THE rumours are true.
Bernard Fanning may just be the nicest guy in the Australian music industry.
The former Powderfinger frontman is known not only for being one of the country's most talented songwriters but also for his down-to-earth larrikin nature, and he's exactly that.
Bernard recently took the time to talk about his latest record Departures, in between rehearsals for his national tour which kicks off in July.
It's been eight years since his first solo album but don't expect a Tea & Sympathy 2 from Bernard.
When we weren't discussing our mutual love for Brisbane and what songs were my favourites off the new record (Grow Around You and Call You Home in case you were wondering), he explained why he wanted to steer his latest album in a different direction.
"I didn't want to go down that road again where all the edges were sanded off," he said.
"The way Tea and Sympathy was presented; it was quite gentle and very warm sounding.
"Departures has things that poke you in the eye and is a bit more confronting, but very much based on feeling and sounding like fun.
"So the approach was really to just inject more energy in it, by building songs from rhythms up, rather than having a guitar and having a melody."
Bernard is definitely not foreign to success.
Powderfinger is still regarded as one of the country's biggest bands, earning platinum certification on albums such as Odyssey Number Five and winning a tidy 18 ARIA awards throughout its career.
His Tea & Sympathy record debuted at number one on the ARIA album charts in 2005 and spent more than a year in the top 50.
So does he feel the pressure after so much success over the past two decades?
"To be honest I don't tend to reflect too much on former glories, so I just wanted to kind of keep moving, that was the main thing for me," he said.
"I think if I was responding to that pressure, I would've made a record that was a lot more like Tea and Sympathies. I just really wasn't interested in doing that."
Material from both solo albums will make up shows on his national Departures tour, which will include regional towns and cities.
Having previously played large open-air concerts in the city on both the Sunsets Farewell tour and Across the Great Divide tour (a joint effort with Silverchair in 2007), Bernard said he was looking forward to playing a more intimate gig this time when he stops in Toowoomba.
"We only played Toowoomba a few times throughout our whole career, which is crazy," he said.
"Playing with Silverchair was one of the reasons I wanted to go back there actually. That was show was awesome.
"So I think Toowoomba will always be on the list for me from now on."
Bernard will play the Empire Theatre along with support acts Vance Joy and Big Scary.
"I actually really like the theatre set up when you can see most of the audience," he said.
"You can hear what people are yelling at you, what insults you're getting in between songs," he laughed.
"So I love playing little shows, especially theatres that are set up for that sort of thing."
Tickets for Bernard's show at the Empire Theatre on July 16 are now on sale through www.empiretheatre.com.au or www.bernardfanning.com.
His new album Departures is out June 7.
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