Fergus Maximus is that guy with his headphones on long after the playlist has finished, completely oblivious because there’s always music in his head anyway. His early plans to run away and join the circus were thwarted by a lack of openings for half-baked gorillas though he’s since put those skills to use in various party bands and as frontman for Adelaide pop/rockers Stumbletrip (currently slumbering). He’s done temp and contract work in almost every industry, backpacked around the world and some years ago packed up his wife and kids in the 4WD and drove around Australia.
Singer/Storyteller. Songwriter. Writerwriter. Saxophonist. Fergus Maximus wears many hats. Add ‘genial frontman and handy percussionist’ and you’re starting to get the picture.
With a captivating voice and a warm, amiable stage-persona honed over decades of performance, Fergus Maximus has emerged as an engaging storyteller whose melodic pop/rock songs embrace all the important things—love, loss, mistakes, surprises, people’s astonishing capacity to miscommunicate and the mystery surrounding that curious old woman down the street—with wit, intelligence and fun.
Ably supported (read ‘carried’) by his most excellent bandmates, Kym Perry (guitars) and Jamie Harrison (basses), Ferg sings, tells stories, plays sax and performs random acts of percussion (unless he’s playing solo when he weaves wonders with a guitar, loop pedal, sax, percussion, vocals, humour and reckless abandon).
And just occasionally you can find the Fergus Maximus trio playing in lounge mode as JazzPaperScissors (because sometimes there’s no rock).
Some career highlights so far
Declaration of Interdependence 2016
In December 2016, Ferg joined forces with award-winning songwriter Kelly Brouhaha and some like-minded friends for the Declaration of Interdependence 2016, an end of year celebration of resilience at the famous Wheatsheaf Hotel. The ‘songwriters in the round’ style show was the culmination of two years of scheming over cups of tea and dreaming about ways to embrace a big-hearted approach to life and the music business (inspired by Kelly and Ferg’s experiences at Clare Bowditch‘s Big Hearted Business conferences in 2013 and 2014 respectively). And it was so much fun they are scheming to take the show on tour in the second half of 2017.
Beyond Festival (2016)
In October 2016, Ferg was delighted to play his first official festival (Beyond Festival in Canberra). He shared the bill with Lior, Megan Washington, Montaigne, Shane Howard (from Goanna), Fred Smith and the lovely Liz Frencham’s new project Paper Mouse (a duet with terrific guitarist Robbie Melville) and heaps of other amazing musicians and communicators. Three well-received sets over three days was a great introduction to festival life and he’s keen for more.
One Gaslit Night EP (2016)
In August 2015, Ferg gathered his bandmates for a live recording at The Gaslight Tavern. The resulting EP, One Gaslit Night, was released in July 2016 at The Jade as part of the inaugural Umbrella: Winter City Sounds festival (in association with Guitars in Bars), ably supported by wonderful Adelaide songstress Courtney Robb.
Derek video (2016)
The first official Fergus Maximus music video was released in July 2016. Derek was the lead single from the debut Fergus Maximus EP Songs & Stories (2015). The video was directed by John Chataway and stars the wonderful Lachlan Scown as Derek’s Housemate (alongside Gypsy the Cat as Mr Mittens). The project was part of the Vision and Sound initiative set up by Music SA and the Department of Screen and Media at Flinders University.
Songs & Stories EP (2015)
In November 2014, Ferg performed his first ever solo show (apparently 20 years as a frontman doesn’t really prepare you for sitting on stage alone with a guitar). It was one of the weekly SCALA original music showcase gigs at The Austral in Adelaide and it went remarkably, impossibly well. It was real and honest and a little bit clumsy and So Much Fun. The sound guy, Noni Espinosa, recorded the performance straight to ProTools. When Ferg heard it back, he discovered he had accidentally recorded his first album.
Thusly, the debut Fergus Maximus EP Songs & Stories was launched on Friday, 29 May 2015 at The Jade with support by the wonderful Kelly Menhennett. There is also a Special Edition version which has the whole, hour-long performance (including at least 33% more mistakes). Check out the Fergus Maximus YouTube channel for a taste.
Clare Bowditch’s Winter Secrets tour (2014)
In July 2014, Ferg and his ad hoc a cappella gospel quartet (including Ferg’s daughter Rachel, his kinda-sorta daughter Lily Wicks and the inimitable Luke Thompson) had the opportunity to sing with Clare Bowditch at The Gov in Adelaide, backing Clare on her terrific song One Little River (check out the video on the YouTubes).
Who is this Fergus Maximus person?
Fergus Maximus is that guy with his headphones on long after the playlist has finished, completely oblivious because there’s always music in his head anyway. His early plans to run away and join the circus were thwarted by a lack of openings for half-baked gorillas though he’s since put those skills to use in various party bands and as frontman for Adelaide pop/rockers Stumbletrip (currently slumbering). He’s done temp and contract work in almost every industry, backpacked around the world and a few years ago packed up his wife and kids in the 4WD and drove around Australia.
Before Fergus Maximus there was Stumbletrip. Ferg, Grant Shillabeer (guitars), Jamie Harrison (basses) and Kym Perry (drums; yes, Ferg’s current guitarist is his old drummer) and a demo CD Sounds Like … and a bunch of gigs around Adelaide. But that’s a story for another day.
And before Stumbletrip there was Sideways Glance. It started when Ferg and Grant Shillabeer wrote Henley Square (This is Where I Belong) as an entry in a SCALA competition for songs about parts of South Australia. The song was a co-winner in the Adelaide category and we had the opportunity to go into Mixmasters Studio and record it. Unfortunately, the session dates ended up being when Grant was away on his honeymoon (way back when; this was 1997/98 in the previous millennium). The track was recorded by Ferg with his brother Mark (who wrote the killer arrangement and played keys on the recording) and the backline from Spank You Very Much one of the many bands Mark was playing in at the time (Damien Steele Scott on bass, Andrew Bignel on drums and Dave Innocente on guitar). Grant and Ferg’s mate Jamie joined in on bass for Sideways Glance gigs from time to time.
Before Sideways Glance there were all sorts of throw-together party bands, most memorably Hairless Wombles Without Shoes, Yurgo Au Go Go and the Drowned Rats.