You've all heard the saying: behind every great man is a great woman. Our take on this fine, old piece of history is a little less gendered: each and every one of our songs has an inspiration, a reason for being. Even more so, so many of our songs are about strong and meaningful relationships of all sorts... with friends, families, and loves.
For those of you who have been to our shows, you will have been privy to the inspiration behind our latest single Thieves. Before launching into the song, our frontman Jon likes to say a few words, which usually end in his pointing towards a very special, well-known face in the crowd.
What's it like to be the muse? We talk to Bao to find out!
So, what's it like to be in the audience watching your life partner, and then suddenly have all eyes on you?
Good question! Jon has never asked my opinion about this, by the way. He just does it without prior consultation with me (shock horror)! Of course, being the private and reserved person I am, it's embarrassing. I must look pretty awkward. I must say, though, it's incredibly sweet and I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course I support my best friend and all of his best friends in all they do.
As musicians and songwriters, we don't always give away what our songs are about - there's an element of interpretation. What do you think Thieves is about?
You know, it's funny - Jon never told me directly that Thieves was about our relationship, or inspired by our relationship - I found out the same way the audience did, at a show! But I think I always knew that what he was writing for Thieves was about us. It's gone through some iterations of course, but there are lyrics such as 'I love your swollen eyes, and we can go grey for the rest our days...' that I just knew had to be about me. I am a mega crybaby. The swollen eyes just had to be about me crying all the time! And then the idea that we can grow old together, despite going through some tough times and tantrums. There's one phrase that repeats itself throughout, which I think is the crux of the song: "I was good for you... I know I can be good for you." Everyone deserves a significant other, and that significant other is someone who you trust completely, even if they might let you down, even if you might let them down - having that person in your life is good for you. Nobody deserves to be alone. I think that's what Thieves is about. Letting your heart be taken away and entrusting it to someone else.
Sounds about right! He did ask the audience at the Workers Club show with Gena Rose Bruce (reviewed by Speaker TV here) earlier this year "Have you ever stolen someone's heart?" He must have been admitting to the crime - with you being the victim.
Right on! I like to think I stole his heart too. But yes, he did come along unannounced and fairly persistently. Showed up at the doorstep of my work and walked me and my flat-tyred bicycle home one night in the freezing cold through Princes Park, bless him! That just melted my heart. I'm not that great with (spoken) words, so early on in the relationship I would show him some songs I loved because they aptly described what I was feeling. One of those songs was 'The Thief' by Brooke Fraser. Do you know it? Part of the lyrics are: "You sing me to sleep, talk down my walls, look through my windows as I wait. You could be the thief I give the key to." Here he was, a musician, singing to me, showing me his musical world, forcing me out of these walls I'd constructed to avoid deep conversations with people, and for the first time in my life I was ready and willing to give him access to my heart. Yes, he was a thief but you know, I gave him permission, so it's not really a crime then, is it?
You stole each other on mutual terms, love it! So, any last words of advice or insight you want to give as an artist's muse?
Muse is a bit of a hefty word - I wouldn't say I am a muse in the same vein as Edie Sedgwick was to Andy Warhol or Marilyn Monroe to Sir Elton John. What I do provide is probably some real-life perspective. Keepin' it real. (I'm an academic, health professional and researcher so I'm all about the facts!) I keep the home ship afloat so he can have some creative freedom. I also provide a bit of drama and emotion and importantly, constant love and support to keep Jon motivated to do his creative thing. And, of course, he does the same thing for me.
In the end, I'm just being me - Jon always says to me that he doesn't want to be in a relationship with himself. You might think that's a bit 'no duh' but he's exactly right. I'm a different person to him, and that's probably all the inspiration he needs. A someone else in his life. There's only room for one Jon O'Neill in this world, people.
We couldn't deal with more than one Jon either. One's plenty. Thanks for opening up to us and we look forward to singling you out again at one of our shows. We can give you a heads up - the next one is on Friday 2nd October at Cafe Go in Geelong.
Haha sure thing! I'll be there, blushing as per usual.