‘Wasted Time’ was never intended to be about the current situation living with Covid, but instead a cheeky overview of how we as people “will have a go at anything” even if it is a waste of time.
“I personally had many of these moments, thinking do I really know what I am doing, but in true Aussie form keep on going until I realise it’s just one more example of a waste of time”, Tony said. “The chorus came from a mate who is also a fellow muso. He is as they say, “an ideas man”, but never seems to follow through. Then Covid came along and it seemed to fit the situation where we had so many people sitting around wasting time, including a lot of my mates in the music industry.” ‘Wasted Time’ has a catchy feel to it with a solid tempo, just a feel good song.
You could say that Tony Kennelly possesses something of an eagle eye view on the Australian music scene. For more than 45 years he has observed, been witness to, and played his own part in its ever-changing landscape. Today, 2021 Australia is the platform from which the now 63 year old country/folk singer-songwriter releases his latest single ‘Wasted Time’, taken from his forthcoming album ‘Battlegrounds’. Tony’s first single, ‘Leave The Gate Open’ was released twelve months ago. With the drought behind him but never forgotten, and then Covid-19, Tony unable to tour, decided to wait until now to release his next single. Well worth the wait.
There’s a story here. It begins way back in the Sydney suburbs of Hunters Hill in the 1970’s and from there, meanders across miles of the Australian landscape, from town to farm, acre to acre and stage to stage. The ongoing constant in Tony’s story has been the music. He comes from a long line of hearty, music-loving folk and the tales and traditions of gathering together, performing and storytelling are rife throughout his songwriting style.
Growing up in Sydney’s affluent suburbs as the son of less well-off parents, Tony learnt how to carve his way through school and the inevitable challenges of youth. His peers were the children of wealthy Sydney folk, who didn’t immediately take to Tony’s place in their neighborhood, but surrounded by a family that celebrated love, song and gathering together for regular social events, Tony found solace in the music and turned naturally to songwriting.
By the age of 16 Tony had begun to come together with other musicians to create their own early original ‘garage bands’. His cousin played a large role in Tony’s early musical endeavors, being a full time musician and having numerous connections within the industry. One early band Karma played several gigs with some success, including a 1974 ‘National Pepsi Pop Poll’ concert at the Sydney Opera House to 2800 people. A later band The Mongrels / The Idle Poor, carved out a solid fan base around the Sydney region and Tony’s part in the music scene at that time meant that he witnessed firsthand the birth of numerous iconic Australian rock bands including Midnight Oil, ACDC, Cold Chisel and more.
Tony’s musical journey continued for a time with a brief solo career performing around the Sydney music scene, and his love for alt country forming the major basis for his sets. Over time, with six nights a week spent on the stage and a fulltime job in construction taking up his days, Tony settled into a simpler life, marrying his beloved wife Pauline, starting a family and continuing with his construction business and in the latter of the years, moved to a cattle property on the NSW tablelands. Living and surviving through years of drought, Tony and his wife decided to sell their property and stock for a somewhat easier life and moved to the mid north coast of NSW, still with a few acres and room to move. Twelve weeks after moving into their new home Tony and his wife found themselves in the middle of the worst flood ever and were surrounded by water. From one extreme to the other!
Tony’s time away from the music industry as a cattle and sheep farmer and ‘man of the land’ has brought him back around to his song writing. With his own children now grown, his focus shifted to the country music scene once more. Meeting other like-minded musicians whilst playing at some of the country’s most iconic pathways and events, including the Tamworth Country Music Festival, led Tony into several years of writing and recording. His friends and fellow comrades in the industry include numerous performers such as Shane Nicholson, who has helped produce Tony’s latest material at Sound Hole Studios.
Tony’s latest album ‘Battlegrounds’ is not his first. His debut ‘Hittin’ The Wall’ was written back in 2016, but never saw the light of day, with one natural disaster after another taking its toll on Tony’s farm and livelihood. With numerous fights against the droughts of recent years, combined with his active role as one of the nation’s firefighters, Tony’s experiences have left him with a solid understanding of the power of our natural and volatile landscape.
At this stage in his career, Tony possesses a sense of musicianship and songwriting that is the envy of those who have age and experience yet to gain. He’s been there, done that, and seen the whole story unfold. His ethos behind the music is based in a pure love for the songs and with an appreciation for the old folk tradition, there’s a real story and message behind his work. It’s something of an honour to listen to him talk about where it all comes from and ultimately where it is heading. As he reflects on the basic message behind it all “What we all strive for is to be happy, loving, not wanting for much, having enough money to be able to do what we would like, give back to the community and country, care for all, don’t be judgmental, never stop loving your family and friends and keep writing wonderful songs!”
And who can argue with that?