Longevity and diversity are two words that immediately spring to mind
when contemplating the career and personality of Dave Graney. With almost
30 years of experience as a recording artist and performer and a tireless
commitment to reinventing himself through the exploration of frequently
shifting group dynamics and sounds, Graney has produced wildly varied
and eclectic body of work spanning over twenty albums with bands such
as the Moodists and the Coral Snakes.
As a songwriter who thrives on unfluctuating levels of creative energy
to drive his detailed and graphic narratives and soundscapes, Graney has
shown no signs of slowing down. Knock Yourself Out is his
latest work and while it is a singular achievement in that is his first
record without a band backing, it closely reflects a disciplined and absorbed
approach towards assembling music that is common to each of the albums
tat he has been involved in. Focus and planning may not be part of the
Graney ethic in the eyes of fans drawn to the more ad-hoc and unhinged
elements of his music, but by the artists own admission Knock Yourself
Out involved a great deal of thought and attention directed towards
the recording process to ensure that the end product turned out exactly
its a way to focus people on the way that we make the record
says Graney about the choice he made in releasing Knock Yourself
Out under his name only. Every record has been a bit different
that way. the last one, We Wuz Curious (2008- credited to
the Lurid yellow Mist-featuring dave Graney and Clare Moore) , was a very
collective record ...we went into the studio and did it all together in
one day. Working according to a structural model is also a way of
being productive and cohesive. With digital recording there are
endless possibilities with time and space he adds. I find
you have to have some strategy in place to have a bit of an event. Otherwise
its just endless.
Dave graneys intentions for Knock Yourself Out as a
musical statement are extremely concise and direct. the album is littered
with boxing imagery with the title track evoking the spirit and passion
of the boxer as a metaphor for the singers own larger than life persona
and creative reach. While the singer freely invokes fiction and secondary
characters, a trend stemming from his career long interest in noir film
and crime stories, the message behind the song comes straight from the
artists mouth. Im saying to people who think they know my
stuff and might not like it to come and take me on if they want, to knock
themselves out he says. In that creative mode Im feeling
so strong and powerful and invulnerable that I feel theyll punch
themselves out trying to attack me.
Charlie Howard- BMA magazine- Canberra.
From The Moodists to The Coral Snakes to The Lurid Yellow Mist, theres
only one, inimitable DAVE GRANEY. All ears, DENIS SEMCHENKO finds out
the sardonic crooners schtick still weighs a ton.
Long known as a savagely witty lyricist and a louche live performer, Dave
Graney is also an old-school gentleman to the core this writers
respect for the Melbourne-residing legend automatically grew tenfold when
I received a MySpace message containing an apology for an earlier interview
no-show. Ever-prolific, Knock Yourself Out, the latest Lurid Yellow Mist
album, follows last years superb We Wuz Curious as an automatic
Dave Graney classic.
I think the intention wasnt consciously trying to sound like
anything it was a result of the approach to the recording,
he muses in his ever-so-slightly-droll tone. This record didnt
start from writing words and chords with the guitar, but from an idea
that I wanted the words with the drums first and then put the music to
it; it started out with [wife and longstanding musical collaborator] Clare
Moore doing the title track while I was away doing some acoustic performances
I asked Clare to come up with the music so I could sing on top
of it, and she took the lyrics from a song that never turned out and created
a song without me being there.
A darker, sexier-sounding affair than its predecessor, KYO oozes Barry
Adamson-recalling jazz noir. Barry Adamson is a good friend of ours
and I wrote the liner notes for his first album Moss Side Story,
Dave reveals. Weve known him since when he was in Magazine,
before he was in The Bad Seeds, so I take it as a great compliment
I love his music and were probably involved in the same way of thinking
about music from outside rock & roll.
Following a trivia-filled discussion about the revolutionary Manchester
post-punk collective, Dave returns to explaining his musical approach.
The early 80s is where myself and Clare come from, in the
post-punk attitude, he states. Recently, Ive realised
that when some people talk about our music, they think were being
weird, but I think were just coming from where we got on board
we started at a particular time where we got bored of guitars for a while,
and on this record, the guitars arent really central; when you were
around when the Public Image Ltd and The Pop Group occurred, they were
putting the guitars in different places, and a lot of it was informed
by black music, because in black music American, Jamaican or Brazilian
the guitar is really clear and panned in the stereo and the drums
and the voice are in the middle, and thats what my music is.
As far as the guitar tracks on KYO go, Bodysnatcher Blues absolutely kills
with its menacing groove and prescient lyrics. Ive been working
on that song for about five years and never put it on any album leading
up to this because it seemed a bit weird, Dave reflects. Ive
always written songs about identity, and now were in the world of
Facebook, MySpace and Twitter where everybody is fooling around with different
personas, masks and names
perhaps time has caught up with me
Bodysnatcher Blues says Youre not really here, youre
just along for the ride the bodys been stolen by somebody
else. Theres an old American movie from the 50s called
Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers, and in the song Im singing along
the lines of sometimes you see people and theyre not really
themselves its about that.
Rave - Brisbane-July 2009
IT'S BEEN MORE THAN A DECADE SINCE THE CHALLENGE WAS ISSUED, AND NOW
THERE IS ONLY ONE LEFT STANDING. MELBOURNE'S OWN ROYALTY DAVE GRANEY SPOKE
TO TAL WALLACE ABOUT DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
The King is dead! Long live the King!
After claiming himself an ARIA award back in '95 for lounge rock masterpiece
'Rock & Roll is Where I Hide', Melbourne master of style Dave Graney,
perhaps only slightly jokingly, proclaimed himself King of Pop. With the
only other competition out of the way now, it's perfect timing for the
release of Graney's twenty-somethingth album Knock Yourself Out. With
a songwriting approach that more closely resembles hip hop than rock and
roll, Knock Yourself Out could easily be Graney's most inventive work.
The opening (and title) track sees Graney name checking his own work in
rapid-fire mode, dripping with acid attitude.
That track was inspired by Sly and the Family Stone in a way. In
'Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)' half the song is Sly just naming
his own songs, I always wanted to do that. I was really wanting to make
a record with more lyrics and a beat, rather than chords and melodies.
I did this recording for this fella Plutonic (of Muph and Plutonic), and
he couldn't use it, it was too much. He wanted a little bit of a thing
and I was having too much fun doing it. So Clare (Moore Graney's
wife and longtime musical collaborator) wrote a beat and put the lyrics
onto it, so it was a great way to start to make a new project. It's like
a bragging song in a way.
Graney calls Knock Yourself Out an electro R&B album, and while his
preferences for the original meaning of Rhythm and Blues are all too evident,
the modern context is one Graney is more than content with.
I love all that stuff. Artists like Beyoncé and Missy Elliot,
those albums have amazing production.
Graney's love for the progressively evolving genre, he concedes, may at
times contribute to public confusion over his music
That's why our music's been a bit off key in Australia, people think
it's ironic or whatever, but I've just been trying to copy a lot of black
American artists. Those guys like Morris Day from The Time, all those
characters have those little pencil moustaches, and the jazz singers too,
I love them. I loved Hound Dog Taylor, he's amazing, like what Jon Spencer
wants to be. He's got that great album with 'Gimme Back My Wig', and he
plays like the cheapest kind of guitar and they just make them sing. Incredible
sustain; some people can just take anything and make it sing, other people
think you have to buy all the equipment and that'll do the job for you.
I have thought that myself in the past.
With the Oz music scene as fickle as it is, one might be surprised that
a decade after his ARIA fame, Graney isn't now relegated to hosting Carols
by Candlelight or strutting his stuff on Dancing With the Stars. But keeping
in line with the DIY nature of traditional R&B, he prefers to keep
At that time we just enjoyed a moment of people getting into our
stuff, but we had a sense of ourselves that we were different. When we
made those two albums for Universal in the 90's we got airplay from triple
j because they needed people who were working nationally to become national
themselves, and it was great to get that exposure. Now we just go out
and play our music live, in an old school kind of way, to us that's a
very dignified and enjoyable thing to do, if you can do it. It would help
to have your music played on radio. I still make music hoping it will
get played on the radio, but it's difficult to find a place for it, where
people can approach it. Most artists have that problem, not just us.
Time Off- Brisbane- July 2009
DAVE Graney has been a much-loved part of the Australian music community
since he turned his back on Mt Gambier and sold his soul to rock 'n' roll
in the 1970s.
He is an icon of cool: transcendent, enigmatic, creative and very funny.
He is lauded by critics, his peers and fans; from ARIA award-winning super-stardom
to tiny shows in equally tiny towns, he is resolutely professional and
his own man.
Late last year, he played a solo show in front of a disappointingly small
crowd in Burnie. It was one of the greatest performances I've seen; intimate
(obviously), captivating and entertaining.
In June, with The Lurid Yellow Mist, he released We Wuz Curious; a jazz-fusion
influenced work of hard-to-define brilliance.
"We really enjoyed making We Wuz Curious," Graney said before
The Lurid Yellow Mist, along with Kim Salmon and The Surrealists return
to play in Hobart next week.
"It was difficult in it had nowhere to fall - how they sort music
out in the Australian scene, I'm a bit of a dodgy character too.
"We could either have sulked or just made another one, so that's
what Knock Yourself Out is," he said of the new album.
"It took a lot for us to make We Wuz Curious and so in a way we were
quite intensely match fit.
"If you stop playing music or lose touch with it, it is difficult
to get back into the groove ... so Knock Yourself Out came out of some
kind of intense interest in making some upbeat R&B pop music, I guess."
After a plan to work with hip-hop producer Plutonic was sidelined, Graney
expanded on the lyrics he'd written for the collaboration.
"He wasn't able to use it so Clare cooked up the music and took that
vocal and put it to this new bit of music and that was the way the album
kicked off," he explained of his partner Clare Moore's role in creating
that song (and others) on the album.
He went on to reveal he took inspiration from Sly and The Family Stone's
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).
"In that song he starts to trip out song titles of his own.
"He goes: everyday people/sing a simple song/dance to the music/all
"They're song titles of his but he casts them in this new groove
and they take on another meaning.
"I always wanted to try that with my own songs and Knock Yourself
Out starts with: rock 'n' roll is where I hide/wasn't that great/you're
just too hip baby/don't mess with the blood/ I'm not afraid to be heavy/
wild stuff/ like an oil well flowing/I never stop/I never tapped out/all
I ever did was plug in and wail.
"I'm kind of singing a bragging song, enjoying my own creativity
and my own drama and at the same time I'm listening for people who might
be mocking me, and I'm saying to them, feeling my ascendant power, I'm
saying `knock yourself out', `go your hardest', `I am a giant',"
"Coz that's what you feel like when you're being creative. You feel
the power and joy."
Although it is billed as a solo effort, Stu Thomas and Stu Perera, along
with Moore, contributed to Knock Yourself Out, as they did on We Wuz Curious.
Bodysnatcher Blues, a track Graney revealed he'd been working on since
2003, was included on the album after a record- label owner acquaintance
pushed its worth.
"I've always thought that I should contain myself a lot more and
make short snappy songs and not scare people off with too much of my own
lairising and hide the content of my lyrical interests, but this guy said
`that's your best stuff, why don't you do that'.
"I've written a lot of songs about identity, public and private nature
of a person, in a way you are inhabiting a host body that walks around
"In a way times have caught up with me because everybody is experimenting
in that stuff on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
"Everybody's enjoying that anonymous- public behaviour and wearing
But it is another kind of display of self that gives a key to the Graney
"I grew up in a very working-class Australian culture.
"The way people talked was in a very off- hand way, never approaching
anything directly, that's just the way it was."
He mined that culture in You Had To Be Drunk (from We Wuz Curious) - a
beautiful but acerbic, autobiographical song about surviving life in a
"In the distorted world of Australian pop music I might seem like
an oddity, but I know that I come from a real world and Missy Higgins
... she blurts everything out, to me, socially, that would be unacceptable,"
Graney laughed heartily.
"I don't mean to pick on Missy Higgins ... Ben Lee perhaps.
"In the end the self-possession of an artist is better than someone
just going on TV and crying their brains out."
Catherine Gale- The Advocate-Tasmania