Diesel, A Day on the Green Armidale

Comments (0) Interviews

This year’s a Day on the Green features a stellar bill headlined by Jimmy Barnes. Focus caught up with Diesel in the lead up to the event…

Hi Mark. You’re playing A Day On the Green, which is a much loved festival. Why do you like playing them, and why do you think the brand is so successful?

Well, I think the formula of finding great locations is a recipe for success; they’re pretty careful about the acts they put together … I’ve never seen one that I thought was a jumbo gumbo line up. The combination of well curated bills and the location just make it a really good experience and as an artist, it always feel really good driving up and turning up to work at those places. I can only wonder why people haven’t in the past, with all the wineries that have always existed – and no-one has really thought of doing it.

It’s been 30 years since you started Johnny Diesel and the Injectors in Perth. If you could talk to that young guy back then, what advice would you give him …

Yeah, 30 years this year since we kicked off what we were basically doing as a hobby at that point. It was a hobby band, because we all came from other bands. I’d tell him to hang in there – something’s coming down the pipe …

Take us back to 1986; what were you playing for, and what was your goal?

I’d been in another band with the guys I was playing with at the time; it was called the Innocent Bystanders. I was not the singer in that band, but we’d achieved some success as an original band in a town heavily dominated by cover bands. We made it across the Nullabor to work with some great producers: Peter Walker and Charles Fischer. We produced a couple of singles, one made it to number one on the Indy charts, but it just wasn’t meant to be. The singer actually fired me for playing too loud!

He was actually doing me a favour; I met him through the Sunday paper – I was 14 and he was 21 – so he kind of mentored me. I think it was his way of going “Go out on your own now”, and that’s what I did! The very next day I had members of the band calling me, wanting to form a band with me. I didn’t expect that – I really didn’t.

So, we put this band together – it had no name, and it ended up being named after the bass player from a joke that someone said. His name’s John Dalzell, so the name didn’t come from me at all – it was just one of those funny things we thought we’d put in the paper to humour ourselves, humour John the bass player – then I got stuck with it! So I guess if I was going to say anything to that guy back then (Mark), don’t worry about playing to two people on a Wednesday night, which is pretty much what we were doing there for a while.

We had this little residency, this little back stage bar at the back of a night club, which was a huge night club that had pumping big DJs. The stage we played on I think was like a little trapment area that people came to when they got lost at the toilets; they would find this other bar. So, essentially we were the band that played in the catchment areas when people got lost on their way to find the toilets! …

Over the years, you’ve gone through many phases of playing with bands and also on your own. It seems like you’re at that stage now where you’re pretty happy flying solo…

Very much so. I’ve pretty much been left to my own devices – I’ve only got myself to blame, that’s for sure.

I’ve never been subjected to someone going, “You’re going to have to do it this way or the highway”; I’ve never come across that. I’ve come across some pretty strong-minded people in the industry for sure, but no one has ever given me the ultimatum to do what they want, or I’ll never work in the industry again or something. I’ve really been given free reign over where I’ve wanted to take my career; that’s a good thing, I guess. I am definitely grateful for that – I’ve heard some horror stories from other people …

Americana the tour is going well, and the album has been a success. Are you going to be doing any new writing any time soon, or sticking with this one for now?

I’ll probably tour this one for a while. I haven’t been to Tasmania or Alice Springs, North Queensland, places like that, which I generally try to … well, not Tasmania, but I keep those northern ones for the winter. Tasmania is always cold, no matter what time of the year you go down there!

I am starting to work on a new record, which I had actually already started to do before I did Americana. It kind of went out the window when the idea of Americana came to me from my agent, whom I’ve been with for 28 years – it’s pretty amazing.

Thanks Mark.

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