21 September 2014
92.9 Voice FM interviewed Iva prior to ICEHOUSE's performance at the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. His segment starts at 28:50. Enjoy!
14 September 2014
An exciting announcement from ICEHOUSE concerning the Palms shows in Melbourne! Read on and grab tickets while you can!
As you know we've added a couple of shows to The Palms at Crown in February. We're very happy to announce two very special guest acts for those shows: Tuesday February 3rd Boom Crash Opera and Wednesday February 4th Pseudo Echo. Both these Melbourne bands give exceptional performances - we share plenty of combined road miles and respect for one another. Each of these nights will be very special in its own right and we hope to see you there.
27 August 2014
From The Courier:
Award-winning artist to perform in Ballarat
By Dellaram Vreeland
Iva Davies took a leap of faith when releasing Icehouse's latest offering White Heat. But it was a leap of faith worth taking, with the 30-hit compilation awarded platinum sales status.
"We hadn't played for years and hadn't released a studio album for goodness knows how long so we had no gauge at all on whether the band name and catalogue had disappeared in thin air over time," Davies said. "It was quite extraordinary because it reached Gold level within almost a week and has been ticking over ever since."
Since the early 90s, Icehouse's members had been busy with their own projects and the band had become somewhat absent on the Australian touring circuit. It wasn't until 2009 when they were invited to perform as part of a relief concert in Sydney that the iconic rock act decided to make a return
"We hadn't played for years and my children hadn't even seen my play. That was very well received and in turn prodded us into action," Davies said. "Since then, we've had loads of shows and everything from massive festivals to tiny little pubs and we continue to find places to play in fairly selective sort of ways."
Icehouse is now on tour in celebration of White Heat reaching platinum sales status. Visiting cities and regional centres across the nation, Davies said it was the first time since 2011 the band had undertook a tour of this extent.
"We stopped touring in 1994 effectively and it wasn't until the end of 2011 that we did a tour of this extent," he said. "Since 2009, we had been playing fairly regularly but sporadically."
Although the guys have been performing gigs on and off, Davies said taking to the stage was just like riding a bike.
"When you've been doing it for 30 years it becomes like clockwork really," he said. "We have an experienced set of musicians and they're all working musicians who haven't stopped playing. I'm probably the most rusty but it's a bit like getting back on a bicycle I think."
25 August 2014
Iva Davies will be taking part in an interview this evening at 6:30pm on CoastFM963 Gosford!
Tonight is part one of a two part interview. The focus of tonight's interview will be the DubHouse performances.
Part two will be aired on Wednesday, September 3rd at 8:10am. The discussion will focus on the upcoming show at the Wyong Rugby League Club on September 18th.
The YouTube video below was compiled by oysterchick. It includes both parts of the interview, along with some great photos.
10 August 2014
From GCMAG's August issue:
5 August 2014
Have a listen to Iva's interview on GOLD 104.3 with Brig and Lehmo! Included is an acoustic performance of "Great Southern Land"! You can download the podcast free from iTunes. Choose the podcast dated 5th August 2014. All the fun starts at 10:38 into the podcast.
1 August 2014
Iva was interviewed on the Jonesy & Amanda show on Sydney's WS FM101.7. You can download the podcast free from iTunes. Choose the podcast dated 1st August 2014.
19 July 2014
Ken O'Sullivan interviewed Iva on 4th January for Bonditunes, a weekly 3-hour magazine show which is syndicated to 12 radio stations around the world. He had previously spoken to Iva on the phone and was delighted to meet him in person. He was charming, gracious, patient and eloquent. It was more of a cosy chat than an interview. He has interviewed many people for the show but Iva is one of his favourites. Listen now!
18 June 2014
From 3BA 102.3 FM:
The Big Show - Iva Davies Interview
On 3BA's The Big Show, PT chatted with Icehouse lead singer Iva Davies. You can catch Icehouse live in Ballarat, at The Regent, on September 5th.
18 June 2014
From The Courier:
Rock act Icehouse perform in Ballarat in September
By Dellaram Vreeland
Iconic Australian rock outfit Icehouse will make a return to Ballarat in September after more than 20 years. Iva Davies and his band will perform at The Regent Cinema as part of their national tour. The tour is being undertaken in celebration of Icehouse's latest compilation White Heat recently being awarded Platinum sales status.
"We hadn't played for years and hadn't released a studio album for goodness knows how long so we had no gauge at all on whether the band name and catalogue had disappeared in thin air over time," Davies said. "It was quite extraordinary because it reached Gold level within almost a week and has been ticking over ever since."
The 30-hit compilation has seen steady sales since its release in 2011, a feat Davies attributed to the selective shows the band had been performing in the last three years. He said the release was more than just a collection of classic songs and was "absolutely comprehensive".
"We've done compilation albums along the years but they've been very patchy and none of them have been truly inclusive. It's not only 30 hits but there's also all the music videos that went with the songs and most of them have never been available. We realised there was millions of dollars worth of investment in those music videos so it seemed a shame to leave them collecting dust."
Icehouse, formerly known as Flowers, was formed in 1980 with its debut album becoming the highest ever selling debut album in Australia. The band's success continued with its first overseas performance and release of its second album Primitive Man which featured the much-loved Aussie anthem Great Southern Land. Since then, Davies and Icehouse have won many awards including the Countdown Award for most popular male performer and numerous ARIA awards. The band was also inducted in the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006.
17 June 2014
Here's a photo of Iva Davies attending the Art of Music 2014 event! The photo is courtesy of Bob King.
10 June 2014
From Music Feeds:
Icehouse Announce Platinum Concert Series
By Tom Wililams
In celebration of their White Heat: 30 Hits compilation reaching Platinum sales status, Sydney new-wave stalwarts Icehouse have announced their Platinum Concert Series, which will make its way across the country in September, before returning in January and February 2015.
Icehouse frontman and sole remaining founding member Iva Davies says, “Live is where we get to really know our fans better. The band members love mixing up the sizes of the venues and the performances so the Platinum Series gives us a chance to get around the country, play the songs everyone wants to sing along to and to throw in a few surprises.”
Speaking on the Platinum sales milestone Davies added, “I’m extremely proud to accept this and put it with the other awards that mark different milestones in my life and the career of the band. This one is very special.”
Over the past three years, Icehouse have performed in front of modest audiences in small clubs, but also tens of thousands at events like Homebake.
Icehouse’s Platinum Concert Series currently has 5 shows slated for September 2014 and 7 between January and February 2015. Icehouse fans will have first access to tickets on Wednesday, 11th June, with tickets going on sale to the public on Monday, 16th June.
More concerts will be announced in the coming weeks, including what the band are calling “other special shows”. Full tour details below.
UPDATE 04/08/14: Due to popular demand, Icehouse have now added two extra February Melbourne shows to their Platinum Concert Series while the show at Ballarat’s Regent Theatre has already sold out. Tickets on sale now, see updated details below.
2 June 2014
Here's a clip of Bert Newton interviewing Iva Davies! The interview is concerning an exhibition that went around Australia in 1995. Numerous pieces of music memorabilia were featured. Iva's contributions included the original handwritten lyrics for "Great Southern Land" and "Electric Blue" plus the items shown in this interview. Enjoy this piece of Iva Davies and Icehouse history!
30 May 2014
From Old School:
Back to the 80s: Interview with Iva Davies of Icehouse - Kickin' it Old School
As I still feel the need to say each time, I am so delighted that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.
This time that awesomeness is Iva Davies. He is probably best known as the front man and creative force behind the Australian band Icehouse. The band produced eight Top 10 albums and 20 Top 40 singles in Australia and was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame. In the U.S., Icehouse is most recognized for their 1987 hit single "Electric Blue" which many people do not know was co-written by Davies and John Oates. Find out more about that awesome song, the man behind Icehouse and much more as we get on to some selections from my interview with Iva Davies...
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? I believe you took a little different route to rock and roll than most. When and how did you get your own start in the music industry and how did Icehouse come to be?
Iva: It all started when I was a boy, about 5-years-old living in the country, and I heard the local Scottish pipe band playing. I fell in love with the pipes, learned to play them, and was playing in the band by the age of 8. When we moved to Sydney, and I went to High School, the music teacher encouraged me to learn the oboe. I won a scholarship to the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music (Australia's leading Music Institution) at about the age of 14, and it seemed clear from then that I would be a professional oboist. I was playing professionally by 16, and by the age of about 20 had played casually with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Australia's leading orchestra).
However, at roughly the same age as I began oboe lessons (13) I taught myself the guitar. I played with two other local boys in a jug (Skiffle folk) band called "Lucy Fields". Following my time at school, I was "discovered" by a music publisher and recorded and released two unsuccessful singles through RCA. Ultimately in my early 20's I gave up playing the oboe and was in the process of adapting my acoustic guitar playing to electric when I met bass player Keith Welsh and the original line up of what was to become Icehouse was formed under the name of Flowers. Following the success of our debut album, the band changed its name, and by the time the second album was released the lineup had changed and expanded to a six-piece band, known from then on as Icehouse.
The band's name of Icehouse was adopted in 1981 from a single they had released of the same name. That name was reportedly inspired by an old, cold flat of a two-story mansion that Davies lived in across the street from a disheveled building which turned out to be a half-way house for psychiatric and drug rehab patients.
Q: Did you have aspirations of worldwide success right from the start or were you just focusing on Australia at first?
Iva: The band had aspirations, as did most Australian bands, to have international success right from the beginning. With the success of our first album in Australasia came interest from overseas labels. The album was then released internationally and that was followed by our first international tour, starting in the UK, then on to Canada and USA.
Q: "Electric Blue" was the band's biggest hit in the U.S. and was co-written by you and John Oates. First, how did you and Oates end up coming together to work on this song? Did he come to Australia? What can you tell us about collaborating with John Oates?
Iva: John Oates approached me to say hello in the Adelaide airport. Both our bands were on tour, and he had just bought our second album, Primitive Man. He recognized me and came over to let me know how much he was enjoying the album. That would have been late 1982.
Many years passed and we were on tour in the USA with our fourth album, Measure for Measure. I was staying at the Mayflower Hotel in New York. John Oates tracked me down by phone and suggested that we write songs together. Following the conclusion of touring commitments, John packed a container of his equipment, and shipped them to Sydney. We spent about 10 days in my Sydney studio creating "Electric Blue". At the time he returned to the U.S., the song was still unfinished but the main skeletal details were there. Even in that unfinished state, John was convinced that it would be a hit. He made me promise that if Icehouse didn't use it as a single to let him know because he would want to use it as a Hall & Oates single. Luckily for Icehouse, I had no trouble convincing our management and record company that we should include it on the next album, Man of Colours, as a single.
The title "Electric Blue" was a phrase included in a very early Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) song called "Jewel". I was a big fan of T-Rex, including the early albums released under the name Tyrannosaurus Rex. I first heard the song when I was about 20.
I was taken by the description of a girl's eyes as "electric blue".
"Electric Blue" was released as a single in August of 1987. It reached #1 on the Australia pop chart in November of 1987, but wouldn't make its way over to the U.S. until a little later. The single peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #7 in May of 1988 and is one of my personal favorites from that year. I think it would be interesting to hear what it would sound like with Daryl Hall and John Oates performing it, but at the same time I am glad that Davies kept it for Icehouse. Here is the music video for "Electric Blue" by Icehouse...
Q: Did you have any feeling that the single was going to be something special when you wrote it or recorded it? Did you ever expect that it might breakthrough as it did on the American pop charts?
Iva: Although John Oates seemed quite convinced early in the writing of the song that it would be a hit, I was never as sure about it. However, by the time it was released in the U.S., it had already achieved #1 success in Australia. I had great belief in the song "Crazy", which was the first single released from that album. Although it only peaked at #14 on the U.S. charts, I believe that "Crazy" blazed the path that the second single "Electric Blue" enjoyed the benefit of.
Iva: It, of course, has a special place for me as it achieved the highest place we ever enjoyed on the U.S. charts. Although it is perhaps not the most "substantial" song we ever released, in terms of lyrical gravity and so on, I believe it is a very well-crafted song, and it was an honor to have the great talent and experience of John Oates contributing to it. Working with him was certainly a career highlight for me.
Q: Your video for "Electric Blue" received lots of exposure on MTV back then. What memories can you share with us about making the music video for it? Were you conscious of the image/fashion you were trying to convey?
Iva: The video was one of a number from that time directed by U.S. director John Jobson. It was shot on a rooftop in central Sydney. I'm not sure that we were consciously crafting an image so much as enjoying the various clothes that were available at the time. I bought a lot of clothes in London, especially from designer Scott Crolla. I also bought a lot of leather clothing by Sydney designer Lynda Carr. I believe we tried fairly consciously to steer clear of a lot of the more "signature" 80s fashions, just as much as in the early days. Although we were regarded as part of the Australian "punk" movement, we also avoided most of the clichés of punk fashion quite deliberately.
Iva: By far, the most exciting part of that time was the explosion of music technology. It seems almost by accident that I ended up being an unwitting pioneer of a lot of that technology. The first album (Icehouse by Flowers) was probably one of the first albums recorded with a "click" track, which is now industry standard practice. I can be sure of this as we had to generate a tempo click in quite a convoluted way, using a white noise burst from a Mini Moog synthesizer which was triggered by a simple clocking add-on unit called a "Sample & Hold". This "click" sounded roughly like a strike on a closed drum hi-hat, and can be heard in the fading moments of the recording of the song "Icehouse" on that album, as I deliberately left it in the mix.
I can be fairly sure that this use of a "click track" was quite an unusual idea at the time, because no drum machines or electronic metronome technology existed at the time, and the way we had to go through such an unusual set of processes to generate a click. That album also features the Prophet 5 synthesizer, which was the first synthesizer to be able to play more than one note at a time (it could play 5-note chords, hence the name). Our second album Primitive Man features the Linn Drum Machine, which was the world's first drum machine that used real digital recording of real drum strikes. The song "Hey, Little Girl" actually features the very first prototype of that technology, which was loaned to me in the studio in Los Angeles, and personally delivered to me by the inventor, Roger Linn, himself.
The third album Sidewalk features the very first sampler technology. This, believe it or not, was an Australian invention, created in the Sydney suburb of Fairlight. Sampler technology was probably, apart from the actual invention of recording itself, the most influential piece of technology in the history of music. The Computer Musical Instrument, or Fairlight, was an extraordinary technological achievement at the time. By complete accident, our management's offices were on the second story of the actual work space where the Fairlights were assembled by hand in Sydney. In 1982, this machine was a $32,000 investment for me, but proved to be well worth it.
Although other Fairlight users are perhaps more high profile than I was at the time, notably Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder, I am listed among the handful of very early users, and this was acknowledged when Fairlight celebrated an anniversary in 2006. See this excerpt below...
Our fourth album Measure for Measure is one of the first three fully digital recordings ever made, which of course was created for the then brand new technology of compact discs (CD's). It was recorded on the first digital multi-track tape machine, The Mitsubishi 32 track, and then mixed to Mitsubishi digital 2 track. I believe the other two albums were one by Dire Straits, and, believe it or not, one by Cliff Richard!
And so it goes on. The 80s was an incredible time for innovation in music technology, and produced an absolute flood of very fun musical gadgets and toys to play with.
Q: Please tell us a little about where your music career has taken you since the 80s. How have your priorities or goals changed over the years? What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
Iva: Icehouse stopped actively performing in 1994, but resumed again in 2010. However from 1994 on I was involved in a series of quite high profile projects. I had written my first contemporary ballet score, "Boxes" for the internationally renowned Sydney Dance Company in 1985 (using mainly Fairlight). I had also, in 1984, (using mainly Fairlight once again) composed my first score for a feature film Razorback (directed by Russell Mulchay, who was probably the world's leading director of music videos at the time). In 1995, after I had stopped actively touring, I wrote another ballet for the Sydney Dance Company, "Berlin". The two ballets, "Boxes" and "Berlin" are the Sydney Dance Company's most successful works to date. When Graeme Murphy, the creator of the company, Artistic Director and choreographer retired in 2007, he chose a return season of "Berlin" to finish with.
Over the years, I have been involved with a number of other high profile projects. They include "The Ghost of Time", a 25-minute expanded orchestral piece based on and including my 1982 song "Great Southern Land", which was commissioned by the City of Sydney to be performed on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House in the 25 minutes leading up to the countdown of the Millennium. The performance which featured myself, virtuoso violinist Richard Tognetti, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Taikos (Japanese Taiko drumming ensemble based in Sydney) was broadcast on international television to an estimated 4 billion people.
"The Ghost of Time" was being watched by Australia film director Peter Weir, who approached me in 2003 to create similar music for the score of his highly successful blockbuster move Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The film went on to achieve ten Oscar nominations. I've been involved with other writing projects along the way, which include the score to the largest budget two-part telemovie ever produced here, the British/Australian joint production The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant.
I'm not sure what to say about "goals" as such. Much of the last 17 years or so have resulted in projects which seem to have presented themselves as unplanned opportunities, which also in turn have turned up some amazing highlights. For the ballet score "Berlin", in which I produced cover versions of seven songs by iconic writers such as David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, and David Byrne, I had to get permission from the actual writers themselves (as opposed to their publishers, record companies or representatives), to use the songs in a work for the stage. ("Grand Rights" are the actual copyright description applying to theatre works). The highlight song nearing the end of the ballet is the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties" written by Lou Reed. Lou Reed proved very elusive and in desperation we sent a tape of my version to his office in New York hoping against hope that he might actually bother listening to it. To my absolute shock, my fax machine went off during the night about a week later. It was from Lou Reed's New York office, and contains this quote from Lou Reed himself: "Regarding "All Tomorrow's Parties": Congratulations! I couldn't have loved it more! I am honored to have such talent interpreting my music". I certainly consider that compliment a career highlight, and that fax is framed, mounted on my wall, and one of my most prized possessions.
Q: I read a quote from a 1982 Penthouse interview where you discussed being a musician: "If you like being adored, impressing women and getting free drugs all the time, then I guess it's attractive. If you don't you're stuck with bad hours and bad pay." Other than obviously the "bad pay" part not holding true, what would you say about being a rock star 30+ years later?
Iva: Well, I'm very glad that I managed to avoid some of the pitfalls of a successful career as a rock star, but I can also say that, apart from being incredibly exciting, a lot of very, very, very hard work went into it. I have had some incredible opportunities, like touring with David Bowie at the absolute peak of his international career, and standing in the studio at Air Studios, London, next to Brian Eno as we sang my backing vocal parts on "Cross the Border" together. It's also fair to say that that 80s provided an incredible time for musicians with the explosion of technology, of MTV, and with such an intense period of creative energy. So all in all I feel very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.
Q: What else is Iva Davies up to nowadays? Musically and otherwise? What can we expect in the future?
Iva: At the moment, we are back in touring mode, albeit at a rather slower pace than it may have been in the past. This, of course, is a deliberate choice of mine. It is, after all, very hard work. Over the last three and a half years we have played a mix of large festivals (20,000 to 30,000 in the crowd) as well as small clubs and theatres.
I am also about to start writing with the youngest member of the band, Michael Paynter, who is an enormous talent. We have no idea where that will lead, whether the songs might be used by myself, Michael, or some third party, but it will be an interesting experiment.
I am so pleased that Iva was able to take some time to answer some questions so I could share them with you here. Special thanks to Keith Welsh for helping coordinate this opportunity. I want to take this occasion to again thank Iva Davies for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through Icehouse and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.
5 May 2014
Iva Davies from Icehouse performs We Can Get Together with the RocKwiz Orkestra.
27 April 2014
Marcus Smith spoke with Iva Davies about DubHOUSE on community radio Cairns FM 89.1.
After more than 30 years of writing and performing some of Australia’s most successful and iconic music, Icehouse’s Iva Davies has made a discovery: “I’m Iva and I’m strictly roots.” For two gigs in December 2013, ICEHOUSE became the reggae/bluebeat-soaked DubHOUSE. DubHOUSE collects 12 Icehouse classics rendered live in reggae blue-beat glory!
In a recent interview in his studio, Davies explained how this temporary metamorphosis came about. The explanation took us on a journey from Iva's first instrument, the bagpipes, to his classical training on the oboe, from a festival in Germany to a holiday in Fiji. But at the heart of the story it was a simple case of having some fun.
"When we play as ICEHOUSE, we make sure we play the songs as faithfully as we can, the way people have loved them over the years. DubHOUSE is a bit of fun for me and the band plus we're adding extra singers and a brilliant brass section to make this into an end-of-year party for the band members, our fans and our friends," Iva says.
8 April 2014
From The Guardian:
Australian anthems: Icehouse – Great Southern Land
By David Kowalski
Many great Australian songs couldn't sound more different to the circumstances in which they were dreamed up – and none more so than Icehouse's 1982 classic Great Southern Land. While the song evokes the vast emptiness of the nation's countryside, it was written and recorded in frontman Iva Davies's living room in the inner Sydney suburb of Leichhardt, right under the airport flightpath. Davies frequently had to stop the tape as the roar of the engines made the house's foundations rattle.
Orginally named Flowers, the band started life in Sydney in the late '70s. They played the beer-barn circuit during the punk era, developing a style that was part-Roxy Music, part Ziggy-era Bowie. In 1980 they signed to Regular Records, soon changing their name to Icehouse (after their debut album) to avoid confusion with a Scottish band at the time called the Flowers.
In late 1981 after a tour of America and the UK, the original line-up split. Davies was charged with writing a follow-up album. Approaching the new record as though it was a solo project, it was the synthesisers he had bought on tour that would create its evocative sound. The first music he wrote with his new gear ended up becoming the basis for Great Southern Land.
Davies remembers, "at the time there was a Commonwealth Games on and what seemed to me like a lot of jingoism and fanfare ... I wanted to write something that would offset the kind of postcard, souvenir model of Australia ... and get to something that was much more to the core of the place.”
He spent hours experimenting to get the sounds right. Synthesisers had been little used in Australian music until that point, and never before to evoke the wide, brown land. Yet the introductory section, before the sparse LinnDrum beat kicks in, perfectly captures the radiant heat coming off the red dirt of the outback as the sun sets in the distance and the fading light glows eerily on the landscape. The slow introduction of each instrument adds to the mystique and the majesty of the setting.
Resembling fragments of what could be the start of a Tim Winton novel, the lyrics paint a picture of a nation still coming to terms with its identity, in contrast with how the rest of the world sees us
Political awareness had started to creep into Australian music, with Goanna’s 1982 hit single Solid Rock touching on Indigenous issues – a theme Davies seems to touch on in the second verse:
Despite the chugging electric guitars and extra synth lines added in the chorus, Great Southern Land always feels spacious, like the vast interior of the nation. Head west from Sydney, over the Great Dividing Range, and as you head towards Broken Hill, the overarching feeling is emptiness – the huge expanse of land between towns and settlements, and in the red centre, a lacuna of beauty and isolation.
Personally, those shimmering melodies remind me of the long drive through the Pilbara region of Western Australia, heading north to Broome; the radiant heat distorting the highway and the horizon ahead of me. With little more than a desert in front of you for hundreds of kilometres, you start wondering about the stories the land could tell you.
The original version charted at No 5 in Australia. It has since appeared in films including Young Einstein, and has been reissued and remixed a number of times. Bill Laswell’s Time and Motion remix clocks in at a full 16 minutes, while the Byrralku Dhangudha remix from 1994 features Indigenous musicians playing and singing the chorus in their own language, a great counterpoint to the original.
Great Southern Land is an anthem for Australia on so many levels. It seeks not to preach about the nation’s problems, but rather to tell, with the precision of a haiku, a story that encompasses all the disparate branches of our history as it informs the present. It's a song that pokes at the part of the Australian psyche that is quietly proud of who we are, our place in the world and our heritage.
10 March 2014
From 1233 ABC Newcastle:
Iva Davies - Icehouse
By Carol Duncan
The number one song on the Australian pop music charts in 1980 was The Buggles 'Video Killed The Radio Star', accompanied through the year by such gems as Michael Jackson 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough', The Village People 'You Can't Stop The Music', Split Enz 'I Got You', The Vapours 'Turning Japanese' and Queen 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love'.
In May 1980, Australian radio stations started playing a song by Sydney band, Flowers. 'Can't Help Myself' made it into the Australian Top 10 and was the first song from their debut album, 'Icehouse'.
ABC Newcastle's Carol Duncan caught up with Iva Davies for a conversation about his remarkable career, listen here or read below:
CAROL DUNCAN: What did it feel like was going on around you with that music at the time?
IVA DAVIES: We came from quite a distinct stream of music which generated by the punk movement out of Britain, but then it morphed into a strange hybrid because of technology. There was an explosion of technology, especially synthesizer technology, at that period so we were a kind of punk band with synthesizers which was a bit odd. But clearly these other people were not, including Michael Jackson! There were all sorts of strange things going on, strange fashions; it was a very interesting time."
The first song we put out was called 'Can't Help Myself' and we'd been playing all these classic punk venues for about three years before we put out that first record. I remember being told it had become a disco hit in Melbourne and I was semi-horrified. I was very pleased it was a hit, of course, but a disco hit - we weren't a disco band!
By the time we got to 1980 we'd been playing quite a few of our own songs but still had lacings of the odd cover version of things not even particularly fashionable at the time, things like T-Rex songs, but by then we'd really turned into an original band and signed with a small independent label in Sydney called Regular Records and we'd recorded our first album, and although they constitute really the first 10 songs I ever wrote, they did have a certain flavour about them that I guess was, again, a hybrid of punk with synthesizers.
CAROL DUNCAN: Iva, you mustn't have been very long out of the conservatorium by this stage?
IVA DAVIES: I dropped out of the (Sydney) Conservatorium when I was about 21, so I was about 23 or 24 by this point.
CAROL DUNCAN: So how did you decide to steer your song writing and music releases in that environment at that time?
IVA DAVIES: It's a terrible admission to make considering that 'Can't Help Myself' made it into the Top 10, that I was probably fairly unaware of radio except for 2JJ. That's a terrible admission for somebody who's trying to break into getting airplay on radio!
CAROL DUNCAN: Something like The Vapors 'Turning Japanese' would have been all over 2SM (in Sydney) at the time. 2SM would have been the number one commercial pop music station in the late 1970s.
IVA DAVIES: Indeed, and I missed a great deal of that. I think we were pretty well buried in our own world and our own world had been dominated by what I'd listened to as I grew up, quite a lot of classics, psychedelic and heavy rock bands including Pink Floyd and so on. And then when Johnny Rotten (the Sex Pistols) arrived, the world was turned upside-down quite literally.
He put all of those big bands out of business overnight and London was the place to be. I remember very clearly when Keith (Welsh) and I, our bass player and co-founder of Flowers, we'd been playing almost every night of the week, sometimes nine shows a week. There were clubs all over Sydney, there were clubs all over Melbourne, there were really great bands everywhere and on any given night down the road there'd be Midnight Oil and INXS and any number of bands.
When we arrived in London for our very first international tour, we looked at each other and said, 'Let's get a copy of New Musical Express (NME) and go and see a band 'cause this is where it's all coming from!' And there was nothing on!
I was absolutely gobsmacked that Sydney was a hundred times more active than London on a club scene. It absolutely mystified me. All the pubs shut early, there was nowhere to go!
CAROL DUNCAN: Who did you admire at the time?
IVA DAVIES: I didn't buy albums of anybody, I didn't consume music. I was very curious about music but most of what I listened to was via 2JJ. 2JJ was a very progressive station; I think it's been forgotten to some degree. 2JJ were playing things that had been bought on import - they hadn't even been released in Australia yet - and so it was fascinating.
We were hearing things we thought before anybody else in the world had heard them, things like Elvis Costello, XTC, mainly British bands but the odd thing coming out of America. There was a real movement of punk and new wave.
CAROL DUNCAN: So you and Keith have taken off to London, you're going to see all the bands but there's no-one home?
IVA DAVIES: There's no-one home! I remember thinking at the time, 'Well where did The Cure come from and where did The Clash and The Damned and The Jam come from? Where are they all'?
I had imagined that London was heaving with little clubs with all those names playing in them every night but it was really something created through the tyranny of distance, I guess. We had amplified that whole thing that had started with Carnaby Street, The Beatles, and Rolling Stones; and in my mind, and I'm sure in the minds of many other Australians, this was the mecca that we were going to visit. But it turned out it was really as much a product of BBC1 and radio and record companies than it was of an active pub music scene which was exactly what we had in Australia.
CAROL DUNCAN: So, what did you do, turn around and come home?
IVA DAVIES: We went off touring. We went off touring with Simple Minds who were just starting to break through in Europe. They'd a quite successful album and we did a reciprocal deal with them where we said, 'OK, if we are your support band in Europe, that will help us, and you come to Australia and be our support band there because nobody knows you. In fact, to this day, and I'm sure Jim Kerr from Simple Minds would take credit in saying that tour we did with them really broke Simple Minds in Australia - it was off the back of that tour that they started achieving success here. Of course, many many albums and many many successes later I still catch up with Jim Kerr quite frequently.
CAROL DUNCAN: I remember seeing the two bands at the Manly Vale Hotel.
IVA DAVIES: Very possible! That was one of many hotels in that northern beaches area and I ended up living on the northern beaches by accident. It was quite tribal. There was a very big pub at Narrabeen called the Royal Antler and it was our first proper gig, I guess, and almost residency. At one point we and Midnight Oil were alternating weekends. We never met them but there was this kind of unspoken rivalry for the same audience of mad, drunken surfies.
CAROL DUNCAN: It was one of Sydney's great beer barns.
IVA DAVIES: It was and they were mad, of course, mad drunken surfies and probably a few other substances, as well. But they were great nights. It was a big place; I think it held something like 1500 people. And you're right, we probably did attract slightly different audiences, and certainly we also had the other side of us which was playing the inner city hotels which, of course, were very driven by the punk movement, so we'd look out on a place like the Civic Hotel and there'd been a sea of black and safety pins.
CAROL DUNCAN: Why did the name change come about? Was it as simple as swapping the band name and album title?
IVA DAVIES: It was, but we actually had no choice. What we hadn't realised was that while we were happily going along as Flowers in Australia and New Zealand, as soon as we signed to an international record company and they said, 'We're going to release this around the rest of the world, we need to do a little check on the name. It hadn't even occurred to me that a band name is like a company trading name and, unfortunately, there were at least three other acts around the world trading on the name 'Flowers'. One of them being the very, very famous session bass player, Herbie Flowers, who you probably know best for being the creator of that wonderful bass line that introduces Lou Reed's 'Walk On The Wild Side'.
So there were objections and we simply had no choice, we had to come up with another name. This has happened to a number of Australian bands. It happened to Sherbet who became Highway, and The Angels who became Angel City. Our logic was fairly simple - people here in Australia and New Zealand only know us by two things, that is the name of the band 'Flowers' or the name of the album 'Icehouse'. So, we became Icehouse.
A band name becomes its identity in a far bigger way that just a set of letters. I've had this discussion with my 17-year old son who has got a collection of friends in a band and they haven't been able to think of anything. I keep asking what the band is called and they're called something different every day. I said 'you better get it right because it will end up owning you'.
CAROL DUNCAN: Your son has actually played with you?
IVA DAVIES: Yes, oh you know about this! I had a fairly mad idea last year, although the idea had been around since 1983. I remember we were touring in Europe and we had a number one song in Europe so there was a lot of pressure on me. I was doing millions of interviews and we were playing very big festivals of 30,000 people.
We were playing on one and I was standing on the side of the stage next to my band and Peter Tosh's band was playing - Peter Tosh was the co-founder of Bob Marley's Wailers - and it was a big band, 9 or 10 people on stage, backing singers and whatnot, and I said to my bass player, "See the guy at the back going chukka, chukka, chukka on the guitar, the laziest job in the world? I want his job. I had a conversation last year with somebody about this moment and they said, 'Why don't you do it?'
Our manager thought I was mad, a number of promoters thought I was mad, too, but what we did was completely re-invent Icehouse as an eight-piece reggae band. We added some extra guys from Melbourne to give us a brass section and we re-arranged every one of the hits that we'd been playing in the classic repertoire as reggae songs.
We put two shows on - one in Melbourne, one in Sydney - as a kind of Christmas party because my feeling was that the reason we were doing it is because reggae makes you want to dance and smile and laugh, and we had the best possible time, it was just fantastic. We've just released the recording of the Sydney show and re-named the band DubHOUSE - the album is DubHOUSE Live.
I wanted to get my children to come. My daughter is OK because she's 20 but my son was under age, under the drinking age, and the only way I could get him in was to put him in the band. So I said to him, 'Look Evan ...' he's17 and a very good guitarist, 'I'm sorry, you're not going to get a rehearsal, you're not going to get a sound check. Here's a recording of a rehearsal of Street Cafe done in this style, you've got the guitar solo, go home and learn it and I'll see you on stage."
And so the poor guy was thrown on stage with absolutely no preparation whatsoever, but fortunately he had done his homework and had a great night.
CAROL DUNCAN: How do the kids see your career, Iva?
IVA DAVIES: Well the strange truth is that they didn't. I finished the last tour that we did back in the day, as it were, when my daughter was six weeks old. Effectively, we didn't play again and my children grew up.
In 2009, our long-time tour manager, Larry, who works for a very big audio production company - he'd been working for with us since 1984 - came up with the idea for Sound Relief (concerts held in Sydney & Melbourne for 2009 bushfire relief) and actually volunteered us, so we were the first band on the bill for Sound Relief.
By that time in 2009, my daughter would have been 14 or 13, and my son 12 or 13, and that was the first concert they ever saw me play. So they'd grown up all those years not knowing anything about it, or relatively little.
CAROL DUNCAN: Did they think Icehouse was cool or were you 'just Dad' and therefore couldn't possibly be cool?
IVA DAVIES: Strangely enough, I seem to have breached the cool barrier into the cool area. A very strange thing happened, before that Sound Relief show and before my daughter really got to appreciate my association with it. She came home from school one afternoon, waltzed in the door and announced, 'I LOVE THE EIGHTIES! I love EVERYTHING about the eighties!'
Strangely enough, the eighties are going through a whole new generation of cool at the moment. Except for the hair, and a lot of the clothes.
CAROL DUNCAN: When you look at that part of your career, the pop/rock part of your career, what do you see, Iva?
IVA DAVIES: I'm proud that we worked very hard, I believe, to maintain a kind of class and a quality. That went through everything, even the recordings themselves. I went through the graduation from vinyl to CD, which was a massive turnaround, and it happened incredibly quickly.
I remember having a talk to a record company about it and they said, 'Last year we manufactured 80% out of vinyl and 20% out of CD, this year we're manufacturing 80% out of CD and 20% out of vinyl, and the following year we're not making any vinyl at all. That's how fast it turned around. But 'Measure for Measure', our fourth album is one of the first three fully digital recordings ever made in the world, which was a real milestone, so it's the first completely noiseless recording that was made for the new format of CD. It's moments like that that I reflect on and think, well, that's because we really put a lot of care and attention into these things.
CAROL DUNCAN: Iva, you're also seen as one of the pioneers in Australia of bringing in synthesizers, computers, the Fairlight and so on. You mentioned an interesting word there, 'noiseless', and that's perhaps where the feud happens between the vinyl purists and people who are very happy to purchase their music in a digital form whether on CD or via digital download. How do you see the vinyl vs. CD war when it comes to audio quality?
IVA DAVIES: I noted with some amusement touched with horror a program that Linda Mottram did on 702 in Sydney where there was this discussion about vinyl, and she spoke with a so-called expert who was out of a university, and with due respect to that professor I desperately wanted to call in and say, "Can I just tell you about what actually happens when you're making pieces of vinyl and why they sound the way they do, and how it is absolutely possible to make CDs sound exactly like vinyl IF that were the endgame that you wanted to have in mind.
I won't go into it now but the fact of the matter is it's all about a process called mastering. The way that tapes, mixes, were mastered for vinyl had to be very particular because of the intolerance of vinyl - vinyl can't carry very much big bass. I found that out with the Flowers album when I insisted to the co-producer that we put lots of bottom end into it and then realised a bit later on when the mastering engineer said to me, "I can't cut this to vinyl, it's got too much bass in it." They're the sorts of mistakes that you make when you're young.
I'm a firm believer in anything that doesn't have moving parts and that is digital. I'm afraid I've moved on from anything old-school quite happily.
CAROL DUNCAN: Did you call in?
IVA DAVIES: No, I didn't, I just thought it's probably too difficult a conversation to have in detail over the radio but it does infuriate me because I'm sure if you got any mastering engineer on to the radio they'd say to you it's mainly because people don't understand how these things are made.
CAROL DUNCAN: What gave you the confidence to leap into these new technologies?
IVA DAVIES: Perhaps it was more out of ignorance than anything, I certainly didn't see any risk involved, but the main driver for me was that these were new toys. Every time something new was invented, my eyes would light up and I'd think, 'Imagine the possibilities!'
I remember expressly that conversation I had with our management where, out of sheer co-incidence they'd moved offices from where they were in Bondi Junction to the top storey of a two-storey building in Rushcutters Bay and the ground storey was where they made Fairlights, believe it or not. Management were oblivious to this, they had no idea what was going on down there. But I did and I came to the managers one day and said, 'I desperately want to get one of these machines, they are amazing.'
Of course, I was proven correct because they revolutionised music forever. I think apart from the technology of recording, the sampler - which is what a Fairlight was - was the single most influential piece of technology ever created. I said this to my management, that I was desperate, that I'd really like one, but the catch was they were $32,000. That was in 1981 or 1982 so you can imagine how much money that was then - it was half a small house.
But I got one, and interestingly enough my management were quite philosophical about it. They said, 'Well, it's a lot of money, but according to our calculations you'll pay for this with the first two projects you use it on.' And they were right. The first project I used it on was my very first film score for Russell Mulcahy's 'Razorback', which is about 95% Fairlight.
The great irony of that was that I kept producing bits of music, because Russell Mulcahy was out in the desert filming scenes and he kept dragging up Peter Gabriel's fourth album, the one with Shock The Monkey on it, and they were out in the desert with this blasting away on a ghetto blaster and I got it into my head that this was what Russell likes. So I kept producing Gabriel-esque soundscapes and so on, and the producers of the movie kept coming back to me and saying, 'No, no no - that's not what we want, we don't want this.' In the end I was getting various clues from them but didn't really know, but I had another go along the lines of Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' - a fairly mad piece of classical music. I constructed all this with the Fairlight, it was a quasi-orchestral thing. I took it back to them and they said, 'Yes! That's exactly it!' and I said, 'Well, if you wanted that sort of thing why didn't you go and get a classical composer.'
In its day, 'Rite of Spring' was a controversial piece of music, and Iva Davies shares a birthday with Stravinsky.
Considering that it was 1913 when that piece first hit the stage for Diaghilev's ballet company. It wasn't just the music; it was actually the subject matter of the ballet that I think was fairly upsetting to a lot of people. It's all about primal sexualism, basically, so you can imagine that to an audience of 1913 that sort of idea was fairly horrifying.
CAROL DUNCAN: In 1984, you've got Razorback, also 'Sidewalk' - the third album from Icehouse, at this point did you consider that you didn't actually have to be a pop star?
IVA DAVIES: No, I had a very strange life prior to that because I had a completely Jekyll and Hyde existence. I took up the guitar when I was 13, and taught myself, and it was probably also the year that I started taking oboe lessons. I had these two parallel lives and completely separate lives. I had a set of classical people - when I was in high school I played in a wind quintet and we used to rehearse every Saturday morning. We all had our first cars at that point. They were my friends and we went off and won the City of Sydney Eisteddfod and so on. They never, ever met the guys that I was in the acoustic band with. Ever! Because I just had these two lives. So my course was fairly accidental all the way through, it was probably always going to be accidental.
To this day, I keep remembering things that I did. I remembered that I was in the orchestra that was primarily made up of members of the Sydney Symphony and the senior Conservatorium orchestra, of which I was a member, for the staging of the two first Australian ballets in the Opera House. I would have been about 19 and, of course, that's a fairly big moment for the Opera House to have a night featuring Australian opera in that building, and I'd completely forgotten about it. There are things from both lives that I've forgotten about.
CAROL DUNCAN: 1985, your double life really starts to change as you start working with the Sydney Dance Company.
IVA DAVIES: I have to give credit to our managers to some degree who recognised - Ray Hearn was managing us from the beginning. I think he considered himself to be a very erudite individual, he was very widely read, he'd seen every movie possible, and he had a huge record collection. He wasn't a musician but I think he spotted in me the potential that if I kept on that very two-dimension wheel of 'write an album, record an album, tour an album, write an album, record an album, tour an album ...', that I would burn out, that I needed something else to do. So it was he who went and pursued the soundtrack idea with Russell Mulcahy, and it was he who introduced me to the Sydney Dance Company who were a very dangerous company at that point. People forget that they did ballets entirely naked and this was quite revolutionary stuff in its day. They had a very young, hip audience. So it was a very smart move. But it was also a move that was good for the dance company. I had also forgotten until reminded about a month ago that in the Opera House's entire history this has never been repeated, but they did a very dangerous thing. They put two shows on a Friday and a Saturday night, one at a conventional hour and then a whole other audience would turn up at 10.30 at night and we'd do it all again. The staff at the Opera House thought this was going to be an absolute disaster, 'Nobody's going to go to the Opera House at 10.30pm to see a show', but they did and they were all my audience and they were coming to see what all the fuss was about. It was the most successful season the dance company has ever had.
CAROL DUNCAN: Were you worried about your pop/rock audience coming over to see what you were doing and being disappointed?
IVA DAVIES: I've always utterly failed to understand what the problem is between the various tribes of music. I started of as a bagpipe player when I was six, and although I went through that very, very particular stream of classical musicians, and they are, and they are a very exclusive lot - a lot of them, and they are a very intolerant lot - a lot of them, I think things have improved. But at that time they very much looked down their nose at 'popular music' and rock and roll, but by the same token it was equally prejudiced the other way around. I've never understood why. I don't get that you have to be one or the other but not all of them. In my head there was absolutely no problem with my audience turning up to the ballet.
CAROL DUNCAN: What gave you the confidence to follow both streams?
IVA DAVIES: Only because I can kind of speak both languages. I had a discussion with somebody the other night about music and it is another language. It's certainly a language when you read and write it and I learned how to do that. But my dialogue with rock and roll musicians has to be completely different because most of the people I played with all these years don't read and write music. But rock and roll musicians communicate in a different kind of way. So because I'm comfortable in both of those languages, I can happily flick between the two of them, at whim almost.
CAROL DUNCAN: Which is why I don't' let my kids drop out of their violin lessons - I want them to have that other language.
IVA DAVIES: From my point of view, by miles the single biggest advantage I've had in my work and succeeding in the broad framework of popular music is the fact that I was highly trained. That is the most sure, certain way to cut every corner you can - to actually know what you're doing.
CAROL DUNCAN: December 31 1999 and Icehouse is performing at the Millennium New Years Eve concert outside the Sydney Opera House and there is a moment on your face where it's just occurred to you how very special that moment is.
IVA DAVIES: The penny really didn't drop, I mean, there was such a lot of pressure involved in that. The transmission, the TV director, Greg Beness, had synchronised a whole lot of footage to be running in parallel with shooting the performance. We had backups of backups because, of course, everybody thought that every computer in the world was going to blow up at midnight being the Y2K bug and so on. It was going out to about four billion people. It's not as if you can get to the end of it and go, 'Oh, we mucked that up, can we have another go?', 'Oh, they've already counted down; we're in a new millennium'. So I was incredibly aware of all of that and actually I've watched back some of the footage and it takes me a fair old while to settle down, it's (The Ghost Of Time) a 25-minute piece and it took me a number of minutes before I was, 'OK, we're up and running, everything seems to be working, everybody knows where they are, I can hear everything ....'
I got to the end of it and stepped off the stage, Frank Sartor the Lord Mayor of Sydney gave me a glass of champagne, Richard Wilkins counted down from 10 and the fireworks went off directly over my head and I went, 'Wow!'
CAROL DUNCAN: From this point, your other career really takes off and you head off to work on Master and Commander.
IVA DAVIES: Yes, I've said to other young bands over the years, 'Just be aware - you never know who will be listening,' and so it was with thus that one person who was listening to The Ghost of Time on the millennium eve as it was going out, one of those four billion people, was one Peter Weir - an iconic Australian film director.
This is how bizarre the next few years ended up being for me in terms of things just popping out of seemingly nowhere. I was sitting in my studio one day up on the northern beaches and the phone rang. A voice said, "Iva, this is Peter Weir. I'm filming Master and Commander on location in Baja, Mexico. I've fallen in love with The Ghost of Time. I want you to reassemble your team and give me a score like that."
The whole experience was incredible, to go to Hollywood. I remember I had a colleague of mine, my music editor, had worked quite a bit in Hollywood on 'Moulin Rouge' and other things. He took me to the Fox lot and was very well recognised, but the thing that became immediately apparent was how incredibly well-respected Peter Weir is in Hollywood. Even though you don't necessarily associate him with massive blockbuster success time and time again, he's respected by directors and quality people in Hollywood and that's the difference.
CAROL DUNCAN: Is it difficult to do this sort of work, to create something to someone else's demands?
IVA DAVIES: I was very fortunate because Peter Weir has immense respect for music. He said to me not once, but twice, 'Music is the fountainhead of the arts,' that's how important it is to him. But having said that, he uses it very sparingly and in a very subtle way. So I had the great luxury to have three months to work on what equated to, in the end, not much more than 35 minutes worth of music. If you go and see a movie like 'Lord of the Rings', the composers had to write music from end to end of the film, so we're talking two and a half hours of music. Three months to produce that amount of music meant that it could be done with care but at a fairly unstressed pace, as it were. And that was fantastic. I have no doubt that Peter Weir quite deliberately planned the whole thing that way, so that it would be NOT a stressful operation. He's a consummate film-maker and he knows exactly what he's doing, so he schedules and plans things very well.
Having said that, I always knew that the brief of a score writer is to write what the director wants to hear, not what the score writer wants to hear, so that was very apparent and so be it. Very often these films are the vision of a director and music is just one component of that. It should feed into their vision.
CAROL DUNCAN: What are the professional moments that you hold dearest to your heart?
IVA DAVIES: In terms of recording, I had a quite surreal moment. I was very influenced by one Brian Eno who was an absolute pioneer of synthesizers and electronic music, and in fact probably invented the term 'ambient music'. Of course, he was a founding member of Roxy Music but went on later to become incredibly successful in his own right and especially as a producer, he produced almost all of the U2 albums - massive albums. But I'd been following him since he was an early member of Roxy Music and especially been guided by his approach to synthesizers, which was very esoteric and completely at odds with a lot of the nasty noises that were being produced in the 1980s, for example. And I thank him for that because it probably stopped me from making a lot of bad sonic mistakes.
The producer I was using at the time was a friend of his and I found myself having a conversation with the producer about the song we were working on at the time - a song called Cross the Border - I had in mind Brian Eno's backing vocal style. I knew that the producer, Rhett Davies, had worked with Brian Eno. I turned up to Air Studios, another very famous studio in London, to do the vocal session and in came Brian Eno. So there was a moment where I was standing in the studio, standing next to Brian Eno who was singing my lyrics and my backing vocal line. That was a real moment for me because he was a real hero of mine.
CAROL DUNCAN: At what point did you realise that you had been successful enough to truly pursue anything that you wanted to do?
IVA DAVIES: I spent most of my career not quite believing that things would work. In fact I remember very clearly - we'd been working for years and years, working around these pubs, the first album came out, and I remember the first royalty cheque turned up. The accountant for the management company asked me into the office and said, 'Well, here's the cheque for the Flowers album for you,' and I looked at it and I'd been broke for years. My parents had to keep paying the odd rent payment for me and so on. We weren't earning any money at all, the album had only just come out, and I saw this cheque and it was for $15,000.
I looked at Gino, who I had lunch with today - same accountant, and I said, 'Gino. This is amazing. This is incredible. I know I'm just going to fritter this away. I know I'll never get any more money out of this business. What's the deposit on the cheapest, cheapest, cheapest house in Sydney? Well, I bought the cheapest house in Sydney with that deposit but of course it wasn't the last cent that I made out of the music business.
But for many years, for a long time, I really didn't consider that it was going to last, that I was going to make any money out of it. It's that classic thing where, luckily my parents didn't call me on the phone and say, 'When are you going to get a proper job?' they were very supportive. I think I was the one secretly calling myself and saying, 'When are you going to get a proper job?'
CAROL DUNCAN: What are you still learning?
IVA DAVIES: I'm still learning technology because unfortunately it won't sit still! The industry standard for recording is a system called Pro-Tools, you very possibly use it in the studio there and it's certainly in every recording studio in the world. I've been working with Pro-Tools for a very long time but, of course, like any other software there's a new release of it every five minutes. So I'm actually getting to the stage when I really am going to have to run to catch up! So unfortunately at my age I'm still having to learn technology because it's the basic tool of my trade and that's never going to stop.
CAROL DUNCAN: Are you still as excited by it as you were in the mid-1970s when you and Keith Welsh started 'Flowers' and when you went and harassed your management to allow you to buy that first Fairlight for $32,000?
IVA DAVIES: I think I take it a bit more for granted these days because things have exploded in the way that they have. You can imagine the climate in which a piece of technology like the Fairlight came out, it was just mind-numbing. It was unlike anything anybody could ever imagine, whereas I suppose every time there's a new release of Pro-Tools, it's got a couple of lovely new features but it is a development of something which has been around for much more than a decade now.
However, having said that, there seems to be a whole new generation of software writers who are incredibly interested in music and incredibly interested in playing with sound, and these are the people who are coming up with all the new noise generating bits - soft synthesizers and all that sort of stuff. That's kind of where the interesting new area is.
CAROL DUNCAN: And Keith Welsh has been on this whole journey with you?
IVA DAVIES: Indeed. In the music industry the whole time. He and I have been working closely over the past three years and we've started playing again and we re-released the entire catalogue. We put out a compilation called 'White Heat' which is about to go platinum.
CAROL DUNCAN: What would you want the young Iva Davies to know?IVA DAVIES: That's a good question! I think I probably did seize most opportunities that came my way so I wouldn't necessarily say, 'just go as fast as you can with every opportunity that you can', I probably would have said, 'Put more attention to the money and where the money is going and who's getting it!' As a forensic accountant, I'm a kind of 'overview guy' as opposed to a 'detail guy'.
28 February 2014
Listen to a great interview with Iva and Evan Davies on the 702 ABC Sydney show Thank God It's Friday with Richard Glover, which includes a fantastic acoustic DubHOUSE performance of "Street Café"! Their segment begins about 14 and a half minutes into the audio file.
23 January 2014
Here's a very exciting message from the ICEHOUSE team!!
Today we're thrilled to announce the official release of the DubHOUSE Live album on iTunes Australia/NZ and on CD through the ICEHOUSE website! To get you all into the DubHOUSE spirit we are making the version of Love In Motion available for you to listen to and download for free.
23 January 2014
From the Maitland Mercury:
How Icehouse's Iva Davies wrote an Australian anthem
By Nick Milligan
It was the combination of a plane trip over the Australian desert and a cliched advertising campaign that led singer Iva Davies to write one of our country’s most iconic songs.
Released 23 years ago as the opening track on Icehouse’s second record, Primitive Man, the song Great Southern Land endures as a sonic encapsulation of Australia’s ancient spirit.
“I can remember fairly clearly the process of writing [Great Southern Land], which is unusual for me,” Davies says.
“With the vast majority of my catalogue I have no particular memories attached to the process.
“[Icehouse was] coming back to Australia from our first international tour and during that time two things happened.
“One was that I experienced my first plane flight over Australia and there was a light bulb moment where I suddenly recognised how enormous the place was – and how ancient too.
“The landscape that I was looking at out of the plane window was quite extraordinary.
“It was screaming at me that it had been there for so long in order to evolve to its physical state.”
When Davies landed in Australia he was confronted with building patriotism as Brisbane’s 1982 Commonwealth Games approached.
But he felt the event’s advertising campaign was missing the point.
“I got very homesick on that [overseas] tour and when I came back to Australia there was a strange mood going on here,” Davies recalls.
“We were heading towards a Commonwealth Games and there was a lot of advertising on television that was in the form of the postcard version of Australia.
“There was a lot of cliches and that annoyed me.
“I guess I was kicked in the guts by it, having been off on my first international experience, to have Australia summarised in all those cliched terms – the koala bears and the beaches and surfing.
“I felt a need to write a song that captured the soul of a place that had been around for millennia, before human inhabitation.”
When it was time to write a follow-up record to their debut album Icehouse – which was released when the group was called Flowers – Davies decided to write a song about Australia that avoided cliche.
“I remember thinking to myself: ‘Are you really going to do something as dangerous as is this? Because if you get it wrong it will be a huge embarrassment,’” the singer remembers.
“So I took it incredibly serious.
“But, having said that, it was just the first of ten songs that I was obliged to write for the follow-up album [1982’s Primitive Man].”
For those familiar with the stark, haunting beauty of Great Southern Land, it will come as no surprise that the song received an overwhelming response from Icehouse’s label Chrysalis.
“I remember delivering the demos to the managers and the record company – and the reaction to that song was absolutely gobsmacking,” Davies says.
“To me, it was just another song in a collection I was due to write, but the way they reacted was: ‘this is something incredibly special.’
“I never really understood it and I still don’t – it’s extraordinary.”
Great Southern Land is just one of many enduring Icehouse hits – along with Electric Blue and Touch The Fire – that have ensured a new generation of fans.
Following the release of Icehouse’s 1993 studio album Big Wheel, Davies discontinued the group and worked on an array of musical projects under his own name.
Director Peter Weir invited Davies to compose the score for his 2003 high seas epic Master and Commander, which starred Russell Crowe.
But the release of a two-disc greatest hits compilation in 2011 called White Heat, which achieved Gold sales in one week, and the 30th anniversary of their debut record, saw the singer reform Icehouse and return to the live circuit.
Davies admits that he didn’t have high expectations of the public’s response.
“I guess it would be fair to say that right from the very beginning [of our career] I’ve been a cynic, to some degree,” he admits.
“I remember receiving the first royalty cheque from the Flowers album – which was a huge success but only after three years of very solid work and back-breaking – and saying to our management’s accountant ‘can you invest this for me? Because I know I’ll never see any more money out of this business.’
“That was way back in 1980.
“So I didn’t really have any expectations at all [for our return] and I couldn’t convince myself that there would be any more interest in the band.”
Most surprising for Davies was the appearance of a new generation of fans.
Icehouse played to a large – and young – crowd at 2011’s Homebake festival.
“I was anxious about that show,” Davies remembers.
“And I was warned prior to Homebake that it was a festival predominantly for 20-year-olds.
“I thought, ‘Oh god, they’re going to have no idea who these middle-aged guys are.
“Our bass player, Steve Bull, nudged me in the middle of the show and said ‘check out how many of the 18-year-olds are singing all the lyrics’.
“It was extraordinary because the people in the audience were the age of my children.”
Icehouse’s triumphant return included an Australian support tour with pop duo Hall and Oates in February of 2012.
One half of the duo, John Oates, co-wrote the Icehouse hit Electric Blue, and the songwriter joined the group on stage to perform the song during their tour dates.
“[Oates] had joined us once before and that was when [Icehouse] were on tour in America – about 1988 or ‘89 – and we were playing at [New York’s] Madison Square Garden.
“He joined us [on stage] for that song and in fact I have a photograph of that particular moment up in my kitchen.
“It was one of the great ‘light bulb’ moments for me because not only was John Oates on stage with me, but we were playing Madison Square Garden.”
An obvious question, now that Icehouse are back as a live force, is whether fans can expect to hear new material from the group.
Around 2001 Davies was working on material for a new Icehouse album called Bi-Polar Poems, but the singer says he has creatively moved on from that collection of work.
In various stages of completion, the songs from Bi-Polar Poems may be made available for fans in the future, but will not be a commercial release.
But the good news is that new material might be on the way.
“I’m in the process of having a whole new system installed in my studio – and I haven’t upgraded anything since about 2006,” Davies explains.
“So this is quite a big deal for me to have a new Pro Tools system and some new toys to play with.
“The signature of how I’ve worked in the past is to get some new toys and to see what happens.”
In the meantime, Icehouse fans can indulge in the band’s "DubHOUSE" project which is a reimagining of their classic songs in a reggae style.
A conversation in which Davies recalled to a friend how he had watched the legendary Peter Tosh from side of stage at a European festival in the 1980s, led to the idea of reinventing Icehouse into an eight-piece dub reggae group.
As DubHOUSE, the band performed a special show in Sydney and Melbourne, which were recorded for a new live album.
“We were able to reinvent a couple of songs that we haven’t played for a while – most notably Street Cafe and No Promises,” Davies explains.
“I’d say there’s a strong possibility that those [dub versions] might appear in our classic set.
“It was great fun and really reinvigorated the band – the process [of converting the tracks] was surprisingly successful.”
18 January 2014
From Perth Now:
The Models and Icehouse wind back the years for Gen-Xers
By John O'Brien
There's retro, then there's retro.
Icehouse and Models might be "Eighties bands", but they both have two distinct eras, beginning with the new-wave experimentation of the late '70s/early '80s and culminating in commercial success of the mid to late '80s.
And last night's double bill at Southport RSL gave the mainly Gen X crowd a decent helping of both facets of both bands.
Looking Lennon-esque in beret, horn rims and shoulder-length hair, Models frontman Sean Kelly referred to the band's earliest work as their "Sixties" material. Having mourned late friend and co-frontman James Freud, who suicided in 2010, he's forging ahead with an earlier incarnation of Models, where he did all the singing.
However he paid tribute to Freud with the band's two megahits, Out of Mind Out of Sight and the "calypso-tinged blachmange" of Barbados (minus sax solo due to the absence of James Valentine).
"I wish I'd targeted Apple," he lamented before launching into Happy Birthday IBM (and slipping "Apple Mac" into the lyrics).
Vintage numbers such as Two Cabs to the Toucan, Atlantic Romantic and I Hear Motion were balanced by songs from the new EP GTK.
Meanwhile, after kicking off with early single Fatman, Icehouse frontman Iva Davies declared: "We're gonna stay in 1977 for a while!"
Big hits such as Crazy, Electric Blue and the anthemic Great Southern Land were book ended by new-wave classics Hey Little Girl, Icehouse, We Can Get Together and Can't Help Myself.
Don't Believe Anymore gave saxophonist Glenn Reither a chance to shine, while a giant video backdrop was used to great effect, especially during "flaming" numbers like Touch the Fire (with the youngest member of the band, Michael Paynter, on guest vocals).
And Davies related the story behind the band's "Dubhouse" reggae project, before treating the audience to Dubhouse versions of No Promises and the late Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side.
15 January 2014
From The Music:
Must Be Some Kind Of Mistake
Icehouse have one of the highest selling Australian albums of all time, so why did Iva Davies worry no one would care about their return? He speaks to Dan Condon.
Icehouse reactivated back in 2011, with a greater sense of permanence than we'd seen in decades: albums were reissued, a greatest hits compilation released and the band booked big shows around the country. It went well, and the band has continued with relative regularity ever since, but founder and creative core Iva Davies wasn't certain this would be the case. “I was unsure whether there'd be any market for it,” Davies says. “It's been a really pleasant surprise that there's such a demand for it, and I think one of the most pleasant surprises is that the music has travelled down a generation, or perhaps even two!”
Beginning life as Flowers in 1977, the band marked former classical musician Davies' first flirtation with rock music. “[It was] the first electric band I ever played in and the first time I'd ever been into a pub, let alone played in one.” They would bash through covers of songs that were moving them at the time, focusing on the punk genre in its various guises. “Anything from Sex Pistols to T-Rex and Brian Eno,” he recalls. “It was a strange collection of material within the framework of what was then the tail-end of the punk movement and the beginning of the synthesiser period of new wave.
“The original sound of the band was formed by those covers and those styles; we were a punk band with synthesisers. It was not a usual kind of combination – we didn't fit into the camp of the new romantics and didn't fit into the more hardcore punk movement with the Sex Pistols and The Damned – it was this odd hybrid.”
Then came an influx of ever-changing music technology. Davies has always eagerly embraced new ways of making music with machines and relished in the fact that he, frankly, didn't know how most of them worked. “Generally speaking a lot of the songs I wrote were the byproduct of me learning how to use a new machine,” he says. “When I [returned] to Australia to start writing the second album I brought back from America a brand new piece of technology called a LinnDrum, which was a drum machine that used digital recordings of real drums.
“The first thing I did when I was learning how to program it turned into Great Southern Land and the funny secret about that is that the tempo of Great Southern Land is 120BPM, which is the default tempo setting of the LinnDrum, because I hadn't actually learned how to change the speed of it at that point.
“[But] a huge number of important bits of those songs were a result of mistakes,” Davies continues. “The Fairlight, which was the first sampler ever invented – I was one of the lucky few who could afford the first version of it at the princely sum of $32,000, a massive amount of money in 1982 – was an absolute killer at producing happy accidents because of the way you had to load the sounds into it.
“A huge number of my songs were the result of me coming back the next day and accidentally loading the wrong set of sounds in and having these amazing things happen – drum parts that ended up being mandolins and things… [1986 single] Baby You're So Strange has some extraordinarily mad edits in it as a result of me getting messed up and putting things in the wrong order.”
Does he still get excited by new musical toys? “It's interesting you should ask that – I'm having an entirely new Pro Tools system installed in the studio, which will be my new set of toys. I've been using that stuff for years now but I haven't been deeply submerged in the very latest, so this is me kinda giving myself a kick into the future.”
Davies is reluctant to say this means he's planning on writing new material (fans have been waiting for the proposed Bi-polar Poems for 12 years, after all), but it's the best sign we've seen in a while. “I tend not to plan things; my plans are as loose as getting a new Pro Tools system.That doesn't sound like a plan, but it's quite a deliberate plan in a funny way. Believe me, there have been massive projects that have come out of much smaller investments and smaller technologies.”
11 January 2014
From Rock Club 40:
Interview: IVA DAVIES (ICEHOUSE)
By Sharyn Hamey
Icehouse has long been one of this country's favourite bands, with a long list of hits to their name and a well deserved reputation for putting on a more than impressive live show. The last few years have seen a return to those amazing live performances, much to the applause of their legion of fans (of which yours truly is one, I must admit) who have noticed something of a gaping hole in the local live music scene until recently. But Icehouse has well and truly returned, with a series of gigs in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney and hopefully many more to come. I had the great privilege of speaking to frontman Iva Davies recently about the band, the music and his rather diverse musical background and I discovered that Iva is, indeed, a man of many colours...
Last month the band performed a couple of reggae shows under the pseudonym Dubhouse. “That was a real hoot,” laughs Iva. “It was a mad idea but it was incredibly well received; unbelievably well received. The interesting thing was, in a nutshell, basically I had the mad idea to sort of turn the whole set into reggae which we managed to do with frightening ease really. Quite extraordinary how those songs translate into a completely different genre. We pumped up the band with three extra members so we had a guest vocalist and a brass section and added percussion. But that was a one-off really. We did one show at the Esplanade in Melbourne and one at a tiny little club in Sydney called The Oxford Art Factory. The interesting thing is that we've actually adopted a couple of those into the classic set, I guess we call it, just for a bit of fun. Nothing too intense and in fact the versions of the particular songs we're doing are not actually reggae per se but just kind of stripped down versions of a couple of our classic songs.”
Iva says that they have also added quite a few songs that the band hasn't performed for a very long time. “In fact, at least one song we haven't played since 1990, which I won't tell you about because it will take the surprise out of it,” he laughs. “And some of the earlier material as well. We had a couple of furious sets of rehearsals to get everybody's brain back into the classics and to also get our heads around a fair content, I guess, that we haven't played for a very long time.”
So it seems that audiences can expect a few surprises at these shows. “I should think so,” Iva agrees. “And it's tricky because, of our long standing audiences, we have almost two distinct audiences and one audience kind of dates back to the Flowers album which of course was a very particular time and a very particular album and I guess when we were playing those songs in the late seventies and 1980 when the album came out, our audience was predominantly twenty two year olds; a lot of them basically university students. It was off the back, I guess, of the punk movement and it was quite a long time in relative terms - seven or eight years - when Man of Colours came out. Now that was a completely different audience. A lot of those were thirteen year olds, and sixteen year olds and so we had these two quite distinct periods and sort of everything in between so it's interesting. Whenever I think about doing something from the Flowers album, I'm wondering whether we're leaving behind all the people who joined us years later or whether they've gone back and studied that first album. That first album seems to be quoted very often as a kind of a highlight so I'm fairly confident that, even though people might have joined us around about the period of Man of Colours, a lot of those songs would have filtered through.”
Iva recalls the time that Icehouse was invited to play Homebake and feature the Flowers album. “Which we dutifully did,” he explains. “And as you can imagine, we hadn't played an awful lot of that album for a very long time and the whole set was sort of dominated by that first album but the scary part of it was that the promoters and so on had said to me (because I had never been to a Homebake before) 'Just be aware that the audience of Homebake are predominantly twenty year olds.' Of course, by then, the Flowers album was thirty years old and I thought it was going to be an absolute disaster. We started playing to 20,000 – a lot of them twenty odd year olds – and my bass player kind of nudged me in the ribs and said 'Check out how many of them are singing all the lyrics.' In fact, that entire crowd sang the set of the Flowers album from beginning to end and most of them hadn't even been born when that album came out!”
“I've got a twenty year old daughter and a seventeen year old son,” he tells me. “And what I've observed of them and their generation is that they have such incredible access to music these days because of the internet, iPhones and iPads and iPods in a way that is utterly different from when I was that age so it makes logical sense that they're discovering loads of music (from earlier generations). I know that my son's playlist, for instance, features things like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and the Yardbirds and it's quite extraordinary really that a seventeen year old would be listening to this sort of stuff.”
While the fans, of course, are always happy to hear their old favourites, I wonder if there any particular songs that the band themselves tire of playing or, indeed, any that they look forward to playing. “I never tire of 'Great Southern Land',” Iva admits. “Not only because of what it's become and its place, I guess, in Australia's consciousness but because it's always been a very comfortable song to play. In fact, we always use it as our kind of sound check as it were to make sure that everything is in its right, proper place. It's just one of those songs. Instead of being a struggle, which some of them are, it always feels like coming home in a strange sort of way. It's a very settling thing to play.”
The band was doing quite nicely under the name Flowers so what exactly led to the decision to change the name to Icehouse?
“It's quite a simple story,” he explains. “Because we worked for probably three years as Flowers live and had quite a lot of work, it was almost guaranteed that, by the time the first album came out (which was called Icehouse), we had a ready made audience who would buy the album and it was a very successful album. It was the largest selling debut album of any band at the time. But that, in turn, inspired a lot of international interest so we had record companies from overseas bidding for us and eventually signed an international agreement. Therefore, the plan was to release that album overseas and it was at that point that we struck a problem and the problem was very simple. A band name is like any kind of business name or trading name. Now that's something that, as a twenty odd year old forming a band, you don't take under consideration but of course we found out the hard way, as did a number of Australian bands. For example, Sherbet and The Angels weren't allowed to use those names as trading names outside of Australia because somebody else had already claimed them. So we had a difficult choice which kind of turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We had to change the name of the band and our logic was that there were only two monikers that we were known by in Australia and New Zealand. We were known as the band Flowers and we were known by our first album name which is called Icehouse and therefore the logic of it was: Let's adopt the album name.”
As Iva says, that was the turning point for the band. “We had a tour within Australia before we went off to attempt to conquer the world, which basically was in fact because of the change of name and it was Molly Meldrum on Countdown who did a special feature on the change of the name and he was in fact up in the snow resort I think in Victoria at the time, making the most of the concept of Icehouse and reputedly, that was the first time he ever wore the hat.”
Iva's musical roots, as he tells it, came from a very odd place. “In fact,” he explains, “I grew up in the country. I grew up in regional NSW in Wagga Wagga and when I was very young – my father tells me I was only about five.My recollection is that I was a little bit older than that - I was awe struck by a parade. I don't remember if it was a New Years parade but I heard this approaching sound and it turned out to be the Wagga St Andrews Heather Pipe Band which was, of course, a Scottish Pipe Band and I was so mesmerised that I absolutely hounded my parents to let me learn the bagpipes.” Iva's peristence paid off. He did learn to play the bagpipes and actually marched with that band at the tender age of nine. “When I moved to Sydney at the age of about eleven and went to high school, the music teacher there basically said to me 'I don't think you should play the bagpipes; it's a very unsociable instrument. My wife is an oboe teacher. We have an oboe in the cupboard. Now off you go and have lessons.' I went to my first lesson on the oboe without even knowing what an oboe sounded like! But apparently I was very good at it. Around about that time also, I requisitioned my big brother's acoustic guitar. He went off to work in London. He was in his late teens I think and I taught myself how to play the guitar so I had a completely parallel set of universes. One was studying classical music and the other was basically falling in with a couple of singer/songwriters who were a bit older than me who were part of the tail end of the folk movement, which I guess is most commmonly associated with the Vietnam protest movement. We're talking about 1971 here. My two friends were shortly to be eligible for conscription to be sent to Vietnam so it was kind of a serious time for music really. There were massive rallies that we played at, all of which I thought was quite fun because I was only about fifteen and it was going to be a couple of years before I was eligible for conscription. Then of course conscription disappeared in 1972. But that was where I was introduced to popular music and I went on to be influenced by not only classic psychedelic rock like Pink Floyd but also the 'Glam' movement and ultimately of course, when the punk movement arrived, there was a kind of explosion as there was an explosion of technology and that was something that really interested me so Flowers ended up being a peculiar hybrid of a punk band with synthesisers.”
Iva's early musical training was classical. A fact that he initially tried to keep hidden in the very early days of the band. “Because it was so at odds with what the fashion was at the time,” he explains. “And of course we're talking about a period where The Sex Pistols had just blown up the establishment of rock 'n' roll and to admit to having any training at all would have been disastrous, I think! But the fact of the matter is that I was trained as an oboist and won my first scholarship to the Conservatorium when I was around about fourteen. By the time I was nineteen, I was in the Conservatorium Senior Orchestra and playing professionally. In fact, I was in the Orchestra for the very first Australian Opera staged in the Opera House. The Opera House wasn't even really finished at that point but I had forgotten until, quite recently, my father had reminded me of that. He still had the programme. And of course the Opera House has just had an anniversary and I was involved in some of the interviews around that because, in the very early days of the Opera House functioning, I was actually involved and I was still a teenager.”
I imagine that would have been one of the highlights of your career? “Indeed it was,” he agrees. “In fact, I went on to play with the Sydney Symphony on the Concert Hall stage only a couple of years after that.” But Iva's connection with the Opera House was destined to continue in a number of ways. “For example,” he recalls, “there was a peculiar piece of technology very early on called a 'picture disc'. I don't know if you've ever seen any of them but somebody worked out how to actually imprint a photo in to a piece of vinyl and a recording that I did of a Stravinsky Octet, believe it or not, which was performed in The Music Room at the Opera House, was recorded and I think became Australia's very first picture record. I don't think it sold anything,” he laughs, “but it was quite an obscure thing for that particular company to record. Nonetheless, somewhere or other, I've got a copy of it and then I went on to write two ballets for the Sydney Dance Company which were the Dance Company's most successful ballets. One in 1985 called Boxes which was staged in the Opera House and it only ever was performed in the Opera House and one in 1995 ten years later, called Berlin which debuted in the Opera House and then travelled around the country.”
With such a diverse collection of projects and achievements under his belt, is there anything else that this multi talented artist aspires to accomplish in his career?
He ponders the question for a moment before answering. “I tend to sort of fall into things really,” he replies. “I mean, if I were to go back and catalogue what happened when we officially stopped touring around about 1994, then I'd have to conclude that, from there on for almost ten years, was a kind of series of happy accidents. I decided at that point that writing songs was too hard so I did a covers album and that album turned into The Berlin Tapes which in turn turned into the ballet, Berlin. It wasn't designed as a ballet or even the basis of a ballet at the outset but it just evolved into that with a co-writer Max Lambert who was playing piano on The Berlin Tapes with me. Then of course, a number of other things happened. I submitted a song which became one of the Olympic themes and the same creative team which was David Atkins, Ignatius Jones and Max Lambert approached me completely independent of that. They were in the process of designing the millenium events in Sydney Harbour and said 'We've got the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; we've got TaikOz, which is a Sydney based group of Taiko Japanese drummers; we've got this, we've got that and we want you to turn 'Great Southern Land' into a twenty five minute extravaganza which will lead up to the countdown. Now that took me nearly a year to put together, by the time we'd recorded it and so on. It was a massive job. And then it so happened that of the three and a half million people watching that performance, leading up to the countdown and fireworks, Peter Weir was watching his television set (he lives literally over the hill from where I do) and so in 2003, I got a phone call out of the blue from Bahia, Mexico where he was filming Master and Commander on location and he said 'That piece of music that you did for the millenium; I want you to write a film score based on that style for my movie,' so that of course changed into another epic job and then out of that, of course, I was approached by an English production company. They said to me 'We're doing a period piece. It's going to be a two part television film; it's the largest budget telemovie ever produced in Australia, called The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant, based on the true story of a convict on the First Fleet.' That was a massive job as well so one thing kind of kept bumping into another for many years.”
So Iva Davies has remained a very busy man and he doesn't appear to be slowing down too much at the moment, with various Icehouse gigs around the country. “Icehouse is fairly organic,” he points out. “There are things happening all the time. For example, there are a number of discussions going at the moment about possible reprisals of the Dubhouse performance, the reggae band. It's incredibly fun, I have to say. I'm not a massive officianado but reggae just makes you want to smile and dance. So it was great fun and any opportunity we had to do it again, I know the guys would love to, especially with the eight piece band. So that might surface at some point this year but things are fairly fluid and they always have been fairly fluid. We plan some things in advance but a lot of things just fall into place as well.”
But don't expect any new material any time soon. That is not part of the agenda at this particular time. As Iva explains, performing is what is driving him right now. “I tend to be fairly concentrated with the writing process,” he tells me. “I always was. I guess I'm probably the antithesis of a writer like Paul Kelly, who seems to be incredibly prolific, inasmuchas every song I have written has been released. There is nothing in the vault and at the time when we were writing and touring album after album, I would simply sit down and write the quota and things were either strangled at birth or they ended up being released and that's the way I work so, at the moment, I don't have a particular project which disciplines me into that kind of mindset. I tend to have two completely different switches. One is I'm in performing mode and the other one is I'm in writing mode. And for the moment, the performing mode is the dominant one.”
6 January 2014
From the Palms at Crown website:
Iva Davies is returning to The Palms this summer
Iva Davies has plenty to celebrate today starting with Icehouse's White Heat: 30 Hits compilation officially being awarded Platinum sales status.
In various interviews, Davies has attributed the continued steady sales of the 30 Hits compilation to the selective shows Icehouse have performed over the past three years.
These events - anywhere from small clubs to audiences of tens-of-thousands - have reinforced the band's reputation as a stunning live act.
The songs are instantly recognisable to lifelong fans and to the new group of listeners who have found their way to Icehouse in recent years.
And so to celebrate, Icehouse will be performing some special concerts around the nation over the upcoming Spring and Summer that they are calling the Platinum Concert Series.
Iva added, "Live is where we get to really know our fans better. The band members love mixing up the sizes of the venues and the performances so the Platinum Series gives us a chance to get around the country, play the songs everyone wants to sing along to and to throw in a few surprises."
11 December 2013
From the Newcastle Herald:
Icehouse still warming
By Kate Tarala
Playing a show in Belmont made such an impact on Australian legends Icehouse that they’re coming back for more.
The band, who had more than 30 top 40 singles including We Can Get Together, Electric Blue, Hey Little Girl, Crazy and the alternative national anthem to Australians everywhere, Great Southern Land, played Belmont 16s in 2011 to mark the release of their 30th anniversary edition greatest hits CD and DVD box set. They also played their debut album Flowers in full at Homebake the same year. Now they’ve announced three shows for 2014.
‘‘It was only a couple of years ago now that we started touring again,’’ frontman Iva Davies said.
‘‘One of the first shows we played was at Belmont Sailing Club and I have to admit it was a bit daunting on the night.
‘‘However, my fears were completely unfounded – the show sold out, the audience were fantastic and we had a ball ... So when I was asked which two clubs we’d like to play in preparation for a big outdoor show we’re playing on [WA’s] Rottnest Island, the choice was easy.’’
Icehouse play at Belmont 16s on March 19 with support from XXX.
7 December 2013
Talk about dedication! Mr. Gildea had a mishap earlier in the day on Wednesday and cut his finger. Still, he played his fingers off at the Melbourne DubHOUSE show! The proof is on the towel shown here after the gig! Hope your finger is healed for tonight's show in Sydney, Paul!
6 December 2013
Icehouse, 4th December 2013 @ The Espy
Tonedeaf provided a great photo gallery of 33 pictures from this DubHOUSE show! Here's one to get you started!
5 December 2013
DubHouse treats fans to new twist on Icehouse classics
By Karen Black
On Wednesday night the Gershwin Room at Melbourne’s renowned ESPY was full of delighted Icehouse fans as they were treated to some unique versions of familiar Icehouse classics done with a dubbed reggae twist.
This show was very different from any other show Icehouse had done previously as it incorporated bursts of reggae classics into their Icehouse hits. They even had a slightly different line-up for this show with Simon Burke on keyboards (filling in for Michael Paynter) and some additional musicians on stage to help blend the new sound smoothly throughout the set.
As the show opened, percussion and vocalist Tony Kopa got the crowd into the spirit with a bit of Bob Marley classics including “Get up stand up” which very cleverly transitioned into “Great Southern Land”.
From there they moved into the soulful “Love in Motion” followed by “Electric Blue” which had also had touch of Marley’s “You can be loved” (Say Something) through it.
Unlike at most concerts where you can often tell which song the artist is about to sing as soon as you hear the familiar intro, the songs at this show started with a very different dubbed mix which eventually evolved into a familiar Icehouse song. You can tell that the band spent some serious time working out the right mix to go with each song while incorporating the familiar melody and lyrics.
DubHouse even performed a rather upbeat version of the song “Icehouse” which I found to be quite interesting since it’s normally a rather darker, somber track but it seemed to work well.
Lead singer Iva Davies even did a sweet tribute to the late Lou Reed by performing a bit of his classic “Walk on the Wild Side” which aptly went straight into their New York influenced song “Heartbreak Kid”.
DubHouse even managed to incorporate a reggae version of the theme from”Rocky” while performing “Can’t Help Myself” which then segued into “Walls”.
A bit of “Buffalo Soldier” then set the scene before going into a very different version of “Street Café” which smoothly transitioned back into Buffalo soldier.
They winded things up with a song that Iva said was “one of his favourites” which was Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” which brought the horn section (Glen Reither and Ben Gillespie) forefront which later transformed into “We can Get Together”.
The band did have some unusual & rather funny moments on stage such as when Paul Gildea’s finger cut and a few lighting issues at the encore, but like true professionals- they (buffalo) soldiered on through it.
Overall the band played brilliantly and gave their fans a real treat and a special night to remember indeed!
DubHouse will be performing again this Saturday, Dec. 7th at Sydney’s Oxford Arts Factory.
3 December 2013
Conversation Hour with Brian Nankervis, Iva Davies, Paul Shields
by John Standish
Sally Warhaft is filling in for Jon Faine while he's on leave. Her co-host is the creator of Raymond J Bartholomeuz, Brian Nankervis, from SBS's RocKwiz. He's hitting the stage for Rockwhiz Salutes Vanda and Young at the Palais Theatre this Sunday (8th December, 2013).
Their first guest is Icehouse frontman Iva Davies, who is performing a selection of his hits and some covers with a reggae twist as Icehouse goes DubHOUSE, at the Esplanade Hotel's Gershwin Room tomorrow night (Wednesday 4th December, 2013). If you prefer the songs in their original glory you will need to wait until early January, when Icehouse is back in Melbourne.
Then they are joined by luthier and bow maker Paul Shields, who recently returned from his first trip overseas. He went to Kabul to teach stringing bows and instrument repair skills at the Afghan National Institute of Music (ANIM).
1 December 2013
From The Age:
How I unwind: Icehouse's Iva Davies
By Ed Gibbs
Thirty years after Icehouse played the world's biggest stadiums with David Bowie - and conquered Europe and America in the process, frontman Iva Davies, 58, who lives on the Northern Beaches, is radically reinventing the band's classic hits as dub-reggae standards. The event, entitled Dubhouse, will see Icehouse favourites, including Great Southern Land, Electric Blue, Hey Little Girl and Crazy, transformed into Caribbean-flavoured grooves, alongside a clutch of covers and a few surprises.
Why turn your hits into reggae songs, 30 years after the fact?
It's party music. As soon as people hear reggae, they respond by a) dancing and b) smiling. We've been doing it - in very small ways - as far back as the Bowie tour in 1983. I remember [at a festival] watching Peter Tosh's band with the guitar at the back, going ''chukka chukka''. And I thought, I'd love to be that guy: all care and no responsibility. When I had that conversation with someone about it, they said, ''Well, why don't you do it?''
You've always performed your songs the same way?
Pretty much. You have to remember, when we started out, we were a covers band. And one of my things was, "If we're going to do cover versions of classic songs, we'd better do them as faithfully as possible''. You don't muck with legendary songs, recordings, and performances. That was the ethic of the band and still is, to some extent. So this idea came out of nowhere, really.
One of your biggest hits, Great Southern Land, became an anthem in the 1980s and defined an era of Australian history. How did that come about?
We were on our first international tour, flying across Australia - which I'd never done before - and when I woke up two hours later, it was the same landscape. And it was only then that I had this lightbulb [moment], where I went, ''Oh my God, this place is huge''. I knew [writing the song] was a dangerous thing to do. I took the task of it very, very seriously. Being a conservative person, I'm kind of surprised I took on that challenge. But I've never really understood [the reaction to it], then or now.
Your father was also an inspiration?
Yes, every time we go through a bushfire season - my father was a forester for 42 years - [I think of] one of the comments he made to me: "Did you know that over half of the native flora of Australia has to be burnt in order to propagate?" That blew my mind. That's how necessary fire is. What a strange evolution that must have been, to have arrived at that point.
Do you still write, or have anything about to be released?
I don't. There are no leftovers, there's nothing in the vaults. I always got to the point where the job was to write an album: ''There are going to be 13 songs, they're all going to be used, here we go." That was my process. It doesn't occur to me to write a song. I'm not in that machine that's demanding an album every 12 or 18 months. I'm not someone who needs to vent. I'm not a diarist.
How do you unwind?
I have the great fortune to watch whales. I did surf, less so now. I use old long boards these days.
Do you think music means as much to people today as it did in the 1980s?
I know through my own children - my daughter's 20, my son is 17 - their generation are huge music fans. They've got the internet, iPods, smart phones - things we never had. I remember being my son's age: I had three LPs, which I'd saved up to buy. He has tens of thousands of songs.
Do you have any of those old synths still kicking about at home?
I have the original Prophet V, which I used on Great Southern Land, in storage. When I did the soundtrack for Master and Commander [in 2003], I used the software version. They're all plug-ins, little pieces of software that emulate exactly what that machine did. There are no boxes with keys on them any more.
28 November 2013
Iva Davies live
By John Donegan
Watch Icehouse frontman Iva Davies as he joins the 702 Sessions performing live on Richard Glover's Drive show. The evergreen musician performed the classic We Can Get Together in an acoustic solo performance.
27 November 2013
DubHOUSE performed "Electric Blue" on Today and "Hey Little Girl" on Mornings.
24 November 2013
From The Daily Telegraph:
Icehouse frontman Iva Davies will perform 'Great Southern Land' at Special Olympics
By Anna Hitchings
Former Epping Boys High School student and frontman of Aussie rock band Icehouse, Iva Davies, will perform his classic "Great Southern Land" at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games next month.
Davies has been an ambassador for Special Olympics Australia for almost 10 years and has performed at charity fundraisers for several years with his children, Brynn and Evan.
The ceremony will see Davies play alongside other Australian icons like Human Nature, Marcia Hines and Anthony Callea.
There's a great line up of talent and I think it'll be huge," Davies said. Davies will be backed by the University of Newcastle choir and a big band, choreographed by musical director John Foreman.
The ceremony will feature over 2000 local dancers, singers, acrobats, cheerleaders and artists, including many of the athletes themselves.
Davies visited his old school last year and directed and performed "Great Southern Land" with several students at Sydney Town Hall.
22 November 2013
Listen to an interview with Iva Davies from Queensland radio station 96.5 Family Radio. His segment starts at 11:24 and goes for about ten minutes. Enjoy!
12 November 2013
ICEHOUSE return to Queensland for two exclusive shows with Models as special guests
“Ever since the early days of the band, back when we were Flowers, ICEHOUSE has had a great reception from Queensland audiences” enthuses ICEHOUSE frontman Iva Davies. “When we started touring again a couple of years ago I asked myself if that would still be the case. It turns out that whether the venue has been a winery or a theatre or a festival or at pubs and clubs, the answer has been, ‘Yes, they are!’ Everyone associated with the band is looking forward to getting back up there in January, and seeing our friends and fans at the shows.”
ICEHOUSE’s catalogue of anthems, hits, musical experimentation and high level of musical dedication has made them a household name in Australia with an amazing eight top 10 albums and over thirty Top 40 singles including We Can Get Together, Electric Blue, Hey Little Girl, Crazy and the alternative national anthem to Australians everywhere, Great Southern Land. They have sales records equivalent to platinum albums locally and internationally.
The re-releases of all the albums from the band’s catalogue of recordings plus the platinum-selling White Heat: 30 Hits compilation prompted Davies to return the band to live performances after a 16 year hiatus. The results in 2011 and 2012 were outstanding – sell-out shows, screaming fans, encore performances and a revitalized audience for this iconic band.
In October 2012 ICEHOUSE sold out shows in South Eastern Queensland on their Primitive Colours tour and now they’ve been invited back again and as Davies’ comments above attest, the band are looking forward to it.
Iva is also pleased that Models will be on the shows as the two bands shared similar beginnings. "We used to see one another all over the country as we developed our sound and they developed theirs. I'm looking forward to seeing and hearing Sean, Andrew, Mark and Barton perform those songs in this new era."
So what will the fans see that is different? To that, Davies laughs and says, “We have such a lot of songs to choose from that we can move them around so that each show can be different. Our crew are preparing new visuals and we’ve got a few musical surprises to throw in to celebrate the 2014 Summer. It will be a lot of fun and we look forward to seeing everyone there.”
ICEHOUSE with special guests Models
Tickets also available from Oztix - 1300 762 545
Re Models: Kelly, Duffield, Price & Ferrie are back to showcase new material and play some old favourites.
Models celebrate the musical adventurousness, sly humour and pioneering nature of the early Australian alternative music scene with a sound that is as fresh now as it was then. 2010 saw Models inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame after gaining notoriety in the early '80s with ground breaking mini album 'Cut Lunch', but it was their long player 'The Pleasure Of Your Company' featuring the hit 'I Hear Motion' which cracked it commercially for the band.
Now, 25 years after the heady days of massive hits & platinum albums in the '80s, 2014 will see the band release a long awaited album of new material. In December, Models will be previewing new tracks from the album at the upcoming shows and will have a special, limited edition EP for sale at the gigs.
This is the chance to see the band back in action, playing the tracks you know and love and some brand spanking new music to satisfy the most hard-core Model fans - it's been years in the making and you won't be disappointed!
8 November 2013
Listen to Iva Davies' interview on Mix 94.5!
8 November 2013
ICEHOUSE back in WA for Exclusive Rottnest Island show as part of the Rotto Live concert series
Zaccaria are thrilled to announce the second installment of the Rotto Live concert series at Hotel Rottnest with Australian music legends ICEHOUSE performing Sunday March 23, 2014. Tickets go on sale 9am Tuesday November 12 through Ticketmaster.
“Perth audiences are always fantastic,” enthuses ICEHOUSE frontman Iva Davies. “We’ve played indoor to hundreds and outdoor to thousands at different shows in WA since we started touring again a couple of years ago. Each time we’ve been there it has been electrifying for us to be up on stage with the audience so enthusiastic from the first note. And now we are getting to come back to do it again, this time at Rottnest Island, a place we’ve not played before.”
ICEHOUSE’s catalogue of anthems, hits, musical experimentation and high level of musical dedication has made them a household name in Australia with an amazing eight top 10 albums and over thirty Top 40 singles including We Can Get Together, Electric Blue, Hey Little Girl, Crazy and the alternative national anthem to Australians everywhere, Great Southern Land. They have sales records equivalent to platinum albums locally and internationally.
The re-releases of all the albums from the band’s catalogue of recordings plus the platinum-selling White Heat: 30 Hits compilation prompted Davies to return the band to live performances after a 16 year hiatus. The results from 2011 to 2013 have been outstanding – sell-out shows, screaming fans, encore performances and a revitalized audience for this iconic band.
ICEHOUSE last played in Western Australia in April 2013 - so what will the fans see that is different? To that Davies laughs and says, “We have such a lot of songs to choose from that we can move them around so that each show can be different. Our crew are preparing new visuals and we’ve got a few musical surprises to throw in to celebrate the 2014 shows. It will be a lot of fun and we look forward to seeing everyone there.”
About Rotto Live
8 November 2013
Announcement from Zaccaria Concerts:
Sunday March 23, 2014 - Hotel Rottnest
Zaccaria are thrilled to announce the second installment of the Rotto Live concert series at Hotel Rottnest with Australian music legends ICEHOUSE!
ICEHOUSE last played in Western Australia in April 2013 - so what will the fans see that is different? To that Davies laughs and says, “We have such a lot of songs to choose from that we can move them around so that each show can be different. Our crew are preparing new visuals and we’ve got a few musical surprises to throw in to celebrate the 2014 shows. It will be a lot of fun and we look forward to seeing everyone there”.
29 October 2013
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Underestimating the raw energy of Lou Reed
By Iva Davies as told to Peter Vincent
As we started out in the 1970s, Flowers was a covers band and we played quite a few Lou Reed songs.
My background is as a trained classical musician but in my early 20s a girlfriend exposed me to a lot of music which was regarded by classical musicians at the time as naive, incompetent even, and it opened my appreciation to a vast array of music which didn't necessarily ride on its instrumental or vocal, or even poetic fluency.
At first Reed's music seemed chaotic and I thought ''these people barely know how to play these instruments'', let alone become obsessive about the equipment they're using and the sound they're producing. But he was underestimated at that time (including by me) - that Velvet Underground record produced by Andy Warhol [Velvet Underground & Nico] is constantly cited as one of the most influential albums of all time, it had that extra factor that really is the essence of real rock and roll. They were a strange blend of intellectualism and raw energy and that was probably the thing that set them apart.
I think what gave Reed more longevity than a lot of others was that beneath that New York attitude was this absolute commitment, almost fanatical, to constantly try to improve himself and produce better and better work.
In 1995 I wrote a ballet for the Sydney Dance Company, Berlin, and the backbone of that soundtrack was seven cover versions from artists such as Bowie and XTC and Talking Heads, and the evening concluded with a cover version of the Velvet Underground's All Tomorrow's Parties.
I didn't realise when I wrote the soundtrack that to clear the rights for a theatre work you have to get permission from the writer of the composition, which meant trying to get in contact with Reed. It proved to be incredibly difficult, to the point where I was virtually in tears at losing the ultimate moment of the ballet because we couldn't get an answer from anyone.
In desperation Keith Welsh, the co-founder of Flowers, sent a cassette to New York and overnight I received a fax back, which reads: ''Regarding All Tomorrow's Parties, congratulations! I couldn't have loved it more! I'm flattered to have such talent interpreting my music.'' I have it framed in my house.
Receiving it was an incredible shock because it came directly from a man with the most fearsome reputation among journalists who was also not renowned for his generosity of spirit - and yet it was such an incredibly generous set of words.
My son, who is 17 and a huge fan of retro music, sent me a text message today telling me ''that fax will be worth its weight in gold now''. I replied saying ''it always was''.
28 October 2013
28 October 2013
21 October 2013
ICEHOUSE back for another season of exciting performances at The Palms
“We had such a great time last January when we played at The Palms for several nights” enthuses ICEHOUSE frontman Iva Davies “The band was in great form after performing several shows throughout the year, the audiences were incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about our music and the venue was a really great way to present a more intimate show than we’d been playing elsewhere. And now they’ve asked us to come back to do it again, we couldn’t be happier!”
ICEHOUSE’s catalogue of anthems, hits, musical experimentation and high level of musical dedication has made them a household name in Australia with an amazing eight top 10 albums and over thirty Top 40 singles including We Can Get Together, Electric Blue, Hey Little Girl, Crazy and the alternative national anthem to Australians everywhere, Great Southern Land. They have sales records equivalent to platinum albums locally and internationally.
The re-releases of all the albums from the band’s catalogue of recordings plus the platinum-selling White Heat: 30 Hits compilation prompted Davies to return the band to live performances after a 16 year hiatus. The results in 2011 and 2012 were outstanding – sell-out shows, screaming fans, encore performances and a revitalized audience for this iconic band.
In December 2012 ICEHOUSE sold out Melbourne’s Hamer Hall and were then invited to perform at the intimate The Palms Theatre at the Crown entertainment complex in Melbourne in January 2013. All these shows sold out well in advance.
So now The Palms has invited them back again in what may well become an annual event and as Davies’ comments above attest, the band are looking forward to it.
And what will the fans see that is different? To that Davies laughs and says, “We have such a lot of songs to choose from that we can move them around so that each show can be different. Our crew are preparing new visuals and we’ve got a few musical surprises to throw in to celebrate the 2014 Summer. It will be a lot of fun and we look forward to seeing everyone there”.
Iva is also pleased that Michael Paynter will be presenting a special guest performance with his own band before joining ICEHOUSE on stage for the rest of what will be a series of very special evenings.
ICEHOUSE at The Palms at Crown
20 October 2013
19 October 2013
Iva will be performing at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics 2013 Asia Pacific Games at Hunter Stadium on Sunday 1 December 2013. Also performing: Human Nature, Anthony Callea, Marcia Hines, The McClymonts, Silvie Paladino, Doug Parkinson, Darren Percival and Marina Prior. Tickets onsale now!
15 October 2013
Here's a message from the Icehouse team:
11 October 2013
Here is some very exciting and intriguing news from Mr. Davies!
As ID said, watch this space!
12 September 2013
Message from Iva Davies regarding the new releases from Repertoire Records:
12 September 2013
Official Press Release:
ICEHOUSE issue 2 huge career-spanning remix collections over 49 tracks
ICEHOUSE has long been a favourite of the remixing fraternity, the band’s tracks having been blessed with remixes throughout the world, offering what Chris Johnston of The Age dubbed ‘a kind of post-disco, pre-house, percussive dance music’.
Released via digitally on Friday September 13th, ICEHOUSE ‘The Extended Mixes Volumes 1 and 2’, spans 49 glorious remix treatments compiled together for the first time. These compilations satisfy the long-held desire of ICEHOUSE fans for an exhaustive collection of mixes which have in the past been cherished rarities. Many compiled here are available digitally for the very first time.
ICEHOUSE formed at a time when the extended mix was making its way into popular culture thanks to the sheer characteristics of the 12” format, on which many of these recordings were originally released – spreading one song over 12 inches of vinyl allowed for the creation of longer versions of the track being produced and promoted. Also the width of grooves allowed better reproduction of the bass frequencies dance music is known for so with up to 20 minutes to play with, there was plenty of scope for studio experimentation.
Icehouse – The Extended Mixes: Volume 1 combines 24 dance mixes of Icehouse tracks from all over the globe. Spice is added by the fact that different mixes were only available in different territories, making this the first time they have been available together in the one release. Of particular note – ‘Byrralku Dhangudha’ is a unique remix of ‘Great Southern Land’ featuring members of the Indigenous Australian Bangarra Dance Company singing the chorus in their traditional language.
Icehouse – The Extended Mixes: Volume 2 compiles 25 remixes, cherrypicking treatments from a broad spectrum of artists such as Buckethead (Brian Carroll – who later joined Guns N Roses), keyboardist Bernie Worrell (of Parliament/Funkadelic reknown) and Manchester’s 808 State. The track selection spans all the way from the US version of the band’s first single ‘Can’t Help Myself’ in 1981 through to 2002’s Lay Your Hands On Me. Rounding out the set is the epic 15 minute ‘The Great Southern Mix’ produced and mixed by acclaimed producer Bill Laswell which ICEHOUSE main man Iva Davies calls a “tour de force”.
"When I formed the band in 1977 the extended remix excitement was just beginning to have an impact. By the time our debut album arrived, the 12” format was well established - and over following albums I eventually got brave enough to create my own extended mixes’ remarks Iva. ‘I always looked for interesting collaborators or interpreters of the song; there were many people who took us through unexpected sonic journeys…It’s an exciting experience to hear my songs interpreted by such talented people."
Icehouse – The Extended Mixes Volume 1 and 2 are out Friday 13th September.
Icehouse – The Extended Mixes Volume 1
Icehouse – The Extended Mixes Volume 2
6 September 2013
Below is a video featuring Iva Davies speaking at an APRA Songwriters' Workshop. Brew a cup of tea, settle down and enjoy! This is a two hour long video clip.
30 August 2013
One more from Repertoire Records - follow the link for more information:
23 August 2013
From the Los Angeles Times:
Meet the wigmaker of Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio
By Cristy Lytal
"Pop star to wig star" — that's how Bob Kretschmer describes his unusual career path. The former member of the band Icehouse now works as an expert wig maker for films including Fox's "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" and Sony's "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones."
"I find the process is the same — music and wig making," he said. "Obviously, it's a different thing you're making, but it's very creative. It's very intense."
Kretschmer, 64, who was born in Australia, traces his fascination with music and hair all the way back to Elvis Presley. "As a kid, I always wanted to have hair like Elvis Presley and black hair, like a big bouffant," Kretschmer said. "And I could never get it. I just didn't have the look."
Lured by the music scene, he moved to London after high school. There, he met musicians and picked up wig making.
He landed a job teaching wig making to the hair and makeup department at the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but he quit to pursue music and tour with the rock band Icehouse during the 1980s. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and returned to wig making, creating his first film wig for Marlon Brando in 1994's "Don Juan DeMarco."
Since then, he's made wigs for Russell Crowe in 2001's "A Beautiful Mind," Tom Cruise in 2004's "Collateral," Johnny Depp in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, Leonardo diCaprio in 2012's "Django Unchained" and many others.
"The last wig I make will be the Elvis wig," he joked. "I don't know who the actor will be."
To top it off: To make a wig, Kretschmer creates a cap of fine netting, which is fit to a mold of the actor's head. He performs an initial fitting to make sure the cap is comfortable and devises a detailed plan in consultation with the actor, producers and designers: which color and style the wig will be, how it will fall and swing, how much height it will have and how it will integrate with the actor's natural hairline. "You might use the front or parts of their hair, or you pull their hair through," he said. Then he sits down and ties strands of hair onto the netting, one by one.
Knotty and nice: According to Krestchmer, "there are about five, six classic knots that will give you a different quality or architecture for the wig." The trick is deciding which one to use when. For instance, with a split knot, "you get hair going in two directions, so then you get lift, and it looks very natural," he said.
Follow the rainbow: For most of his wigs, Kretschmer uses finely textured, non-chemically-treated hair from Eastern Europe. "Hair to me is like mirrors — it reflects color," he said. "It's very hard to dye hair and get some of these colors. From the top of the hair down to the bottom, it's going from dark to lighter. As a wigmaker, I know all the colors in there: there are greens, and there are blonds, and there are yellows. I'm inspired because with natural hair I see all the reflections of color. But if I have to deal with dyed hair, it's just not the same, and it's actually boring. I wouldn't do it. I've got to have those natural colors."
Good hair days: For the action-adventure movie "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," Kretschmer created locks for the stars Lily Collins and Lena Headey. "Lily Collins, her hair's very fine. She has lovely hair and all that sort of thing, but it would be too much work every day. They wanted her to have fuller hair, so a wig was decided on. And Lena, who played Lily's mother, had dark hair. They wanted to have a bit more red, and she wasn't prepared to dye her hair. So then a wig comes in."
Hair today, gone tomorrow: By the time "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" went into reshoots, many of the actors had cut or changed their hair. It was up to Krestchmer to re-create their original looks. "There was a girl, and she had long hair. Her hair was beautiful and very soft. So it was a very difficult wig to make and match the color, but it was successful."
At his wig's end: For 1996's "The Island of Dr. Moreau," Marlon Brando did not wear his wig in the intended fashion. "I made this beautiful wig," Krestchmer said. "And he decided one day, instead of wearing the wig as it's meant to be, he just turned it upside down and plopped it on his head. He said, 'That's the way I want to wear the wig.' And you watch the movie, and there's an upside-down wig on Marlon. He's a fascinating character. I mean, I feel very privileged to have met someone like that. We spent many hours talking about the strangest things."
26 July 2013
New releases from Repertoire Records - follow the links for more information:
25 June 2013
Photo of Iva and Paul G at Art of Music Live provided by Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia.
21 June 2013
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Musicians back in the frame for charity gig
By Peter Vincent
Art driven by great Australian songs is being celebrated with a star-studded performance
Art of Music, the world-first charity project which has raised more than a million dollars for music therapy programs from the auction of music-inspired paintings by some of Australia's best artists, has been expanded to include a star-studded charity concert.
The inaugural concert, Art of Music Live, is at the Opera House on Monday night and Iva Davies, Ian Moss, Tim Finn, Katie Noonan, Suze DeMarchi, Josh Pyke and Dragon will be among the 11 performers to tackle 19 iconic Australian songs.
Each of those songs was the starting point for artists including Ben Quilty, Nicholas Harding, Reg Mombassa, Wendy Sharpe and Michael Leunig.
Proceeds from ticket sales for the concert ($220 a head) also go to the auction's long-time recipient, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, which uses improvised live music to build relationships between its therapists and their clients, who are often physically or intellectually disabled.
The first Art of Music auction was held in 2006 and has been repeated every two years at the Art Gallery of NSW. The highest price paid for a painting yet was $65,000 for Garry Shead's Shadows Fall, based on the Brewster Brothers' song. Last year, Ben Quilty's Largs Pier Hotel, based on the Jimmy Barnes song, sold for $45,000.
All painters and musicians donate their work to the project.
Art of Music creative director Jenny Morris started the project ''because I love art and I love music and I thought put them together and make some money for a good cause''. She came up with the idea for the concert because all the attention to date has been on the artworks, but it was time to put some focus back on the songs.
The concert will be repeated and is likely to be held every two years (in the off-years for the auctions), at the Opera House. It may also be toured interstate.
''People in the art and music world are so philanthropic,'' Morris says. ''I think painters tend to have a very deep connection with music and musicians very often have that same connection with visual arts. The two [mediums] are organically connected.''
Reg Mombassa, who sings at the concert on Monday and has also painted three works for the auction over the years (including Dirty Creature, based on the Split Enz song, which sold for $18,000 last year), says making a painting from a song ''is an interesting way of arriving at a picture''.
''It certainly gives you some sort of direction and that can make it a bit easier to start because you know what you have to do.''
Mombassa also had his own show open this week at Watters Gallery in Darlinghurst.
19 June 2013
Exciting news about Iva appearing at the Art of Music Live event at the Sydney Opera House! This event will take place on Monday, June 24th. The Art of Music Live 2013 event is a fundraiser for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia. Also appearing will be Katie Noonan, Tim Finn, Ian Moss, Dragon and more!
13 June 2013
From ICEHOUSE Management:
As some of you may know, Iva has a house for sale in Sydney which was where he wrote Great Southern Land.
"After 32 years I am selling the house in Lilyfield (Leichhardt) where I had the little front bedroom studio in which I wrote Primitive Man (including "Great Southern Land"), Razorback and the Sidewalk album. For anyone who is genuinely looking for an inner west home I can recommend this due to its perfect situation, being a walk to the light rail station, a four minute drive to the CBD, cafe and grocery store three doors away, a quiet street (which has become a cul de sac since the days when I lived there), and also a short walk to the local memorial park. The link features details of the house, and among the photographs at the end of the pictures are one of me in the front bedroom studio in 1982, one from 1983, and one with Glen A Baker whilst filming the documentary "Sacred Rock Sites" in 2006."
While most of you may not be in the market for a new home, we thought you might like to connect with this piece of ICEHOUSE history.
12 June 2013
WA Country Cups - Broome's Opening Meeting Highlights
See the all the racing and entertainment highlights featuring Australian rock outfit Icehouse at the opening meeting of the Broome racing season.
11 June 2013
From 2UE 954:
Iva Davies gets Order of Australia
Iva Davies has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his contribution to our cultural psyche with the song Great Southern Land. Paul Murray with the Icehouse frontman on his Order of Australia. Listen here.
10 June 2013
A note from ID regarding his Australian Honours award!
10 June 2013
Here are the biographical notes for Iva Davies, from The Queen's Birthday 2013 Honours List:
MEMBER (AM) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA
10 June 2013
From 4BC 1116:
Iva Davies on Afternoons
Iva Davies from Icehouse has been made a Member of the Order of Australia for his work with a range of charities, he talks to Moyd and Loretta. Listen here.
10 June 2013
From 774 ABC:
Red and a gong for Iva
Icehouse frontman, Iva Davies, explained to Red Symons how to go about getting on the Queens Birthday honours list, after being awarded a gong for his music and community work. Listen here.
10 June 2013
Also from Ten News:
Aussie honours list
This year's Queen's Birthday list has recognised quiet achievers, to rock stars. Icehouse singer Iva Davies honoured his country through song, and today it honoured him.
10 June 2013
From Ten News:
Queen's birthday honours list
Celebrated musician Iva Davies and Australian businessman Ross Oakley discuss being named in the Queen's birthday honours list.
10 June 2013
Icehouse’s Iva Davies Feted with Queen’s Birthday Honour
By Lars Brandle
Iva Davies, frontman of storied Australian alternative rock group Icehouse, has been recognized in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, published Monday.
The artist, whose hits include “Crazy,” "Hey Little Girl," "Great Southern Land," and "Electric Blue,” was named a Member (AM) of the Order Of Australia for “significant service to the music and entertainment industry as a songwriter and performer, and to the community.”
Icehouse were one of the biggest acts to break from Australia in the '80s. In the U.K., "Hey Little Girl" was a top 20 hit in 1983 on the Chrysalis label. The band's biggest U.S. commercial peak came in 1988, when "Crazy" (EMI) cracked the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100, and "Electric Blue reached No. 7.
To date, Icehouse has enjoyed more than 20 top-40 singles Down Under, six have cracked The Billboard Hot 100 and five tracks have appeared in the U.K. top 75 chart.
The group has landed eight studio albums in the top-10 in Australia -- for 28-time platinum certification.
Icehouse’s legendary status was confirmed in 2006 when it was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, being described as “one of the most successful Australian bands of the 80s and 90s.…With an uncompromising approach to music production they created songs that ranged from pure pop escapism to edgy, lavish synthesized pieces.” In that year, the group’s 1987 album was still the highest-selling album in Australia by a homegrown band.
Davies has composed for films, ballet, TV and special events and for many years he’s worked as an ambassador and fundraiser for various charities, including the Salvation Army, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia, the Special Olympics and Music Assist. In 2009, after more than a decade in hiatus, his act returned to the stage for the 2009 Sydney leg of the Sound Relief bushfire benefit concert.
Davies reunited Icehouse in 2011 and rolled-out a re-issue program, starting with the seminal debut “Icehouse,” (the band was then known as Flowers). A hits set, “White Heat,” opened at No. 5 on the ARIAs albums chart in August 2011 and was gold-certified within two weeks of release. The single “Great Southern Land” returned to the singles sales chart.
The awards—a system established by Queen Elizabeth II of England and the commonwealth states, which include Australia, in recognition of special achievements by the country's citizens—usually coincide with Queen Elizabeth II's birthday.
Davies is the most prominent musician in this year's list.
10 June 2013
Icehouse frontman Iva Davies recognised with Queen's birthday honour
Icehouse frontman Iva Davies has been recognised with a Queen's birthday honour for his service to the music and entertainment industry, and his charity work. Watch the video here.
10 June 2013
From ABC News 24:
Hundreds recognised with Queen's Birthday honours
Watch the video here. It includes a short interview with Iva about halfway through the piece.
10 Junes 2013
From 7 News:
Davies among arts elite honoured
Iva Davies was front and centre of one of the most successful Australian bands of the 1980s, before inexplicably disappearing without a trace in the mid '90s.
If he hadn't reunited Icehouse in 2011, he night never have received his appointment as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for significant service to music and entertainment as a songwriter.
After Icehouse disbanded in 1995, Davies holed up in his home studio, threw himself into writing scores for films (Master & Commander), the Sydney Dance Company and a Millennium performance piece called The Ghost of Time, which centred around the Icehouse song, Great Southern Land.
For all intents and purposes, it seemed as if he had turned his back on pop music for good.
Then, after 17 years, Davies announced a secret gig at the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda to gauge the reaction to a comeback.
Fans turned up in droves and the huge response prompted further dates and a tour in celebration of the anniversaries of the band's two biggest albums, Primitive Man and Man Of Colours.
"Part of the reason we did that show was basically to see if there was still interest in the band," Davies said at the time.
10 June 2013
From The Age:
Cool rocker with a social conscience
Ivor Arthur (Iva) Davies, AM
One of Australia's most successful and enduring rock stars, Iva Davies says he is ''overwhelmed'' by being named a member in the general division of the Order of Australia for significant service to the music industry. ''It is absolutely extraordinary. I haven't even told my children yet. I can't wait to hear their response.''
Davies, 58, studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music before joining a pub covers band that would become Icehouse. The band spawned eight top-10 albums and 30 top-40 singles in Australia and multiple top-10 hits in Europe and North America.
Davies was only 26 when he wrote the band's hit single, Great Southern Land. ''It mystifies me now that I was thinking about issues of sovereignty and the environment at such a tender age,'' he says. ''Those issues are close to my heart.''Davies supports a wide range of charities and initiatives including Landcare Australia, Living Ocean, Coastcare and Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. ''My career has been largely accidental,'' he says. ''To be acknowledged like this is a great honour.''
10 June 2013
From The Australian:
Chart hits and charity praised
By Iain Shedden
Iva Davies is mystified about how Great Southern Land, the song he wrote 31 years ago for his band Icehouse, became such an Australian pop classic.
"I'm as baffled today as I was back then about its success," the 58-year-old singer, songwriter and composer said. "The way people immediately reacted to it was incredible."
Davies, who today becomes a Member (AM) of the Order Of Australia, has had many successes since that 1982 hit and in many different facets of the music industry, including composing for film, ballet and Olympic events.
His Queen's Birthday honour is not just for his music, however -- Davies has been recognised for his services to the community as well.
The Sydney-based singer has worked for many years as an ambassador and fundraiser for a number of charity organisations, including the Salvation Army, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia and Music Assist.
"The career in music has given me the platform to be able to help in that way," Davies said.
"The Salvation Army Red Shield appeal is launched every year on the same day as my birthday, so I generally spend all of my birthday launching their campaign. They are fantastic people."
Davies said while Great Southern Land was his proudest moment as a musican, he was grateful for being able to work in fields other than pop music.
He composed the music for the Australian movie Razorback and won awards for his work on Peter Weir's Master and Commander. Davies also composed music for the Sydney Dance Company's ballets Boxes and Berlin.
Composing in Hollywood wasn't his favourite endeavour.
"I dipped my toe in the water," he said of working on Weir's film. "It's incredibly interesting and a particular discipline; you're writing for the director, not yourself."
Davies's biggest regret in his career is that he had to turn down an offer to go on tour in Europe with British singer Peter Gabriel at the beginning of Icehouse's international success, albeit because the band had a tour with David Bowie at the same time.
"I always regret that, because Gabriel -- like Bowie -- is an artist I really admire."
Icehouse, whose other hits include Electric Blue and Hey, Little Girl, has enjoyed a renaissance following the rerelease of its catalogue last year and a national tour.
Today, however, is one of his proudest moments. "It's among the highest honours you can be given by your country, so that's pretty significant," he said. "I'll be telling my children that they have to refer to me now as Sir Iva."
Also honoured today is Mike Brady, composer of AFL anthem Up There Cazaly, who has been made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia "for significant service to the community, and to music as a composer and performer".
10 June 2013
From Courier Mail:
Queens Birthday Honour for Great Southern Land boy Iva Davies
By Kathy McCabe; Photo by Toby Zerna
It Is one of the defining anthems of Australia. Yet as Iva Davies is recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his contribution to our cultural psyche with Great Southern Land and his enduring Icehouse songbook, he reveals it was an accidental success.
Also made a Member of the Order of Australia for his work with a range of charities including the Salvation Army, Davies said he remembered being shocked by the reaction the song provoked from friends and fans.
>He had just returned to Australia from the band’s first international tour and got to work on the next album, writing the song while wearing headphones in his Leichhardt home to drown out the noise of the planes and buses.
While his team were blown away by the ambitious piece, releasing it as a single was a great risk in the nascent era of FM radio because it went for more than five minutes. Radio stations hated playing anything over three and a half minutes.
“The first playback was on 2JJ and after George Wayne played it, there was this massive silence and then he groaned and said ‘I don’t know about that.’ I was absolutely gutted,’” Davies said.
“Up until the millennium I was more associated with Electric Blue but for some reason after that, Great Southern Land came on fire again.”
Even as Icehouse continues to play to packed houses and Davies considers the possibility of another record, the AM award also has him casting is mind back.
Back to playing oboe in the orchestra for the first opera staged at the Sydney Opera House. And then to playing in covers band on Friday nights while juggling cleaning jobs.
“It is quite surreal as I still imagine myself 30 odd years ago in a covers band on a Friday night, which was a great life — but I had to keep my cleaning job for a long time,” he said.
10 June 2013
CONGRATULATIONS to Iva Davies! He has been made a Member of the Order of Australia!
31 May 2013
From ABC Kimberly:
Icehouse founder Iva Davies returns to Broome
By Vanessa Mills
Iva Davies is keen to feel the red dirt under his feet again, 23 years after his last fleeting visit to Broome.
There's awards and accolades, the Hall of Fame inductions, sell out concerts across the world, record breaking album sales, and top 10 hit after hit.
It's an extraordinary 30 year career for a boy who was very good at playing oboe in the school orchestra.
Iva Davies and Icehouse have produced songs that will remain part of the Australian music scene for years to come.
Just as well then that Iva's application to the Conservatorium of Music to become a piano tuner never got taken up; his band Flowers began getting success with their debut album and the rest is music history.
The accomplished musician had potential in a classical orchestral career, since he was skilled in a number of instruments and score writing, but Iva laughs as he describes another important moment in his life.
"I had the great fortune for my older brother to leave to go London and leave behind his guitar, which was a mistake... and so over a summer holidays I taught myself to play the guitar and from that point on I had a very strange life."
Away from the rock stage, Iva is involved in a number of charities, such as Music Assist and the Special Olympics. A particular annual highlight for him is being involved in the Salvation Army's Red Shield Appeal - always on his birthday.
Iva Davies also writes soundtracks for film and television, crafts music for ballet, and admits he's one of the most nervous performers ever prior to a concert!
But depsite the pre-show nerves he is very much looking forward to the Broome concert on the Cable Beach foreshore.
Listen to Iva Davies reflect on Icehouse and his broad musical career with Vanessa Mills for ABC Kimberley Mornings.
28 May 2013
From The West Australian:
Icehouse up and running for Broome
By Ben O'Shea
Uluru might be the inspiration behind Icehouse’s 1982 classic Great Southern Land but songwriter Iva Davies admits his first real taste of red dirt was a visit to Broome in 1990.
The admission makes the seminal Australian band the ideal choice to headline Sunday’s inaugural Cable Sounds, a concert timed to coincide with the opening weekend of the Broome horse racing season, which culminates in the Broome Cup on August 17.
“The irony of it is that the first time I’ve ever been to Uluru in my life was last year,” Davies said.
“It was an incredible experience but I felt almost guilty after all these years having written that song and not been to that place.”
After forming in Sydney in 1977 under the name Flowers, Icehouse became one of Australia’s most successful acts of the 1980s, releasing hit LPs such as Primitive Man and Man of Colours, which in turn spawned beloved singles such as Great Southern Land, Electric Blue and Crazy.
The group returned to the stage in 2011 after a 20-year hiatus and have been wowing fans, old and new, ever since, including those who attended a stunning Kings Park show last year.
The Cable Sounds gig, complete with an elaborate audio-visual component, will be one of the most ambitious held in the historic Kimberley town.
Though Davies hasn’t finalised the set list, punters can expect a greatest hits package.
“It will be, but we are also in the fortunate position of having more greatest hits than we can actually fit into one show, so therein lies the variation,” he said.
The concert has been funded by the Royalties for Regions program and is part of a State Government initiative to enhance the peripheral activities around racing in Broome, Bunbury and Kalgoorlie.
22 April 2013
Icehouse Play Stone Music Festival SETLIST
By Paul Cashmere; Photo By Ros O'Gorman
The Icehouse reunion is continuing with a performance at Sydney’s Stone Fest on Sunday.
Iva Davies has been mentoring Melbourne singer songwriter Michael Paynter since reactivating the Icehouse brand to the point where Michael’s lead vocal on ‘Man of Colours’ is becoming a centrepiece of the show. The song has evolved live in the two years since this band went back on the road. Halfway through the song Michael hands back the vocals to Iva to conclude.
Original drummer Paul Wheeler is in the band and guitarist Paul Gildea takes on a maestro-like role.
Icehouse performed a stripped down set for the show to fit within the time allocated before headliner Billy Joel took to the stage.
The setlist was:
We Can Get Together (from Icehouse, 1980)
22 April 2013
Spellbound was very saddened to hear the news of the passing of Chrissy Amphlett. We wanted to share with everyone the following statement from Iva Davies:
"It is with great sadness that we have received the news of the passing of Chrissy. Chrissy and the Divinyls played with us on scores and scores of occasions and I was always a great admirer of her as both a writer and a performer. Chrissy did me the great honour of recording her version of one of my songs, "Love in motion", in the early nineties. She made the song distinctively hers, with her own smoking, seductive and unmistakable style. I was recently asked by The Age to nominate my choice of the Top 10 Australian singers of all time. Chrissy was among my choices, of course. She was a pioneer, and a great spirit."
Today we are sharing the wonderful work that Iva and Chrissy did together.
Chrissy left us far too soon but let's hope she is truly at peace.
31 March 2013
Iva and Paul G performed an acoustic set of three songs, aired on Mix 94.5 today, Easter Sunday. Listen to the songs here, or listen to the interview in three parts below:
15 March 2013
We have confirmed with ICEHOUSE management that there is a new show to announce! ICEHOUSE will be hitting the stage at the Cube in Campbelltown, NSW!
27 February 2013
From Perth Now:
Icehouse to perform under the stars in Broome
Timeless Australian band Icehouse is set to perform at one of the most picturesque locations in our great southern land.
The 1980s legends will headline the Cable Sounds concert at Broome's Cable Beach Amphitheatre on June 2nd, to celebrate the opening of the Broome Racing Carnival.
Frontman Iva Davies says he first visited the town in the 1990s, and it made a big impression.
"I'd heard about the beauty of Cable Beach and had seen many pictures and commentary about the intensity of the red soil. However, nothing could have prepared me for the real thing - the vivid colour of the landscape, the friendliness and hospitality of the people and the sense of being in a very old and special place is everywhere - I loved it," Davies said.
"And now I'm glad to be headed back there and to show the band and crew another exquisite part of the Australian landscape. To play our songs under the stars in such a magnificent location will be magical.”
26 February 2013
More exciting news out of the ICEHOUSE!
The band will be headlining the Cable Sounds concert on June 2nd! The concert will take place at the Cable Beach Amphitheatre in Broome, WA. This concert celebrates the opening of the Broome Racing Carnival.
21 February 2013
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
These Aussie anthems rule (Oh, Khe!)
By Peter Vincent
The newly announced Stone Festival is the latest, and biggest, event aimed squarely at the huge music nostalgia market. It's no concidence, then, that several of the acts playing the April 20-21 festival have in their repertoire that ultimate musical weapon, an "unofficial national anthem".
The festival is headlined by brilliant, but now slightly saggy stadium rockers Van Halen, and '80s hit master Billy Joel, who has sold 150 million records. But the highlight for many of the Stone Festival audience (dare we call them "Stoners"?) will be those songs which have transcended the realms of the mere "classic" and been accepted by the public as some kind of narrative on Australian identity.
Jimmy Barnes will probably be lynched if he doesn't dish up a rousing Khe Sanh on April 20, day one of Stone – no matter that it's the bawdy tale of an embittered ex-serviceman. (Or perhaps because of that.)
Barnes can also expect 100 per cent crowd participation for Working Class Man, Flame Trees and Forever Now, although they're not quite as beloved as Khe Sanh. You can also count on the Choirboys' Run to Paradise to move even the tone-deaf among concertgoers to join in a giant-sing-along, and ritual waving-of-the-lighters (or smartphones as its now).
There is speculation John Farnham may also be added to the Stone Fest bill. No matter that his classic You're the Voice is one of the most overplayed songs in the history of Australian radio, just try not joining in if Farnesy makes an appearance.
Other acts confirmed on the line-up include Icehouse, Ian Moss, Guy Sebastian, the Living End, Mark Seymour, Noiseworks, Diesel, the Superjesus and Shannon Noll.
When Icehouse play day two of the festival, April 21, their 1982 new-wave track Great Southern Land will receive the biggest cheer, even though Electric Blue sold more.
It was only after Sydney's millennium celebrations, Iva Davies says, when Great Southern Land was re-imagined as a 25 minute opus (called The Ghost of Time) that the song assumed the cultural significance it enjoys now. Last year Tourism Australia and Davies combined to release a 30th anniversary clip.
"In my mind it was just the first song of 10 that I presented to the record company for the follow-up to our previous album, Flowers, and they reacted immediately," Davies says. "That was a complete surprise to me and to be honest it's been taking me by surprise ever since.
"The more time passes, and the more entrenched [Great Southern Land] becomes in the psyche of Australia, the more of a mystery it becomes to me."
Although he's played the song "thousands" of times it's no millstone – despite the weight of the "unofficial national anthem" tag, which he calls "an extraordinary thought" ... "It's very very flattering."
It remains an essential song to the band in more ways than one – it's also their "go-to soundcheck song".
"Of all the songs we've done, we know that if we get it right in soundcheck when we tune our stage sound [the show] is going to be OK."
Davies still has a soft spot for the song because of how personal it was to him at the time: "I got very homesick on my first international tour ... [when I wrote it] a lightbulb went off in my head on the sheer scale and ancientness of the land."
Does he get sick of playing "the hits", as so many artists do?
"A big contributing factor to the amount of enjoyment I still get is how they are received. Electric Blue [co-written with John Oates] is a great example of that.
"I've invested a lot more personally in other songs ... but playing Electric Blue live to an audience who knows it backwards is a blast."
So after more than three decades, is the buzz of playing live as intoxicating as it once was?
"The experience is still equal parts terror and excitement. I've never walked onto a stage in a blase and relaxed manner and I never will."
20 February 2013
Great news! ICEHOUSE has been added to the lineup for the inaugural Stone Music Festival!!
It will be held at the ANZ Stadium, Sydney on April 20th and 21st. ICEHOUSE is slated to appear on Sunday, April 21st.
Tickets are on sale as of today! Please go to the Stone Music Festival website to purchase tickets.
14 February 2013
An exciting announcement from Icehouse!
Hi Everyone in Perth and WA. We've been invited to perform at one of the NOCTURNAL series of concerts at Perth Zoo. We'll be there with special guest Mark Seymour and his band on April 5. The last time we played outdoors in Perth was a very exciting event for us so we are looking forward to a special evening.
The event organisers have advised us that tickets will be on sale from Feb 21st via Ticketek Australia. We look forward to seeing you there!
23 January 2013
The Ghost Of Time Mini Documentary
'Confronted with turning 'Great Southern Land', a seminal song about the nature of Australia, into a 40 minute composition, Iva Davies developed the idea of drawing together composers and musicians from all over the world to produce a complex collaborative work. The idea was to turn 'Great Southern Land' into a piece of music which, in the minutes before midnight when the clock turned over from 1999 to 2000, was performed on the Northern Forecourt of Sydney's Opera House. It was broadcast around Australia on the Millennium Eve and then it became part of Australia's contribution to the vast international Millenium Eve celebration which was broadcast live worldwide. Using a rewritten and expanded version of 'Great Southern Land' as the composition's centrepiece, Davies had called upon a number of musician-composers to develop the larger work 'The Ghost of Time'. Richard Tognetti, virtuoso violinist and Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, had collaborated extensively on the piece. Award winning Australian composer Christopher Gordon has written additional material inspired by the long, 'endless horizon' opening to the original song. The Japanese avant techno unit Rom=Pari also contributed as is ex-Icehouse turned Pink Floyd bass player Guy Pratt and a group of Taiko drummers. The composition was performed on Millennium Eve by a musical 'group' comprising the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Richard Tognetti on electric violin, Guy Pratt on electric bass, Rom=Pari, a group of Taiko drummers and Iva Davies on vocals and electric guitar. The performance was also accompanied by the 'Harbour of Light' Lantern Parade, a parade around the harbour foreshore of giant sea creatures, each the size of a 3 storey building, made from silk and steel and lit internally. 'The Ghost Of Time' was also released on CD in the weeks prior to the end of 1999. 'The Ghost of Time' gives notice that Iva Davies is moving into a new phase in his career' - City Of Sydney 1999
This mini documentary, produced as part of 'The Opera House Project', celebrates the musical composition of 'The Ghost Of Time' and the dedication and hard work that it brang to make Sydney the New Year's Eve Capital of the World on the 31st December 1999.
Footage from 'The Opera House Project' and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
16 January 2013
Icehouse – From Charts To Culture
By Marc Zanotti
Icehouse have long since transcended the charts and become a part of Australian culture. Their 1982 single Great Southern Land is so ingrained in this country’s consciousness that even an Australian with no interest in music would most likely recognise its spacial tones.
The single celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2012, along with the album it was lifted from, Primitive Man. During the same year Icehouse’s most commercially successful album, 1987's Man of Colours, turned 25.
To celebrate the event Icehouse embarked on the Primitive Colours Tour, which saw mainstay Iva Davies and co. return to smaller venues, similar to the ones where the storied band first made a name for themselves.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Icehouse is that despite being an 80′s band, their music has not dated. Hit’s such as Electric Blues, Hey Little Girl and My Obsession continue to grab the attention of a younger generation, much to the surprise of Davies himself.
The day before Icehouse took the stage at the recently passed Trevor Festival on Phillip Island, Davies took the time to reflect on the career of Icehouse and why the music still stands up.
Music Feeds: How was the Primitive Colours Tour, did it exceed your expectations?
Iva Davies: Yes, because as a matter of fact we’re about to do a second leg of it – which we’ve called The Encore Tour – because we sold out to the extent that, especially in Victoria, we very much underestimated the demand.
We’re about to do five shows in Victoria to revisit that, and Queensland as well. So yes, we did rather underestimate the reaction (chuckles).
MF: Icehouse probably could have sold out a stadium tour. Was making Primitive Colours a pubs and clubs tour an important decision to tap back into the band’s roots and recapture certain energy?
ID: I think what we did last year was predominantly – in the early part of the year and also previous to that – outdoor, large festival type shows.
And they’re great fun, and certainly one of the [festivals] we did in the middle of the Primitive Colours Tour was in fact the closing ceremony of the Masters Games in Alice Springs, and that was strangely enough a huge night. I don’t actually have figures on the number of people there, but it looked to me around about 10,000.
[It] was a great night, but that’s something we’ve been doing for a while now, so the opportunity to get back into smaller venues was an interesting one, because the band has a different kind of energy. They’re both great fun to play, but a kind of outdoor festival type show is a different thing than a club or a theatre.
MF: What is it about those two albums, Primitive Man (1982) and Man of Colours (1987), that still holds up and resonates with people?
ID: Well, it’s not a question I can answer very easily, because it has been a surprise to me. And the other thing that is a surprise is the content of our audience, who are in their twenties – probably weren’t even born when those songs were released.
The only explanation I can have for that I sort of glean through my children, who are 19 and 16. And that’s that the world of technology has changed so much that we now have a generation of people who not only can access music historically, but have great interest in going back and finding out what happened in the 80s and the 90s and the 70s and the 60s. And so that’s been the surprise for me.
MF: You give a lot of credit to the modern day accessibility of music, but do you give yourself any credit for writing truly memorable songs that have stood the test of time?
ID: Well, thank you. Yes, I suppose so. I remember, for example – and I don’t know how much this may have influenced the way the songs have worn – that I was very mindful of the fact that a lot of what was going on around me (especially in the world of synthesizers, which opened up in the 80s) – that there [were] a great number of sounds that I thought to myself at the time, ‘This is going to date very badly, avoid at all costs.’ (chuckles)
I actually made quite conscious decisions along the way, especially when we were recording, to avoid some things that were highly fashionable then, and I’m very glad that I did. I think it’s possibly served to make the recordings weather better.
Having said that, you know, my son and I in fact are huge fans of Pink Floyd. Now of course those recordings were made in the 70s, and of course The Beatles and Rolling Stones – those recordings are made in very distant times in terms of technology, and still they sound fantastic. And so I think it’s possible to do that.
MF: Are you accepting of the fact that Icehouse were pioneers of electro and new wave music in Australia and serve as an influence for many bands and artists today?
ID: A peculiar thing seems to be happening in terms of the 80s, and I never thought I’d see the day, but the 80s seem to be an entirely influential period, and there have been quite a few young bands, strangely enough or interestingly enough. I was sent an interview quite recently by a couple of guys from the band, The Killers, who cited Icehouse as an influence.
And I found that extraordinary because my son had introduced me to The Killers when he was around about 14. I was really quite shocked to discover the music had travelled that far, and down another generation.
MF: Did listening back over Primitive Man and Man of Colours bring up any memories of a piece of equipment that you had a love/hate relationship with?
ID: Almost every album has associated with it a certain piece of technology. In fact, it became kind of a running joke in the band that before I wrote an album I’d have to have a new toy to play with. I can very clearly mark each of the collections of songs with a new gadget.
For example, Primitive Man … the first song I wrote for that was Great Southern Land. And I had a number of pieces of new technology, but primarily the one that was driving that album was a thing called a LinnDrum, which was the first drum machine that actually used digital samples of real drums.
In actual fact, so much so that Great Southern Land is actually a song that runs a 120 BPM, which is the default tempo of the LinnDrum, because at that stage I hadn’t even learnt how to speed it up and slow it down (chuckles).
MF: Primitive Man is the second album from Icehouse, but it originally started off as a solo project. What led to you deciding to turn it over to the band?
ID: Well the thing was that the collection of songs [for] Primitive Man was in some ways an accident, because bear in mind that the first album, the Flowers’ album, had really the first songs that I had written. But they had been written over a fairly long period of time and kind of introduced into our live set.
So I guess it was probably from two-and-half years of performing that I added those ten songs. Now that’s not a lot of songs, but they were the first songs that I had ever written, and then of course I had the prospect of, suddenly out of nowhere, producing a set of songs for a follow-up album to what was the highest selling debut album of any Australian band: the Flowers’ album.
And that was an incredibly daunting prospect for me. I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So that’s why I used that technology to sit down with and play with. And there wasn’t really a plan to do it on my own; it was just a way in which I thought I needed to work to write songs.
[I] ended up writing them, playing everything on the demo recordings myself, and then the suggestion was to go into the studio and re-record them on my own. But of course we needed to showcase those songs once they were recorded, and of course being a product of the studio, they actually required a different lineup.
For example, we immediately knew that we would need two keyboard players. There were just so many keyboard parts on those songs that it couldn’t be done with one set of hands, and similarly a second guitarist. So that’s where the band was expanded into a six-piece band, where it had previously been a four-piece band.
MF: Last year Great Southern Land turned 30 years old. When did it first dawn on you that Great Southern Land was more than a song and had become a part of Australian culture?
ID: It’s been a constant surprise to me, but I guess I knew something was going on with that song. I didn’t understand it myself and I never really have, but I certainly remember the way people reacted to it immediately.
I remember taking that original demo, which is very similar sounding to the final recording, to our little independent record company Regular Records and to our managers at the time, and both of those people immediately reacted to it in a way that I didn’t expect at all.
So as time has worn on over the years, I guess it’s constantly surprised me. What’s most surprising, I guess, is that it’s so recognised even after 30 years. And in actual fact it gives me great pleasure when, for example, I see the Australian cricket team enter an oval and they play Great Southern Land. I think it’s quite amazing; I’m still shocked, really (chuckles).
MF: When performing songs that have lived with you for so long, where does your mind go. For example, when playing Hey Little Girl, does it spark the memory of whoever inspired the song or perhaps does it take you back to how the song was written?
ID: I guess all of those things, but also a lot of these songs have a history associated with them too. So for example, if somebody mentions Hey Little Girl to me, I guess my immediate memory is of not only writing the song but of where it came from – which is a story in itself, because it was a bit of an afterthought.
In fact, I was actually instructed: we’d completed the whole album and the record company in America said, ‘Well, we haven’t got a single yet. You need to go back and write something’. And of course that was the last thing I was prepared for, but out of that process came Hey Little Girl.
But the other thing I associate with it too was that it was really the first thing that was a major success for us internationally. So it was a number one in Europe and we ended up on Top of the Pops in Britain and things like that. So a lot of those songs have very particular memories attached to them.
MF: Man of Colours spawned five top 30 songs, and Electric Blue went Number One, as did the album. Commercially speaking, it was the most successful Icehouse album, but for you, is that album Icehouse’s best work?
ID: Look, I have an affection for all sorts of things, but certainly of course you’re quite right. I mean there was no doubt about the commercial success of Man of Colours. I think one of the interesting things about it was that the year that it won the ARIA for the highest selling album, it also won the ARIA for the best album.
And the best album category was voted for by the industry, and I think almost in the entire history of the ARIAs there hasn’t been an album that has won both the critics’ choice and the public’s choice.
And that to me is something of which I’m very proud, because it seems to me generally speaking that you’re either a favourite of the critics or you’re a high seller, but never both of them at the same time.
MF: You’ve said don’t feel Electric Blue is the song that best represents Icehouse. Which song would you say does best represent the band?
ID: Well, it’s very hard to go past Great Southern Land. Being the song with the history that it has, and I suppose if I had to make a choice of any of my children it would have to be that.
On the other hand, there are other songs that have a particular thing for me about them. I think one that is very outstanding for me is the song Man of Colours itself, mainly because it felt as if it had already existed in a parallel universe and it’d been channelled to be a complete song. It was so fast, the writing of that song, and it is in some sense autobiographical as well. So I have a particularly soft spot for that song, just because of the way it was kind of given to me.
MF: Man of Colours, Nothing Too Serious, My Obsession, Crazy, and Electric Blues are all off the same album. What were the circumstances that led to such a creative peak when you were writing Man of Colours?
ID: I think I’d been working in partnership with our lead guitarist Bob Kretschmer for some time. And so we started off writing the fourth album Measure for Measure together, but also at the same time we were writing my first ballet for the Sydney dance company, Boxes.
By the time we got to writing the next album [Man of Colours] Bob and I had a fairly professional kind of businesslike way of going about things. And I by then had sort of mastered the 24-track equipment that I was using in my little house in Sydney.
And we’d also developed very strong work ethic, and at that point I guess we were kind of a well-practiced professional team at producing songs. So I look back on that period as just really kind of succeeding out of practice. I suppose that was the thing, we’d worked together so much that when we sat down to write things together it was a case of, ‘Right, let’s start and we’ll put the phone back into the wall in a weeks time when I’ve got a full recording of this thing.’
MF: In theory there’s no reason why Icehouse couldn’t record another classic album, but when longstanding musical acts write new material it is often dismissed as being inferior to past work, without being based on individual merit.
Do you think writing a memorable song or album is as much about timing as it is creativity?
ID: I think there’s certainly an amount of… yes; I think certainly that does factor into it. Even artists like Bob Dylan for example. I heard a recent track of his only about a week ago and had exactly that thought myself: that his history is so much pinned to a certain time and a certain environment, especially with somebody like Bob Dylan, that you can’t disassociate him from the protest movement, and the Vietnam War and a whole lot of other things that were going on at the time. So I think it’s very difficult for people to transcend that.
Having said that, there’s no logical reason why a song that Bob Dylan might write tomorrow might not be as good as anything he’s done in the past. So it’s a tricky one. Fortunately, it’s one I don’t have to confront at the moment because I’m not in the writing mode (chuckles).
MF: You come across as such a humble bloke. What’s been the key to remaining modest despite all the success of Icehouse?
ID: Right at the very beginning I – like most musicians, like most writers, like most aspiring artists of any description – had benchmarks, had people whose work I admired enormously. And in a sense my process over the years has just been trying to achieve something, which I thought was as good as the best Bowie song, or the best Peter Gabriel song, or the best Beatles song, or the best Rolling Stones song, or the best Pink Floyd song.
Even after all this amount of time and the success we’ve had, I still have to remind myself that I probably have achieved that very little, if [I’ve] got anywhere near it. I saw a documentary a couple of nights ago on The Rolling Stones and it was just extraordinary, really, the kind of quality of what they did in a performance and what they did in the studio, and the songs.
So while there are those sorts of examples of people who have achieved great things with songwriting, it’s very easy to be humble (chuckles) because they’re very big boots to fill.
6 January 2013
Icehouse - Primitive Colours
To say that the last twelve months has been an incredible ride for ICEHOUSE is an understatement. The iconic Australian band that has sold millions of albums domestically and internationally has reignited passion amongst existing fans and in the process has collected a new audience of younger followers along the way.
5 December 2012
A recap with press release on the January Primitive Colours encore tour dates!
Less than three weeks ago tickets went on sale for ICEHOUSE's Encore Performances at The Palms at Crown. Due to the overwhelming demand, on Monday 12th November, ICEHOUSE will announce tickets on sale for two additional shows at The Palms at Crown on 18th and 19th January 2013. Hamer Hall was the last destination on the Primitive Colours Tour and was completely sold out in advance of the November 5th date. The demand from fans for encore performances lead to the decision of two intimate performances at The Palms at Crown on Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th January, both shows going on sale in late October. Now with these shows just about sold out, the Palms have invited ICEHOUSE to perform two additional shows which the band are excited to do.
ICEHOUSE frontman, Iva Davies, has been thrilled with the positive response by their Victorian fans. "The Primitive Colours tour has been an amazing experience for the band. When Hamer Hall sold so many tickets so quickly we saw a Facebook and online demand for other shows in Victoria and we’re so glad that we’ll be able to get to more of our fans in half of the band’s home state. Now to be able to play four shows so close to our fans, it's going to be an exciting start to a new year."
“Stellar songs from Primitive Man and Man Of Colours roll out one after the other and Davies is in fine voice, particularly soaring through Crazy’s elastic-range choruses. Great Southern Land raises communal goosebumps (almost as much as it did at Sound Relief) and these faithful song renditions belted out by this latest version of Icehouse have never sounded better.” – Bryget Chrisfield (Inpress/theMusic.com.au)
"Like a fine wine, you boys get better with age! What an awesome performance tonight. Thanks a million!" - Kellie Hamilton, ICEHOUSE fan
"What an awesome night, you guys are the greatest. Can't wait to see you again in January. Made my day" - Andrew Falzon, ICEHOUSE fan
PRIMITIVE COLOURS – ENCORE PERFORMANCES
13th January 2013 – Geelong Performing Arts Center, MELBOURNE VIC
15th, 16th, 18th and 19th January 2013 – The Palms at Crown, MELBOURNE, VIC
26th January 2013 – Events Centre, Caloundra
27th January 2013 – Twin Towns resort
And don't forget about the Trevor Festival on January 12th!
4 December 2012
Just announced!! Icehouse will be playing two encore Primitive Colours shows in Queensland!
On Saturday, January 26th, the band will be performing at The Events Centre, Caloundra!!
Sunday, January 27th will find the band playing at the Twin Towns resort!
29 November 2012
Classic Hits - Gold 104.3 - Iva & Paul G. performed "Great Southern Land" live on air.
28 November 2012
Iva Davies returns to Epping Boys High School
Photo Gallery from the Northern District Times
Legendary Icehouse frontman Iva Davies has returned to Epping Boys High School for the first time in 40 years to rehearse his most famous song Great Southern Land for a Speech Day performance at the Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday. Last week, Davies, 57, was at the school to meet the school assembly and then ran through his 1982 hit, Great Southern Land, with the school's choir and wind ensemble.
Video by Jessica Teasdale
21 November 2012
Hi Guys. Steve Bull from the band here. For a change of pace, Paul Wheeler and I are teaming up to play a selection of tracks by dead rock stars this Saturday night November 24 at the Basement in Sydney. Some great singers and a great band. Should be a hoot.
4 November 2012
From the Rev Bill Crews:
Celebrity Feature Interview: Iva Davies from Icehouse
He’s one of Australia’s most prolific and successful singer/songwriters, selling millions of albums. Rev. Crews talks with Iva Davies about music, fame and what drives him.
16 October 2012
New Aussie Music Festival Announced Featuring Icehouse
By Esther Semo
Who is Trevor? That’s the question posed by the organisers behind a brand new music festival that’s being staged at Philip Island in January 2013
Turns out Trevor is actually the name of the same music festival, complete with a fully booked lineup, a gourmet selection of food devour, and a kid-friendly environment.
“Music, Food and Family; it’s like a holy trinity…” explains Nick Say, co-producer of the music festival “…and that’s what Trevor’s all about. We want to make sure that parents are relaxed and kids are exhausted by the end of the day – hopefully meaning a nice sleep in for mum and dad the following morning!”
How so? Well, music-lovers with children getting the advantage of little tackers under the age of 12 getting free entry. Not only that, but the festival will be handing out complimentary showbags to entertain the kids, as they sift through a “massive armful of vouchers, gifts and revelling in the huge array of things to do,” details Say.
Just who can mum and dad rock out to while all this is going on? ICEHOUSE have been announced as the headliners of the new music festival, along with the likes of ASH GRUNWALD, THE BAMBOOS, SWEET JEAN, THE BROW HORN ORCHESTRA and PIERCE BROTHERS.
To go with the sonic delights, Trevor Festivals co-creator, Paul Stafford is a professional chef and will provide the festival with an amazing array of culinary selections.
“Food is so often overlooked at music festivals but it’s vital in creating an amazing experience that people won’t forget. We want everyone to remember the paella as much as hearing Icehouse play ‘Great Southern Land’ as the sun sets over Churchill Island,” explains Stafford.
The press release also tease “enormous pans of Paella will be matched with a zingy Sangria, delicious lamb shanks washed down with a cold beer and slow cooked pork shoulder will be piled with an Asian slaw and rolled in light, flaky pastry.” Salivating yet?
The festival organisers are also taking a strong eco-friendly approach to their festival site location on Churchill Island, “we’re asking all vendors to reduce their waste, to use bio-degradable or recycled packaging wherever possible… We’ve got a ‘leave it as you find’ it approach to the Island, and hopefully, leave it even better,” say Trevor organisers.
14 October 2012
An exciting message from the Icehouse team!
We have some news for our friends in Victoria - having sold out the show at Hamer Hall on November 5, ICEHOUSE has been invited to give some limited Encore performances of the Primitive Colours Tour in January. The band will be appearing at Costa Hall in Geelong on Sunday January 13th 2013 and then will be at The Palms Theatre in Crowne Casino on Tuesday 15th ands Wednesday 16th of January. The Palms Theatre is offering a presale of tickets to our Facebook friends and fans from 9.00 am today which can be accessed at the link below. Tickets are limited. Tickets to the Costa Hall show go on sale on Friday.
Great news from Icehouse!
11 October 2012
By Leigh Slater
For Iva Davies, the clichéd mullet and leather jacketed ‘80s Oz-rock persona was something of a false image. The Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist, while writing future classic singles for his band Flowers in the late ‘70s, was moonlighting as a bow-tied oboist in a symphony orchestra, in order to give himself options. “I was living a real double life back then!”
In the coming years, Iva, would find himself front and centre of one of the most successful rock bands in the country, before disappearing without a word in the mid-‘90s. Equally unexpected was the break in Icehouse’s 17 years of relative silence, when in July last year, an unannounced ‘secret’ gig at The Espy, was swamped by hundreds of fans who’d turned up in the hope the rumours were in fact true. The huge response soon prompted further dates being booked, and ultimately led to a tour in celebration of the respective anniversaries of the band’s two biggest albums: Primitive Man and Man Of Colours. Before the so-named Primitive Colours tour hits town, Iva looks back at the songs that made him a household name and tells why he decided make such an understated return.
“Part of the reason we did that show was basically to see if there was still interest in the band. Before that show, I really wasn’t confident at all but when the word got out that the surprise guests were us there were lines around the block, which was a huge relief,” Davies recalls. “It was also quite appealing playing a proper pub gig again. It was a bit of a return to our roots as well.” After Icehouse called it quits in 1995, Davies, holed up in his home studio, threw himself into writing scores for the Sydney Dance Company and a Millennium performance piece called The Ghost of Time which centred around an updated version of the Icehouse classic, Great Southern Land. For all intents and purpose though, it seemed as if Iva had suddenly turned his back on Icehouse and pop music in general.
“Playing in a band is actually a very gruelling lifestyle,” he reasons. “I’ve always needed to offset all that by grabbing as much quiet time as I can in order to work, which means pulling the phone out of the wall just so I can avoid any distractions. That’s always how I’ve made music, whether that’s pop or film scores,” he adds. “I look at someone like Prince, who I know for a fact had a studio on 24 hour stand-by while he was in Sydney a few months ago, just in case he had an idea for a song but for me, I’ve never been able to stop and start the process at will. It’s a bit of fragile bubble that once broken can never be regained.” His method of music-making, no matter how isolating, resulted in a tonne of credible hits throughout the ‘80s. Radio in particular loved Icehouse so much that based on playlists alone, one would have assumed they were the most popular band in the country for a time. Davies’ memory of such support however is less than enthusiastic.
“I never wanted to be known as the ‘Electric Blue guy’,” he laughs, distancing himself somewhat from the 1987 single. “That song was actually our only number one hit in Australia, but it wasn’t what I thought best represented Icehouse as I saw us. Although it is the song that I still get asked about more than any other even to this day.” In truth, second album Primitive Man (1984) was Icehouse’s first real mover on the local and overseas charts, however label doubt over the finished product’s hit-potential pushed Iva into an unexpectedly rewarding situation. “The American record label, who wanted to push the Primitive Man album, sent us back to the drawing board because they didn’t think we had a hit single on there,” he explains. “Basically I ended up sleeping on the floor in Giorgio Moroder’s studio – who was of course this massive disco producer in Hollywood, where we had recorded most of the album – and in the wee hours, using this guitar with a missing string, I wrote Hey Little Girl, which became our first international hit.” Talk of Moroder prompts Davies to confirm his allegiance to the rock world.
“I was never a disco fan at all. Led Zeppelin and T-Rex were what I really was into at the time.” As it happened, it was during the same year Moroder was enjoying success with the uber-cheesy Together In Electric Dreams, that Icehouse delivered what would become their signature single and sure-fire Oz anthem – the haunting Great Southern Land. “That song went through quite a number of changes before it was completed,” Iva recalls. “I remember the producer on that track had just done Billy Idol’s Hot In The City, which was a massive hit record at the time, and he replaced all of my synth parts with live drums and so on, and basically make it into like a big Billy Idol-type production piece, but it was just awful. But the finished version you know today was basically the untouched demo that had taken me around two hours to mix and complete and it ended up becoming this massive thing that has become our real defining moment. I really was disconnected with what it was people seemed to love about that song at the time though. I just thought, well I’ve written a song about Australia and so I had better not screw it up.”
10 October 2012
Moshcam Interview: Icehouse
The times and hairstyles might have changed but Icehouse’s status as one of Australia’s most iconic acts has not. 2012 is a significant year for Icehouse, with the 25th anniversary of their fifth album ‘Man of Colours’ and the 30th anniversary of their second, ‘Primitive Man’, and to celebrate, they’re hitting the road.
We sat down with frontman Iva Davies to discuss celebrating 30 years together as a band, playing to a new generation of fans, Tourism Australia’s “incredibly moving” version of ‘Great Southern Land’ and sharing a bill with legendary rockers Hall & Oates at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
8 October 2012
From BMA Magazine:
MORE THAN A GHOST IN TIME
By Justin Hook
ICEHOUSE’s 1982 hit, Great Southern Land, is one of those songs that defy classification. It’s a song inextricably linked to the idea of Australia but doesn’t once mention beer or kangaroos. It’s anthemic without being chest-beating. It’s also very elusive; eerie drifting synths, arid rhythms, rainy harbours, burning deserts and stream-of-conscious, imagery-laden lyrics that sound quite specific but are actually loose and tangential.
It sounds mystical but, as is normally the case, reality is far more prosaic according to the song’s author, Iva Davies. ‘I was starting the process of writing ten new songs for another album. It was a process I’d never been through before and everything rested on it.’ Those new songs would be the Primitive Man album and the pressure came from the band’s record company, keen to follow up the success of their debut release, Icehouse.
The song itself was born out of a plane journey across Australia, where Davies felt the pang of homesickness and the awe of viewing the vast continent from a new perspective. But writing something to encapsulate an entire country is tricky and Davies knew it. ‘This was a very dangerous subject to take on. If I got it wrong it would explode in spectacular fashion. So I just sat down and started writing words that made no particular sense in isolation.
‘I left myself with quite disconnected phrases. The reason they survived was because I believed they were evocative of a number of things; there are a number of different ways to interpret them. So I deliberately wrote this song with multiple meanings. I wanted to make the sum of the parts larger than the five minutes into which I could fit things.’
It seems odd now, but Davies had no idea what he had on his hands. ‘The eight-track demo sounds remarkably like the final version. When I took it to the record company they reacted immediately in a way I was not expecting. I was just delivering proof of what I had done so far. It was just one in a collection of songs I was obliged to write.’
Thirty years on, the song has experienced many lives. It’s been re-released numerous times and a re-imagined version was a centrepiece at millennium celebrations in Sydney. It’s probably the song people think of when they think of Icehouse. This hasn’t always been the case, though. ‘It’s fantastic to recognise how important this song has become to a lot of people. But for a long time I was utterly convinced that my life was going to be defined by a song called Electric Blue [from 1986 blockbuster Man of Colours] because that was the one everyone talked about all the time. Great Southern Land had disappeared, apparently. It’s quite peculiar to have this turnaround to a song so much older.’ And with that, order had been restored to the universe.
27 September 2012
Great interview with Retropulse out of the US! Iva talks about what it is like for an Aussie band to tour overseas, the filming of the Crazy videos and what he thinks the focus for the recording industry should be. There are some buzzing noises that go on during this interview but it is still very much worth a listen!
26 September 2012
From the Great Lakes Advocate:
Old Icehouse music comes to life again
Electric Blue doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Great Southern Land. Though they were both megahits for Australian music icon Iva Davies, the man who penned them both is comfortable with the fact he’ll always be defined by the latter.
“For a long time I thought I’d always be associated with Electric Blue,” the Icehouse frontman explains. “That was the song most people seemed to identify with me, but then the millennium came along and Great Southern Land was re-awakened. I think because the song creates an enduring sense of place and focuses on the land it’s not distracted by any transitory factors which has allowed it to have such longevity.”
Both songs will feature prominently in Icehouse’s Primitive Colours tour which celebrates Icehouse’s most iconic albums, Primitive Man (1982) and Man of Colours (1987). Primitive Man gave us the anthem, Great Southern Land and Man of Colours launched Icehouse on the international stage and was the highest selling local album in Australia for more than 20 years.
The Primitive Colours tour continues a return to the stage for Icehouse after a hiatus of more than 18 years.
“It wasn’t necessarily by design, other projects and diversions just came along,” Davies, explains.
“A couple of years ago I got together with Keith Walsh who was an original member of Icehouse and we decided to just reload everything. We got a new recording contract a new record deal and we had to remaster the whole catalogue and the rest all went from there.”
The return has seen Icehouse win over a whole new generation of fans and also see the extent of their influence on contemporary artists.
“We’ve done the festivals with a lot of young new acts and to have them come up and say ‘yours was the first album I ever bought’ is just wonderful and humbling.”
After a year of playing festivals and big venues Davies said he is excited about getting back to his roots.
“It’s been a very long time since we’ve been together as single travelling unit and the best way to really know you’re in a band is to be stuck in a truck together,” he says with a laugh.
“The big festivals have been great because our songs really do come to life when they’re played live, but there’s something different about a pub environment.
“It’s where we started so as these albums start reaching this milestone anniversary stage it’s a great chance to go back there.”
18 September 2012
Iva is bringing Icehouse back to Wollongong
Icehouse is back in the swing of touring and Iva Davies is bringing the ARIA Hall of Famers back to Wollongong next month. Icehouse will be performing LIVE at Waves Nightclub, Towradgi Beach Hotel on Wednesday October 10.
Iva caught up with Jade & Travis on the 96.5 WAVE FM Hot Breakfast Crew where they chatted about feeling young, travelling and Iva’s role in the remade version of Great Southern Land which features in a new campaign launched by Tourism Australia.
6 September 2012
Behind The Scenes: Iva Davies’ Great Southern Land Video
Last week Icehouse’s Iva Davies and Tourism Australia released a tribute video for the 30th anniversary of unofficial Australian anthem, Great Southern Land.
A collaboration between a number of artists, the video was an impressive cut-and-paste of vocals and imagery from around the sunburnt country, a project that started at last year’s Homebake.
We’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on some exclusive behind-the-scenes shots from the making of the video, featuring Davies, Katie Noonan, some brilliant country shots and more.
30 August 2012
Aussie Musicians Take Centre Stage In New Worldwide Tourism Australia Campaign
By Al Newstead
As previously reported, Iva Davies – frontman for iconic Australian band Icehouse – was made an official ‘Friend of Australia’ amabassador by Tourism Australia earlier this year, using his band’s unofficial anthem ‘Great Southern Land’ in a series of ad campaigns.
Now, in tandem with Icehouse on the anniversary trail this year following their re-formation, Tourism Australia is joining the celebrations for a new campaign that celebrates the 30 year anniversary of ‘Great Southern Land’ by inviting some musical friends to help.
Teaming up with Qantas, Davies has produced a new video clip for ‘Great Southern Land’ which features an all-star cast of homegrown talent to deliver a new version of the tune that puts Australian musicians and their talent in the spotlight to help promote Australian tourism.
Among the musical cameos are the likes of Eskimo Joe, Cut Copy, Van She, Katie Noonan, Muscles and Jonathan Boulet; all pitching in on an updated version of the Icehouse tune.
Speaking about the A-list starring video (which you can view up top), the Icehouse frontman says: “It is really humbling that so many Australians including artists that I respect, have taken the time to come together to form this amazing clip for Tourism Australia.”
It’s a significant move, in that Tourism Australia is promoting Australian music as the chief ambassador for Australia as a tourism destination, using ‘Great Souhtern Land’ as a catalyst for the beauty and enigma of the national landscape.
Naturally, the video also features the sweeping vistas of the Australian landscape described in the lyrics, compiling footage shot all around the country including Uluru, Kangaroo Island, the Blue Mountains, Parliament House in Canberra, Federation Square and Degraves Lane in Melbourne, Sydney’s Bondi Beach and Taroga Zoo, Tasmania’s Barilla Bay and many more locations.
Fitting considering that Davies was originally inspired to write the song while on a Qantas flight to the UK for the first time in 1981, gazing over the vast landscape of central Australia.
“As a musician, I’ve travelled this vast country many times and seen some awe-inspiring places but what I’ve learnt is that you never stop discovering the beautiful colours and changing landscapes of Australia,” says Davies.
Fellow musician, Stuart MacLeod of Eskimo Joe, says that ‘Great Southern Land’ possesses “a real sense of the land.” Adding that in the patriotic anthem, “you can see wide open plains and red earth, huge skies and isolation whenever you hear it. There is so much mystery in the music, and I think that’s what drew me to it from an early age.”
Managing Director for Tourism Australia Andrew McEvoy, who helped organise the tribute, said in a press statement that the song provided a natural platform to showcase Australia’s unique identity.
“For the past 30 years Great Southern Land has been an inspirational and positive anthem for our country,” Mr McEvoy says, adding that the video was to be “be shared with online audiences over the world… to reignite some of the passion and emotional connection that people feel towards Australia when they hear this song.”
Mr McEvoy added that their partnership with advocates like Iva Davies was a “powerful way for Tourism Australia to reach new audiences,” acknowledging that “more and more travellers are turning to word-of-mouth and online media for holiday inspiration.”
It’s the second time this year that Qantas have teamed up with a high-profile musician for a promotional video showcasing Australia’s natural beauty.
Last month, Daniel Johns released his first official post-Silverchair material in a joint collaboration with Qantas, in a move to update their ‘Still Call Australia Home’ ad campaign with a symphonic written and performed by Johns entitled ‘Atlas’.
In related news, Icehouse have re-released the album that contains ‘Great Southern Land’, Primitive Man, in a special Anniversary edition, which comes packaged with a DVD featuring interviews and archival TV performance footage; the choice cut being – as our review points out – “a chat between Iva Davies and Molly Meldrum from the days of Countdown, and a live concert filmed in Germany.”
Iva Davies and his group also hit the road this October for the Primitive Colours tour, with a 13-date schedule around the nation. It’s safe to say the band will be upholding their patriotism and flying Qantas.
30 August 2012
From the Herald Sun:
Iconic Aussie song in new Tourism Australia campaign
By Kathy McCabe
For three decades, Iva Davies has refused to sell out to million-dollar offers for use of his unofficial national anthem Great Southern Land.
Now the Icehouse songwriter has given the song away for free on its 30th anniversary for a Tourism Australia online video which launches today.
Great Southern Land was in fact inspired by Davies' first trip away from home, when Icehouse headed to far shores to tour internationally in 1981. As his Qantas flight travelled above the outback's vast interior, the songwriter was struck by its size and starkness as he watched it unfold for hours from his window seat. After suffering a desperate bout of homesickness during the European and American tour, Davies resolved to write a song about Australia.
30 August 2012
Tourism Australia reinvents Great Southern Land
Tourism Australia has remade Icehouse’s classic hit Great Southern Land to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the song that became Australia’s unofficial anthem.
Collaborating with Icehouse lead singer Iva Davies and Qantas, the song – released as an online video clip – features a local Blue Mountains choir as well as artists including Katie Noonan, Van She, Eskimo Joe and Cut Copy.
Andrew McEvoy, Tourism Australia managing director, said: “For the past 30 years, Great Southern Land has been an inspirational and positive anthem for our country. This clip will be shared with online audiences all over the world, including with Tourism Australia’s Facebook fans, to reignite some of the passion and emotional connection that people feel towards Australia when they hear this song.”
While the original video for the 1982 song was shot in a disused sandstone quarry in Ku-Ring-Gai National Park north of Sydney, the new version features national landmarks such as Uluru, Kangaroo Island, Rottnest Island, Parliament House, Bondi Beach and Crystal Cascades.
29 August 2012
Great Southern Land 30 Years On: The Definitive Interview
Iva Davies gives Dan Condon an intimate insight into Icehouse’s most popular song.
This month marks 30 years since the release of Icehouse’s iconic Great Southern Land, one of those quintessential Australian songs that stirs a tear for a homesick traveler and warms the heart of every half-cut Aussie who belts it out in time with any radio, cover band or DJ who broadcasts it. While he can’t quite put his finger on why, Iva Davies says that the song has always been popular.
“It surprised me how immediate the reaction was to it, even from within the inner circle from when I first took it to managers and the owners of the very small independent record label we were signed to at the time. They reacted so remarkably to it,” Davies recalls of the first impressions the song receive upon its initial completion.
The song is the standout track from Icehouse’s second album Primitive Man, an album Davies has often said was incredibly difficult to write.
“The first album included the very first songs I’d ever written and they had been collected over a period of about three years and they were very well road tested before they were recorded,” Davies says. “But when I had the task of writing the follow-up album it was a sort of standing start and I really had no idea, I, by then, was very unsure of myself in terms of songwriting.
“I came back from the first international tour with a couple of pieces of technology, enough to be able to set up in a bedroom in a house I had just moved into and the very first thing that I did with all that new equipment was the demo of Great Southern Land, which was quite odd really, that it was the beginning of the whole process. I regarded it as just the task at hand to write another set of songs and that was the first of the set that I wrote, so that’s why it surprised me when people reacted the way they did.
“Although I knew I was taking on a very big subject and I thought about it very seriously and I knew the risks involved, because I knew that, if I got it wrong, that it would be disastrous, the reaction really surprised me then and has continued to surprise me since.”
The song was released in August of 1982, not quite a year after the release of Men At Work’s Business As Usual – which featured the iconic Down Under – and a couple of years prior to GANGgajang’s equally Aussie-touting Sounds Of Then, but Davies says he has no real idea as to what might have sparked a relative influx of musical commentary about our country. He does, however, know what kind of tone he hoped this song would carry.
“I can’t truly identify exactly why I would have taken on this subject, especially as the first songwriting attempt of that collection of songs. But I do remember at the time there was a Commonwealth Games on and what seemed to me like a lot of jingoism and fanfare and in a way I wanted to write something that would offset the kind of postcard, souvenir model of Australia that seemed to be punted quite ferociously, and get to something that was much more to the core of the place,” he says. “There was kind of a context going on I guess in Australia and the only thing I can identify from the time historically is that Commonwealth Games; but there was a whole lot of stuff that was going on in the news that I guess annoyed me.”
As he reflects he recalls some personal experiences that may have somewhat informed the song’s creation.
“I remember very vividly the flight away from Sydney heading to London where we went out over the continent of Australia and the landscape became less and less populated and then we got to the point where I was looking down at what seemed to be vast areas of not much in particular,” he recalls. “I went to sleep and woke up two hours later, and when I looked out I saw the exact same thing I had been watching when I went to sleep. I guess that was a kind of light bulb moment in terms of the recognition of how large an area Australia is and then that brought a whole lot of possibilities into my head; are there areas that no person has ever walked across? How do you survive out here?
“We went on that tour and we were on this mission to conquer the world and it was exciting but it was very hard work. I got incredibly homesick; by the time that tour was over I was well and truly burnt out I guess and desperately wanted to come back. So maybe those things were kind of driving me towards that subject as well?”
Sonically, Great Southern Land feels spacious; the reverb on the simple electronic drum beat, the way each line Davies sings rings out into the ether at its conclusion, the synth sounds that worm around the verses before they explode into two staccato notes that provide a vital part of the song’s hook – notes that seem to fizzle away after their initial impact. Davies says space was a vital element of the song that he felt the need to communicate.
“Absolutely,” he affirms. “Interestingly I was actually very nervous about the release of it [and] one of the reasons for that was because it was very long. The suggestion was made – I think it was from within the record company – they wanted to cut off the very long note that starts the song and I absolutely resisted this because for me that one single note was the kind of defining core of the song. It was all about horizon, about that expansive view and to me that was best summed up by just holding one single note as if you were looking at the horizon of the sea or looking across some vast plain. So I absolutely resisted the idea of cutting off that note. So, yes, there were lots of kind of sonic pointers towards that sort of picture, although, as is the case with lots of songs, most of those choices are more instinctive than they are calculated.”
He knew he had to be somewhat unconventional for this song to work the way he knew it could, despite the fact there was great risk of misrepresentation.
“I know in writing the lyrics, I can remember some very clear thought processes I went through, one of which was that the subject was really a minefield in terms of the potential to misrepresent,” he begins. “So, for example, I made a very conscious decision to only have two verses where it was kind of standard to create songs with three verses. I very consciously decided to sort of set up a set of scales as it were so that I could weigh the ancient and modern and black and white elements of the discussion in the lyrics equally. I can remember things like that being very conscious, but other things – choices of sounds and so on – were quite unconscious in a way.”
The lyrics are ambiguous to a certain degree, Davies admitting that this is due to him realising he could not realistically do his chosen subject justice in an all encompassing pop song.
“I decided very early that if I was going to take on the subject, there was no way I was going to summarise Australia in four minutes, there was just no way, so I had to dream up another way to approach it,” he says. The way that I ended up approaching it was in a not dissimilar method to what I’d used in some songs before, akin to a literary style called cut up; which is basically not finishing sentences, just putting out three word phrases.
“So I made a selection of things that weren’t self-contained, that weren’t necessarily linear, but that I thought would paint pictures but also had multiple meanings. The intent of it always was that people would project their own interpretations of what those particular lines are. One of the reasons I’ve never talked about what I thought a particular phrase meant was that I didn’t want to project my triggers onto it, I wanted other people to get their own meaning from what those lines were. Some of them are more loaded than others, but that’s the way it was designed. I’ve never had a fear of people getting it wrong, because there is no wrong.”
It’s a technique Davies favours and one he believes gives the song a point of difference to certain other songwriters.
“To me I’ve always felt as if I was at the opposite end of the scale to Midnight Oil,” he says. “I always viewed them as putting a very strong opinion forward, quite black and white; ‘this is where we are positioned, this is what we believe and we’re going to tell you about it very strongly’. So when you write a line like “The US Forces give the nod/It’s a setback for your country”, you make your politics very clear in one line.
“I, on the other hand, took the approach that I don’t believe my opinion is actually that important, in fact my opinion is just one opinion and it’s a personal one and I wouldn’t to pump that opinion, what I would prefer to do is ask some questions and have people try and answer them from their point of view. I guess that was my approach to Great Southern Land, to not necessarily solve any problems or put forward any particular view or presume to know the solution or whatever, but to highlight some things which needed answers.”
After three recording sessions, two producers, at least four mixing sessions and a trip from Balmain to Hollywood, Icehouse’s Iva Davies ended up nailing the version of Great Southern Land that we know and love in just two hours.
“It was a very fraught process,” Davies recalls of putting the song onto tape. “The technology I had that enabled me to be able to write a set of songs on my own was one of the very first domestic eight-tracks. So I was actually able to make a very sophisticated demo of the original song.
“We got a co-producer over from America – he was a British producer – he came out to Australia with his engineer and we went into a studio in Sydney and I simply repeated the whole demo process as it were. I’d already made these sophisticated eight-track recordings of the songs and I had a lot of things pre-programmed, all the drum patterns and the sounds of the synthesizers, I simply played all the parts again.
“That was all pretty straightforward, in fact the entire album was recorded in 11 days, it was very fast. But when we went to America, this co-producer revealed his master plan and that was to replace all the LinnDrum parts that I’d built the songs on with himself playing drums. He was a very, very good drummer; he was Giorgio Moroder’s drummer and played on a lot of those Donna Summer disco hits and so on. I was pretty resistant to this, I didn’t like the idea at all, but he soldiered on and basically turned Great Southern Land into a Billy Idol rock track [laughs].
“We duly mixed the thing and gave it to the American record company and it was sent back to us with the message 'Well, we don’t know what’s changed, but we don’t like it’.”
Davies had to take the song into his own hands to eventually get a version everyone could be happy with.
“We mixed the thing three times and it kept coming back to us every time; in the end I was so frustrated with this whole process that I went to my manager and I said ‘I want to have a go at doing this myself’,” he recounts. “We went and found a fairly obscure engineer in a very run down studio in Hollywood and I made the whole recording again just the way I’d done the demo; that process took two hours from beginning to end. I wasn’t precious about it, we mixed it in an hour – that engineer had had nothing to do with the project up until that point – we sent that off to the record company and they said ‘Yes, that’s it. We love it,’ and that’s the version that’s on the album. It was quite a crisis point in the making of the album.”
You could hazard a guess at how many time Icehouse have performed Great Southern Land, but you’d almost certainly be wrong.
“It’s got a special place for us in a funny sort of way that people probably don’t realise; it’s not so much the content of the song or even where it sits in terms of its value to an audience, but for years and years and years and years and years we’ve always used it as our defining soundcheck song. I guess it’s so simple in its construction that if everything sounds right and balanced and so on, then the whole show will be right. We’ve used it faithfully for soundcheck for 30 years, there’s just something funny about the way that all the elements sit together – it’s the best song that we have to get everything straight.
“I’ve always been very particular about sound check; a lot of bands get very lazy, especially when they’re touring at a high level and touring a lot, they’ll skip soundchecks and will just show up and do a show. I’m not sure whether I should admire them or the opposite, because I think you’d have to have a lot of confidence to do that. Over the years I could count the number of shows we’ve done without a soundcheck on two hands; that’s out of tens of thousands of shows. So yes, we have played it a lot.”
30 August 2012
From the Icehouse team:
30 August 2012
Iva interviewed and video premiered on Sunrise: Tourism Australia revamps Icehouse classic!
29 August 2012
6dc shared a number of photos on Facebook from the Tourism Australia partying celebrating the Great Southern Land video. Here's one of Paul Wheeler, Iva Davies, and Steve Bull.
28 August 2012
A personal note from Iva! Happy reading!
30th Anniversary since Great Southern Land was released in Australia
Hi Everyone, Iva here.
As some of you know I was in Cardiff a week ago where Paul Gildea and I performed for Australia’s Paralympic team. I have to say that it will always stay with me as an extremely special few days.
I was able to connect a little with my Welsh heritage while in Cardiff as the event was held at Cardiff Castle which we had time to tour – it is spectacular and full of historical significance. Perhaps of greater significance though is that during the Welcome event for the Australian team, the Australian flag was flown in pride of place at the highest point over the castle, where normally the Welsh national flag would be. I am told that this was the first time in the history of the castle (which dates back to Roman days) that the Welsh flag did not fly as the highest flag there. It was a huge mark of respect for how the team and our nation are held in high esteem by the people of Wales.
To be among that team of trained, focussed and enthusiastic athletes was an experience all by itself. They each showed in their physicality and manner how hard they had trained and how honoured they were to represent their country of which we are all so proud. It was a privilege to be among them and I join with you all in wishing them well and following their exploits throughout the Paralympic Games which commence this week.
I was also very inspired by the company I was in when I had the opportunity to perform with my children, Brynn and Evan, at a dinner for the Special Olympics which took place last Friday (for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Special Olympics please look here http://www.specialolympics.com.au/). Here was another group of athletes, coaches and families who are striving for their best performance while having fun with it and thoroughly enjoying the process that engagement and activity brings. And performing in front of this audience with my children was a joy.
To add to the activities, this week we are marking the 30th Anniversary since Great Southern Land was first released in Australia. So much of the reason why I am offered chances to be part of the experiences I mentioned above come from that song and the way it continues to resonate with my fellow Australians, something I had no idea would happen when I wrote it. It is a song which has taken on a meaning and life of its own and has allowed me to further see the value of music and song in people’s lives.
We’re now only a few weeks from the East Coast leg of the Primitive Colours Tour commencing. Tickets have been selling steadily – it looks like most venues will be sold out before we get there - for which I thank you all. To our friends and fans in Adelaide, I’ve been really heartened and flattered by all the passion for the band which you’ve expressed in your comments so we are continuing to see if one of the local promoters is interested in having us come to your gorgeous city. We’re keeping our fingers crossed!!
I look forward to seeing you somewhere on the road!
All the best,
23 August 2012
Moshcam filmed ICEHOUSE's entire performance at the Sydney Entertainment Centre when they opened for Hall & Oates on 8 February 2012!
23 August 2012
From The Sydney Morning Herald:
Iva Davies family album
Ever since an early encounter with the bagpipes, music has been the centre of this veteran rocker’s life.
Forest child …
This photo was taken soon after I was born in May 1955; that’s me in the arms of my father, Neville, with my sister, Jill, and brother, Andrew. Dad was a forester and we lived in a little forestry settlement on the NSW north coast. It was in the middle of a blackbutt forest, so it was fairly isolated. When I was two, we moved to Wagga Wagga.
When I was about six, I was in the main street of Wagga Wagga and heard this sound approach. It was the local St Andrew’s Heather Pipe Band and they were all dressed in their kilts and finery. I was enamoured and said to my parents, “I want to learn how to play the bagpipes.” It wasn’t long before I was marching with the local pipe band. I would have been about nine in this photo.
Man of flowers …
My high-school music teacher suggested I play the oboe, as it was a “more sociable” instrument than the bagpipes. At the same time, I taught myself how to play acoustic guitar. When I met Keith Welsh, co-founder of Flowers, I had never played with an electric band but we liked the same sorts of music: T. Rex, David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Flowers first performed in 1977 and this photo would have been taken around this time. We played at heavy Sydney pubs with unforgiving audiences. I remember seeing Midnight Oil play one night and thinking they were always going to stand a better chance of not getting beaten up than we were!
Ice cool …
By the time this photo was taken at New York’s Madison Square Garden on our 1987 "Man of Colours" tour, Icehouse already had two top-20 singles from the album and had performed on Johnny Carson’s "Tonight Show". New York is a notoriously tough nut to crack, and I remember thinking, “My God, I’m on stage at Madison Square Garden.” To top it off, John Oates, of Hall & Oates, with whom I’d written "Electric Blue", came on stage to perform it with us.
The Hills Hoists are alive …
This photo was taken on Australia Day, 2004, at Sydney’s Government House [Davies is an Australia Day ambassador], with my son, Evan, then 8, and daughter Brynn, then 11. Evan is a guitarist and Brynn is a pianist, and they are both great singers. Until relatively recently, they had no idea what I did. The first time they saw the band play was Sound Relief in 2009. It would’ve been quite an eye-opening moment for them!
Whale of a time …
Since 1989 I’ve lived at Whale Beach in Sydney’s north, which is where this recent photo was taken. People have said to me over the years, “You must have been sitting somewhere inspiring when you wrote 'Great Southern Land'.” But, in fact, I was in Sydney’s Leichhardt, right under the noisy flight path. Now, in the year of the song’s 30th anniversary, with the ocean in view, I do a lot of sitting and watching. I am sure I’ve seen whales no one else has seen.
21 August 2012
Iva Davies and Paul Gildea performed Tuesday at a welcoming event for the Australian Paralympic athletes at Cardiff Castle, Wales. This video shows a portion of the song "Heroes." Enjoy!
19 August 2012
From The Sydney Morning Herald:
At home with Iva Davies
By Sarah Whyte
From the mad days of Icehouse in its heyday, to the tranquil waves of Whale Beach, this musician has sought space for contemplation and his serious passion for tidiness.
"Hello,'' a gruff voice answers the small silver intercom attached to a large white gate. ''Hang on a minute, I'm coming.'' Within minutes, a platinum blond, blue-eyed Iva Davies, wearing black jeans and a patterned shirt, opens the gate to his palatial two-storey home in Whale Beach on Sydney's northern beaches. It's the kind of house that wouldn't look out of place on the shores of a remote beach in the Hamptons.
''It's too big for me,'' Davies says as we walk through the modern-looking front door. Floor-to-ceiling windows line the sparsely furnished ground floor, with its unspoilt views of the ocean and Whale Beach headland.
The house is immaculately neat and well presented. It's almost too neat. The only signs of difference from an exquisite showroom are the 21 music industry awards for Icehouse that hang, framed, on a turquoise feature wall, behind his Yamaha grand piano. Those, and a Fijian tapestry from a house he owns there.
''I just put them up recently,'' he says as he sits on the stool of his piano, posing for pictures.
It was Davies's passion for windsurfing that led the singer - with his then-wife, dancer Tonia Kelly - to move away from the inner west suburb of Erskineville in 1988 to Whale Beach, which sits between bohemian Avalon and the more exclusive Palm Beach.
''I became a fanatical windsurfer and I windsurfed all over the world,'' the 57-year-old says. ''I haven't done it in years, but I was completely mad. Wherever I went, it didn't matter about what the weather was;
I windsurfed across San Francisco Bay, past Alcatraz where all those shark-infested waters are.'' Davies's initial gruffness has now been replaced with a sensitive eloquence.
''So I originally came up here looking for a house on the waterfront on the other [Pittwater] side, but didn't find anything, but looked at lots and lots and lots of houses. The interesting thing is that Erskineville was an incredibly good environment to be a writer.''
It's a common mistake to assume Davies wrote the iconic Great Southern Land as he gazed at a picturesque view of Australia, such as the million-dollar view of endless ocean we are staring at. But there were no whales frolicking in the ocean and certainly no kangaroos hopping past the front room in the Leichhardt house where he wrote the award-winning song in the early 1980s.
''It was quite a busy road and there was a bus stop just outside the front room where I had set my gear up, so when this bus turned up every 15 minutes, the place shook. But it was also right under the international flight path, so I remember going to London and looking down and seeing my washing hanging in the backyard,'' he says, laughing. ''So I had to work with headphones in because I couldn't hear anything and that's where I wrote Great Southern Land.''
Since moving to his Whale Beach retreat, from Erskineville where he lived for three years, Davies has not composed one song. Instead he treats this house as his ''cave''. A world away from demanding touring schedules and long-haul overseas flights.
''This is fantastic. It's beautiful and it's peaceful and it's quiet, but there are no ideas out there,'' he says.
Erskineville, on the other hand, was bubbling with song ideas.
''I can picture clearly the bedroom I had upstairs and the little terrace, you know, verandah thing, where I would watch people in the streets,'' he says. ''And there is a line [in Man of Colours] that goes, 'And the old man rubs his failing eyes and takes a moment to watch the view from a window that nobody knows is there, you can see the empty street below,' and that's exactly what I was looking at.''
As Davies watched the busy street from that small window, his imagination would run wild.
''I used to invent people's lives. I would see people walking along and say, 'Well what do you do? Have you got a boyfriend or have you got a girlfriend?'
''It also backed onto Erskineville station, so I used to watch all these people go to work in the morning and I had this peculiar idea one day thinking, I wonder if those people who stand on the platform every day catch the same train every day for 10 years and never ever speak to each other. They are like railroad tracks. They are going the same direction but they never meet.''
Davies now lives alone after splitting with Kelly in February 2010. The divorce was acrimonious and the father of two to Brynn, 18, and Evan, 16, would rather not talk about it.
''I sit out there,'' Davies says, pointing to the wide verandah that overlooks a small pool on the cliff. ''I cannot tell you how many hours a week, just listening to the ocean and birds and all that stuff and it's incredibly peaceful. But yeah, I think I need the peace as well.''
In a perfect world, Davies - who grew up in Wauchope on the mid-north coast and later in Wagga Wagga - says he would love to have a balance between his old city life, ''the buzz of it just for the energy'', and this more suspended existence. ''But if I had to choose between the two, I would choose this.''
If music critics describe Davies's songs as ''flawless'', his house epitomises his music.
While he says his one vice is procrastination, the singer has incredible discipline. ''[I would] go back and edit … review it and change the odd adjective and whatever, until it's orderly. But it's a crafting thing.''
For someone who likes order and cleanliness, Davies has had the painstaking task of refurbishing his house since the divorce. This has not been easy, the perfectionist says.
''I took two years to really decide on a lounge and every little thing,'' he says pointing to the lounge room. In 2003 the house was rebuilt. I have only just gotten that upholstery done,'' he says pointing to the day bed opposite the lounge. ''I have gone really slowly so I can kind of live with stuff and then think, that's enough.''
But if you suspect this show home is an entertainer's paradise, you had better think again. Davies is not a fan of entertaining, despite the surround sound system and the 10-seat dining table.
''I have routines now and I know that those things are safe now, they're kind of my rocks,'' he says. ''So I come in and I always put my keys and my wallet and whatever in the same place.''
Davies is a fan, however, of gardening. Or what he describes as ''extreme gardening''. ''I cannot do what I have to do here without drawing blood, I don't know why but it's just that it's big stuff and getting up high with massive hedges, it's more industrial gardening. So if it was a sunny weekend, I would probably put Led Zeppelin on really loudly through all the speakers in the entire house, open all the doors and windows and mow the lawns.''
It is not until Davies takes us to his studio - perched on top of the garage, with a walkway between the main house - that his personality really shines through. Furnished like a 1970s studio, with even a fridge that belonged to his manager, this is where the real magic happens for Davies. The room is 95 per cent soundproof and Davies says he can stay up here until the wee hours of the morning.
''The studio does end up looking like a junk heap but I cannot work in chaos, I just cannot do it,'' he says. ''Even if I have to line up all the pencils on the table and get rid of all the piles of paper.''
13 August 2012
From The Rock Pit:
By Shane Pinnegar
I must have seen Icehouse in their 80’s prime - though I can’t put my finger on a specific time or place, they were pretty much ubiquitous for the whole decade in this country, scoring a bunch of instantly recognisable top ten albums and singles.
There was always something different about Icehouse – synth pioneers, they (well, Iva Davies and his revolving door of musos) had a certain arty and aloof way about them – not for them the endless laps of the country’s beer barns like their riff-fuelled contempories, Davies created lush soundscapes a la Bowie & Eno, awash with layered melodies.
After a couple of decades composing ballets, film soundtracks, playing the occasional private show and fuelling rumours of a new album for upwards of ten years, 2012 finds Davies back and ready to give the sold out Astor Theatre crowd the trip down memory lane they are hoping for.
Underpinning this new found enthusiasm for touring, Canned Heat’s On The Road Again plays in its entirety before ICEHOUSE take to the darkened stage for Uniform and a lithely angular Hey Little Girl.
Davies looks slim and fit, sporting a sensible, grey, hipster Dad haircut where his super-mullet once sat, though his initial banter drew attention to his widely publicised history of on-stage nervousness.
As his 5 piece band of multi instrumentalists nail every song – recreating the soundscapes in all their contextual glory whilst still bringing them up to date sonically – Davies bashes away at his white Stratocaster and proves that his uniquely distinctive voice is still in fine form and as smooth as melted chocolate.
What follows is a trawl through the Icehouse back catalogue which focuses on the Man Of Colours and Primitive Man albums (enjoying their 25th and 30th anniversaries respectively). Whether it’s a New wave/New Romantic inspired blast from their earliest days as Flowers (Icehouse), a brace of AOR-lite guilty pleasures (Crazy, Electric Blue), or the seductive and mournful sax solo that carries one of Davies’ finest songs (Man Of Colours), the band never miss a beat.
The Astor was its usual self – gorgeous, full of charm and atmosphere, and boasting possibly the best live sound of any local venue large or small. By the time they played Boulevarde and Can’t Help Myself the ice (groan) had well and truly broken, Davies cracking jokes with the audience and band, and a glorious Great Southern Land – surely the front running contender for a new, relevant national anthem – was a triumphant way to close out the main set.
Davies donned his strat for a solo turn through Heartbreak Kid and a band run through of Nothing Too Serious before taking a bow and saying a truly heartfelt thanks to the crowd - any sign of earlier nerves now well and truly dispelled. It’s good to have this complex and prodigious talent back treading the boards.
9 August 2012
Iva Davies Jumps On The Big Couch
The Aussie legend that is Iva Davies has become quite the regular on Mix 94.5 of late. Which makes us very excited indeed. Iva's here in town for the annual Strike A Chord Ball, at which Icehouse will be rocking on Saturday August 11. Whilst he was here, he came and jumped on The Big Couch for an in-depth chat about anything and everything.
Iva talks Icehouse, Homebake, 20 year olds and what Icehouse song is the go-to party song. We're stoked to hear that the band will be touring at the end of this year, playing songs from both Primitive Man and Man Of Colours. The tour will be called, funnily enough, the Primitive Colours tour.
6 August 2012
Sean Sennett from Time Off Media and the ABC's Terri Begley had a chat with Iva.
4 August 2012
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Interview: Iva Davies
By Elissa Blake
OBOIST, CLEANER, T-REX FAN
Iva Davies has been up since 4.30am, getting ready for breakfast television. He's dressed all in black: leather jacket, T-shirt and still-skinny jeans. He waits a few minutes before taking off his black sunglasses but when he does, his powder-blue eyes are clear. ''Singing at 7am is really quite weird,'' he says. ''I had to put myself to bed early last night.'
At 57, Davies is getting the band back together and that means performing at odd hours and doing endless interviews. That band, of course, is Icehouse, one of Australia's most successful and influential, best known for new wave, synth-pop hits Hey Little Girl and Great Southern Land. At the height of his fame, the young Davies was described as ''aristocratic'', ''enigmatic'', even ''androgynous'', Australia's answer to David Bowie. To others, he seemed refined, aloof, a little bit up himself. Davies can laugh it off - now. He was, he says, just very shy and anxious.
''I really had no idea how to write songs - it was terrifying,'' he says, looking back on his 17 years with Icehouse. ''We toured relentlessly and then I had to come up with more songs. I was one step behind almost the whole time. It's a treadmill you step on to and it's going faster than you are.''
The Icehouse treadmill ran faster than most. The band spawned eight top-10 albums and 30 top-40 singles in Australia and multiple top-10 hits in Europe and North America. More than 1 million Australians bought a copy of Man of Colours when it was released in 1987, making it the highest-selling album in Australia by an Australian band for almost 20 years. (Though many swear the band's 1982 album, Primitive Man, demoed entirely by Davies alone in his Leichhardt bedroom, is the best.)
Success, money, fame. But Davies insists he never lived the rock-star life. His work ethic was too strong and he was ''always a gentleman''.
''I've never, ever taken advantage of a fan,'' he says. ''People find that odd about me. But my tour manager will swear on a stack of Bibles that I never took a woman home after a gig.''
So, rock'n'roll, yes; sex, no. What about the drugs?
''I don't talk about that,'' he says softly. ''Look, very early on I said 'that's it' and I put myself out of harm's way. I was so nervous about losing my voice on tour that I just went back to the hotel room and I went to bed.
''If you're a rock star, there is no understudy. You can't take the night off and it is incredibly gruelling work.''
Self-discipline didn't spare Davies from the rigours of touring life, however. In the middle of one lengthy American tour, Davies, then on the cusp of 30, was at breaking point. His bodyguard took his manager aside and insisted on two hours a day set aside, during which Davies was unavailable for press or record company commitments. Instead, he went to the gym.
''It saved my life,'' he says. ''I got incredibly fit, too.''
Davies says he has lived a ''Jekyll and Hyde'' life, musically speaking.
''My background was in classical music,'' he says. ''I played the oboe. I'd practised really hard and won scholarships and played at the Sydney Opera House. For that reason, I've never identified or been identified with rock'n'roll people.
''But the great irony is that I was disowned by the classical-music community, too. I'm a maverick: no rock'n'roll credibility, no classical credibility.''
Ivor Arthur Davies (''a proper Welsh name'') was the youngest of three siblings. He grew up in Wauchope on the mid-north coast and later in Wagga Wagga. His father, a forester, and mother, a pianist, sang in local choirs.
Davies fell in love with the bagpipes at six, eventually joining the Wagga Wagga Pipe Band. But at 11, the Davies family moved to Epping and a music teacher at Epping Boys High insisted young Ivor learn ''a more sociable instrument'', the oboe.
Davies couldn't muster much passion for the instrument but he worked hard nevertheless, eventually winning a scholarship to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He took the train from Epping into Circular Quay for lessons after school. ''I'd walk up the hill past the Sydney Opera House as it was being finished,'' he says. ''It was very formative. I had no idea then I would be playing in the orchestra for the first Australian opera staged in the Opera House. I was 19.''
He was uncomfortable at the Con and later at the ABC's National Training Orchestra. ''It was the way I dressed,'' Davies says. ''At the Con everyone was in black skivvies and short back and sides. I was in ripped jeans, ugg boots and had long hair. People thought I was a drug dealer, which is absurd. Even then I knew I didn't belong.''
His love-hate relationship with the oboe (''a volatile instrument, not for anxious people'') didn't last and he gave up playing it professionally. He got work writing sheet music and arrangements for publishing houses, writing the songbooks for Dragon, Skyhooks, Little River Band and Sherbet. He taught himself guitar.
Davies also held down cleaning jobs and it was while scrubbing the Lindfield squash courts he met Keith Welsh, a bass player who shared his love of T-Rex, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Brian Eno.
They started a pub covers band that would become Flowers. (Welsh is a lifelong friend and now Davies's manager.)
After a year of touring, building an audience and some tentative early songsmithing from Davies, early Flowers single We Can Get Together made its debut in the top five in Australia. They signed to indie label Chrysalis and changed their name to Icehouse. Success came quickly.
Here was an Australian band more akin to Ultravox and Simple Minds than AC/DC. ''We saw ourselves as coming out of the punk scene but we loved the explosion of technology in the '80s,'' Davies says. ''The synthesisers could do amazing things. But we scrupulously avoided the clothes and haircuts of the new romantics. We wore op-shop clothes.''
Davies downplayed his classical background but his management knew he was never going to be entirely satisfied with the rock cycle of albums and tours. In 1983, Davies wrote the music for the Australian film Razorback, directed by Russell Mulcahy, and in 1985 he collaborated with choreographer Graeme Murphy and the Sydney Dance Company on Boxes.
''Sydney Dance Company was very hip and cutting edge at the time,'' he says. ''Young couples from the suburbs were coming in to see them dance naked. I'd never written any ballet music but I'd invested in a Fairlight [digital sampling synthesiser] for the princely sum of $32,000 and Graeme basically said, 'Off you go, there are no rules'.''
''I sat around putting noise in and turning it backwards and putting it up five octaves and I wrote a whole story. And in the end Graeme threw the whole story out! He just prefers to work more organically; he likes the work to evolve.''
During Boxes, Davies met his future wife, Tonia Kelly, a principal dancer with the company. The couple have a daughter, Brynn, now 18, and a son, Evan, soon to turn 16. Davies prefers not to talk about Kelly. The couple divorced acrimoniously in 2010. (''I was so busy I just wasn't around. For years, literally, we rarely saw each other,'' is all he will say about his 20-year marriage.)
When Icehouse came to an end in 1994, Davies went into a ''weird kind of limbo''. He recorded The Berlin Tapes, an album of covers, with classical composer Max Lambert and spent a year working on The Ghost of Time, a millennium commission performed at the Sydney Opera House on New Year's Eve with Richard Tognetti on electric violin. It was televised worldwide and seen by an estimated audience of 2.5 billion people.
One of those people was film director Peter Weir, who later used The Ghost of Time to motivate the cast and crew on his epic film Master and Commander. ''He phoned me from Mexico saying he was wandering the decks of the ship playing my music and would I compose a score,'' Davies says.
''Before I knew it, I was working in a top Hollywood studio with a top Hollywood orchestra. Really, everything in my life since 1994 has been a happy accident. I have no idea what might happen next.''
Davies says he's always struggled with the idea of ''entertainment versus art''. His days at the Con exposed him to contemporary composers working on impressive-looking scores filled with symbols for various noises but which sounded like ''complete crap''. ''I decided in my first year at the Con that most current composers were rubbish - people more concerned about the theory than the sound,'' he says.
''So I asked myself, what will be remembered in 50 years or 100 years? Will it be John Cage or Philip Glass or Steve Reich? Or will it be Bob Dylan or the Beatles? Now we know who won that argument. So my aspiration was to create a work of art every time I wrote a song.''
Did he achieve that?
Davies lets out an exasperated laugh. ''I think I fell short. I think Marc Bolan from T-Rex created works of art. Even though they seem incredibly disposable items, they absolutely define a generation. They are so simple, so intense and so stupid but they are wonderful. All my life I aspired to write something that simple. Never did it. Never came close. My songs always became far too complicated. Have I created art? I still don't know if that holy grail has been achieved.''
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
''When I was a teenager, I saved up and bought maybe three albums,'' Iva Davies says. ''Now my teenaged kids have access to tens of thousands of songs from every era. My daughter comes to me saying she loves Janis Joplin or the Who because a friend turned her on to it. That's so different.
''The [pop] charts always bugged me because music is not a horse race. One of the things I love about music is despite the record companies spending huge amounts shoving their music down your throat, it is still one of the most personal choices left in the world.
''We buy so many things based on marketing or research but music is still our instinctive, gut choice. The choices are so many now and everybody's record collection is completely different and incredibly diverse. But I just love that it is still so personal. People can say 'I love this song for my own reasons and I don't care what anybody else thinks.'
''Music is one little immune area, away from all the propaganda in life.''
2 August 2012
Iva will be featured on the new album by Katie Noonan and Karen Schaupp! The album is called Songs of the Southern Skies and can be preordered. Katie mentions Iva as a "special guest" and says that each person involved "stepped out of their usual musical territory to collaborate on this unique project".
2 August 2012
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Man of Colours/Primitive Man
By Sean Palmer
Man of Colours (1987), Primitive Man (1983) (Universal Music)
The Man of Colours album - which is luxuriously re-released for the digital age - is Icehouse at its most poptastic. Crazy, Electric Blue and Man of Colours are incredible pop songs with a heady mix of keyboards, guitars and David Bowie-esque vocals. Primitive Man, the second album, was Icehouse experimenting with what a pub band could sound like with its dystopian vision and lavish synth arrangements underpinning the effortless magnetism of Hey Little Girl, Goodnight Mr Matthews or the iconic Great Southern Land. Listening to these two albums (beautifully packaged with DVD concert footage) is a reminder that Icehouse was our most advanced, new wave Australian band. They were embracing the modernity of the '80s music scene and these two re-mastered works sound great - from the greatest saxophone use in Australian musical history in the melodrama of I Don't Believe Any More, to the haunting clarinet in Man of Colours.
23 July 2012
What a treat! Listen to Iva perform Great Southern Land during his interview with Chris Smith on 2GB!
23 July 2012
In this interview by Richard Stubbs on 774 ABC Melbourne, Iva provides some very interesting details about his work on various special projects throughout the years!
23 July 2012
Icehouse are back in the ARIA charts! Man of Colours has entered the Album chart at #30 and the Digital Album chart at #39! White Heat has re-entered the Album chart at #40 and the Digital Album chart at #24! Great Southern Land has ente red the Australian Artist Singles chart at #20! Man of Colours is new on the Australian Artist Album chart at #12, White Heat is at #14 and Primitive Man is #18! Way to go, Icehouse fans!!!
22 July 2012
Mad Mike and Lucky Phil interview Iva.
20 July 2012
All this past week, 95 3SR FM has been celebrating Icehouse! Each weekday morning, Mandy Turner featured a portion of her interview with Iva Davies. Iva spoke with Mandy about the Primitive Colours tour that's up and coming for Icehouse, as well as the big anniversaries this year for the re-releases of Primitive Man and Man of Colours. Listen to the complete interview!
18 July 2012
From WA Today:
Icehouse On Tour
By Jerrie Demasi
Icehouse will once again be taking to stages across the country, following a successful return to the live festival circuit last year. Fans have since demanded a comeback - flooding Twitter, Facebook and email inboxes with requests. Now, Icehouse announces its own tour Primitive Colours, which focuses on songs from two of its most celebrated albums, Primitive Man and Man of Colours. Locally, the boys will be performing an intimate show at the historic Astor Theatre on Friday August 10.
2012 is a significant year for the iconic Australian band with the 25th anniversary of their fifth album Man of Colours and the 30th anniversary of their second commended album Primitive Man, which features the icon track Great Southern Land. In celebration, these records will both be re-released in Anniversary Editions; but fear not the show will also feature familiar hits from the rest of the re-released Icehouse catalogue.
This is an intimate and strictly limited show so get your tickets now online.
18 July 2012
Interview: Iva Davies (Part Two)
We continue our fabulously interesting chat with Icehouse front man Iva Davies. We discuss how fans are reacting to the band's current live shows, what he thinks of the modern music scene, and what his experience writing with Hall & Oates' John Oates was like.
How have fans been reacting to your shows over the last 12 months?
I was very nervous going into the shows that we started off at the end of last year because I was really concerned that there might be a perception that it would be successful, where there was no real memory of those songs because they were so old, a lot of them. But I was incredibly surprised the way crowds sung along to all the songs and I guess even though there were a lot of our vintage people there, they also had some of their children there and it was incredibly... Confidence was the big thing I got out of it.
Tell us about the performance at Homebake last December.
Homebake was a very, very particular show that we put together based on recreating the period of the first album - the Flowers band. And of course characterised not only by the particular songs from that album, which we featured, but also some of the cover versions we did. Weve recently actually put that whole show up as a streaming concert (watch it below). But what was really amusing for me was the cover versions that we did, which I clearly had a great time playing. I dont like watching myself but when Im having that much fun its quite infectious. The other thing I guess too was the amount of energy involved in some of those songs and the amount of energy this band produced in playing those songs, because as soon as I saw the set list back and watched that show I remembered just what it was like in those pubs, with those furious punks going at about a million miles an hour pogoing and just so much speed and energy involved in those 20-year-olds and that music of that time.
So much contemporary popular music is influenced by the new wave styles of the 80s that you were so integral to, particularly in the Australian music scene. What do you think of the modern music scene? Do you hear any of your own style in the music you hear today, and are there any local acts that you think are making great music?
I think that the period were in now is incredibly interesting because whats happened with the technologies of the internet and so on and so forth, even the delivery of music and something as obvious as an iPod, has kind of exploded 20 year olds minds. Im hearing them listening to music that goes right back to the 60s, trawling through the archives of things you thought you were into but theres no way my son or my daughter would be, but they are. And when they start producing music, theyre producing incredible, kind of hybrids. You mentioned the '80s and Im sure the '80s were but I think the '70s are and I think the '60s are and so the young acts that are coming up now are incredibly interesting to me because theyre taking their influences from very diverse sources. When we were coming up you kind of were tribalised. In other words you belonged to a disco group or you belonged to a dinosaur rock group you were into Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple or whatever. Or you belonged to Jonny Rottens group of punks. Or you belonged to the American version of that with the Ramones. So, you had to wear the clothes that went with that and you had to listen to that and you had to belong to one thing. I dont think any of the acts these days belong in anything. I think theyre incredibly diverse.
For example Im very interested in Megan Washington. Its not just her as a song writer and her as a performed, its her entire attitude. Her attitude is that she defines herself as a musician and that shes very strong about it and so youre getting performers like her and Kate Miller-Heidke and the independence of them someone like Josh Pyke they are working independent of the big machinery and thats something I admire very much. I wouldnt know how to do that. We had a completely different business model I guess when we were operating. But what I admire about these people is they believe in themselves; they do an awful lot of it themselves of their own kind of management and their own driving and their own production so theyre far more independent in a way than we ever were.
Youve worked with a whos who of songwriters and artists throughout the years - who would you say is the most talented or interesting musician youve ever collaborated with?
Of course oft told was the writing of Electric Blue, which I did with John Oates and I think that was incredibly interesting because his approach, in some ways, was very similar to mine. I remember he set up over there with his keyboard and worked on a groove and thats exactly the thing that I do, I went to another corner and worked on a set of chords and eventually we put all those back to together. But eventually the process of doing all the hard bit, coming up with the song was completely backwards.
What did he start with? The entire song was started with the backing vocals. And for me I was lucky to even have any ideas for backing vocals, which I only kind of added on at the end as a kind of after thought. That was the first thing that went on to the tape was the backing vocals. We had the style and he sang the style of this white, Philadelphia soul. And he was passionate, This is a great idea. And I was, Yeah, but its backing vocals. But what I didnt realise was thats his specialty. And what I also didnt realise was that in some songs, the backing vocals are the most memorable thing about the song and thats exactly what John Oates does, but I never would have thought of it.
What can fans expect from these upcoming shows?
For us, of course, the band, weve been together a long time these members, so were a band of brothers and we know each other very well and theyre very good musicians. So, the standard of course I know will be very high. But this is slightly different and the difference is were playing songs, some of which we havent played for 30 years and some of which will be almost new material to some of the members, which is not necessarily the best known things. Its been interesting for me to actually go through a lot of those songs from Primitive Man and songs from Man Of Colours that I hadnt kind of remembered really. What Ive unearthed in them is some influences in my songwriting that Id forgotten about completely and one of them that Id forgotten was a song on Primitive Man called Trojan Blue, which was me discovering very early Cure and what was driving the entire thing was the atmosphere of it. So, for us to try and go submerge ourselves in all these different atmospheres, things that we havent been walking around in for a very long time its going to be incredibly interesting.
17 July 2012
Interview: Iva Davies (Part One)
Iva Davies should be a radio host. The Icehouse front man was so calm, articulate and interesting throughout our interview, we really were upset when it finished as we could have listened to him speak about his creative process and career for hours.
Alas, we only had the great Australian singer/songwriter for a limited time to discuss his upcoming Primitive Colours tour (where the band will play two of their smash hit records, 1982's Primitive Man and 1987's Man Of Colours) - but we picked his brain for every second of it and he didn't disappoint. Read the first part of the interview below, where he discusses the upcoming tour, what his creative process was like throughout the 80s, and why he thinks there's been a resurgence in Icehouse's popularity.
On this tour youre playing both Primitive Man and Man Of Colours what made you pick those albums?
The fact of the matter is its the 25th Anniversary of Man Of Colours this year and its the 30th Anniversary of Primitive Man. Now both of those were very interesting and for us very successful, but also very, very different, and the technology that went into them was completely different. Even the approach to songwriting was different. So, its actually an opportunity to explore those albums after this amount of time in a way that we wouldnt normally. Youd normally confine to not looking at some of the album tracks that havent been played for a very long time, so this will be a very interesting exercise.
These albums were released relatively far apart in the '80s what were those two separate periods like for you creatively as an artist?
For me they represent quite different things because by the time we were doing the second album, Primitive Man, I still didnt have a clue what I was doing and, the obvious thing for me was, I didnt really know how to write a song. So, it was a very fumbling sort of period. So, by the time Id got to the Man Of Colours period, Id been working with our lead guitarist on a number of projects a ballet, a previous album so going into Man Of Colours was really like going into the room with someone who I was very familiar with, so they were completely different processes.
How would you say youd evolved as a songwriter between Primitive Man and Man of Colours?
I imagine my mindset at the time was completely different. Primitive Man was me really fumbling around with my first little home studio set up with a bunch of machines trying to work out, How do you do this? How do you write songs? And I really was fumbling. The net result may not appear that but the process was very laborious. But by the time we got to Man Of Colours, wed established ourselves very well. Wed had international hits and I guess, even though Ive always doubted myself, some part of me had a lot more confidence. I think, Id also worked out that there werent going to be too many magic light bulb moments. It was really a case of going to work the way a novelist would, with a blank sheet of paper, signing in at 9 oclock in the morning, chipping away, trying a whole lot of experiments knowing that if I did that for long enough something would happen. Thats a magic thing that I didnt know about many years before when Primitive Man was being written.
What would you say is your favourite song off each album and why?
For Primitive Man its hard to go past 'Great Southern Land,' only because it remains to me an incredible mystery that it had the impact that it did and its lasted so long, even though I remember very clearly putting a lot of thought into it and being incredibly careful with the lyric content, especially. But nonetheless the reaction to it surprised me and after 30 years it still surprises me. Its hard to top that.
On the other hand, I guess the one that I have the most personal affection for is Hey Little Girl, purely because it came out of that horrible moment when you record an entire album and the A&R person says to you, Sorry, we dont have a single. Back to the drawing board, go write another song. And I had nothing. I really had nothing. So, the fact that Hey Little Girl emerged from that and went to number one in Europe is fantastic. What a bonus that was for me.
For Man Of Colours, almost all the songs had a different process, but the one that really is outstanding for me is the song 'Man Of Colours' itself because of the more than a hundred songs that Id written up to that point, thered been two or three that I think had been complete gifts, that had been handed to me almost finished. 'Man Of Colours' was an extraordinary event. I remember getting up in the morning, I had this idea of how to construct a set of lyrics and I thought, Ill try this. Ill try making the first word of the next line a repeat of the last line of the line before. And if you go to the chorus of it, youll see that kind of almost mathematical approach to writing lyrics. Before I knew it, before Id even had breakfast, before I was out of my dressing gown, I was into the studio, I had finished the entire recording within about an hour and I remember sitting in my dressing gown, thinking, What happened there?
How do you rate the material from these albums as you reflect on them now all these years later?
The one thing that occurs to me and is often commented on by people is those particular recordings seemed to have aged fairly well. The only explanation I can have for that is firstly, the people who were involved in the recordings were incredibly talented, especially David Lord who was the producer of Man Of Colours who was the first producer I really let kind of control things. Id already worked on half of the previous album with him. Hed surprised me in the best possible way by making changes to songs, by adding things that I hadnt thought of. And so by the time it got to Man Of Colours I really let him do quite a lot of weird experiments on songs that I wouldnt have let him do if I didnt have experience with him. So, that was one thing.
But the other thing, even as far back as Primitive Man and as far back as in fact the first album, being incredibly wary of things that might date especially synthesizer sounds. I remember I was very particular. There were certain sounds that people were producing in those early days that were, Wow, isnt this great, this makes this WOOO sound. And Id go, You know what, thats not going to work. Thats not going to sound good after 20 years. People are going to go I hate that sound from the 80s. I tried to scrupulously avoid a lot of those.
Theres been a resurgence in the popularity of Icehouses music over the last couple of years to the point where you can mount a tour like this one. What would you accredit that resurgence to?
To me, I can only really appraise music in the way that I listen to music and my brain is always looking for the song. So the things that are in my collection that I value are the things that were good songs to start with. For instance, if I was to go back to the early T-Rex songs, theyre just such wonderful songs you can take away the production on them you can take away the actual performer, the songs stand up. I imagine its just something about those melodies and those lyrics.
16 July 2012
4BC Nights: Walter interviews Iva Davies, front man of iconic Australian band, Icehouse on the re-release of best-selling albums Man of Colours and Primitive Man.
16 July 2012
2UE: Iva Davies and Icehouse are marking the 25th anniversary of their album "Man of Colours" and the 30th anniversary of the album "Primitive Man". Two Murrays catch up with the iconic Aussie performer.
14 July 2012
Here's the BH&G segment featuring Iva's home:
13 July 2012
It has been announced that Icehouse will once again headline the Strike A Chord ball! Mr. John Zaccaria, Strike A Chord Chairman, stated that "everyone wanted them back" after last year's performance! He predicts this will be their "best ball yet!"
The ball takes place on August 11th at the Grand Ballroom, Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth. This is a black tie event with proceeds going to support children's cancer charities.
13 July 2012
Iva Davies Talks About New Icehouse Reissues
By Paul Cashmere
Icehouse released the remainder of their remasters today including the new editions of Primitive Man and Man Of Colours.
Iva Davies will hit the road soon for the Primitive Colours tour to showcase the two albums and today spoke of the new releases.
Today is an exciting day for me and the band with the Anniversary and repackaged versions of all of the ICEHOUSE catalogue now being available in retail for the first time in several years and on iTunes worldwide for the first time ever, he said in a statement.
We had a great group of people working with us to whom Id like to say a special thanks: Aaron and Joanna at Debaser have done an incredible job in revising and adding to the artwork for all the albums; Steve Smart has done wonders in remastering all the albums which has brought greater clarity to the original recordings than I could have hoped for; Dave Gross and his team are responsible for restoring and revising the Live From Germany concert and television footage which is included on the DVD accompanying Primitive Man, while Johan Earl put in a lot of time and effort on the two concerts which are on the Man of Colours DVD Live From The Ritz and Live In Melbourne. And a very special thanks to Elaine Beckett and the team at Trackdown for all their help, guidance and technical expertise as we tried to turn old (and sometimes decaying) 20th Century tapes into items which could be seen and heard with current technology.
Going through all the albums again, as well as the various bits of footage, has brought back memories of many times, places and people to hear and see all the great musicians who have been in ICEHOUSE at one time or another lets me know how privileged Ive been to work with such talented people.
And, of course, Im still working with wonderful musicians today as everyone will see who buys a ticket next week to one of Primitive Colours shows will see.
I hope you all enjoy re-engaging with the music of ICEHOUSE and I look forward to seeing you on the road.
13 July 2012
Iva Davies Talks To The Bunch: Well, we're excited as we got an exclusive chat with Icehouse's Iva Davies. It was all to celebrate the re-release celebration of Primitive Man and Man Of Colours. Both classic Icehouse albums... scratch that... both classic AUSTRALIAN albums. Iva had some exciting news to share with us as well, but you'll have to listen to the interview in full to find out more.
13 July 2012
This morning, Icehouse performed "Hey Little Girl" and "Crazy" on Sunrise, then performed "We Can Get Together" on The Morning Show. Here are videos of the performances:
12 July 2012
10 July 2012
4BC Breakfast: Front man for Icehouse Iva Davies talks to Peter and Mary from 4BC Breakfast about the anniversary edition of great albums like Man of Colours and Primitive Man.
10 July 2012
2012 represents an important year for Icehouse; the 25th anniversary of the centrepiece of the Icehouse catalogue; Man Of Colours. Laurel, Gary & Mark talk with Iva Davies about this momentous re-release.
Man Of Colours was ICEHOUSE's best-selling album, which was released in September 1987 on Regular Records/Chrysalis Records. The album peaked at #1 on the Australian album charts for 11 weeks from 5 October 1987, and has sold over 1 million copies. Electric Blue was their only Australian #1 single. The release of the album and its singles marked the zenith of ICEHOUSE's commercial success, both locally and internationally.
Iva Davies was joined by Robert Kretschmer (guitars), Andy Qunta (keyboards, piano), Simon Lloyd (reeds, brass, keyboards, programming), Stephen Morgan (bass guitar) and Paul Wheeler (drums, percussion) in recording the album from February 1987. It was the first Australian album to supply five Top 30 hit singles: "Crazy" (#3 in July), "Electric Blue" (co-written by Davies and John Oates of US band Hall and Oates) (#1, October), "My Obsession" (#5, December), "Man of Colours" (#28, February 1988) and "Nothing Too Serious" (#29, May 1988). With US chart success for "Crazy", which reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #10 on its Mainstream Rock chart, and "Electric Blue" (#7 Hot 100, #10 Mainstream), the album Man of Colours reached #43 on the Billboard 200
8 July 2012
Iva's home will be featured on this week's edition of BH&G TV! The show is slated to air Thursday 12 July in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth, and Friday 13 July in Sydney and Brisbane. With national and international success and a career that spans over 30 years, Iva Davies is an Australian music legend. This week hes thrown open the doors to his newly renovated coastal home a labour of love for this musician-come- designer and project manager to give Joh the access all areas tour. Step inside his private music studio, even his wardrobe as this music man shares the highlights of home, career and family.
8 July 2012
Icehouse have been confirmed as the closing ceremony entertainment for the 2012 Alice Springs Masters Games on Saturday, 20 October!
7 July 2012
Icehouse Release the Icehouse Tea Towel
By Paul Cashmere
We are all getting older and Icehouse knows their audience. Youve worn the t-shirt; now do the dishes with the Icehouse Tea Towel.
Actually, it is very clever. I dont know why more acts having thought of it.
Icehouse has included three Tea Towels in the Ultimate Icehouse Collection set.
The collection also includes all eight Icehouse albums, three Man of Colours albums on red, blue and yellow vinyl, a Man of Colours T-Shirt, a Primitive Man T-Shirt and a signed poster from Iva Davies.
The CDs are Flowers, Primitive Man, Man Of Colours, Measure For Measure, Code Blue, Sidewalk, Big Wheel and The Berlin Tapes.
5 July 2012
From Luxury Travel Magazine:
5 Music Festival Favourites
By Iva Davies, Musician
Immerse yourself in live music from both Australian and international acts at these festivals, favourites of the Icehouse frontman.
1. Homebake, Sydney, NSW
4 July 2012
From the Herald Sun:
Thawing out Icehouse for new fans
by Cameron Adams
FOR anyone who grew up in the 1980s or '90s, Iva Davies was one of Australia's most reliable musicians. His band Icehouse managed to be creative and successful.
For his two children, born in the '90s, he was just "Dad". Davies put Icehouse on ice after 1993's underperforming Big Wheel. Swatting away offers to join retro tours, Davies only reheated Icehouse sporadically over the past two decades. Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006, he took his daughter Brynn and son Evan.
"That was the first time they'd ever seen me play," Davies recalls. "I think they thought they'd gone to Mars. They had no idea about the history of Icehouse. Until recently I never even had a gold record up in my house. It was all in storage."
They joined the masses watching Icehouse at Sound Relief in 2009 before the band made a formal reunion last year to promote the 30th reissue of their debut album Flowers/Icehouse. After a handful of shows, Icehouse opened for Hall and Oates earlier this year.
"By then the penny had slowly dropped," Davies says. "They've been trawling YouTube, various friends of theirs have made comments about some of the old videos. I think they're starting to get the picture now."
Davies, 57, is back on Icehouse duties; overseeing the 30th anniversary reissue of Primitive Man and the 25th anniversary reissue of Man of Colours. As home to Great Southern Land, Hey Little Girl (a top-10 hit in several European countries), Crazy (top 20 in the US), Electric Blue (a No.7 hit in the US, No.1 in Australia), Street Cafe, Nothing Too Serious and Man of Colours, the two albums are the highest sellers in the Icehouse catalogue. Globally, Primitive Man, originally released in 1982, has sold more than 650,000 copies; 1987's Man of Colours more than a million - until recently the most successful album by a local act on the ARIA chart.
Davies has paid attention to detail on the reissues, from including original B-sides, remixes and photographs to full remastering. Unlike many Australian musicians, early smart business acumen means Davies owns his own music. He also has to raid an impressive archive for the reissues. While space limitations mean items like the demo of Great Southern Land will come out down the track, a DVD with each album contains full live concerts from around the period each album was released. There's also footage from TV shows Countdown and Top of the Pops.
"We sent a lot of footage to get restored, but a lot of old technologies let us down," Davies says. High quality control has seen Davies adopt the policy of doing nothing rather than something substandard. "I always said no to nostalgia bills. I didn't want to disappear into that wasteland of old bands," Davies says. "I'd rather do nothing than to do that."
While he was nervous about how Icehouse would be received - and how he'd hold up after a 20-year break from regular touring - he found the reaction to his comeback last year remarkable - playing to more than 100,000 fans over several months. At Sydney's Homebake they played Flowers in full; the footage has been released on their website. "Homebake was particularly buoying because while there were a lot of older people there to see us and Ratcat and The Church, the vast majority of the 20,000 people there were in their 20s. And the vast majority of them at our show were singing every word of every song."
Davies still gets stagefright before each performance. "The nerves do all sorts of things to your adrenal system, which controls things like remembering lyrics the micro second before you have to deliver them! At least approaching this new tour I've demonstrated to myself I can tour again, that's slightly reassuring."
Their national tour at the end of this year will focus on Primitive Man and Man of Colours, with songs like Trojan Blue likely to be dusted off for the first time in 30 years as well as other rarities. "It's a balancing act," Davies says. "I don't want to leave out classic songs people want to hear, but I want to pick some interesting additional things."
Davies still hasn't got the inclination to write new Icehouse material. "My peak of songwriting was around Man of Colours where I'd found a routine: I'd pull the phone out of the wall, after three days I'd have a song, after five days I'd recorded it and I could repeat that pattern faithfully. But I can't be doing anything else if writing songs is going to succeed. I could be 70 per cent through writing a song and if someone interrupted me it'd burst like a balloon and there was no way to resurrect it. It's a very fragile process for me. I've never written a song on the road. I'm very envious of people like Paul Kelly or Neil Finn who appear to be able to write songs in their sleep."
4 July 2012
ICEHOUSE ANNOUNCES THE PRIMITIVE COLOURS TOUR IN CELEBRATION OF THEIR FANS
On the back of a hugely successful twelve months, ICEHOUSE
is excited to announce they will be once again taking to the Australian
stages with a tour in 2012. Returning to the live scene in 2011, the band
performed at music festivals across the country and kickstarted 2012 by
performing with long time friends Hall & Oates, by the end of May
having played to over 100,000 fans.
Now, due to the demand from fans around the country via
email, post, Twitter and Facebook, ICEHOUSE are thrilled to announce their
own tour, titled Primitive Colours, which focuses on songs from two of
their most celebrated albums, Primitive Man and Man of Colours.
2012 is a significant year for the iconic Australian band
with the 25th anniversary of their fifth album Man of Colours and the
30th anniversary of their second commended album Primitive Man. In celebration
of these albums which will both be re-released in Anniversary Editions,
ICEHOUSEs show will consist of songs from both these albums as well
as some familiar hits from the rest of the re-released ICEHOUSE catalogue.
Getting the band back out touring last year turned
out to be a lot of fun and excitement for us all. Weve had varied
requests to perform again and decided that in this double Anniversary
year for two of the most known ICEHOUSE albums, the best way would be
to perform a few more songs from both albums. Having done the festivals,
wineries and entertainment centres since last October, we also wanted
to have the chance to get closer to the audiences so were playing
a variety of venues, ranging from Hamer Hall in Melbourne to a couple
of nights in Dee Why (just around the corner from where the band played
its early gigs as Flowers) and big pub venues in Brisbane its just
like the days when we toured Primitive Man!
ICEHOUSEs Primitive Man album produced the song Great
Southern Land, which has become an anthem for Australians everywhere.
The second single from the album, Hey Little Girl, was a European #1,
was voted the best pop song of the 80s by a national German TV audience
for the show, Formel Eins, and made it into the UK Top 20. Other singles,
Street Café and Glam made the charts locally and internationally
and continue to thrill fans worldwide.
ICEHOUSEs fifth album, Man of Colours, reached Gold
status in international markets including the US and the UK and became
the highest selling album by an Australian group ever and remained so
for over 20 years. This album contains the smash hit singles Crazy and
Electric Blue as well as fan favourite My Obsession, title track Man Of
Colours and the rocking Nothing Too Serious.
At the Enmore Theatre and Hamer Hall shows, diehard fans
will have a chance to purchase tickets in the Obsession Zone, an area
allocated within the seating plan of each theatre, allowing fans to get
up close and personal with the band. Get in quick and make sure you dont
miss out on this tour by a band, which just keeps playing better and better.
Icehouse delivered the comeback
of the year you could not get near the Big Top when they played
at Homebake Kathy McCabe The Daily Telegraph
View the Homebake
It was Icehouse at their best, playing hit after hit at full throttle Jenny Ringland PerthNow
27 June 2012
From Mix 94.5:
Icehouse Release Anniversary Editions Of 'Man Of Colours' And 'Primitive Man'
By Dan The Internut
With songs like "Great Southern Land" and "Hey Little Girl", Icehouse has helped make Aussie music what it was back in the '80s. So obviously we're very excited about the news that two their biggest albums are getting the reissue treatment they rightfully deserve.
Man of Colours (1987) and Primitive Man (1982) are to be released as special anniversary editions featuring a stack of bonus goodies including bonus tracks, unreleased photos, and footage of the band playing live from all over the world. For hardcore Icehouse fans, these two albums will be available as limited edition coloured vinyl. How good will that sound!
"The care and passion that was put into making these incredible albums is evident today, and to have the catalogue introduced with Ivas creative brilliance is very, very, special," said Universal boss George Ash. "We are proud to be working with Iva to introduce and reconnect people with this superb collection of musical works, it genuinely is a part of Australias musical legacy, unparalleled in its success."
Man of Colours was the band's fifth album and had hit singles "Crazy" and "Electric Blue". The Anniversary Edition comes with a DVD featuring awesome concert footage of them playing live at the Melbourne Music Show in 1988. Primitive Man is their second album and featured "Great Southern Land" and "Hey Little Girl". The Anniversary Edition also comes with a DVD featuring live concert footage, interviews and a TV performance.
25 June 2012
Iva will be the featured artist on MAXs Take 5 tomorrow night at 9:30pm. Max is a cable channel on several Australian subscription television services. For those of you not familiar with Take 5, it features one artist each week who discusses three of their own tracks and two of their favorite songs from other artists.
24 June 2012
Iva and the band are happy to announce that the Primitive Man 30th Anniversary Edition and the Man of Colours 25th Anniversary Edition plus the rest of the ICEHOUSE catalogue - Sidewalk, Measure For Measure, Code Blue, Big Wheel, and The Berlin Tapes - will be available in CD format in stores in Australia and New Zealand or to download from iTunes around the world from Friday July 13.
The physical reissues of all the albums come with revised and expanded artwork, while the Anniversary Editions of Primitive Man and Man of Colours are two disc sets - Disc 1 containing the music and Disc 2 being a DVD. The DVD for Primitive Man contains some TV performances and interviews we unearthed from the archives plus the Live In Germany concert. The Man of Colours DVD holds two concerts: the Live From The Ritz concert, and the Live From Melbourne concert.
Pre-orders for CDs can be made on the official Icehouse website.
There are various configurations and prices for the CDs and the first 200 people to pre-order will receive a poster autographed by Iva Davies.
Pre-orders for mp3s can be made at Getmusic.
16 June 2012
The Icehouse team have made available a video of Icehouses performance from the December 2011 Homebake concert!
If you attended this special event, this is your chance to relive your memories of the night! For those unable to attend, this gives everyone the chance to feel as if they had!
23 March 2012
From The Manly Daily:
Icehouse frontman Iva Davies made a 2012 Friend of Australia
By Rod Bennett
THE opening line of the Icehouse song Great Southern Land is ``Standing at the limit of an endless ocean ... this is how Iva Davies sees Australia.
And this was what he thought when looking at the sea from his home in Newport. Its amazing how much of Australia has been shaped by its isolation, he said. All of it really - the horizons, the flora and fauna, the landscape and the people ... shaped by being detached from the rest of the world.
This year Davies has been made a Friend of Australia by Tourism Australia. He will be traveling to Gday LA Week and joining such past ambassadors as Baz Luhrmann, Hugh Jackman and Olivia Newton John. It is humbling to be invited to join them to help spread the word about our wonderful country, he said. As well as being a great honour, its been an interesting process with me talking to people I never thought Id be talking to - like the Minister of Tourism.
Tourism Australia chief Andrew McEvoy said it had created the Friends of Australia program to harness the power of talented and influential individuals who have made, or are making, a name for themselves on the world stage, and who have a genuine affinity with Australia.
Davies is also a little bewildered by the accolade. I think its an advantage to have traveled (around the world) and spoken to lots of people ... the idea of being the Friend is to spread the word."
The singer said he still scratched his head when someone told him Great Southern Land was the unofficial national anthem. It still comes as a surprise to me, he said. ``I remember it being a large leap, even imagining I could write a song about Australia. I also remember being terrified and saying to myself `youd better not get this wrong.
He said he was not expecting the subsequent reaction, after writing the song, from management and the record company. There was a sense of awe when I played it to them, he said. When I wrote it I had no expectations (of this recognition). It didnt seem like a possibility.
His position as our national ambassador comes 30 years after publishing Great Southern Land. He believed the anniversary of the song was some of the reason why he was chosen by Tourism Australia. Moreover, however, the reason for his selection could be attributed to the groundbreaking success of Icehouse - the 1980s rock band he fronted which reformed last year. During the 80s, Icehouse was one of the biggest rock bands in the country and boasted a string of hits including We Can Get Together, Walls, Icehouse, Hey Little Girl, Crazy, and Electric Blue.
Davies said that in those days it was difficult to get Australian music out to the rest of the world. Northern hemisphere bands could easily get to Europe, it was often just a couple of hours away, he said. For Australian bands like ours, freight costs made it incredibly expensive and it was not an option.
When Icehouse did finally get to England in 1981, Davies thought he was at last going to experience live music of the kind he had dreamed of all his life. When Keith (Icehouse co-founder and bassist Keith Welsh) and I landed in London we tried to find somewhere to listen to all this great music, he said. But we looked and looked and there wasnt anything on.
Davies believed Australias great pub rock tradition was fashioned on an unrealistic view of what was happening in the northern hemisphere. I think it was our isolation that made us strive for a kind of excellence, based on what we thought was happening around the world.
Davies described himself as a conservative songwriter, one who didnt normally tackle big issues. Great Southern Land was the big exception, made all the more poignant by some of the dark themes it contained. I didnt run up to the record company and say `Ive got this great song, he said. Im really quite unsure how it became an unofficial national anthem, particularly because of some of its dark themes. But its a song that resonates with people.
As this years Friend, Davies has traveled to many different parts of the country. In particular, he cited enjoyable visits to vineyards in Victoria and South Australia. Tourism Australia had people filming much of the traveling we did - the places we visited and conversations we had.
Davies said he was still learning about the country of which he wrote so powerfully 30 years ago. One of the things revealed to me is the incredible range of experiences available here. Australia can be proud of the quality and diversity of what it has to offer anyone who wishes to explore its possibilities.
5 March 2012
"This is the Day!" Or rather, the next two weeks! Iva will be featured on SiriusXM's 1st Wave Channel 33 on March 5-9 and March 12-16. The segment airs each weekday at 3pm Eastern, noon Pacific. In order to hear it, you must be a SiriusXM subscriber. This service is only availble in the US and Canada. If you are able, make sure to tune in to hear the ultra-cool Richard Blade speaking with the always cool Iva Davies!
26 February 2012
The 2012 Oscars have finished and the credits have rolled...
look whose name we spotted near the end of the show!
21 February 2012
Here is the Kings Park set list - thanks to Yvonne McCarthy for sharing!
20 February 2012
From The West Australian:
Music Review: Icehouse, Kings Park, Saturday, February 18
by Simon Collins
Icehouse main man Iva Davies might have shed his luxuriant mullet but, three decades on, the new wave-meets-pop songs of the Sydney band remain the same. The band born as Flowers in the punk era hadn't played a proper gig in Perth since 1991 - but on Saturday night they took 5500 fans back to the 80s with a 17-song tour de force.
Opening with the chilly synth-driven Icehouse, it wasn't long before Davies and his five band mates were thawing out classics such as We Can Get Together and Crazy - the latter off the ARIA Hall of Famers' huge hit album, Man of Colours.
The David Bowie textures of Hey Little Girl stood up well exactly 30 years since it was released while long-time fans welcomed rarer Icehouse cuts such as the rocking Boulevarde and Walls.
This was not simply the Iva Davies show. Lead guitarist Paul Gildea pulled out too many rock star riffs for a bloke resembling a hip lawyer while multi-instrumentalist Michael Paynter lent his clean falsetto to Man of Colours. The talented Davies played oboe on this one and the fans loved it.
The hits kept coming - you forget how many great radio songs Icehouse pumped out in the 80s. The first single under the Icehouse moniker, Love in Motion, segued into Electric Blue, which was penned with John Oates and prompted much daggy dancing from ladies who probably sang this into a hairbrush when it first graced the airwaves in 1987.
Flowers' debut single, Can't Help Myself, was a revelation, all tense post-punk textures and driving rhythms before Aussie anthem Great Southern Land - beefed up with Davies and Gildea's guitars - brought the main set to an end.
Earlier, younger guns in Megan Washington, Josh Pyke and Clare Bowditch added some homegrown ballast to an impressive bill. Pyke's melodious acoustic pop drew favourable responses while Washington's "mullet set" - business up front, party at the back - was a welcome distraction before the return of Icehouse.
Davies and co. were seriously enjoying themselves by the end, dishing up the excellent 1985 number No Promises before late-80s single Nothing Too Serious captured the mood. The bluesy all-band singalong Baby, You're So Strange was a strange finale but, by this stage, we were too far gone to care.
Davies may have chopped off the mullet but his strength lies in songs that the years have not diminished.
19 February 2012
Videos from Kings Park:
19 February 2012
From Perth Now:
Icehouse still smokin' hot after 20 years
By Jenny Ringland
THE audiences are a lot smaller these days, but there was still plenty to respect when 1980s band Icehouse stayed true to their pop history in the open air at Kings Park. Frontman Iva Davies put every ounce of energy into creating a performance which transported the fairly subdued crowd back to their heyday.
The scene was set with an almost cheesy lighting backdrop varying from licks of flames, flashes of bold colour and of course lightning bolts during crowd favourite Electric Blue. If you squinted you could almost convince yourself they were in their younger days.
It was the groups first appearance in Perth in 20 years - and they didnt disappoint. They played all the classics. Newest member 26-year-old Michael Paynter was trotted out, with support from Davies on the oboe.
When Davies asked his easy-listening fans do you want to sing the response was a sea of clapping hands, perhaps the only indication of the predominately Baby Boomer-Gen X crowd. It was Icehouse at their best, playing hit after hit at full throttle.
Icehouse delivered. But so did their stellar support line-up of Claire Bowditch, Josh Pyke and Washington. When the support talent are big enough to draw a crowd in their own right, you know youre onto a good thing. Thumbs up to last night's mini music festival.
12 February 2012
Video from the Rochford Winery show!
12 February 2012
More great photos from Larry Ponting, this time from the show at Rochford Winery, Yarra Valley, VIC:
11 February 2012
Larry Ponting's photos from the show at Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa Valley, SA:
9 February 2012
Nearly complete video of "Man Of Colours" featuring Iva's gorgeous oboe playing and Michael Paynter on vocals!
8 February 2012
Great acoustic performance of "Electric Blue" followed by a good chat with Iva & John!
6 February 2012
Awesome photo of Iva & John Oates sharing a musical
moment (photo courtesy of the John
Oates Facebook Page)!
5 February 2012
Larry Ponting provided some great photos from the Icehouse show at Sirromet Winery in Mt Cotton, QLD!
3 February 2012
From Noise 11:
John Oates Joins Icehouse For Electric Blue
by Paul Cashmere
Hall & Oates star John Oates joined Icehouse on stage for the first time in nearly 25 years last night to perform Electric Blue, the song he co-wrote with Iva Davies. John wrote the song from the Man Of Colours in Sydney with Iva. It reached number 1 on the Australian chart and number 7 in the USA.
After last nights show John told Noise11.com that he had forgotten he had ever performed the song that first time at Madison Square Garden. Iva reminded me we had done it together before. I had totally forgotten, he said. Last night at Plenary Hall in Melbourne was only the second time ever the two writers of the song had performed the song together in public.
Icehouse shook up their set last night with some interesting adjustments to some of the song. Keyboard player Michael Paynter took over lead vocals for Man Of Colours with Iva playing oboe. They totally reinvented Miss Divine as a country and western song.
Ive seen Icehouse a number of times since the reunion shows but last night at The Plenary they were at the top of their game. The audience knew it too. It was a sell-out crowd (just over 5000) and the crowd where given greatest hits sets from both Icehouse and Hall & Oates. Everyone in the room knew nearly every song by each band.
Hall & Oates and Icehouse together was one of Melbournes finest ever live music moments.
Setlist for Icehouse at Plenary Hall, Melbourne
Icehouse (from Icehouse, 1980)
Cant Help Myself (from Icehouse, 1980)
2 February 2012
Here is a Melbourne video!
31 January 2012
Video from Auckland!
29 January 2012
The first NZ video clip has emerged! Enjoy!
29 January 2012
Set list at Auckland (provided by Michael Foot):
The warm ups were:
The set list was:
29 January 2012
More photos from Larry Ponting, this time from the show in Auckland, NZ!
28 January 2012
Spellbound would like to send out a tremendous THANK YOU to Larry Ponting (Icehouse tour manager extraordinaire!) and Jason Evans Casey for posting some great "behind the scenes" photos from the Napier, NZ concert this evening!
27 January 2012
From the New Zealand Herald:
Icehouse: Warming to a new ice age
by Scott Kara
Icehouse frontman Iva Davies is bringing his newly reformed band back to New Zealand this weekend for their first tour in 17 years. He talks to long-time fan Scott Kara about his lengthy career
It was 1982, or perhaps it was 1984, I can't quite remember. Iva Davies, the frontman and mainstay of Australian synth-rockers Icehouse is a little foggy about the exact concert date too. One thing he does remember about their show at New Plymouth's beautiful Bowl of Brooklands was having terrible sunburn.
"I had probably the worst sunstroke I ever had in my life," he laughs. Ah yes, back in the days when no one knew what sunscreen was and basting yourself with coconut oil was in vogue.
"I was violently ill in fact, so hopefully the show was still okay," he laughs again.
It was. Then again, back when I was a wee nipper growing up in Taranaki, my sister and I were big fans of Icehouse's second album, Primitive Man from 1982. We had it on tape. It's an Australian classic. Not only does it have Oz anthem Great Southern Land on it, but it was one of those intriguing albums - thanks to dreamy synth rock tracks like Street Cafe and Hey, Little Girl, and the dancey post-punk bop of instrumental Glam - that showed there was more to Australian rock than Cold Chisel and AC/DC.
Until last year Icehouse had been in stand-by mode since the late 90s, apart from a few shows and recording projects here and there.
The impetus to get the band - at least a version of the band, with Davies as the one constant - back together was the 30th anniversary of their name change from Flowers to Icehouse, in 1981. They released an album as Flowers entitled Icehouse in 1980, which had debut hits Can't Help Myself and We Can Get Together on it.
The interest in Icehouse sounds like it's still alive and well, in Australia at least. Last year they played a surprise show at the Esplanade Hotel in Melbourne - capacity 500 - and packed in 1200 punters, and have been on the bills of the Meredith Music Festival and Homebake.
Not bad for a band who haven't toured for 17 years - and they make a return to New Zealand this weekend playing the A Day on the Green concerts with Daryl Hall & John Oates at Church Road in Napier today and Villa Maria Estate in Auckland tomorrow. Kiwis were big Icehouse fans throughout the 80s. This popularity peaked with the release of 1987's Man of Colours which included hits Crazy and Electric Blue, a song Davies co-wrote with John Oates.
"I was at the bar at the Mayflower in New York and the barman handed me the phone and it was John Oates," he remembers. "He said, 'we need to write songs together'. And we did, he flew out to spend a week with me in Australia."
As well as playing live, Davies (along with the band's co-founder and original bass player Keith Welsh) is also in the process of reissuing the group's back catalogue, which began last year with the re-release of Icehouse and the collection White Heat: 30 Hits.
"So the last year and a half for me has been like the rebooting of Icehouse," he says sounding very business-like. "Keith was the one who reminded me that it was the 30-year anniversary of the name change and it would be a good opportunity to put out this 30th anniversary edition of the album."
Davies had two storage sheds full of unreleased Icehouse material and footage, and the three disc reissue of Icehouse includes the original album, a live set, and a DVD.
The DVD has live footage of the band from the 1981 Sweetwaters festival in New Zealand which was headlined by Split Enz and Roxy Music.
"It was shot by New Zealand television and they did a fantastic job. The sad thing is they shot the entire show but some of it didn't survive the 30 years unfortunately. The five or so songs that did had been beautifully mixed and so it really is a bit of a gem."
There are definite periods in the evolution of Icehouse and Davies plots it out album by album.
"The Flowers' album sits out there on its own. It was an album developed by a band playing live over three years, playing those songs hundreds of times before we got to record them," he says.
"Then it changed and every album from then on was a studio album that came from very sophisticated demo recordings."
These more complex music-making techniques is also the reason Icehouse has had many different band members over the years.
"So for example when I wrote Primitive Man, it was so loaded with keyboards that we needed two keyboard players - and similarly I couldn't possibly deal with all the guitar parts so it went from a four-piece to a six-piece. So I can track all the albums depending on the technology I was using at the time."
The third album, Sidewalk, was dominated by Davies, using the first ever sampler, the Fairlight CMI. And the band's most popular period from 1986's Measure For Measure to Man of Colours was characterised by Davies' work with producer David Lord.
"By the time I did a second album with David Lord I was prepared to give him a lot of rope and I was also prepared to do a lot of experimenting. Man of Colours is the result of that."
In the mid-90s though, Davies needed a change.
"I had just had my first child at that point so I think life was changing for me. And I'd been going for 16 or 17 years and I wanted to get out of the regimented way of writing a new album and touring. What I wanted to do was have a break from songwriting and that's what led me to do what ultimately became a covers album, The Berlin Tapes," he says of the album that covered songs by everyone from David Bowie and Roxy Music to The Cure and Killing Joke.
It also resulted in the ballet Berlin for the Sydney Dance Company, and from there he went on to do big music projects for the millennium and the Sydney Olympics, along with soundtrack and TV work.
"I've been busy. Quite busy," he laughs.
Still, you get the feeling that being back in the band is what he loves most.
23 January 2012
Brilliant video from Tourism Australia!
18 January 2012
From the Wauchope Gazette:
Iva Davies returns home for Australia Day
THE Australia Day ambassador for Wauchope's Australia Day activities is Iva Davies. The former frontman to Icehouse has cemented his place as an Australian rock legend over many years' performing.
Trained as an oboist, pianist and composer at Australia's premier music institution, the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music, Iva performed with numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the Sydney Symphony. His parallel interest in popular music lead to the formation of the band ICEHOUSE, which achieved international success, numerous hits and has performed widely throughout the world.
Iva has accumulated an impressive collection of ASCAP, APRA and ARIA awards for a variety of projects. His very first film score, "Razorback", achieved an APRA Award and an AFI Nomination. Recognized as a pioneer of music technology he has created a diverse body of work, which includes the scores to the internationally acclaimed Sydney Dance Company's two most successful ballets "Boxes" and "Berlin".
His song "Circles in the Sky" was chosen as an official Sydney 2000 Olympic theme and the iconic "Great Southern Land" is now recognized as an imposing alternate Australian National anthem. Iva has been chosen as an Australia Day Ambassador, an honour that is only conferred on Australia's highest achievers.
In 2004 he received an ASCAP award for the filmscore of the Peter Weir directed "Master & Commander". This project emanated from his piece "The Ghost of Time" which was commissioned as the centrepiece of the Sydney Millennium Celebrations. Recently he received an APRA/AGSC Award the 2 hour film score for AFi winning movie "The Incredible journey of Mary Bryant".
An original song and a large contribution of orchestral music was featured in the Opening Ceremony of the 15th Asian Games in December 2006 and was broadcast to 4 billion viewers world wide. In 2006 Iva was inducted into the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) "Hall of Fame" for achievement in music.
In 2011 ICEHOUSE made a return to performing after many years.
18 January 2012
to a great interview with ID conducted by Bruce Clayton! This interview
is from 1995 but is still very interesting to hear. Thanks to Bruce for
putting this interview online and making it available to Icehouse fans!
18 January 2012
This video from Qantas includes a clip of Iva singing "Great Southern Land" at the Spirit of Australia event. There is also a short interview with Iva at the Black Tie Gala, talking about his black tie attire!
16 January 2012
15 January 2012
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Pearce gets top honours at G'Day ball in Los Angeles
By Shelly Horton
Guy Pearce, Air Supply and Luc Longley have been honoured at the 9th Annual G'Day USA black tie gala in Los Angeles. Pearce was focusing on the gala and not his Golden Globe nomination for which he's considered an outside chance. "I'm honoured and a bit embarrassed about both events to be honest," he says.
Stunning actress Kate Winslet in a backless black dress
presented the Film and Television Award to her Mildred Pierce co-star
Pearce, "I have to resist killing Guy's wife Kate because she gets
to wake up every day with Mike from Neighbours," she laughs. "I
was in love with Mike. I would fake illness to skip school and watch Neighbours
at 1:45pm and then the repeat at 5:30pm. I only just found out you were
also in Home and Away. Thank god I didn't know that then or I wouldn't
have gotten a f*cking education!"
Actress Priscilla Presely handed out the gong to musical
duo Air Supply starting with a sledge, "I met them when Russell was
on his second wife, and Graham was with Jodie. They've been together for
21 years and Russell well I think he's on his eighth girl since then."
14 January 2012
This radio report from Donna Demaio mentions Iva around four and a half minutes into it.
Here is a photo of Donna with Iva at the black tie gala:
14 January 2012
Iva at the G'Day USA Black Tie Gala:
13 January 2012
From The Age:
Qantas signs Miranda Kerr as new ambassador
By Shelly Horton
Qantas has thrown a lavish cocktail party in LA to welcome
their new ambassador Miranda Kerr.
Qantas is hoping to distract from last year's PR nightmare
with shiny pretty things - like signing a supermodel. The airline is appointing
the supermodel as its new ambassador joining John Travolta, Cathy Freeman,
Mark Webber, Greg Norman, Mark Schwarzer and John Eales to promote the
13 January 2012
Iva is interviewed and performs "Great Southern Land" at the end of this video clip on TODAY.
12 January 2012
A short snippet of Iva performing "Great Southern Land" can be found at the end of this video!
12 January 2012
Iva at the Qantas Spirit of Australia party:
11 January 2012
From Richard Blade Official Page on Facebook: "Just finished a great interview with Iva Davies of Icehouse (No Promises, Hey Little Girl, Crazy, Electric Blue) on a rooftop in Hollywood. The interview will be on SiriusXM's First Wave in a couple of weeks on the feature I produce called "This Is The Day". Iva is so cool and hopefully will tour North America sometime next year."
Richard is a longtime fan of Icehouse and was excited to meet Iva! Similarly, the girls of Spellbound are longtime fans of Richard Blade and were just as excited to meet Richard! He's an extremely nice man! Here's the same photo from our perspective:
"This Is The Day" airs on SiriusXM's First Wave Channel 33 at 3pm Eastern, noon Pacific.
11 January 2012
Australia Day 2012 - Celebrate With Us
Australia Day celebrations will be held across the district
on Thursday, 26th January 2012. The community is invited to free events
at Laurieton, Wauchope and Port Macquarie.
Celebrations will be held at Bruce Porter Reserve, Laurieton
between 7am and 9am; Bain Park, Wauchope between 8.30am and 12 noon, and
Port Macquarie on Westport Park between 8.30am and 10pm with official
This years Australia Day Ambassadors Iva Davies and Paula Duncan will be special guests at each event with great free family entertainment planned throughout the day (Program of Events).
11 January 2012
From Mess + Noise:
Icehouses Iva Davies Officially Our 'Friend'
Baz Luhrmann. Hugh Jackman. Olivia Newton John. And now Iva Davies.
To coincide with the 30th anniversary of unofficial national
anthem Great Southern Land, the Icehouse frontman has been
anointed a Friend of Australia by Tourism Australia. He will
soon travel to Los Angeles for Gday LA Week, a week-long celebration
Davies said he was delighted by the honour and looks forward to an engaging year ahead.
I wrote Great Southern Land when travelling to overcome a bout of homesickness and tried to capture the feeling I had for this country, he said in a release. Growing up in rural Australia I love the outback Australian landscape, the vastness and visual impact it holds, so its a natural conversation for me to talk about my love for this country.
Following a performance at last months eventful Meredith
Music Festival, Icehouse will team up with US hit-makers Hall & Oates
for a series of shows across the country, starting on February 2 at the
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
10 January 2012
From The Daily Telegraph:
Aussie rocker Iva Davies says G'Day USA
By Staff Writer AAP
ICEHOUSE frontman Iva Davies will represent Australia at
the G'Day USA celebrations in Los Angeles. The singer is the latest Friend
Of Australia appointed by tourism chiefs, joining former ambassadors Hugh
Jackman and Olivia Newton-John.
10 January 2012
IVA DAVIES BECOMES A FRIEND OF AUSTRALIA
By Sally Bailey
Tourism Australia announces GREAT SOUTHERN LAND songwriter
IVA DAVIES as FRIEND OF AUSTRALIA.
10 January 2012
From The Music Network:
Iva Davies makes friends with Australia
By Poppy Reid
Coinciding with the 30th Anniversary of Great Southern Land,
Iva Davies has been announced as Tourism Australias newest Friend
Of Australia ambassador.
It is not a hard job describing the huge range of
experiences that are available in Australia, because it is unlike any
place in the world, Davies told TMN. Having had the privilege
of touring Australia for more than 30 years I have personally experienced
many of those contrasting locations, from the tropics to the snowfields,
and also come into contact with literally tens of thousands (if not more!)
of Australian people.
I recall sensing that he, like me, felt a long way
from home, but that there was never any sense that either of us belonged
anywhere other than Australia
It's just one of those unspoken things.
10 January 2012
From Herald Sun:
Iva officially becomes our mate
by Confidential Reporters
Iva Davies is heading to Tinseltown to be inducted as a
Friend of Australia during G'Day LA week. Davies will be honoured at the
event, designed to promote Australia in the US and will coincide with
the 30th anniversary of hit, Great Southern Land. The Icehouse frontman
was chosen due to his contribution to Australian music and will join past
Aussie ambassadors including Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton-John and Baz
1 January 2012
Have a listen between 5:45 and 6:10 to hear a portion of Great Southern Land! Happy New Year!