Tony Biggs described Dalicados a St Kilda supergroup, and I couldn/t agree more. Featuring members of UnAustralians, Hunters and Collectors, the Choose Few and I Spit on your Gravy, Dalicados play music that is not genre driven, instead making a genre and style their own. Combining elements of their past bands and their own personal taste, its music you ave to listen to get the vibe and also a must see gig as you get a great show both music and presentation wise. On top of that there all wonderful people who were kind enough to play at my 30th recently. Fiona a James very kindly invited me and the rest of the band Cal, Tracey, Mark and Jack, as well as Di and Fi for dinner, followed by a sit down chat.
Munster: Now a few years
ago there was a great band Thousands Left Standard which featured James Tracey
Jack and Cal, is Dalicados a follow on from that band?
James: that was a bit hard to wrangle that band and the idea
was really good and the idea lead to Dalicados. The roots of both bands where
me and Cal, just jamming and writing stuff. We did Thousands Left Standard and
it wasn’t just right. Then Mark who I’ve known for a long time and always loved
his playing, we got talking and I thought he’d be perfect. And everyone else is
important, and who I think are great people and wonderful friends we got in the
band. Playing music these days if you don’t have to do it you wouldn’t do it
and that’s the only reason I do it. There’s no goals with this band just to
Fiona: your completed to do it that’s why we do it
Jack: now he tells me there no goals (laughs)
Tracy: where are the KPIs (laughs)
James: but it’s the moment that’s the reason for doing it. Not
for money and where too old for fame, just for that moment you hit a chord and moments
that make it amazing. Maybe not for Jack, maybe he wants to be the next Justin
Jack I was the first
Cal: it’s important to say its original music, we could all be
playing in cover bands but the beauty is playing new songs working them out.
And having know Jack and we invited him down and he was keen and encouraging,
and when Mark joined it took another persona then it was, and as James said there’s
lots of friends involved which helps.
James: like I said I love everyone in this band I would hang
out with them outside the band and if they brought instruments I would happily
play music with these people the same I would in a bar as I would if it was in
the lounge room.
Mark: even rehearsals are fun.
Munster: Does the name come from a cigarette?
James: yes a Mexicana cigarette. I moved
to LA with Fi in 1994 and we lived in a place called Silver Lake and a little
store sold Delicados cigarettes where $2 a pack. They were shorter than normal
cigarettes, we changed the spelling of the band name not to confuse the two.
Munster: Much like
Thousands Left Standard and also Jacks band the Long Lost Brothers and a
Sister, its music you can’t put in one specific genre, how so what was the
pitch when the band started for the kind of music you would play?
James: I never discussed it with anyone. I’ve been playing
music with Cal for 26 years, and we’ve never had that discussion what style are
we gonna play
Cal: yeah when James and I would jam he’d say I’ve got an idea
for a song but it was never genre driven, there was never we wanna sounds like
Fiona: in 97 when we were in Las Angeles and Libby Malone in LA
WEEKLY said Australia was the last place of un characterised rock style music.
And I think that still rings true Australia has this beautiful fusion that ends
up something overarching Australian. James is interested in soul music so you can’t
go past the rock and the blues roots but when we get together there’s punk and
all the pop culture references we’ve been subjective to. So there’s all that
stuff that goes into it without even having to discuss it being of the same
time period we’ve absorbed those same cultural influences and that goes into
it. It’s in the lyrics it’s the way we approach the songs
Cal: everyone in this band has 20-30 years’ experience playing
in original bands from the start, with varying degrees of success.
James: every cover band you meet has the original project there
working on and you never see it. You know it’s the whole I’m just doing top 40 now
and you never see the original project. It’s so boring playing other people’s
music. If you pick a song and do a cover and nail it, that’s brilliant, but
just plan doing other people’s songs for a gig is like ah man. And then you end
up writing songs like Nickelback
Fiona: and that’s the thing with the overarching Australian
thing. Carrying that voice and the culture it’s still vibrating and decent. A
lot of the stuff overseas has been homogenised a lot.
Jack: we are fortunate enough there’s enough of a scene here in
Melbourne even if it’s a not a big scene. In terms of outlets.
Mark: we’re blessed with the venues we have in Melbourne. And
being round in the 80s there’s been people that used to go out they’ve gone off
and done other things, then they come back and want to see stuff. The kids have
grown up and they don’t want the top 40 cover bands they want to pick up where
they left off, good original Melbourne music and I think that’s what we play
Munster: you mentioned Mark joining the band took the band in a
different direction, so what did Mark bring to the table?
James: Height (all laugh). Mark, I’ve played with lots of great
musicians. Fi is one of the best bass players in Australia, I promise you. Mark
brings real heart. Everyone talk’s about heart like its commodity, Mark is what
he plays. It is him, it’s not two different things.
Cal: James said to me and its not denigrating to other bass players
in the line-up, James said to me you’ll love playing with Mark. I hardly knew
him as I didn’t pay attention to the Gravy’s and bands like that. But
straightaway we looked it in.
Mark: we had so much space we could do whatever we wanted and
all this power come in.
James: and the whole band is like that everyone walks in and
does it. It happens and there’s something amazing about that. It’s almost like
we’re on a ride and we all get on at the same time. And that’s the best part of
Jack: it’s an unusual band it is a band grinning with emotion
it feels like that and that’s not the usual thing. And that’s part of what
draws me into it. And you guys are like the Fleetwood Mac the two married
couples in the band.
James: I’d say where more ABBA. We’re too old for it top end badly
Fiona: where too old for Rumours.
Mark: And a lot of it relates to Jenny. Years ago before we
moved to the country Fi James Jenny and I had a band called the Last Call that’s
where Nevermore came from. When Jenny got sick we put this band together for a
benefit as a surprise. So that’s where a lot of the emotion comes from.
Jack: Nevermore was a highlight of the launch
Tracey: turning around seeing my son sing along I was like oh
James: real music played by real people is meant to do that,
whatever the emotion is. I listen to early Descendents and I’m still moved by
Fiona: what’s great about this band is the collaboration and I
think that’s an overriding spirit with this band, even gigs we have to all
agree on it.
Cal: there been two photos taken of the band after a gig and we
all look happy, it not like oh its time to go home.
Jack: I think that would be a great exercise. To go back
through the bands that we love and there’s that period, say two LPs people
really love and whether there in that same spirit of collaboration, before the
singer locked himself in a room and
wrote all the songs.
Mark: I think most bands start like that until a certain degree
because it has to bring people together.
James: you gotta remember and Jack, you’re in a fortunate
position, in my mind, Hunters where cool indie and where very successful, and always
original and became popular, so you had the trifecta. Which is rare. In all due
respect, Mark was in I Spit on your Gravy and never had that kind of success. The
songs stand the test of time. Savage Garden were the biggest band in the world
and you don’t hear them anymore yet Hunters is still played everywhere. I’m
really lucky as I play in this band with these guys, and Fiona and Cal play in
the long lost brother and I get to see that and just relax. I’m not in any dysfunctional
band so it feels super normal what we do. And Jack with Epic Brass he has to
wrangle so many people and they all enjoy themselves.
Jack: well that’s the thing with musicians you try and surround
yourselves with people you like and can play and are professional and discard
the othesr. Who wants that?
Mark I got too long a drive to hang around with fuckwits (all
Fiona: that should be a bumper sticker
Tracey: we should put all these saying on t shirts
James: and as I get older I discover more people,
interesting artists. Penny Ikinger is a good example I knew of her when I was
playing with Fi years ago and recently I got to know her really nice really
talented. And Epic Brass a few weeks ago and Ash Naylor I’ve known for years
socially for 20 years and he’s another lovely guy and player he was great in
the band, it’s that excitement that keeps happening there no close doors. Yeah
you get idiots but that will happen. I feel I’m seeing more great players then
I’m seeing idiots.
Cal: playing with people you like and admire helps
your musicianship. As jack was saying if you’re playing with great players you
don’t want to mess up the song
Marks: that’s what I love about this band everyone
gets a voice there no ego.
Munster: So James I remember you once saying the rest
of the band organizes the gigs and everything else and you’ll write the songs,
James: it’s giving me too much credit to say I wrote
them. I write the lyrics and then it evolves from there. I couldn’t be, I say
this to Fi all the time, I love Steve Earle and James Taylor these singer
songwriter guys, but I couldn’t do that, you know write the song and say to the
band do this do that. I feel comfortable with a skeleton and everyone puts the
meat on it. I got to give most of the credit to what I do to Fi 50% . I’ve been
with her most of my adult life and a great inspiration. Most of what I know
from songwriting I pretty much stole from Fi. Fi’s way more disciplined then me
and I wish I could, Charles Jenkins for example is a great songwriter and he
can break it down but I can’t I find it was too random and difficult to do.
Event good songs you try and make it a song and its 80% there but it can take
two years to get the rest. I wish there was a way you could make it better
because I don’t consider myself a songwriter because it always feels disjointed.
These really prolific guys that can pump it out a feel envious of and blow my
mind it feel difficult to make a family of songs to me….
Fiona: James used the word disjoined he always works a
full time demanded job so no matter it feels disjointed so when he has time and
time to think of it it does feel disjoined because it’s like climbing rocks to
get the write words out.
James: but I couldn’t not work and stay at home and
write that wouldn’t work.
Mark: I know what you mean as when your work and have
other things going on you tend to get more done. If I have a lot of work on I
get more done as opposed to doing nothing.
Jack: the tricky thing with the songwriter is it exists
in a slightly different realm and all your life and experiences help with that.
Even great songwriters who have written a lot of songs, for example John Hiatt
he’s written so great songs but also a lot of bad songs. You know standard whining
lyrics and standard chord changes. It kind of dismisses his songwriting as he
does a lot of co-writes and sells songs to people and I love his best stuff but
he’s written a lot of stuff, because of all that that’s not that great.
Fiona: James noticed that in the Van Gogh museum not
every picture was a masterpiece. You try things and you take what works and
what doesn’t and take that for the next thing.
Munster: how did the idea come from to have the lead
vocals and Fiona and Tracey on backing vocals?
Cal: Diana Ross and the Supremes
Mark: looks good sounds good. It’s a show
Tracey: I feel extremely lucky to be in
the Dalicados family
as I haven’t been in a band before.
Munster: this is your first band?
Tracey: yeah so the support and the encouragement has
been fantastic. It’s scary but a lot of fun
Cal: we honestly didn’t think about Fleetwood Mac.
Fiona: Tracey has done a great job learning all the
vocals and her voice on the record really enhances it
Munster: Fi and Trace you guys have a great stage
presence, with the percussion and dance moves, do you practice that?
Fiona: yes in rehearsal.
Tracey: a lot of its spontaneous too. Even Jack does
the side step with us.
Munster: You’ve just released your first single, where
is the LP at?
Fiona: nearly half way through, five more tracks to go
just to mix then mastering. And, it’s not a process we did a year ago and
worked everyday it’s just when we’re free so that can make it longer. It’s
almost a year since we started it. We started tracking in September last year.
Munster: Mark you play double bass, what made you play
double bass as opposed to standard four string?
Mark: the sound, a mate pushed me into it 20 years
ago, he plays double bass and thankfully enough it landed at my place
Cal: how long you had it for?
Mark: 19 years. John Danny gave it to me
Munster: Tracey you mentioned this is your first band,
did you sing at school in choirs or anything like that?
Tracy: a Rock Eisteddfod at school. That was it.
Jack: what did you sing?
Cal: you sing around the house.
Tracey: when Thousands Left Stranded started and I
told her I was singing she said you cant fucking sing.
Cal: part of my courting of Tracey was burning CDs
when I was in the country saying you gotta listen to this
James: Tracey’s parents are amazing, Louise was a
amazing women and her dad is a legend, so supportive and goes to every gig.
Munster: Jack, you have a few gigs on the go and very
busy, so what was the pitch for you to join?
Jack: the number of friends and to be honest it’s come
at a time when there’s not many other big gigs. There mates and I liked the
music so I wanted in.
Munster: Cal we were talking before how a seven inch
you made as part of The Chosen Few that went for mega bucks recently, how did
it feel making a seven inch that is possibly the most expensive punk seven inch
Cal: it’s great we paid for it and never made a cent
off it. It’s been bootlegged from all these company’s and never saw any money
off it. It’s nice to know something you did 40 years ago is appreciated. Where’s
at the time it was shitcanned. The review in Juke was difficult to classify as
a collector’s item. Now it’s the most expensive single in the world.
Mark: when they reviewed St Kildas Alright they said
this is a pile of shit the only saving grace is a walking bass line, and said
it feels like it was recorded on an ocean.
Cal: we got grief because we put six tracks on a 45
size and run it at 33RPM, but now it’s worth all that money. And a hell of a
lot of bands are covering us, Eddy Current is one. And an American Band called
X Cult. So we got the fame, fuck the fortune.
Munster: Fiona, for me the highlight of the launch gig
was your speech about James where you said you were going through a rough
period and it was James and his music that got you through it and that
particular song really helped
Fiona: Cakes and Ginger ale. Music has the power to
make you stay so that’s part of why a married a musicians (laughs) and James rehearses
Cal: but that is such a powerful song when I saw you
two do it acoustically it really hit us and when me and Trace got home we were
still in awe.
Fiona: as Jack said about the emotional thing it
exists from the well it came from. And we did that song with Jenny in the Last
Call, that was the first band to do that song. I was working stupid hours and
had to help 17 people through a redundancy with a company feeding us lies, so
that was a sad time and James would working on that song and I would work with
him on it. And it’s true we had Cakes and Ginger ales every day at work, and it
was full of wonderful women who would bake every day and it was so sad through
that period but the music helped me. There was a women at the place that got
let go and James gave her a job
James: See I’m not a total scumbag (laughs).
Fiona: and she worked there for six years.
Jack: with that song, everyone’s talks about the
emotion but James is an incredibly catchy guitarist. I feel blessed, as I do
with working with Nicky Del Rey, when we write songs, here’s a chord change and
lyrics, and some of his riffs are a real x factor and you’re the same James,
the instant access to the song
Mark: one of our first gigs at the Lyrebird Viv Gaye
came up to me and said you’ve got more hooks then a fishing tackle box.
James: with any song, I don’t write songs for people not
to sing along, so that’s how my mind works. I’m not writing jingles but I feel I’m
a commercial songwriter.
Fiona: you’re writing for people
James: absolutely in my mind I’m writing Sweet Child
Cal: that’s a bad example. Possibly the worst hit song
James: what I mean is, I’m not trying to write
anything cool, I’m writing songs people will like, people that say I hate that
commercial crap I’ve never understood that, in my mind I’m writing a big song
and that’s how I work. I don’t know if everyone thinks like that but I’m not
cool so I don’t think like that. I love big commercial radio songs like Spandau
Fiona: we had that experience when we’re younger and
now when we look back at the radio, we’re still human and not perfect and its
great having music by people in our age group that we get to hear. It’s new and
exciting and give us hope and we belong. That’s really important in how we make