As a 12-year-old boy growing up in Melbourne, Paul Janovskis wanted not only to be a musician, he wanted to be a rebel in the greatest traditions of rock ‘n’ roll.
It was at that unruly age that Janovskis, who performs at the FCC on Saturday, picked up one of his dad’s guitars and started playing regularly. At the same time, he hooked up with some musically inclined neighbors — including Nick Seymour from Crowded House — and began playing in “party bands.”
“So I knew I wanted to be a musician from the age of 12,” Janovskis says.
It was a time when surfing, “misbehaving” and rock ‘n’ roll became major preoccupations in Janovskis’ life.
Janovskis’ parents were a huge influence on his decision to become a musician.
“My father and mother both loved music, so there was a lot of it around our house, and I absorbed all of it. It was a natural thing,” he says.
When the 47-year-old blues musician, who’s originally from Auckland, New Zealand, first decided to become a musician, his father agreed to cover half the costs for his first “dodgy electric guitar,” bass guitar and amplifier, he points out.
“I still use that 1962 Blonde Fender Bassman amp today and would never part with it!”
Janovskis’ first real emotional connection with music came from The Rolling Stones. And the legendary British band’s influence from Black American blues artists had a powerful impact on Janovskis.
“I was drawn to the rebel stance, the non-conformist approach. And of course when I delved deeper I discovered, and took on, many of their influences from Black American music,” he explains.
Australian bands such as AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, the Skyhooks and Cold Chisel also had a strong effect on Janovskis.
“These (bands) were all over the radio and TV at the time in Australia,” he recalls.
At the same time, Janovskis became a big fan of British bands including The Who, Eric Clapton, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Pink Floyd, The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin. His musical influences later expanded to American blues and rhythm and blues artists such as Son House, Robert Johnson, Albert King, Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf.
“I love Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers. I also like reggae, dub, jazz and some country,” Janovskis says.
Janovskis played with various Auzzie bands over the years including Cattletuck and Gas.
Janovskis doesn’t consider himself a “guitar virtuoso” as he describes his guitar style as being “pretty minimal but rhythmic”.
“I tend to focus on the singing end of things and try to deliver a soulful vocal with conviction,” he says.
When Janovskis takes the stage at the FCC, he says he plans to play a solo acoustic act, possibly with a guest performer or two. He will play mainly cover songs, but he says he’ll also play original songs from bands he played in during the 1980s and ’90s.
It’s not the first time Janovskis has been to Cambodia. He was in the country last year when he visited friends in Phnom Penh and Kampot.
“I mainly just relaxed, sat in with players in Phnom Penh a couple of times, spent time in Snooky and Kampot, played music, wrote music and marvelled at the unique character that is Cambodia.”