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Australian singer, songwriter and guitarist Peter Freebairn grew up in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne in the mid 70s. At the age of 11, he became fascinated with the guitar – “I loved the look, sound and smell of the instrument”.   That fascination led to the discovery of many classic guitar-based artists such as The Beatles, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, and Robin Trower, as well as the vocal pop artistry of The Beach Boys, Peter Gabriel, Curtis Mayfield, and Matthew Sweet. In adult life, that passion and those influences have stayed with the singer, songwriter, producer and guitarist and you’ll find granules of them all filtered into his own brand of pop rock, particularly in his new album Silhouettes & Cigarettes, which is released Friday 17th May.

Ahead of the release of his Silhouettes & Cigarettes album this Friday and a Saturday afternoon launch at Wesley Anne in Northcote, Peter Freebairn caught up with Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips for a chat about his music career and the creation of the new album.

Beginning with Crazy Love, a gorgeous, breezy piece of pop, Peter Freebairn’s new album Silhouettes & Cigarettes offers up many appealing earworms. I Got Lucky (I Got You), is another example of Peter’s fine songcraft, a track written on a road trip down to the coast for a surf. “I was trying to evoke the feeling of summer, sitting on a beach, turning the portable radio up loud and generally enjoying life. I think it’s a pretty cool road track too,” says Freebairn. ‘Home Town’ is a love letter to Melbourne, a city which has given him so much. Peter wears his musical heart on his sleeve and lays bare his life, reflecting on the things that matter to him most.

 ‘Silhouettes & Cigarettes’ pays testament to Freebairn’s masterful melodic songwriting, musicianship and engaging vocals.
“While making this album, I was channelling the sounds of some of my favourite artists including; The Beatles, Matthew Sweet and World Party. The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ album was a favourite. I loved the sounds of the instruments, particularly the drums and bass. Back in the day, I listened to this record constantly wearing out more than one vinyl album!”

Freebairn is a master in the studio with a strong sense of the sounds he wanted to create.
“My home studio (Valley Road Studios) helped me a lot with recording and producing the album, allowing me to take my time with the music. I would drive around listening to mixes in the car, thinking of different ideas and changes like little volume issues with guitars or drums, and in some cases going back in to re-record the entire vocal or even tweak one lyric, just to get the right emotion,” said Freebairn.

“My house was under renovation throughout the entire recording. Some may have found this an inconvenient hindrance – but I found it helped me a lot. It kept me out of the studio and allowed me time to digest the songs and ideas – even mixing with fresh ears, which is so important.”

“One of the other main things I wanted to achieve was ‘keeping it real’ – miking up real valve guitar amps with minimal guitar effects and recording, take after take until I got it right”.

“I purchased a P Bass (Fender Precision Bass) because in my experience, a P Bass always sits well in the mix and allows good separation from the other instruments. I played that bass for hours and hours just to get it as good as I possibly could” – Freebairn explains.

“I played all the instruments on the album except on “I Got Lucky, (I Got You)’, mainly through necessity. In a way playing everything allows you to channel deep into the song and keep a constant theme in reaching the end result.”

“The drums were a bridge too far for me, so I got my friend Paul Boyle to play them. Jo George contributed piano, keyboards and harmony vocals to ‘I Got Lucky (I Got You)’.” Both Boyle and George are in Freebairn’s touring band. He continues – “The drums were recorded in my studio using an old technique from early Beatles records, which requires using only two microphones which creates a vintage style sound which I love.”

The songs on ‘Silhouettes & Cigarettes’ reflect Freebairn’s love of retro power-pop and guitar-driven rock such as the tracks, ‘I Got Lucky (I Got You)’, ‘Home Town’, ‘World You Choose’, Beatlesque ballads -‘You And I’, ‘Silhouette’ and the soulful, ‘Crazy Love’.

“Say Goodbye (Reprise) was written after recording ‘Say Goodbye’ as a way of expanding the idea of saying goodbye to loved ones that we lose forever,” says Freebairn. The song would have to be one of the album’s standout tracks and it’s about as exposed and understated as the artist gets on the record. “I’m really proud of this body of work,” adds Freebairn.

Peter Freebairn will perform the new album live at Wesley Anne High Street Northcote (Melbourne, Australia) Saturday 18th May. Tickets for this event here –

‘Silhouettes & Cigarettes’ will be released globally by Australian independent record label Pop Preservation Society on Friday 17th May, 2024.

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