When Leroy Macqueen and Kat Friend decided to retire their bubblegum punk band The Gooch Palms in early 2020, the married Newcastle natives were putting a full stop on an impressive touring resume that boasted nearly a thousand gigs over the course of a decade. Few would have guessed that Macqueen would emerge from the multiple Melbourne lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 not just in solo mode, but donning the time-honoured trappings of country music.
Leaving behind the blurted anthems that had defined The Gooch Palms, Macqueen has found a ripe new outlet for their melodramatic baritone. Debuting in April with ‘On the Run’ – a single that opens with a horse’s palpable neighing – Macqueen rebranded as a crooning, brooding balladeer all too proud to follow in the steps of their longtime idols Elvis and Roy Orbison. Rather than some novelty direction, country is what Macqueen plans to do for years to come. And it’s already worked a treat, with the songs garnering rotation on ABC Country and plays on Henry Wagons’ influential Double J program Tower of Song.
Macqueen has found themselves immediately and warmly welcomed into Australia’s evolving country music scene.