Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dave Dobbyn Interview - questions by Kat

Voor Nederlands ga hier !

The first I remember of your music was the song from the Footrot Flats movie, “Slice of Heaven, when I was 8 years old. However you have been churning out hits for decades. What is your personal favourite song, or does it tend to change all the time?

I’d have to say ‘Welcome Home’ as it came to me after I’d seen an anti-racism march in Christchurch NZ. It’s a common problem in western countries that new immigrants are not generally welcomed as full citizens. It was the need for the song that drove that one – I was merely the writer and it touched a democratic nerve around NZ. The great thing is it’s also an occasional song – we’re always welcoming somebody all the time, so I think it will age well as songs go.

Although your early work was under band names, Th’Dudes and DD Smash, was it a conscious decision in the mid-eighties to go under your own name instead?

Yes. I figured I could keep an eclectic eye on music and develop the craft sooner as a solo artist. There is no democracy in a band from what I could see and I naively thought the music would speak for itself and needed no branding.

The hits that you have written – was it quite obvious to you that they were gems as soon as you had written them, and did/do they stand out for you personally within your own perception of your repertoire?

Yes I knew in my bones that they were good songs – I was always keen for any kind of radio release at the time. It was a time when getting any local music on radio was really tough. Slice Of Heaven became a hit as a movie trailer before it hit radio here - so it had popular momentum outside of radio , so when a certain major radio network decided finally to play list the song it was number one on their own chart – such was the resistance from programmers here to play list a local record. Things are a little different now.

Do you have a fairly solid crew of backing musicians, or does it tend to change a lot?

Everyone who I had the pleasure of working with would genuinely say it’s been fun to work with me and I take great delight in touring with a crew of fun and caring peaceful people. It’s just worked out that way. Call it the grace of God.

Ross Burge is a drummer I have worked with for years and I have many friends who I get to play with every other tour.

Do you perform completely solo often?

Yes. I love it. You can work a room just fine with an acoustic – projecting is the thing for a solo performer – if you can capture an audience like that then you’re well on your way. Solo gigs keep you honest if you’re any kind of songwriter. It can be a quick death like that of a stand-up comedian when you are not connecting. But that’s the kind of sound barrier you have to break to really shine. Thankfully I choose them carefully.

Last summer I caught a performance of you in Hyde Park. You get over to the UK on a regular basis it seems. Do you get around the rest of Europe, performing or just on holiday?

It’s strange that my audience is spreading now after I had almost been relegated a NZ only act. Thankfully I have a lot of opportunities to tour so I’m really looking forward to exploring Europe especially with a few albums under my belt. I think that now, more than ever, is a good time for songwriters to get to really far flung places – there is always a demand for good songs As grace would have it I live in a far flung land and I think we have a unique perspective and voice as a nation of peacemakers. Whatever it is I think it’s worth exporting so I’m in for the long haul.

What is your perception of the music scene in Holland? Apart from electronic music, do you know of any Dutch bands or musicians? Have you ever spent any length of time here? Do the names Herman Brood, or The Golden Earring ring any bells?

Radar love. Hocus Pocus by Focus. I loved Doot Doot by Fleur.

My wife is of Dutch descent so I regularly kid around with her re the clogs and windmills. I would like to hear the Beach Boys’ Holland in Holland. And to visit the house of Corrie Ten Boom. Amsterdam coffee sounds delightful.

Will you be playing solo in the Melkweg, or is your band joining you?

I have a great three piece band. Ross Burge on drums, Marcus Lawson on bass and me on electric guitar and vocals. We rock.

Your latest album, Available Light, was released in 2005. Do you have plans for a follow-up yet?

Yes I’m working on a record for release early next year. I’m doing demos after this tour.

Can you name some obvious influences of your music?

The Band, Dylan, Beatles, Stones…….I’d have to say Neil Finn – because he’s a great songwriter and because he has a great new studio and I can’t wait to record there. Just as well we’re friends.

If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be?

Thelonious Monk. Bob Dylan.

Australians like to claim you for their own quite often. When did this start, and does it annoy you or amuse you?

I’m flattered on the one hand and on the other I’m a staunch patriot. Either way I’m comfortable with acceptance.

Do you play any instruments other than the guitar?

Yes I’m nuts about the piano – I’ve been able to get quite conversant of late on the old Joanna. A must for any musician. The greatest invention since the wheel.