Peel region calling The Waifs

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
The Waifs will perform in Mandurah next month.
Camera IconThe Waifs will perform in Mandurah next month.

COVID-19 has devastated the music industry, with opportunities to perform live repeatedly put on the backburner and border restrictions making it difficult for artists to travel.

But there is some hope, according to The Waifs founding member Vikki Thorn.

Formed in Albany with her sister, Donna Simpson, in 1992, the pair, along with band mate Josh Cunningham, have made a name for themselves as the “original road warriors” by continuously sharing their folk-infused sounds across cities and regional communities around the world.

Almost 28 years later and despite a global pandemic, the Australian folk-rock band and their tour and recording companions, Ben Franz and David Ross Macdonald, are still going strong.

Ahead of their WA tour and gig at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre on March 2, Thorn said she was excited to reunite with her band mates after more than a year apart. “I’m a little bit excited — I think we all are,” she said.

“Donna’s over here, so I’ve seen lots of her, but I haven’t seen the rest of the band in over a year now and we’re best mates, so it’s going to be exciting just to be together again.”

She said The Waifs had not been immune to the effects of the pandemic and last year had been “a time to get creative”.

“It's just a time in this industry that everyone has to rethink the way things are done - not only because of COVID but because of the whole digital streaming world as well,” she said.

“The Waifs basically took a hiatus (during COVID). We had to cancel a US tour. We did get to do an Australian tour but that finished up in February 2020. . . I think for a lot of artists it was a time to write.

“Josh joined song club and was actually writing a song a week. So he wrote about 50 songs - I think he did it the whole year - so he used his time really well.

“I was able to do smaller concerts around the South West, you know obviously we weren't in lockdown for as long as other places. And Ben Franz who plays in the band, he lives in Victoria but he actually got stuck in WA, so that was to his advantage too cause he and I we travelled up North.

“So there were options to get creative, but in terms of The Waifs there was nothing really we could do collectively.”

Touring extensively on their own and with Bob Dylan, the band have built themselves a multi-generational fan base all over the world, but Thorn said nothing compares to a home crowd.

“Everywhere in WA feels like a homecoming to us,” she said. We make a point of sort of interacting with our audience after small shows a lot because we love to hear people's connection with the music.

“We have played (in Mandurah) a few times over the years, not a lot, but because of that the receptions always been that people are just real stoked when we get there because we don't drop in as much as we should.”

“The good thing about seeing The Waifs in a theatre is that it’s really quite a different experience. I feel like we're at our best in that environment as a band. We're very comfortable interacting with the audience, the stories, the songs, everything sort of lands really well with our band in a theatre space so its sort of a different experience, which I love.

The Waifs, pictured, play at MPAC on Tuesday, March 2, from 7.30pm.

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