Rocked up string quartet FourPlay are celebrating their 20th year in music this year and to celebrate, they’re playing the upcoming WOMADelaide festival.

Comprising of brothers Peter and Tim Hollo, Lara Goodridge and Shenzo Gregorio, FourPlay began in 1995 performing unlikely covers by Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine and The Strokes.

Since their humble beginnings, FourPlay have supported a range of bands including The Whitlams, The Corrs, The Screaming Jets and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and have recorded string sections for an equally as impressive line up.

Coming up to his fourth visit to WOMADelaide, FourPlay’s violist Tim Hollo is a fan of the festival and is looking forward to his involvement this year.

“This will only be my second with FourPlay. But I’ve also been there talking as a part of the Planet Talks Series. So it’s my fourth in total,” he says.

“It is always such a fantastic festival in terms of the amazing musicians, but also the quality of the punters. It’s a festival which is so much about appreciating the music. It’s just a joy.”

FourPlayFlamingoes_1462x624_web2As well as an accomplished musician, Tim is a committed environmentalist, is the former Director of Communications for Christine Milne, sits on the board of Greenpeace Australia Pacific and is a regular contributor on environmental issues to publications such as The Guardian.

In his role as a committed environmentalist, recently founded Green Music Australia to help the music industry reduce waste, climate pollution and generally become more environmentally friendly.

“The Green Music Project is about helping the music industry become more of a leader in protecting the environment,” Tim says. “It’s an industry full of really forward thinking people who want to do the right thing but, just like most of the rest of us, don’t really know where to start.”

“I’m in the unusual position of being both a professional musician and an environmental activist, so the idea is to bring the two worlds together and help the music industry to green up its own act but also through doing that, open up a new conversation about protecting our environment with a whole bunch of new people in a really engaging way; because music is such a powerful tool.”

With many festivals around the world looking to reduce waste for economic and environmental reasons, Tim says WOMADelaide is already a leader in the field.

“For a festival like WOMAD, it’s things like LED stage lights, which use a huge amount less electricity. It’s about green transport options, whether it’s cycle, valet systems, or public transport. It’s about waste streams like making recycling available but also options for using less in the first place,” he says.

“WOMADelaide is actually the first place I saw potato starch plates and cutlery being used, so it’s really a long way ahead of the others. That’s something I really want to do with Green Music as well, is to celebrate the leadership of things like WOMADelaide and helping others to follow.”

But Tim says it’s not just musicians and festival organisers who can help to green up the music industry; festival goers and consumers of music can help too.

“The first step is to start making the connection and seeing that the music industry is just one part of our society. If we’re really going to deal with the environmental crises, all of us are going to have to own up to it,” he says.

“The practical is things like finding sustainable ways to get to festivals like carpools, riding, public transport and that sort of thing, but also talking to musicians yourself. If you get the opportunity, chat to someone you’re buying a CD from and if it’s in a plastic case, say to them, ‘Hey, I’ve seen some cardboard casing lately and it’s better for the environment.’ They’re the main things for the punters. But for the organisation, my work is mainly talking with the musicians, venues and festivals.”

Late last year, FourPlay released their fifth studio album, This Machine which is a little different to their previous offerings in that it is entirely original recordings.

Famous for their unlikely covers, Tim says the band came back together after some time apart and the writing of the record came about quite naturally.

“We had a few years where we weren’t doing anything creatively, we were all off having children and busy jobs. Then about a year and a half ago, we plunged back into it and we had a long weekend we just spent writing and we churned out four new songs in three days that were all originals and we were just loving it,” he says.

“So we came together for another weekend and wrote another three songs and we thought we didn’t even need to do any covers for this album, and how interesting would it be to do an album for the first time of all entirely original material. We’ve been really delighted with the response we’ve had. In the twenty years we’ve been going in the band, we’ve always had a lot of fans commenting they love our covers but they also love our originals.”

And at WOMADelaide, audiences can expect to see both; FourPlay will be playing their famous covers and their new original material.

“You can expect what you’ve always been able to expect from a FourPlay show, which is a really diverse set. So as you’ve always been able to hear from the covers we’ve done as well as our originals, our musical inspiration comes from so many different places; from straight rock to indie pop through to gypsy music to middle eastern music to blues,” Tim says.

WOMADelaide is on from 6-9 March. Tickets are available from the website.

By Libby Parker