Best known for his role in the Remains, Mick Daley is playing at Greenhills on Tweed on Sunday. We caught up with him to find out what to expect.
Mick, what to you is the most important aspect of good songwriting? Good songwriting comes from solid imagination wed to an eye for detail and a sense of humour. The popular misconception of Nick Cave is the gloomy gothic doomsayer, but if you listen to his stuff, much of it is actually hilarious. Crazed, literate and highly worked, but the spark is a salacious wit. Dylan, Cohen, Waits, PJ Harvey… there’s this common theme of large ideas and drama, but at the core is a wry humour and a scornful disregard of convention. Fearlessness and wit are some of the key ingredients.
What are the songs that move you most? For those reasons it’s smart, considered songs written by witty, erudite people. The best writers really know their stuff; they’ve read everything from the Bible to Kafka, and they bring this worldly knowledge and wit to their stuff. If I hear a big brawling dirge by Dylan or Cave that has one line that makes me chortle, that moves me. That and a dab hand at alchemy – putting words to tunes, managing to play it.
What is the song that you have heard and thought, damn I wish I’d written that? Probably Papa Wont Leave Ya Henry, by Cave. A great rollicking narrative with razor-sharp phrases and an enthralling, intense soundtrack.
Where do you find the stories and narratives for songwriting… do they just happen to you or do you eavesdrop? I go out of my way to find stories that move me – I’m part of a mob called the Lonely Horse Band. We travel to one-horse towns, set up camp and settle down to finding the unique stories that made that town. We’ve written three albums based around these weird, eclectic towns with a history you’d never know about unless you took the time to go there. Good songs can spill out of the void and be finished in five minutes. Otherwise they can take years to be done right – but working hard at them always pays off.
Tell me a little about the outfit that you will be playing with at the Greenhills on Tweed gig. That’ll be just me and Nigel Ison, a great fingerpicker from Lismore. Some local types from Mur’bah will no doubt join us though, hunting for free beer.
1pm–4pm, $10 entry; kids are free.