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She smiles to herself
“they think that i’m strange…
…they say I’m a dreamer
…but I don’t complain,
though I don’t have much
to call my own.”
and she’s not a movie star, no
and she’s not a beauty queen
she’ll tell you it doesn’t matter
‘cause she’s not the only one
ICEHOUSE: GREAT SOUTHERN BAND by Nathan Jolly
In 1980, Iva Davies and his burgeoning pop band Flowers dropped their debut album Icehouse. Thirty years on, Davies is delving into the new model of the music industry, and discovering it suits him perfectly.
“Recently I had to check back over my itinerary during that time, and on one day I was in three different European countries.” Iva Davies shakes his head as he recalls Icehouse’s gruelling touring schedule in the early ‘80s. “And that was during album one, and I kept that up.”
Davies is back on the promotional wagon, albeit at a slower, inner-city- café-interview pace. Universal’s 30th anniversary re-release of his 1980 Icehouse debut album (released under the band’s original moniker Flowers) is the reason for this reminiscing.
The album was an immediate success upon release in 1980, a factor Davies attributes to a three-year run-up of inner city gigging. The band were lucky, coming up in the fertile late ‘70s Sydney scene, a fact that came screeching into focus upon their first overseas journey.
“I remember the first night we arrived in London,” recalls Davies. “I looked through NME and Melody Maker trying to find somewhere to go to see some of these legendary bands we’d been listening to for years and it suddenly dawned on me that London didn’t have the same energy in terms of live music as Sydney and Melbourne did. This Holy Grail we were after turned out to be something that was created by the legend that was amplified, because of the distance.”
The band soon begun to apply their homegrown touring ethic overseas; a gruelling and sometimes disheartening journey followed, which begun with a long drive across America, and – at its peak – saw Davies require a security guard 24/7 for a number of years.
“When I look back now, I’m so surprised at the level of energy I must have had. It was constant, non-stop work from morning to night for years on end.”
There has been renewed interest in the Icehouse catalogue of late. Kobalt Music Group recently signed Davies (and Icehouse’s back catalogue) to a worldwide administration deal, which will hopefully see a number of the songs attached to particular campaigns and television shows. The deal came after the natural end to a long and successful partnership with EMI Music Publishing.
“I’d been with EMI, probably the longest signed artist to EMI, and had a relationship with the Managing Director, John Anderson, that went back thirty years. He retired and it sort of spelt the end of the era for us.”
The choice to go with Kobalt was due to their forward-thinking business model.
“The model of the music industry is changing radically, from what it always was,” explains Davies. “We wanted especially to team up with a company who were more focused on the new model, and especially encompasses the online possibilities. Once upon a time a publisher collected income from a very narrow field, now it’s all over the place and there’s lots of potential for advertising. It’s an interesting time.”
On top of this, the recent Renaissance of ‘80s music and culture has shone the light on Icehouse’s earlier work. Davies is clutching a street press Icehouse manager (and ex-member) Keith Welsh handed him, which features an interview where electropop band Cut Copy sing the praises of Icehouse’s debut record. Davies is excited about the new publishing deal and interest in the band, but is aware he must be careful not to dilute the catalogue with cheesy sync deals.
“We’ve always been very, very selective about the placement of songs, but even that model has changed. Twenty years ago, a lot of stigma was attached to having your song linked with an advertisement. Now it’s a different marketplace so that’s something we will look at.”
On the eve of the debut album’s re-release, and in still the infancy of his relationship with Kobalt, Davies is diplomatic as to what these new endeavours will bring.
“I have no gauge of it, to be honest,” he admits. “There is a fairly large catalogue, but the interesting thing we’ve discovered is the songs are very recognisable but the band name is not. So what we are trying to do is re-couple the songs with the band name. My son’s generation - he’s fourteen - will know a lot of these songs but won’t be able to tell you who they are by.
As a new generation begins to affix Davies to his body of work, he may have to start back on that gruelling touring regime.
“I sincerely doubt anyone will want to see that,” he laughs.