Like most musicians, work dried up almost overnight for Sam Teskey when COVID hit. Gigs were cancelled, tours put on hold, and Sam – one quarter of The Teskey Brothers (and one half of the brothers themselves) – hunkered down at home to ride out the pandemic.
“It’s been a crazy time. It’s very destabilising, having shows postponed and cancelled and moved around,” Sam says from his property in the middle of a forest near Warburton. “But in some ways, it was needed. We were touring a lot and making albums and were very busy. But this was one of those things where there was finally an excuse to say no.”
Ethical banking struck the right chord with The Teskey Brothers
Sam has been a Bank Australia customer since 2016, and encouraged the band to switch their banking over soon after when they were setting themselves up as a business.
“It felt like a really important decision at the time, along with letting the other banks know the reasons why we were moving on,” he says. “Hopefully that’s helped banks realise that there are a lot of people who are conscious about where their money goes.”
Sam also likes how local Bank Australia feels. “It seems like there are always really good people to help you out. It feels like a nice little country local bank, and very community based, which is lovely.”
Sam spent most of the past 20 months slowing down and hanging out with his family. “We’ve got a bunch of land out here in the forest, so there’s lots of firewood to be collected, we’ve got chickens that need looking after, we’re renovating a tiny house, and we’ve been doing nice wholesome gardening stuff.”
Sam spent lockdown tuning in to the cyclic nature of life
For Sam, inspiration hits when he’s out walking in the forest and there’s nothing else going on. “On those walks you’re thinking of songs and thinking of ideas – that’s what’s really work time, because it’s when all the inspiration arises.”
Sam has just released his debut solo record Cycles, a 45-minute audio experience inspired by 60s and 70s progressive albums by artists like Pink Floyd.
“Their music was created as an orchestration of one whole album and the songs aren’t really stand-alone; they all work together as one body of work,” he explains. “I wanted to do something similar, something that would change people’s listening perception into something they could really zone into. You have to sit through the long bits to really get the album, and to the possibilities that are in there.”
Sam likens the album, inspired by the cyclic nature of life and patterns that surround us, to a meditation practice. “I wanted to create an experience that brought people in and away from this quick, low-attention span world we live in. I invite people to take 45 minutes out of their day to essentially just slow the mind down.”
The band are looking forward to hitting the road again
Now that restrictions on capacities in live venues are easing, Sam is looking forward to getting back out onto the road again. Along with promoting Cycles, he’s also touring the new Teskey Brothers album, recorded live with Orchestra Victoria in an empty Hamer Hall during Melbourne’s first lockdown.
“It’s quite a spectacular experience to have the power of an orchestra behind you,” he recalls. “You have this power in numbers, and there were moments where you could really feel the energy just lifting the room. It was quite a special experience and definitely emotional.”
With albums coming out and tours being rebooked, how can music fans support their favourite artists, particularly after a period in which the live music scene was brought to a standstill? “Keep buying albums and tickets to shows,” Sam says. “Buying tickets really shows some security. Even if they might be postponed, know that they’ll go ahead one day!”
All images provided by Nick Mckk.