In honour of NZ Music Month, Gary Steel climbs into the crumbling catacombs of his back catalogue, and disinters a different story Every Day In May (EDIM). Today’s piece appeared in In Touch magazine, May 1982.
Note: Okay, so it’s a tiny wee interview, and yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t do a longer one, except that the magazine was on a real post-punk kick, and Dobbyn wouldn’t have quite fitted the profile. It took my American friend Ron Kane to really rub DD Smash in my face, and make me realise just how great they were at what they did: on a flying visit, he insisted I take him all the way to the Quinn’s Post in Upper Hutt to see the group. That was a scary night. What’s weird reading this after so many years is the realisation that local commercial radio wasn’t even supporting DOBBO back then! I mean, how crap is that? I’d love to hear NZ radio programmers from 1982 come up with weak excuses for not playlisting DD Smash. If I had a chance, I’d line them up afterwards and slap their faces with a very dead, smelly fish.
YA GOTTA GIVE this guy credit, doncha? Former Dude turned DD Smash rock and roller Dave Dobbyn has subtly but surely gained a substantial foothold in the local industry, and at the same time stretched one leg out to Australia.
It’s perhaps a winning combination of talent, luck suss and amiability that have led to his band’s seemingly instant success. The debut album, Cool Bananas, went Number 1 first week in the charts, something of a phenomenon for a local act. And, with a firm contract to Mushroom Records, he’s assured of promotion and support across the Tasman.
“Because we’re signed to Mushroom we have to go there,” states he. “Australia’s so Goddamn exciting! It really is! There’s so much going on. Just take rock and roll. There’s more rock and roll happening in Sydney on a Friday night than there is happening in LA. There’s a lot of action – people demand a good time, which doesn’t happen here.”
Dobbyn, recovering from a Town Hall Underage Rage and the ensuing toilet photography session, displays a courageously level head towards the industry – “You’ve gotta have a machine behind you, like Mushroom, if you wanna do something with what you’ve got. We have to, I want to, it’s great, it’s worthwhile, it’s a good time.”
With this, Dobbyn fervently exhorts local artists to besiege Mushroom with tapes – “They wouldn’t take much convincing”. Yep, he’s right behind the local talent.
Dobbyn, unsurprisingly as they won’t playlist the DD Smash material, is really down on local radio. He’s full of raise for the University stations Radioactive and Radio B, and condemns the powers-that-be for not granting these alternative airwaves full-time licences. He describes the set-up here as “real Victorian-Colonial.”
With appearances already on Australia’s Countdown pop prog (with 10 million viewers!) methinks the DD Smash boys are hardly likely to come running home with tales between legs. GARY STEEL