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Following a hectic end to 2022 – including a full national tour supporting their brilliant Back In the Day EP (which was voted #6 Best Australian Album in the Rhythms Readers’ Poll even though it is not an album!) – Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission have today announced that they will release their new album Where Only Memory Can Find You on May 5.  The album is the band’s first for esteemed Brisbane indie Coolin’ By Sound and will be followed by a national tour starting May 8. Simultaneous to the new album, Mick will also be releasing Volume 1 of a graphic novel Away Away, created in partnership with illustrator Angelo Madrid, and which tells the true story which inspired one of Mick’s most famous songs from his Weddings Parties Anything days.

The ball starts rolling with the gorgeous new single “Lilac Trees” which is out today.

Lilac Trees (Official Audio)

Of course, the title track from the Back In the Day EP was effectively also the first single from Where Only Memory Can Find You, so we’ve already had a taste of the new album and the themes that run through it.  New single “Lilac Trees” is not only about memory, but also a song about a song; an old song from the American South that was taught to Mick as a child, and which, upon reflection, is one he now realises he could never sing because of its racist undertone.

Where Only Memory Can Find You marks the return to the fray of Mick’s former Weddings, Parties, Anything bandmate, violinist Jen Anderson – joining founding WPA accordion player Mark “Squeezebox Wally” Wallace in the Roving Commission ranks – who oversaw beautiful string arrangements on “Lilac Trees” and a number of other songs.

Adding to the bolstered female presence is the fact that, by some quirk of fate, six of the nine songs on the album are co-writes by Thomas with prominent Australian female singer-songwriters; two tracks with Amy Saunders from ‘90s Indigenous folk trio Tiddas, and one each with Saunders’ bandmate Lou Bennett, Oz country legend Sara Storer, Melbourne veteran Barb Waters, and Brooke Taylor, who also happens to be a recent addition to Mick’s Roving Commission.

Where Only Memory Can Find You takes its name from a line in one of Thomas’s most famous songs, “Away Away”, which he first recorded with Weddings Parties Anything in 1987, and which is now also the title of Mick’s new graphic novel.

“Away Away” was inspired by a small b& w photo a friend showed him in 1983. That photo, of his friend’s father as a young German prisoner of war in a rural Australian detainment camp, a young man who forged friendships here, who escaped and was subsequently recaptured and who eventually resettled in Australia after the war, had a profound impact on Thomas in his younger days. And that impact was rekindled during Covid when the story behind the song was told in a letter from a listener – Thomas’s friend, the son of the man in the photo – read out on air by Raf Epstein on ABC Radio Melbourne during lockdown.

Hearing this story again inspired Mick to write a graphic novel based on it, and ultimately led to the thinking behind the new album.

“I was reading this book,” reflects Thomas, “and it was talking about the concept of ‘solastalgia’ and I got really interested in it, the concept of.people focussing on and desiring for parts of their past that they can by definition never attain – because it’s in the past – but I guess it’s also just this general sense of wanting to look back and look forward at the same time.

“And looking at ‘Away Away’, that’s the most enduring song we’ve got, and it’s reasonably rhetorical and doesn’t have much tying it down or pinpointing where or when it is – that song could be sung by any number of people and it doesn’t really have much reference to place or time – it’s just a song about missing someone.

“But when that letter was sent into the ABC it really brought back for me how that song came out of a definite place in time – and a really geographical and personal reference – so I wanted a bunch of songs that would tie in with that”.

A new live version “Away Away” by the Roving Commission closes the album, where it is introduced by a recording of Raf Epstein reading the letter and talking about the song on air.

New single “Lilac Trees” also ties in with memories and perceptions of the past.

Mick explains: “I played a songwriting workshop as part of a festival alongside Jessie Lloyd who collated the Mission Songs Project. The theme of the workshop was something like ‘Home Songs’ and the only thing I could think of that was anything like a ‘family song’ for me was one we used to call ‘Lilac Trees’. I looked online and couldn’t find it, but then I realised the actual title was ‘Stay In Your Own Backyard’. It is a song from the American South, and reading through the lyrics I realised they were at best condescending and patronising but no – let’s say it plainly: It’s a racist song. It was taught to us by my grandmother who was far from racist herself – in fact she’s probably where a lot of our decent family politics and egalitarianism comes from, a really kind and fair woman. But even for the purpose of historical illustration it’s a song I could never bring myself to sing. It just has a really bad sentiment to it. So ‘Lilac Trees’ is a song about that song, and about realising something that had been passed down from generation to generation wasn’t what you thought it might have been.”

Stream “Lilac Trees” –


Sun May 14 – Hotel Warrnambool, Warrnambool, Vic

Fri May 19 – Memo Music Hall, St Kilda, Vic

Wed May 24 – Arco Bar, Heatherton, Vic

Thu May 25 – Arco Bar, Heatherton, Vic

Fri May 26 – It’s Still a Secret, Brisbane, Qld

Sat May 27 – It’s Still a Secret, Brisbane, Qld

Sun May 28 – It’s Still a Secret, Brisbane, Qld

Fri June 2 – Camelot, Marrickville, NSW

Sat June 3 – Camelot, Marrickville, NSW

Fri June 9 – Mojos Bar, Fremantle, WA

Sat June 10 – Lyric Lane, Perth, WA

Sun June 11 – Lyric Lane, Perth, WA

Sat June 17 – Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA

Sun June 18 – Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA

Tickets for all shows available at

New single “Lilac Trees” is available to download or stream now.

New album Where Only Memory Can Find You will be available for pre-order on April 7.

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