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Byron Shire
September 27, 2021

Interview with Dave Graney

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Dave Graney and Clare Moore. Brunswick Picture House

Dave Graney & Clare Moore

Brunswick Picture House  |  Sunday |  4pm  |  $27/32

Dave Graney emanates cool. Not because he’s trying. It’s because he is cool. He’s refreshingly unselfconscious in the way many musicians probably wish they were. And he’s funny. He gets the big joke that it’s all a big joke, as evidenced by the very cool single from his new album Baby I Wish I’d Been a Better Pop Star. 

Zippa Dee Doo is the 33rd album that Dave and his partner, in life and music, Clare Moore (keys, drums, vibraphone and singer!) have been involved with creating and releasing. Its eight songs are done thirteen ways, from pop gems to epic jams recorded with his band The Mistly – who are basically The Coral Snakes, the band with whom Dave took out a swag of ARIA’s in the 90s! 

They play music drawn from a lifetime in rock’n’roll culture. They didn’t learn their licks in school, they made their own mistakes and set their own standards. It’s been a road of musical adventures for Graney and Clare, who started out with The Moodists back in the 80s. 

‘We were contemporaries of The Birthday Party and The Go Betweens and The Laughing Clowns. We spent most of the 80s in the UK. Then we came back and had the best year ever. I won best male artist in 1996. It was a time of ‘peace’ in the CD/record industry and everyone was an activist  in Australian music.’

‘There used to be more people in the record business. Record shops in every town. People working at record companies who would drive to shops and talk to people. By the late 90s it was stopping. There were more media. More journalists. It is a shame that the actual human side of the record industry has dropped away. Even with social media there is still nothing like word of mouth, the buzz of hearing people perform and then talking about it. All the stuff about things ‘going viral’ – just being in this antiseptic world of digital transmission and escaping boundaries – is not really true. Playing music has gone back to how it was in the 1950s, you have to be able to give people something they enjoy.’

Although Dave prefers the dynamic of playing songs with the whole band, there’s always something a bit special about gigs that are just him and Clare.

‘When it’s just the two of us it focuses us on not trying to match the band. We try to focus on the words and the story of the words – we play anywhere and everywhere that way. We started doing some of the parlour shows. I did one where a fella set up a PA on his back porch, and his neighbours sat around on chairs. Did one last week in a Winery inside a shearing shed in the Coonawarra. I come from around there and I felt the closest to that place than any others I’ve played.’

So with 33 albums and hundreds, possibly thousands of songs, how does Dave remember one song from the other?

‘I can access lots of songs, it’s like being any kind of writer, there is a part of you that never changes and that’s all part of my inner flux. There are a few songs that people always ask us to play, we are happy to build a set around what people are familiar with.’

It’s not just the music that’s cool. It’s Dave’s threads. He’s always had the knack of some pretty smooth styling.

‘When I was younger there was nothing off the peg you could buy, you had to search for vintage stuff, because rock music used to be years ahead of fashion, and then fashion started to dress like rock musicians – no one would have dreamed of that! 

I never throw anything out. A lot of these pieces are synthetic so they’ll be around for generations.’ 

Catch Dave Graney and Clare Moore on Sunday at the Brunswick Picture House at 4pm, tix are $27/32 at brunswickpicturehouse.com

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