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Interview : Joe Robinson

A lot can be said about Joe Robinson, whose guitar playing proficiency has led critics to compare him to legendary guitarists well beyond his years. He was the charismatic teenager who won Australia’s Got Talent back in 2008, blowing audiences away with his perfect acoustic performances; the guy who released a full-length album at the age of fifteen and, at fourteen, had performed to countless live audiences all around the country. He was the boy who won national song writing competitions at thirteen, and who continued to teach himself guitar at the age of ten after out-guitaring his guitar teacher.

Joe grew up in the tiny, beach-side town of Temagog, NSW, where a passion for guitar grew from the hours he’d spend listening to his father’s old Eric Clapton records. When he was able to get his hands on his very first guitar, he became obsessed – spending every waking hour perfecting his handle over the instrument. Joe didn’t need any motivation to learn, and, after a year of playing, the guitar became a distinctive part of who he is.

‘I used to take it on the school-bus with me and I’d jam out while I was going to school. I just became known as “That Kid Who Had the Guitar”.’

The twenty-one-year old now resides in Nashville, has released two further albums and a new EP, Toe Jam that hit the shelves last month – a project that would give fans a taste of what could follow.

‘I guess for Toe Jam I wanted to have the live show come through more in the recordings, […] for it to have a bit of a rawer feel.’

‘I think people are going to interpret it the way they want to, […] that they can feel maybe what I was feeling at the time, you know? There are definitely different emotional elements with the different songs.’

Toe Jam, and its preceding album Let Me Introduce You, marked Joe’s debut into lyric writing and performing. After being defined for so long by his fast-paced finger picking style and lone instrumentals, Joe described the experience as being a steep learning curve.

‘I mean, it’s funny, ‘cause when it comes to song writing, and especially lyrics, you never really stop learning. Before I started writing lyrics, I never even used to listen to the lyrics of songs; I used to just listen to the music, so it’s really opened my ears up a lot.’

Following a busy few months touring Europe, Joe is now back on our shores, ready to take on the Australian crowds again. Fans can expect a trio show of guitar, bass, and drums with elements of rock thrown in, with Joe describing the sets as being heavier and more energetic than his previous shows.

Joe has performed around the world for Amish people, at strange weddings, and everything in between, and has achieved a career that most people his age can only dream of. But despite his freakishly amazing guitar talent and outstanding success, Joe is still a down-to-earth country boy who loves the beach, cooking, his friends and family, and the simple things in life. And, as it turns out, he has a few undisclosed talents.

‘My brother and I are actually really good at climbing trees. Like, we can basically handle any tree you can imagine. I can also do back flips with my guitar in my hand.’

But don’t worry, Joe won’t be giving up guitar anytime soon to become a competitive tree climber, but, if you’re lucky, you might witness a few back flips at the upcoming shows.

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Joe is currently touring around Australia, kicking off with Bellingen in NSW on December 1. For full tour dates, check his website out here.

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