James Cruickshank, acclaimed guitarist and keyboardist for the Cruel Sea

James Cruickshank, acclaimed guitarist and keyboardist for the Cruel Sea, releases his third solo album, Note To Self, through Mullumbimby’s Vitamin records.


James Cruicshank by the water

James Cruickshank’s distinguished career has taken him on an extended intercontinental trajectory with some of Australia’s finest musical exports. His peculiar artistic vision has most recently borne fruit of a third solo album, Note To Self, earning accolades equal to his earlier, idiosyncratic productions, Hymn to Her and Hello Human.

With a career spanning three decades, more than twelve studio albums and untold shows across the world, Cruickshank is among Australia's most prolific musicians.

Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1962, Cruickshank developed a deep love of music from an early age via his grandmothers pianola. At 19, he discovered Neil Young, formed a couple of cover bands that played too loud at friends birthday parties, then moved to Sydney at 23 to form his first original band, Gargoyles, who recorded an album which was never released.

At 24 Cruickshank completed a BA in Communications. During this time he collaborated with songwriter Greg Appel and singer Juliet Ward, and recorded both an EP and an album with cult indie band The Widdershins.

James on stage

In 1989, aged 27, he joined The Cruel Sea, playing guitar and keyboards. Recording enduring Australian classics, Down Below  and This Is Not The Way Home, the band became a national institution. They toured Europe, won a swag of ARIAs, culminating in 1994’s The Honeymoon Is Over winning Best Single, Best Album, Best Group and Australian Song Of The Year. The Cruel Sea again toured Europe, this time with Nick Cave.

Another ARIA for 1995’s Three Legged Dog was followed by a USA tour and 1998’s Over Easy, but after Where There's Smoke in 2001, the band slowed down and in 2002 released We Don't Work We Play Music, a last hurrah release of b-sides and unreleased material.

Free to pursue his own eccentricities, Cruickshank released Hymn For Her in 2002, conducted a low-key national tour and, receiving some glowing reviews, began to enjoy the freedom of playing solo.

In 2005 he collaborated with singer songwriter Gyan and cartoonist/poet/philosopher Michael Leunig, resulting in the luminous record Billy The Rabbit. With producer Steve James he completed Hello Human in 2005 and toured Australia and Europe with Mick Harvey and the Kill Devil Hills.

James under the sky at dusk

For the past two years, James Cruickshank has spent his time consolidating live work with solo shows and collaborations with Tex Perkins. He has also just completed composing and recording music for Bombora, an ABC documentary on the history of Australian surfing.

In 2010 he toured Europe again in company with the Kill Devil Hills, a triumphant return generating remarkable CD sales and invitations from several French festivals to come back next summer.

James lives under an old church on the North coast of NSW. And some Sundays can be found playing pipe organ to the local congregation.

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new album “ Note to Self ” - Out now through Vitamin Records


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