Howard Eynon

 

Howard Eynon is an Australian singer & songwriter. His 1974 album So What if I'm Standing in Apricot Jam became one of Australia's most eclectic albums of the 70's.

Forty years later Howard had a musical resurgance when his album was re-released on both vinyl & CD, first in Australia through Buttercup Records and later through the Earth label of Fire Records in London.

With his charismatic storytelling and a rich 12-string guitar sound featuring a unique tuning of its own, Howard's music has been described as 'psychedelic acid folk'.

Howard Eynon combines the fantastical, whimsical, cerebral, snide, political, and keenly bizarre in a manner that is utterly engaging and entrancingly odd.

undertheradarmag.com


Howard and Barbara resided on NSW's Central Coast for many years and recently moved to Tasmania. Recent times have brought Howard together with Melbourne artists Leah Senior, Jesse Williams of Girlatones and Zak Olsen of Traffik Island.

The person responsible for this connect was Melbourne photographer Jamie Wdziekonski.

Early Days

Born in St Ives, Cambridgeshire UK. Howard Eynon in the 70sAt 11, the Eynon family travelled by ship from the UK to relocate to a small dairy farm in Tasmania.

Howard finally left the farm at 18 on a Norton bike and headed to Melbourne to pursue a career in anything. His first job was with William Houghton and Co. - a wool broking firm where he learned to play poker in the tea breaks.

During this time in Melbourne he started doing auditions for acting roles. He gradually picked up roles in tv and theatre and joined various theatrical repertory companies, while continuing to play & write songs. 

In 1971 Howard won the Grand Final of Australia's New Faces. This earned him a contract with Channel 9 in Sydney in 1972. Towards the end of the year he auditioned for NIDA, JC Superstar and Queensland Theatre Co. and was accepted for all three. Turning down NIDA first as that meant 3 years with no income, then JCS as he'd already done a year in Sydney, he opted for QTC - a life-changing year as it turned out.

 
During the rehearsal period he shared a house in St Lucia with Bille Brown, Geoffrey Rush, Trevor Smith (a co actor in the same production who invited him to stay). He also discovered doorways to new perspectives.

Later Howard accepted a years contract to work in 1974 for Tasmania Theatre Co. under John Unicombe.  

While writing and recording a guitar piece for a TTC play, Howard met Nick Armstrong, sound engineer and producer, who invited him to record a full-length album. 

Recording happened over a three month period with the help of talented local artists.  

1974 was memorable. Suzie and I and babe Dylan were renting a small cottage on a farm near Richmond near Hobart. There was always a clan of friends hanging out there including Luke Swann and Garth Tompkins who I'd met in Queensland, violinist Peter Daly, Ian Sherrey who was working with Nick at the time and many others. Everyone was into Tolkien. The Richmond place was our middle earth hangout in a strange way.

In 1976 Howard was the support act for a talking tour of Melbourne and Sydney by Hunter S Thompson. The tour was arranged by

Jay Jerilderie McRoach, the nom de fume and altered ego of a rapscallion journalist for the then-flourishing alternative press who’d agreed to act as the Godfather of Gonzo’s publicist and “cultural attaché

- themonthly.com.au

In 1979 Howard played the role of Diabando, one of the Toecutter's bike gang (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne) in Mad Max directed by Dr George Miller

In 1982 Howard had the part of Short Man in The Man from Snowy River directed by another George Miller.

 

early kid shots

Dylan and Jesse Lee on the Hesket farm in 1980

Interview with Howard Eynon

When did you first start playing the 12 string guitar?

About 17.

You have your own tuning, how did this come about?

My mum bought my dad a cheap guitar for his birthday. During his RAF years he had a guitar for playing a sort of mix of old spirituals and bawdy tunes. He didn't know conventional tuning and said he tuned it a bit like the banjo he used to play. I picked it up and though it didn't suit a 6 string, but was nice on the 12.

How did you find 'your' style of music? 

I liked any music that made me feel good. It was never genre-specific although like many I fell under the spell of songwriters and bands of the 60s and 70s.

Do you still use your own tunings, can you tell me anything about it?

Mainly yes. It's E, A, C#, E, G#, B

It makes for quite a good droning style in E or A. It gives the 12 string a different voice.

What guitars do you own/perform with?

The old Gibson 12 I've had for years. It's been patched up quite a few times but still has a sweet tone. Also a mini Maton 12 string and an old Maton messiah.

The Gibson at the time was in need of some work, which it has now had thanks to Rick Bartolo. Rick is the wizard luthier now in Port MacQuarie in NSW. He brought my old Gibson back from unplayable to the pleasure it is for me today. 

What is different between your album from the 70s and what you're producing now?

I find that hard to answer. You do what you do. I'm a lot older now so I guess there may be a few more angles in some of the songs. I think some of them  will make their way into a sort of rokopra/musical - is what I'm thinking about anyway. I'm working on this with some friends in Melbourne.

How come Mick Jaggar is said to have known about your album?

In 1975 the Stones had arrived in Melbourne for their first tour of Australia. They were staying ut at Montsalvat in Eltham. Anyway a guy who was booking my gigs called on a Saturday very excited and asked if I'd heard the interview with Jagger that had just been aired. I hadn't. He said that the interviewer asked Mick what they were going to do while they were in Australia, and Mick answered they might go to Tasmania to check out the Apricot Jam. That was nice!