After releasing a new album with his old band, The Spirits, and coming back to his childhood home of Torbay, musician Simon London is returning to his roots. The singer-songwriter released his latest album as Simon London and The Spirits last November, following a more than a decade-long break. In 2021, London put the band back together with a new lineup, prompted to return to the band following the death in 2020 of Matt Morcombe, their inaugural drummer, and one of London’s oldest mates. “After he passed I had a conversation with my wife where I said I guess that’s it for that band, and she’s like, it’d be a shame if those songs never saw the light of day again,” London said. “I kind of had a bit of think about it, because my wife is usually right about these things.” London enlisted local talents Caleb Drage on bass and Mark Gretton as drummer and pianist for the new iteration of The Spirits and they started working on songs as a group, resulting in the band’s fourth album Don’t You Forget About Me. It’s a rock album that also charts an emotional journey and sees London paying tribute to his former band-mate across two distinct halves, split as a nod to the “Side A” and “Side B” of a vinyl. “I’ve always enjoyed that about an album where it might have a whole theme or might tell you a story from start to finish,” he said. “And I felt like it was a big story to try and tell and so it needed the full album format. “(Part One) is told from the perspective of while he was here, and then the second part is after he passed away.” London had known Morcombe since high school and they were part of a band which took them to the US in search of a record deal. Their quest saw them playing iconic venues on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, but the deal didn’t eventuate. London got his own offer to record a solo album, which he then returned to Australia to finish recording, again teaming up with Morcombe and adding guitarist Chris Edmonson, who eventually joined The Spirits. The band recorded three albums and had success touring across Australia, but took a break when London met Tammy and they decided to move to Sweden. “I went overseas with Tam in 2009 and basically shelved the band, and I thought that was probably going to be it,” London said. “And then when we came back to Australia, Tam and I were playing a lot of shows together. “We just did that for quite a few years, and then had four kids, which slows you down a bit.” As well as returning to his old band, London has also come back to the South Coast and is now based on 8ha of the farm he grew up on near Cosy Corner in Torbay. “We just both decided that we just wanted to come back home, really,” he said. “You know, you go around and see the world — and I’d spent time in Canada and the UK and lived in the US — you see a lot of the world and you realise (Albany) is pretty hard to beat, especially for bringing up kids. “It’s incredible, you can go down the beach and still be the only person down there. “You just don’t get that in other places in the world.” Since returning home, London has found himself in a creative pocket, with other musicians including local legend David Rastrick and The Waifs’ Donna Simpson and Vikki Thorn all living nearby. As well as performing together as a couple, the Londons started making music with Thorn as The Red Tails, recording their first album in London’s studio shed. The move back has also shaped London’s songwriting, which he said are often “attached to either a sense of place or a particular place”, as is evident in the songs on The Spirits’ latest album. “In Headlights it talks about coming home, these black hills, I guess it’s talking about when you’re driving through the night and what it looks like when you come home,” he said. “Mist on the Bay is talking about driving around in the morning, looking out here between the islands. “There’s lots of references to different places here.” Reflecting on coming back to the farm he grew up on, where he developed his love of music listening to his parents’ Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Rolling Stones records, London said his music wouldn’t sound the same if he had been raised in the city. “It certainly feels like a full circle kind of thing — when you come back to the beginning, it’s all different again,” he said. “It does feel like coming back home. “You just want to keep writing better songs, putting out better albums and putting on better shows — and that’s the motivation, really.