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Diversion Continues

As promised I will return to A Secret in the Shape of a Song and recollections from the shoot in due course.

Any Australian readers may remember the TV show ‘A Long Way to the Top; tracing the modern history of Australian music. Apart from some truly hilarious (for right and wrong reasons) moments involving The Models, it also contains Dave’s last interview. The fragility of his health is apparent, but his humour is still some what intact. Paste the below into your browser or click on the title of this post to see it.

A footnote regarding The Models. A few years ago now, Melbourne radio announcer Tony Biggs (of Triple R) had some health issues and a benefit concert was held at the Espy in St Kilda. A variation of The Models line up played the show. I was in the middle of a catch up with Rob Snarski. As we tried to make ourselves heard over the aerobics lesson whining out of their synthesisers, Rob turned to me and said “You know, I just don’t think I can do this”, turned on his heel, and left.

Feb 2 2008

Dave died 9 years ago on Feb 2. I listened to Eric B and Rakim , drank some wine, and then listened to Save What You Can and Too Hot Too Move Too Hot to Think. It then occured to me that barring listening to Paid in Full , I do this most days anyway. So I started reading Tim Winton’s Dirt Music instead. The combination of Dave and Winton’s world finds me immersed in a WA that I am not sure exists outside the imagination.

Pk Towers, floor 55, probably Apartment number 9

Jan 17 2008
And onto the second Blackeyed Susan of the day , Mr Phil Kakulas ; possibly the coolest double bassist ever. Today though, we’re starting with Phil’s role as a first and last Triffid — he was in a very early lineup of the band, and then played on a few tracks of their final studio album. Phil was part of the original triumvirate of trouble: comprising himself, Alsy and Dave; Phil brings this sense of history into perspective by casually dropping into conversation that he had photos of David at his 7th birthday party — in 1968. The year of The White Album, Beggars Banquet, the Paris Riots, the Tet Offensive …sorry, I have no idea who won the premiership that year. Four decades ago. The band went for ten years and Dave’s music career 15 or thereabouts. His life ; though far shorter than it should have been, spans so much frantic , energised sheer… TIME. Phil remains a great interview: he’s always been very considered, slyly funny, and rather astute. Take 1 is abandoned due to noise in the venue, so we decamp, at Phil’s suggestion, to PK Towers, floor 55 just around the corner; overcast Sydney stretches around us. Phil — a music teacher — relates a wonderful thought when considering his reaction to hearing the Dalsy tapes for the first time in 30 years , the previous evening, wondering aloud if “anyone should ever have music lessons” because the tapes are so ‘free”. We get more on the story of Dave’s involvement with The Susans and particularly the superb and highly under-rated All Souls Alive (get it if you don’t already own it) ; and some discussion on co-writing takes us only into the fundamentals before time is called and Phil has to report for soundcheck duties. We decide a second interview is in order to delve further into this specific subject. On the way down in the lift I remember my fave Dave show with BES, outside Flowers Vasette in Fitzroy; Dave sort of mooched around during songs he didn’t play on snapping pics of the band. He seemed so breezy and laconic that day. But that’s just a memory. And they are always selective.

Recollections from the Show... part 4

Today is dress rehearsal day for the Triffids and friends. Sydney is itself. Indifferent, busy and still captivating to look at the odd moment you have spare to raise your head. I’ve been here so often now over the last decade it’s just like …. urban furniture. Sydney is a place people come to I suppose; they move here from other places to try and reach its people, penetrate their strange superficial ether. The Triffids did — somewhat inevitably — before they decamped to London. It’s wonderful watching this band feel one another out a little bit musically again, hitting their straps as they do it… ; its rehearsal; some notes aren’t hit, some notes are fluffed — ironing these things out are is what rehearsals are FOR. The moments come when a song is tired again a while later and those notes are hit, the solos are nailed, the melodies sing. For all the absence of Dave hanging over the band — that they must surely be feeling somewhat — the brilliance of his songs is driven home run through after run through. In this way, Dave will live longer than a lot of us. Cold comfort to those who’d just rather have him back around no doubt.

So…. to today’s interviews. Rob Snarski. Someone I’ve interviewed a lot over the years. A truly, wonderful singer; it is no exaggeration at all to say that Rob is geuinely gifted; the guy just sings like an angel. Rob knew David in Perth when was in a band called Chad’s Tree and Dave was in The Triffids, and eventually they made records together in The Blackeyed Susans. Rob has forewarned me that he is prepared to speak to us about Dave, but is not keen to answer questions connected specifically to music. This will make this one a little harder, but not impossible. My feeling as we roll is that Rob wants to do a good interview for the film, to perhaps play his part in ensuring an accurate and fair account is given of Dave to the audience. We’re not long in and we break for Rob to have a minute — one we’re perfectly prepared to give him. 9 years on from David’s passing and the emotions float to the surface like that. We must be ever mindful of this with our subjects. I am thankfuk to Rob for his honesty; it’s helping the film already; and it’s a good reality check for us; these people are here because Dave’s not, playing his music. A celebration of him and songs? Certainly; but absence tinges it all with an inevitable sadness. So all we can do now is create a captivating hour and a half that depicts why he was special, unique, timeless and brilliant. And that, is what Danielle and I are going to do.

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