1 May 2015
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
As The Con turns 100, ex-students remember high notes and lows
by Nick Galvin
Icehouse frontman, oboe player
Studied from 1974-1977
As a student I was ... officially a dropout. I was a tertiary student at the Con but I never finished.
Most important lesson ... discipline in many forms, from dedication to my instrument to the discipline of working with ensembles.
Favourite memory ... a graduation performance of diploma students. My future teacher played the Richard Strauss oboe concerto. That was extraordinary and I'll never forget it. It was a really defining moment.
Most stressful moment ... when I got the job as third oboist in a Sydney Symphony performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion. I was entrusted with the parts for the whole oboe section. It was in the days before the Opera House was completed and there were no direction labels from the green room to the various theatres. I got incredibly lost and eventually found my way to the concert hall stage. The entire orchestra and conductor were waiting for me.
If I hadn't pursued music I would have ... the only other interest I had growing up was archaeology, believe it or not.
Most important lesson the Con never taught me ... that there would be people along the way in positions of power who were less focused on the beauty of music and more on politics.
5 March 2015
From 612 ABC Brisbane:
Iva Davies, Toumani & Sidiki Diabate, Amber Lawrence and Jodie Boni
Another episode of Live and Local for you, featuring live music and conversations with the artists themselves from Local Radio studios right around the nation. This week: Iva Davies, Toumani & Sidiki Diabate, Amber Lawrence and Jodie Boni.
27 February 2015
From WSFM 101.7:
VIDEO: Icehouse Perform LIVE At The Party Of The Decade
Iva Davies and Icehouse joined Jonesy and Amanda at the Party Of The Decade to perform an incredible acoustic set.
Take a look at some exclusive snaps and then enjoy the videos showcasing Australia's unofficial anthem 'Great Southern Land' as well as an amazing new arrangement of the classic 'Street Cafe' and finally a rousing performance of 'We Can Get Together.'
31 January 2015
Icehouse, Melbourne, January 30, 2015 Review
by Angela Black
In 2011 Iva Davies & his band Icehouse toured Australia on what was known to fans as their “Flowers” tour, playing songs primarily from their very first album when the band were actually called Flowers and the title of the album was “Icehouse”.
In 2015, Icehouse now gives us pretty much the “Masterfile” tour, with the majority of the setlist matching the 1992 compilation ‘Masterfile’.
Last night at the Crown Palms in Melbourne, Iva Davies and Icehouse performed their first of a 4-night stint to a sold out crowd. This time, they pleasantly surprised their fans by mixing things up a bit by playing a few different tracks that they haven’t really been performing since their resurgence over the past 5 years.
They boldly opened the show with “Walls” which lead straight into “Mr. Big” which was a refreshing new addition for the fans, followed by the groovy “Love in Motion”.
At the start of a clever little acoustic set, lead singer Iva Davies shared some special stories with his captive audience by talking about how he actually writes songs. He explained how he usually writes the music first then followed by the lyrics. He went into further detail explaining about how the actual lyrics came about for “Man of Colours” which was later beautifully performed in the set with band member Michael Paynter on vocals and Iva playing the oboe. Iva also gave credit to some of his influences from T-Rex to Bob Dylan. He further explained how Bob Dylan’s style was a strong influence on him at the time he wrote “Heartbreak Kid” which is also found on their “Man of Colours” album. The acoustic set also featured a clever version of “Street Café” as well as the “Sidewalk” track “Dusty Pages”, which was as real treat for their core fans.
The band’s performance was solid with some great sax solos from Glenn Reither on songs like “Don’t Believe Anymore” and the Icehouse classic “Electric Blue”. Iva and the witty guitar player Paul Gildea charmed the audience with their banter while bass player Steve Bull and long-time drummer Paul Wheeler orchestrated the rhythm section. The stage layout and design also had some new features which gave this show some interesting visuals.
Overall, this Icehouse tour contains quite a bit off their “Masterfile” compilation album which was originally released in 1992 and includes quite a number of their classic hits. With this tour Icehouse fans can appreciate a new take on the old songs with some additional surprises to the set.
Walls (from Flowers, 1980)
Don’t Believe Anymore (from Sidewalk, 1984)
29 January 2015
Oz Rock Photo Gallery From Rock Candy Magazine.
Photos by Barbara Bertoli & Andrea Manno
27 January 2015
From WA Today:
Icehouse, James Reyne and Diesel rock Perth's Red Hill Auditorium
by Pip Doyle
If Sunday night was anything to go by, I'm pretty sure we have a new national anthem.
Mental As Anything, Diesel, James Reyne and Icehouse - the concert that, when I asked my plus one if he was keen, he couldn't text me back a bigger-fonted YES.
The venue, Red Hill Auditorium, is just off Toodyay road and, snuggled among the eucalypts with an incredible view out from the bush to the city limits, it looks as though it just occurred there by natural volition.
A smart way of getting there is to catch one of the shuttles that leave from a bunch of locations across the metro area - we hopped on the one which left the Rosemount in North Perth.
A note about the auditorium, if you've never been…
I didn't do any of these things.
As the sun was setting, the Mentals kicked everything off with Too Many Times and didn't skip a beat in their set, which lasted roughly 45 minutes. The dance floor kept filling during the classic Live It Up and If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?
Greedy Smith and the boys completed their showcase churning out The Nips Are Getting Bigger, which for some punters, would end up being a fair representation of how the night would pan out.
Seriously, where has Diesel been and why do I not have any of his albums? This performance was dead-set phenomenal. I remember turning to my plus-one saying: this is the sort of music that reminds me of a time before music talent shows like Idol, you know, like the days when E Street was on TV.
Man Alive was on-point pub rock, but it was the baseline of All Kinds of Weather that got the attention of many ladies (and some men)... it was pure sex.
The crowd pleasers were Tip of My Tongue and his guitar work on Cry In Shame.
If this were all I got to see on Sunday night, I would have been one satisfied concert-goer.
And then came James Reyne.
First of all, he is 57 and doesn't look anything over 38.
Second of all, he still sings like a doctor writes prescriptions, I struggle to understand the words.
But who cares, right? It's JAMES REYNE, the guy who is behind some of the most memorable songs in Australian culture, so much so I reckon his entire back catalogue should be given to newly-minted Aussie citizens.
I didn't make the dance floor to show my appreciation for Mr Reyne as it was absolutely jam-packed with people getting down to Beautiful People and the Boys Light Up before slowing everything down with more Australian Crawl stalwarts, Reckless and Downhearted.
Songs from his solo career, such as One More River and his most successful single Way Out West (with James Blundell), didn't make the set list.
So here we were, under the stars on a balmy summer's Australia Day eve, surrounded by eucalypts when they walk onto the stage.
As I write, I'm trying to find my notes for the Icehouse set. I don't have any. This usually means one thing: I was way to busy having a great time instead of having my pen poised.
All I wrote was "Iva sounds just like David Bowie – amazing" and a shorthand scrawl saying "We Can Get Together, dance floor pumping".
Iva Davies, with his luscious curly mullet of the 80s now replaced with pure silverfox glory, reunited the audience with their youth with Hey Little Girl, Nothing Too Serious, Crazy, My Obsession and the song that is pure unadulterated Icehouse – Electric Blue.
The most moving song of the night was Man Of Colours. It completely shut the place down. Hearing it live was goose-bump inducing and a borderline hypnotic experience.
Just when you thought it couldn't get more incredible, the entire amphitheatre stood up for Great Southern Land.
Because of which, I now consider it our unofficial national anthem.
24 January 2015
From The West Australian:
Icehouse frontman Iva Davies chats about the iconic Aussie song Great Southern Land. Watch the video here.
16 January 2015
Star and Car: Iva Davies
by Owen Thompson
Icehouse frontman explains his fondness for quirky cars.
The lowdown: The iconic Icehouse front man has a strong attachment to a much-loved, no-frills German classic.
Career highlights: leading the band to 28 platinum albums, eight top 10 albums and more than 30 Top 40 singles; composing scores for the ballets Boxes (1985) and Berlin (1995) for the Sydney Dance Company; being inducted (along with Icehouse) into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2006; being made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2013.
17 – the age I got my licence
1990 – the vintage of my VW Kombi
What was your first car?
I was very much guided by my father, who virtually picked the car for me. It was a Standard Vanguard, I think it was called. It was two-tone blue and the paint was in a pretty motley state. Even then it was a very old car, but it was $150, I remember that much. But that car gave me very quick service, I must say. It was a very smart choice of my father's. I drove it for at least a couple of years and when I sold it I sold it for $150 – exactly what I paid for it.
Did it get much of a workout?
I think I only took it on one really long trip, and that was to Finley in regional NSW. I remember my brother-in-law thought I was completely insane, but of course with the naivety of youth I had no idea that anything could possibly go wrong. And nothing did go wrong. In fact, it served me very well.
What are you driving now?
I've got a much-prized Volkswagen T3 kombi. It's a box-shaped one as opposed to the sexy older ones, but I bought it when it was a few years old and the fellow I bought it from had looked after it meticulously. It was originally a commercial van but he'd fitted it out with a back seat that opened up into a double queen-size bed. I've had it upgraded even further and it's recently been completely re-sprayed, so it's almost in showroom condition even after 24 years. I cannot tell you the number of people who've come up to me over the years and wanted to buy it from me. I don't know quite why I have the affection for it I do. It's a dog of a thing to drive. It's got no power steering, no air conditioning, no air bags. But it's a beautiful thing to cart my gear around in. It's incredibly useful.
What's your pet road peeve?
My absolute primary hate is seeing people – especially young people, but certainly not exclusively – using their mobile phones while they're driving, especially for texting. It's incredibly dangerous and I think unfortunately we're in for an epidemic of accidents caused by that.
How did you find the whole learning to drive experience?
Having seen my children go through the process in the fairly recent past, the attitude towards learning to drive of course was a lot more lax back when I was 17. Neither my father nor my mother, who didn't drive, gave me a lesson. They paid for a number of lessons – not too many – and I fronted up and got my licence on the first test I did. I can't recall it being stressful at all. But we are talking about a time when it was legal to drink-drive and I don't even think seatbelts were mandatory.
13 January 2015
From Rock Candy Magazine:
Interview with Iva Davies of Icehouse
Interview by Antonino Tati
So far as Aussie music icons go, Icehouse are practically an institution. The band, who formed in 1977 amid a thriving Sydney rock scene, quickly evolved from typical ‘pub rock’ style to more of a ‘new wave’ flavour, making them stand out as a sophisticated lot amongst the ‘rougher’ likes of The Angels, AC/DC, et al.
Hi Iva. Let’s go back to the beginning when you and the band were known as The Flowers. You had a huge hit with the single We Can Get Together. Why, after such huge success, was there a change in the band’s name? Was there a particular legality there?
It was fairly simple, really. We released The Flowers’ album in Australia and New Zealand without difficulty, but the success of it produced a lot of interest from international record companies. Ultimately we signed a deal with Chrysalis Records for the rest of the world, and the first thing they did was do a search on our trading name. Being a young band, we never thought of a band name being like a trademark, but in fact that’s exactly what it is. Unfortunately we discovered two other artists were trading using the name Flowers. One of them was a famous session bass-player called Herbie Flowers, and you’d know his work. He’s the man who created the bassline to Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side. So the name was simply not available anymore. It’s not the first time it happened to an Australian band. It happened to Sherbert, and the Angels before they got their ultimate names.
It’s a pity we didn’t have the internet then to do a simple Google search.
Absolutely. Anyway, the name of our first album was Icehouse so, by default and overnight we became known as Icehouse.
Under that name, the band really began to gain momentum, delivering hit after hit, not only in Australia but in Europe and the US. In fact, your songs provided a soundtrack to much of the Eighties and Nineties. How does it feel to know your music has been a soundscape for so many Australians?
Well, looking back at over 30 years of work is very interesting because at the time it was like running on a treadmill that was going faster than I was. The process of writing and recording and touring kept us incredibly busy so the last thought I had in mind was how long these songs were going to last. Our vision at the time was fairly short-term; each album only took care of about a year or 18 months’ worth of our existence. I basically tried to do things that wouldn’t date but, really, one of the least considerations in my mind was whether these songs were going to be listened to in 30 years’ time. Generally speaking, it would be fair to describe most of the popular music of that period, and other periods, as being fairly disposable.
Well let’s take a classic example: Great Southern Land. That song has gone from pop status to practically becoming Australia’s second national anthem.
It seems to have become that… The process of writing that particular song is a lot clearer in my mind than writing some of the other songs because I knew at the time it would be a dangerous thing to get wrong. Having said that, it was the first of 12 or so songs that I was virtually commissioned to write for our second album – which was an obvious priority. Great Southern Land happened to be the first song I wrote when we got back from our first international tour and with hindsight it’s fair to say part of the reason I took on that subject was because, for the first time ever, I had gone a very big overseas trip and become incredibly homesick. I had a renewed kind of respect for Australia when I came back!
I read somewhere recently that you were told by your record company to be ambiguous with your treatment of the song, so that it didn’t come across as too patriotic. I understand you were told to say in interview responses that the song wasn’t really about Australia…
Well I was specifically instructed by my managers not to admit that the song was about Australia – which was quite an absurd directive, really. So it was very difficult for me to answer direct questions like, ‘Is this song about Australia?’ I never denied it flatly, and I never told a lie, but I did a lot of fancy political-type side-stepping of the question. The motivation of that instruction from my managers was quite simple: and that was that they wanted us to be perceived as an international band and not be locked into an Australian identity. At the time it might have made logical sense to them, but it made my life very difficult.
It brings me to a question about the here and now. Are you fascinated by how broadly embraced Australian music is today by the rest of the world?
It’s an interesting thing. I was recently having a conversation with someone about the very early Australian music exports – bands like The Easybeats and The Masters Apprentices – and how difficult it would have been for them to land in London and attempt to compete with the likes of The Beatles, The Who, and so on. The fact of the matter is that Australia is still a very long way away from what it is perceived to be by the rest of the world but, because of the internet, things are becoming quite a different prospect so far as actually being able to launch music. I think Australia has always been incredibly strong with music, particularly our live scene. I remember first arriving in London and being incredibly disappointed. It was perceived to have been the mecca of music but there wasn’t the same kind of pub culture that we had in Australia whereby on any given night – if you were in Adelaide or Sydney or Perth or Melbourne – you could go out and see 50 fantastic bands.
How do you mix things up when you’re playing live, so that audiences are hearing and seeing something fresh each time?
Well, for Oz Rock Busselton we’re introducing a kind of acoustic break in the middle of the show, which is something we haven’t done before. Having three guitarists gives us the opportunity to strip the band down and try something new. And that gives us a springboard to kind of gear up again as well. Part of what we’re introducing into the set with this acoustic moment is the opportunity for me to be able to tell the story of how some of these songs were written and to give away some of the more personal information about the songs than you might get from just sitting down and listening to a CD. And there are many stories attached to a lot of these songs!
I’m sure there are. You’re quite a champion of seeing new talent take on classic work. You released the Meltdown album over a decade ago where you gave DJs of the day carte blanche to do what they wanted to your music. And more recently you and the current lineup of the band delivered reggae-tinged versions of Icehouse songs on the DubHOUSE album.
My philosophy on letting people loose to reinterpret my songs is quite simple, and that is that the originals exist – and some of them have existed for more than 30 years – and they’ll always be there in terms of their original structure, but [to hand them over to new artists] means I’m not threatened by the prospect of having other people reinterpret them. My brief to all of the artists involved in Meltdown was that they should have absolutely no fear in recreating and rerecording these songs in their own way. I gave them absolute license and at no point was I involved. I simply sat back and waited to hear the very interesting things they came up with. I think it was very important not to meddle with their work. And I still have that appreciation. For example, Missy Higgins recently brought out an album called Oz which features cover versions of Australian songs, and one of mine is among those. I get real joy in hearing the way in which another artist will interpret a song; I find it endlessly fascinating.
Icehouse has always stood out on the Australian music landscape, not only for your great music, but for your ambiguity. Everything about the band appeared to go against the grain of the traditional Aussie ‘ocker’ mentality… Heck, you even featured drag queens in your music videos!
A lot of that was influenced by the fact that I had quite a strange beginning in music myself, in terms of musical background. I didn’t advertise it at the time but as I was growing up I had a stringent classical training. By the age of 16 I was playing the oboe with classical ensembles and [on the side] I was playing guitar in the band. So I had these parallel lives happening at the same time. I guess that meant I was never going to fit into the stereotype of a conventional rock’n’roll person. From the very beginning, Flowers were an anomaly and to some degree the reason we chose that name was because it was in direct defiance of what would be expected of a pub rock band. We were at the time a peculiar hybrid of pub band, rock band, and synthesiser technicians. For us to actually go into a pub dressed the way we did, with the name we had, could have got us into a lot of trouble. But luckily we survived it!
One final question, Iva. Where is the strangest place you’ve heard an Icehouse song being played?
I get caught out every time I go to my local supermarket. I’ll walk in there and hear myself quietly being beamed around the aisles. It’s quite a surreal experience to be collecting my groceries and hearing Baby You’re So Strange in the background.
10 January 2015
From ABC Grandstand:
Icehouse lead singer Iva Davies joined the Grandstand commentary team during day five of the fourth Test between Australia and India at the SCG.
9 January 2015
Here's a video on Facebook from Down Under Events, regarding Icehouse's appearance at OZ Rock Busselton.
8 January 2015
From the Brisbane Times:
Why Queen were the kings of the rock anthem - This Will Rock You
by Peter Vincent
Two days after winning the prized award for Australia's song of the year at the ARIAs, Michael Clifford, songwriter for Five Seconds of Summer, the Australian boy band storming the US, expressed his awestruck admiration for, of all bands, Queen.
"How the f--- did Queen actually write Boheman Rhapsody? It must've been black magic," he tweeted.
Clifford has been thinking a lot about the music of the seventies lately. "I woke up at 9am singing Hotel California," he said … [But] We Will Rock You is the best anthem ever. Queen are pretty much the anthem band."
He's right: four decades after the release of the following songs, who couldn't sing most of We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are The Champions, even Fat Bottomed Girls?
Pete Wentz, of American pop-punk band Fall Out Boy, admits he's constantly amazed at the reception for We Are The Champions, on the 42 times they have included it in their live sets. "It's wild that a Queen song resonates like that with 20,000 Americans, especially as so many of them are 16-year-olds."
What makes a truly great rock anthem is subjective. The Oxford dictionary defines an anthem as "a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body or cause". Like The Internationale? Try to play that at a party, let alone a stadium: you'd lose half the crowd, or at least get barred from touching the stereo.
But all rock anthems share certain qualities. They have to be something a crowd sings along to at concert, usually upbeat and instantly recognisable – and they must have stood the test of time.
Iva Davies, of Icehouse, believes there are particular components great anthems have in common: a great melody, universal themes or an intriguing ambiguity, perhaps a signature element. Think of the stomping and clapping in We Will Rock You, or that compelling first note in Great Southern Land.
But whether a song sticks in the public consciousness to the extent that it's still played in 30 or 40 years' time seems to come down to fate or luck.
It seems easier to ask what an anthem is not. Surprisingly, it is often not an immediate hit (We Will Rock You wasn't, Stairway to Heaven was never even released as a single). An anthem is almost never a novelty hit: irritating songs seldom last forever. Heart-achey songs can be memorable but don't go the distance – we eventually get over lost love (sorry James Blunt and Whitney Houston).
Great party songs don't necessarily make great anthems. Whole Lotta Love and Back in Black contain party-starting riffs but somehow we don't connect with those songs in the same way we remain fascinated by Stairway to Heaven or Long Way to the Top.
Anthems aren't necessarily a songwriter's greatest work either. For years people have mused whether America's Dewey Bunnell was high as a cloud when, in 1971, he wrote: "The heat was hot and the ground was dry/But the air was full of sound." Bunnell, who tours Australia with America in 2015, says he wrote Horse With No Name "in an hour".
"That song took on a life of its own and it's as strong as it ever was," Bunnell says. "Somehow it passed through a few generations and locked into a kind of eternal rotation". He says other songs he put more craft into didn't catch on, like Pages.
Davies agrees. When he wrote Great Southern Land, his songwriting process was "no different to the song I wrote before or after it".
Vance Joy, whose Riptide is already behaving like an anthem, knows the feeling. "It's likely I won't write another song that captures that bizarre chemistry. It's not every day you catch a 40-pound fish."
Anthems do tend to stand out though. Many express universal themes, like celebration, or so often in Australian anthems a sombre acceptance (Powderfinger's These Days, Cold Chisel's Flame Trees or Paul Kelly's How to Make Gravy).
Pat Monahan, lead singer of American stadium pop-rock band Train (whose catalogue includes a worldwide hit, Drops of Jupiter) believes global anthems make a point of including the listener. "Anthems are about us ... it's all about you and me. [Together] we are the only ones who can make it."
Luke Hemmings, from Five Seconds of Summer, says "an anthem has to bring people together. You're singing a song with them, not at them."
But for every profound song, every Bittersweet Symphony, there is borderline nonsensical one: a Horse With No Name, Stairway to Heaven or Bohemian Rhapsody – an almost indecipherable song that has made the eternal playlist because we somehow find it compelling.
So might any of the current batch of songs go on to become eternal anthems, sung the world over in, say, 2045? How might Iggy Azalea's Fancy fare, if you apply the rules above? It fails for the same reason much of today's selfie-obsessed popstars are struggling to resonate with consumers: "me, me, me," is not a universal theme.
Arguably, Beyonce has cut through once or twice with feminist anthems, Run the World and Single Ladies – but half the world is still only half the world. Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know is more universal. Taylor Swift's Shake It Off also arguably qualifies.
Like it or not, Psy's Gangnam Style has already elbowed its way on that eternal playlist.
One thing going against today's would-be anthem writers is that is incredibly difficult for songs to become as big today as in the past. Train's Pat Monahan nominates Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks as a modern anthem. But his guitarist, Jimmy Stafford, disagrees: "Do you think in 10 years anyone will know it? I don't even hear it on the radio any more."
"There's so much music now," Stafford says. "With the internet and social media you don't need a record deal. There is so much music out there that it doesn't stick. It's all thrown out there and not much of it sticks."
One final definable characteristic of an anthem helps – and it's what Queen has. "I went to see Queen in concert in Sydney," Davies says. "And it defused some of the mystery for me as to why they could achieve the level of songwriting they did.
"Roger Taylor's vocals were astounding and Brian May was able to carry a huge slab of a concert. You can see We Are The Champions related back to his guitar playing. And then you add Freddie Mercury. They were a collective of incredibly talented people.
'It was no wonder amazing things happened when they all got together."