Long-time musician and former venue-owner Greg Whyman is the key creative mind behind Confusion In Colour. After opening his account with the alt-rock stylings of Yip (2016), the Grafton local has pushed further into abstraction over subsequent releases to realise his own sonic identity. A far call from the acoustic balladry of Story Songs (2019), his third EP Solid Clod feels founded on atonal arrangements and atypical instrumentation. Calling in from his home studio, Whyman elaborated on the key characters that influenced the EP.
Growing up in Western Sydney, music was a key cog of Whyman’s life from the outset. Whilst he thrived in isolation, he failed to find a similar experience with others; “I tasted the band thing when I was 18-19 but I didn’t really enjoy it. Within a couple of years, I went bush”. Moving to Grafton, Whyman soon opened The Naked Bean, serving as an outlet for cultivating the local music scene under the guise of a restaurant; “I had it for 12 years and we did an open mic on Wednesdays and I just let anyone that wanted to play have a crack. We put gigs on, opened on a Sunday arvo for sets and just tried to be an outlet for musicians”.
In the unassuming environment of the local golf club whilst on a catering contract for a wedding, Whyman first encountered Jayden Hibberd (The Stained Daisies, Joe Terror). Hebbard (drums, production) and wife Anne Booth (bass) would soon provide the catalyst for Confusion In Colour; “From the kitchen you could hear someone playing and I walked out and here’s Jayden and a friend playing covers to all these old people and they were so into it. I just thought it was amazing and then a month or so later his stepfather brought him along to play an open mic”. Whyman would later host Hebbard and fellow Daisy Dan Tuite in the flats overhanging the restaurant, operating as the birthplace for multiple creative projects. Hebbard and Whyman would eventually connect over their musicianship, working in tandem on Confusion In Colour; “He’s just an amazing musician and he’s got an amazing mind on him. We’re a lot of years apart but when we started playing music together, we just locked in with one another”.
After selling The Naked Bean, Whyman now resides 30 minutes out of Grafton where he and Anne have their own slice of paradise to be as creative as they wish; “I’m in a position where I can do what I like, to a point (laughs). My wife and I live a bit remote and we’ve got a little studio set up at home. People come here to record, we do the odd live house concert. It’s just a nice place to play music”. With nowhere better to be during lockdown, it was during this time that Solid Clod came together for Whyman.
The album itself opens with a Drones-esque layering of bass and guitar on ‘Goat Love’, acting as the perfect introduction for Whyman’s experimental arrangements; “I’ve got a lot of instruments; violin, double bass and how many other things. We did really weird stuff on that like a tremolo pedal on a keyboard for a whacko sound and I think the lead is an octave mandolin through some sort of weird overdrive”. It’s backed up by the alt blues-rock of ‘Jimmy E’, based around the idiosyncrasies of drug-peddling school friend; “I used to swap him acid for speed tablets. He used to have red ones but incidentally they were blue things. I thought were really good and so he did this thing where he’d put them near my mouth and say, ‘eat me!’”.
A refreshed demo from 4 years prior, ‘Hot Tea and Speculaas’ sees Whyman imparting morals of trust; “I had a conversation with a guy years ago and they were a bit disheartened by something that had happened. I just said, ‘Some people are opportunists. Just keep your eyes open and watch out for people’”. Closing with a dip into psychedelia ‘Milky’ offers up the greatest recount saved for last; “If you google Milky Goulburn, there’s a guy that’ll come up and he’s actually my cousin’s son. They did him for fraud because he nearly embezzled 2 million dollars out of the bank. They did an article in Esquire which is a pretty funny read. He got caught and went to jail but then he got off because he was charged on something he shouldn’t have been and so they blamed the bank in the end. I don’t have anything to do with that side of the family (laughs)”.
With this most recent move in a new direction, Whyman remains inspired to keep experimenting, utilising his vast history of listening to direct his next move; “I wanna make everything a little bit different. If I can mix it up a little bit each time, that’s what I’m goin’ for”.