A Buzz Magazine Initiative to re-examine the years of interviews from the Buzz Mag archives.)
By Wade Bush
Dan Kelly has gone from the windy conditions of North Richmond to a musician who isn’t afraid to let himself shine through the music that has kept him on the map. Born in the Barossa Valley and raised in Brisbane, Dan spent much of his younger years travelling the south of Queensland as a casual labourer and aspiring songwriter before moving to Melbourne in the late 1990’s. It didn’t take long for the Melbourne music scene to find Dan and he has been part of it ever since. After forming the Alpha Maales, Dan’s growing reputation attracted such admirers as Tex Perkins, Even, The Scientists, Ed Kuepper, Ken Stringfellow and Snout. It was no surprise that Dan Kelly was going to be living his dream. His new EP with band, Dan Kelly & the Alpha Males – “Pirate Radio EP” is testiment to the raw edge that forms a great niche between lovers and haters. Dan Kelly doesn’t mind though, he is an individual who does what he does and if you don’t like it – please move along. But his new EP will give fans a sweet taste of the album on the way, and for those people still unawares as to who this Melbournite is, well find his stuff and have a listen. Though I’m sure that if you reside in Melbourne chances are you would have come across him at some stage, especially if your radio surfing has landed you on Triple J.
Personally, I can’t say I would rush out and buy Dan’s stuff, or for that matter track down his touring schedule and then work out the public transport route; but I know he has his cut his own groove in the music market with an upcoming tour destined to feed that groove with the sounds of old and new. As I spoke to Dan they were still preparing some merchandise, but their EP is all very much done; so with that and the tour a hint of what the upcoming album will be about is certainly assured. The Alpha Males are guitarist Tom Carlyon (from The Devastations) and rhythm section Gareth Liddiard and Christian Strybosch (both from The Drones).
“Pirate Radio EP” holds true to Dan Kelly’s musical persona yet he seems to also be morphing into something else, it might be new influences at work, but whatever it is it seems to be working. As soon as I had the chance I jumped in and asked him about the EP, how would he describe it; he retorted by asking me about my favourite track in which I said track 1, Drunk on Election Night. It leans heavily towards politics hence the title, and is a spoof that sends up the whole political way of life in Australia. I thought maybe it was about the Prime Minister getting on the turps in the chamber and then bursting into question time and wrestling the opposition leader, I was glad to find out my assumptions were correct to a degree – politics and alcohol do make up a big part of the premise. If you get offended by swearing then you might have to block out both the lyrics and backing vocals as a few choice words do get thrown about. But that is one of the reasons I told Dan that, Drunk on Election Night, was one of my favourite songs – nothing like a few swear words to hook this musical buff. That’s probably why Kevin Bloody Wilson is a legend as far as I’m concerned.
All of the tracks on “Pirate Radio EP” – Drunk on election night, Shake your mood, Sitting by the riverside, If it’s so hard to be happy try sad but more outgoing, Roots lifestyle superjam and Dear Kyle have a tranquil quality but the underlying meanings and edge to each song is darker than what you would originally think from taking in the harmony at the introduction. Dan Kelly’s individuality and thought pattern is healthy in each of the songs.
It also helps to have a healthy band relationship also, and Dan Kelly & the Alpha Males all get along famously. To Dan friendship is the foremost importance of any band. And their affiliation to each other is also directed towards the audience. During their live gigs they interact with the audience, even though Dan thinks they sometimes get too carried away with that. But because of this aspect of their gigs, and also of some of their studio songs, they hit an intimate note with the punters that a lot of bands these days don’t access. This isn’t just a business to Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males, it’s about a connection with fans, about giving the fans what they want and what they have now come to expect. This brings us to flatulance during those very intimate performances, I asked Dan about any of the band members having any embarrasing habits such as farting on stage and you’ll be pleased to not that after he joked about much garlic being eaten before every performance, he confessed that flatulance doesn’t actually occur, and if it does then it wasn’t him.
Another Buzz scoop, and a scoop to make any videogame fan very happy is that Dan Kelly is next writing a song about the game, Grand theft auto. This instantly caused an uplifting on each side of my mouth since I am a massive fan of that game and all the sequals that followed. And if I liked Dan’s song about politics, then I will be rushing out to buy his song about that!
Keep an ear out for their tour by the way, but since you’re eyes are down at present then lock them on these locations: Victoria – Rubys Lounge, Adelaide – Jive Bar, Melbourne – The Tote, Victoria/Hepburn Springs – Palais, Sydney – Spectrum Nightclub, Newcastle – Northern Star Hotel, Woollongong – Oxford Tavern, Victoria – Queensland Festival, Brisbane – The Troubadour, Sunshine Coast – Sol Bar and Byron Bay – Great Northern Hotel. You can catch Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males from mid November to early December at these locations. They will also be touring with Glen Richards of Augie March fame and up and coming Melbourne four piece, Souls on Board. As it has previously been put – ‘A night of Australian music not to be missed by young and old, boys and girls, labour and liberal, the upstanding and the feral’. If you don’t get to see them then don’t worry too much as their studio album, of which “Pirate Radio EP” is a taste will be out soon and there will also be a tour coinciding with that. Perth might even get a visit. To find out any upcoming tours or about anything to do with Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males then log on to the internet and type this in – www.dankelly.com.au .
In person Dan Kelly is a very likable sort, we were both having a joke over many things. But even more importantly he cares about the punter. Just like any other musician he is not only doing it for love, but also to pay next weeks rent; but I get the impression he could even do it for free – he loves entertaining that much. In closing Dan Kelly just wants to put out a big hi to Australia and thank Brisbane for raising him and making him what he is today. He wants people to buy his EP “Pirate Radio EP” and support his band so that they can stick around and continue to entertain.
You can find Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males ‘Pirate Radio EP‘ in stores. The album wont be too far away but if you need a fix before then, well I’m sure this EP will suffice. The single, ‘Drunk On Election Night, is a worthy reason enough to purchase it. And don’t let the political pursuasion put you off, we all know that politics are extremely boring, but not so much when you poke fun in a musical manner, which is what Dan Kelly has done here. On this EP he is having a laugh right beside us as we watch question time on the television and wonder what exactly would happen if the polititions had an open bar which they proceeded to get stuck into as the arguments got over heated and they lost all inhibitions. Ding Ding in your corners now.