them, so they get back more than they put in! 

The new record will be close to his live show, the solo sound he’s been performing for the last year, sans the trio that he had previously worked with. He wants his songs to fit into the storytelling tradition and his current show. 

Joe runs the podcast, The Working Songwriter, and I was over the moon to discover this and have since been listening to them all. 

​”I’m a big podcast listener because I travel so much and there’s only so much music you can listen to in a day. I really wanted to hear a podcast that had interviews with songwriters that was very relaxed and interspersed with some music history and some storytelling around the edges. I thought surely this show must exist, but it didn’t. And I said, well hey what’s the first rule of business, when you have an idea for something and it doesn’t exist, make it. It’s been pretty cool, I produce it pretty much all myself, I figured out how to record it and publish, and it’s been a great process. It’s been very invigorating for me.” 

As Joe says, “It also has the artists best friend of a deadline, last Friday of the month, which can be helpful!” 

He thinks it has been a great resource to allow him to keep touring so much off an album cycle as the podcast grows and new listeners find it and him. 

Joe Pug plays San Fran, Wellington on Wednesday 19th July and The Tuning Fork, Auckland on Thursday 20th www.tuningfork.co.nz/July supported by the phenomenal Courtney Marie Andrews. 

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