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Talking with...Stephen Cummings

Who Weekly, 2 September 1996

There's a Sybil-like quality to Stephen Cummings. Australian music followers will remember him as the jittery, be-suited lead singer of Melbourne's nervy pop merchants the Sports. Those who hum tunes from TV ads will have had a Cummings jingle in their head at one time or another. "Smarties are a pack of fun," perhaps, or Medicare's "I feel better now, so much better now."

"They keep me alive to fight another day, without having to go out and play all the time," he shrugs, adding another of the nervous chuckles that punctuate a lot of his answers.

Then there's Stephen Cummings the novelist. After a trip to Vietnam in 1991 ("My girlfriend and I wanted to go to France, but we couldn't afford it"), he was taken with the mysticism of the place. and wrote Wonderboy, a book about fathers, sons and following dreams. It was published in June, and his next one, Stay Away from Lightning Girl, is due for release next year.

Is writing going to take over from music? "No. I did the one book, so I thought I better do another one to prove it wasn't a fluke."

Finally, there's Cummings the singer-songwriter. Escapist is his eighth solo album but, despite all the critical accolades he's received over the years, Cummings, 41, is surprisingly candid about his output so far. "I don't have any real plans to make another record for quite a long time. I sometimes feel that I've made too many records and I could've taken a bit more care about the songs. In retrospect, I could have made about four records and put all the good stuff on those."

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