Warren Ellis and band “Dirty Three”

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The journey continues for this instrumental band … Warren Ellis, violinist with the group shares their genesis as musicians.




Dirty three have been around for over two decades, but for those of us who perhaps haven’t heard of you, tell us about the band and your style of music.

We are an instrumental band. We started in the early ‘90s, and the members are Jim White, Mick Turner and myself.

Has you style of music changed over the years?

Well, I hope it has changed. We are an instrumental group, and we don’t have a singer or a bass player – so that’s one thing that has stayed constant. We haven’t altered the size of the band either – there have always been 3 people.

What has kept the band together this long?

We have always enjoyed playing together, and it has always felt like an exciting place to be – playing music.

We left Australia in the mid ‘90s and headed for America, and then we kept touring. We decided to leave and find out if we could find an audience; so we had a few shows just to see what happened and consequently, I never came back to Australia (to live). Jim lives in New York, and Mick moved back to Melbourne in 2005 or thereabouts.

It’s been such a big adventure.

You’re coming back to Australia to do some shows, including at the Sydney Opera House and the Glasshouse Port Macquarie. What do you hope to gain by visiting a regional town – and potentially a new audience?

Well, that’s just it … it is a new audience. It’s always great to play in front of different people.

I am from a regional town in Victoria, where I was born, so I have an affinity with the regional areas. I guess it is always nice to play different places and in front of a new audience.

So, you have a new album coming out this year, is that correct?

Yes, it’s coming out in February.

It’s been a while since the last album, hasn’t it?

Yes, it has been a little while. I think we have tried to record an album (since then), but it hadn’t worked on several occasions. But we have made a few albums, and I guess the question sort of came up that perhaps we had said as much as we needed to say.

But I think we have always loved playing live and felt that there was a purpose for the band and the group, and that is what has drawn us back together.

I mean, we all live in different countries, so getting together can be quite tricky – and it’s the same with some of the other bands I am part of, and also for Jim too, as he tours a lot with other people.

As a group, Dirty Three collaborated with other bands and toured with them over the last 2 decades. What has been one of the standout highlights of this period?

I think curating parties in England in 2007 was a real highlight. To pick bands and put them on and play was really great.

I am very much looking forward to playing at the Opera House too, as we haven’t done that before.

I think Jim has played there before with Cat Power, as he has been with them for a while.

What else keeps you busy?

I play in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and I play in Grinderman. I do soundtrack work as well and have just wrapped up a few scores for some films.

Anything notable we should keep an eye out for?

Yes, there is a good documentary called West Memphis about the West Memphis Three – Produced by Peter Jackson and Directed By Amy Burg, who did a great documentary on the Catholic Priest called Deliver Us From Evil.

Where do you see Dirty Three going from here performance wise?

We are doing an American tour, and a European tour, a few other festivals and a tour of Asia and beyond.

Thanks Warren.

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