Interview :: Dave Graney
June 14th 2011
In anticipation of the orgy of strange art+music love that will be taking over The OAF tonight as part of the launch of Strangelove magazine, and as a partner to our interview with EIC Toby Creswell, The Flog also tracked down the inimitable Dave Graney, and sent him some questions about life and music and his book, from which he shall be reading out loud tonight. (The cover blurb is from the one and only Nick Cave, who describes it as "Funny, wise, narcissistic, deluded and anarchic. Pure genius." So there.) Please enjoy this fabulous man and his words, presented here without editing to preserve their idiosyncratic, off-the-cuff charm. He knows better than I what he means anyway.
Flog: So, for the uninitiated, what is 1001 Australian Nights about?
Dave: its a story about my life as a musician,my music life. 2 parts.first part long reflection from a time when `I LEFT COUNTRY ~SA to drive off into the future. Engagements with luck, a collective (band), a music scene , timing luck etc. 2nd part more the voice of a couple of decades as a player. `Thrilling close quarter combat with australian people and the scene, luck, timing etc…
It seems wonderfully Shakespearean to be performing extracts from a book about a life of performing. With that in mind, to what extent is Dave Graney different to David John Graney? Where does the persona end and the person begin?
I get asked questions like that a lot and never know what the fuck anybody is getting at to be honest. I write a lot about music and the scene. People do that in hip hop and also in the early 80s post punk scene where I started to get my wheels on. Talk about music is all a constant search for authenticity.
It's interesting that you often mention the idea of history being written by the winners, and how that is narrowing our perspective of music recorded in years gone by. Is that of particular concern to you because you have spent much of your career on the fringes, and you're worried that you might be 'streamlined' in the future? And is this book partly about staking your claim, and proving to everyone (and yourself?) that you really were there?
Well just to add a voice that there was much more going on than Cold Chisel and INXS and also how time moves differently for some people. In teh early 80s a group of people in australia leaped into teh future and invented a lot of what we take for granted now. They were surrounded by tHE goldeN aGE OF PUB ROCK WHICH IS WHAT WE HEAR ABOUT NOW. I HATED THAT STUFF. Same thing internationally, tehre was a lot of interesting american music before Nirvana.
You say several times in other interviews that you think modern culture is all about the audience, rather than the artist. What do you mean by that?
Reality tv etc. People mistrust artists who know what tehy're doing. They think stories and scripts and arrangements of ssings are fake. They want to see people bawling and crying all the time. People also hate scientists and call them liars too. People hate shit they dont know about. Its sad.
In other interviews you bemoan the shallowness of the music writing in mainstream press as well as the disappearance of dedicated rock publications. What would your ideal music publication look like?
Full of arcane knowledge. Joy and energy.Talk from insiders. Hard to understand, shockingly new. no elvis beatles or bob dylan!
What's the best thing you've ever read in a magazine?