TWENTY five years after they set off in a kombi van to conquer the Australian music industry the Waifs are back where they began, Fremantle.
Well actually a few Waif legends need to be addressed: they never owned a kombi, never lived in Fremantle, and didn’t really perform in the port city until much later in their career, Donna Simpson says.
“Everybody says it was a kombi but it was a really an old Toyota HiAce.
“And the only place we played in Fremantle was busking in the market’s bar.”
These days there’s no problem getting a gig in the city’s premier venue, the Fremantle Art Centre, or Perth Concert Hall, or at stella festivals like WOMADelaide.
But the Waif’s 25th anniversary tour also takes in more humble venues that gave them a go in the early days, such as the Quindanning Hotel, where the show is sold out, and the borderline infamous Roebuck Bay Hotel in Broome.
“The Roebuck is where we first met Josh,” Simpson says. “We wanted to go back to where it all began.”
In 1992, sisters Vikki (now Vikki Thorn and living in the US) and Donna were on the road as the Colours: “Josh was with another band and liked us better and came to us,” Simpson says.
Rebadged as the Waifs they hit the road in the HiAce, touring the country and entering Australian music legend.
Six albums and a slew of songs have seen them bag numerous awards and sales go platinum and double platinum.
It was the Waifs fourth album in 2003, Up All Night, that really thrust them into the limelight; but they were on tour in Canada and America, and had no idea the record was going gangbusters back home.
“It shot to number three on the Triple J top 100.…When we came home it was absolutely everywhere.”
Now there’s a seventh album, Ironbark, and a national tour: “The whole tour is a celebration of the band being together and a thank you to fans.”
“Twenty five years in a band is something, but without the fans and support it doesn’t happen,” Simpson says.
You can catch the Waifs at Fremantle Arts Centre on March 9. Tix at fac.oztix.com.au
by JENNY D’ANGER