Virtually an Interview: Nic Dalton
The idea of multiple outlets for different music leads to Nic D... He coolly has heaps of musical projects going at once so as to play all the different styles of music he likes and not get confined by a particular 'sound' that a particular band is known for. This way music seems to stay fun and fresh and not at all forced.
About specifics: songwriting, inspiration, Sneeze, TKN, (parts of an earlier interview on Godstar):
Q1. Do you write music specifically for a certain band, or do you know when you're writing 'a Sneeze song' or 'a TKN song'?
A. Definitely with Sneeze, I'll know pretty much straight away (most are written with Tom Morgan) and the longer, more serious songs I would take to TKN (although "Harry's Demo's" I wrote for Sneeze and then decided it would best suit TKN and there's a song we do in TKN called "Sarah's In Love" that is more like a Sneeze song!). It used to be the same with The Plunderers, Godstar and Love Positions - I'd usually know while I was writing the song which band it was for, because of the mood I was in at the time. There's lots of other songs including weird intrumental stuff I write which isn't for any band, just for myself.
Q2. There's a bit of a motif around summer time fun things coming through in your music pursuits - VW kombi's, coastal references, are these particular passions of yours? Sounds like you might like to plan a tour up the coast in a kombi?
A. I don't ever really go to the beach much but when I do I enjoy it - but the coast references with Godstar come about because I was on the beach (around Tweed Heads) when I thought of making Godstar as my main band (rather than the Plunderers) and the name TKN came about because of the Kombi van on the front of Coastal (painted by Pete Pound, who recently did the storyboards for Babe 2). It's funny you mention a tour in a Kombi because Tom and I have planned for us to travel up and down the coast in a Kombi and a four track and making a record...one day.
Q3. On a previous occasion you mentioned how you've been finding it hard to write 'serious' songs for The Kombi Nation lately whereas the more humorous Sneeze type songs have been churning out. Do you think this will take over the direction your music takes?
A. No, I think I'm just having a break at the moment writing the serious type songs - addressing things that have happened in my life the last few years like losing close friends and the usual relationship stuff. I know Sneeze come across as being humorous but not all our songs are like that, half would be serious too, it's just that we dress them up as more fun and get them over with quite quickly. I don't know which direction it will take in the future - just depends on what sort of songs I write.
Q4. Is the TKN song "Jonathan Never Took Me To The Dairy Joy" at all related to Jonathan Richman and his music?
A. Yes, totally, every single word. In a lot of his songs he mentions places in and around the Boston area and in 1994 (whilst in Boston doing a couple of Godstar shows) I went to a countryside milkbar/takeaway fish place called The Dairy Joy and I made a joke that "Jonathan never took me to the Dairy Joy" in any of his songs. In each of my verses I make references to many of his songs and Boston landmarks which Jojo fans should get a smile out of.
Q5. Why do you have such a big fascination with stars?
A. I don't really now - I did when Godstar was in full flight because it was good to have graphics that suited the band. I do have a tattoo of the Godstar "wonky" star and I did quite like drawing that on the record covers! And I wanted to put a song with 'star' in the title on the albums ("The Brightest Star" "Seeing Stars")...so that's it.
Q6. On the Captain Denim "Fade" cd there is a star. Did that star inspire you to name Godstar 'Godstar' or was that just the beginning of your fascination?
A. Never thought about the association with the 'Denim but it was all around the same time as Plunderers "Home Movie" cover which was where I put the 'wonky' stars first as well as a Plundees gig poster...and thought I'll use that for Godstar which came from a song by Psychic TV called "Godstar" about Brian Jones from The Rolling Stones. On the single "Godstar" is written really big up the top and thought that looks like a cool band name.
Q7. What's the go with the Ooga Booga stick, and is it on the Chemcraze cd?
A. I found it on the beach up at the Gold Coast when I met the L'heads and it was the same day I decided to start Godstar. I left the stick in the L'heads Tarago and a month later Evan brought it up the HAC store in Glebe for me where it has remained ever since - it's now in my bedroom. It does feature on the "Chemcraze" disc as well as the front of "Sleeper" - that's me balancing it in the air.
About HAC and the music industry:
Q8. How did the HAC label come about? Were there bands first, and then the label set up to enable them to produce and distribute records, or the idea for a label and then a hunt for bands to sign up?
A. The label came about originally to release the Love Postions records "Billiepeebup" and "Light Of Day" because I used to make tapes for friends of this stuff (plus other four tracks of mine like "Turn Around") and they would tell me I should put it out properly. The Half A Cow store opened up around the same time (Sept 89) and while my partner (Miles Ferguson) and I were waiting to put the Love Positions out we had the opportunity to release one of our fave Sydney bands at the time The Craven Fops and we put out a 10 inch by them in early 1990. Suddenly all these young bands emerged like the Rose Mary's, Swirl and Smudge...It's always been friends of mine or bands that I've seen or heard their tape or bands that friends have mentioned I should check out.
Q9. How does a label get its funds to set up/continue...is it from bands on the label chucking in a few bucks, from the main organiser(s) own individual bank account (later to be reimbursed)?
A. All different ways - sometimes the band delivers a finished recording to HAC and we then pay for artwork and manufacturing, mostly HAC pays for the recording or the Record Company we have a distribution deal with puts up the money for it and they get paid back through sales.
Q10. With the closing of the HAC Store, what has happened to the label? Where does it run from now?
A. We are situated on King Street, Newtown but the label can run from anywhere - we just need a couple of rooms, fax machine and phones.
About places and music:
Q11. Which do you prefer: to work/tour/record overseas or back home (at a particular place)? Do you get off on the 'on the road' rock n roll lifestyle?
A. I really enjoy doing the Hac label, and I can do that either at the hac office, at home or whilst travelling but preferably at the label office. I enjoy recording in any studio in any country and touring I must admit I don't enjoy as much as I did when I was younger when I had the strength and lack of responsibilities to handle the rock and roll lifestyle.
Q12. To what extent do you think your music reflects your origins/locality? For example do you think its' generally 'place-based' in and around Sydney? Or that something like Godstar's 'Glasgow' record has a more 'exotic' feel from the overseas experience (sounds from Scotland/abroad)?
A. I think my music reflects me and the time and place (surroundings rather than studio) it was recorded in but when other people hear it they may just think it sounds like the same thing but with different recording quality...I've recorded in different studios around the world and that doesn't really change the style of the music - its the players and the songs that define that.
Q13. What kind of reception does your music generally get overseas? Where best, with which bands..?
A. It's hard for me to know exactly but over the years different parts of the world have seemed interested (usually depending on a record being released in that territory) but for some reason Sneeze has had reactions from New York (that's why we went there to play this year), Godstar in Philidelphia and Boston (I used to live in Boston during L'heads time and local label there released Sleeper). There seems to be some interest in Spain for Godstar and Sneeze thanks to Elefant Records and a few years ago Godstar in Japan (we should have toured there!). When we released the Love Positions in 1990 that record got more reaction (well, letters from people from lots of different countries) than any other since.
Interview by Carolyn Farley, copyright 1998. Orginally written for Carolyn's Nic Dalton Web Page.