"Im not Alex Lloyd...I just grew up with him. Alex has lent me a desk so I can work on a film that I am writing. So here I sit in his studio in London. Its in an old victorian industrial street north Of Ladbroke Grove. Next door is a mechanic and across the way some Rastas are refinishing bathtubs. It is pitch-black outside and it has only just gone 4 oclock in the afternoon. The studio isnt flash, in fact its a sparse and almost rundown affair and freezing cold. It is 2 degrees outside and a nasty breeze is blowing in under the door... I can hear Alex singing in the next room. He obviously has headphones on and all I can hear is his lone voice singing a song which he is recording for his new album. The line what will we do if Love is just another choice? hangs in the air like icicles... Its as bleak as the weather but heartbreakingly beautiful... 20 years on and his voice still moves me.
Alex moved to London in 2007 and I think that it has been good for him in a strange way. Only the odd Australian tourist recognises who he his. His multi-platinum history is a 12,000 mile plane ride away and no one in England gets married to his song Amazing like they do at home. Listening to his new music, I can hear him thriving in the anonymity. The novelty of rockstardom is nonexistent. The pressure from fans and indeed detractors alike is off. There is only the music, and deep in the music is where you will find the true Alex.
I can hear a purity and an honesty in the songs I am hearing but also a creativity that reminds me of when he was recording Black the Sun. It sounds as if he is absorbing the landscape of London in all its forms. I think perhaps the weather forces you inward...There must be a reason why this place has such a history of extraordinary creativity. Its not the beaches.
Its weird to sit here now, so far away and think about our youths spent drunk on whiskey and naivety, stumbling around the Sydney suburb of Balmain. We were high on our musical discoveries of the Blues and The Rolling Stones and we spent the nights trying to crack the secrets of Lennon and McCartney.
Even when we were 16, Alex rarely had a place of his own to live, but we would hang out in the dodgy rooms above pubs that he would play in and flats that would briefly exist before the eviction notice arrived. We would smoke fags for Australia, eat less than healthily and listen to the latest 70s gem that had been unearthed. Regardless of the space there was always some kind of recording device in the corner, a guitar and strewn across the room were always 100s of scraps of paper. On these scraps were the scrawled musings and observations of life and love that would eventually piece together as his lyrics. And here I sit again years later with those familiar scraps of paper on my desk, on the floor, on the beanbag, in the bathroom still. The musings perhaps more eloquent and poetic but there still the same.
I didnt witness the phenomenon of Alexs career in Australia first hand as I moved to London just before his first Album came out. But I have seen the pile of ARIA awards that he has been given and I know there is pile of gold records stacked out the back. I am aware of his sizeable success, but the distance has afforded me the luxury of knowing his music without the pollutants of celebrity and publicity that can taint an artist.
I have heard the evolution in all his albums from the experimentation of Black The Sun to the grandeur of last years Self Titled but there is one constant in them all...I can hear my friend. I can hear him exorcising his demons. I can hear him being painfully honest with himself. I can hear him able to communicate the pains and ills of life that so few of us have the necessary tools to do. I guess its kind of weird that these intimate disclosures are distributed for public appraisal but Im glad he can do it for our sakes and indeed his own.
The singing from the booth seems to have stopped. For an hour or so I have heard him painstakingly perfecting his performance...The melody is already stuck in my head and I am still haunted by that line. Any minute now he will come and stand by my desk, open the door and light a cigarette and let the freezing air blast into the studio... We live on the other side of the world. We are older, we are smarter and we can pay for our meals.
Want a coffee? he will ask.
But nothing has changed.