Notorious Melbourne pub rockers Dave Wright & The Midnight Electric are releasing their long-awaited and uniquely Australian second album, HWY. Having had first-hand experience of that old adage -sometimes life gets in your way', after a challenging 2016 with the band on hiatus, the six-piece have come busting out for 2017 revived, renewed, refreshed and ready to rock.
The band are known not just for their powerful live shows, but for their poignant lyrical ability. Singer-songwriter Dave Wright pens evocative lyrics of the darker, gothic side of Australia; death, despair, the downtrodden, the distressed and the drunks. This new album is no exception, it is vivid with these themes but has a core inspiration you can see from the album title; the dualities of the road – how it brings people together and sustains them, and how it can tear people apart. Taking this central theme, Dave opted for a concise album of eight-tracks that could exist on two sides of vinyl and would hold thematically strong for audiences.
Once settling on the -road' theme for HWY, the album fell into place, with obvious song selections going into the studio, cutting several songs that didn't fit anymore, and a couple which had been previously overlooked were given attention and colourfully revived. Dave was careful to ensure that the eight tracks which form the new album were varied in style and pace, but connected thematically and emotionally, fitting the framework of journey / relationship / despair scenarios. 'I knew I wanted some fast and some slow numbers, and that while I think HWY is our most -rock' record, I still wanted to show my love of folk and country and highlight the versatility of the band," says Dave.
Dave admits he had some lofty ideas from his songwriting background, which was originally inspired by lyrically detailed -story' songwriters such as Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Paul Kelly and Don Walker. Ideally, Dave wanted to write music that, although relatable and uniquely Australian, could still resonate heavily with audiences on a global scale.
Choosing a story concept, the album opens with the mysterious revving of a car engine coming to life and proceeds to give soul to the road as its central theme, closing with a man shattered by the loss of his wife in a tragic car accident, lost and seeking solace on the open highway.
The album was inspired by his childhood growing up in Colac, Victoria and taking enjoyment in long distance travel. The writing on HWY is truly evocative of this experience. 'From a small a boy I have loved to travel, especially through this great country," says Dave. 'I have seen a lot from the window of a car and love driving those great roads where the asphalt dissects the horizon and the sky just opens up. I write about driving because it is the means to an end. The by-product of the journey that we are all on, and the stories that are yet to be told."
Dave has come a long way from his first performance at the local church aged 14 when he got his first band together, keen to play for anyone who would listen. As for the future of Dave Wright & the Midnight Electric, the band will be doing a series of launch shows in Melbourne, followed by regional and interstate shows for Adelaide and Sydney, and are really looking forward to hitting the road and performing the new album live to new faces in new locations.
Dave Wright & The Midnight Electric's new album HWY is independently released on Thursday 20th April 2017.
For more information, please visit www.davewrightandthemidnightelectric.com
Question: How would you describe HWY?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: It is an eight track album concieved and curated for vinyl. A thematic journey about the dualities of the road- how it brings people together, and how it tears them apart.
Question: Did you have any pre-conceived ideas about the music industry?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: I stopped worrying about any "music industry" years ago. To an unsigned, independent band you might as well forget about an industry. It is merely hard graft, and constant work to get your message out against the constant stream of drivel on social media. It is extremely tough to turn clicks into anything tangible like album or ticket sales and I have relied on a loyal supporter base to continue my work.
Question: Do you write your own songs? What's your inspiration?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: I write 100% of my songs. I draw inspiration from topical and personal events and emotions, people that I talk to and stories that I hear, as well as an extensive music collection.
Question: What music/artists do you listen to when you are not playing your own?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, Paul Kelly, Hunters & Collectors, Weddings, Parties, Anything, The Church, Lucero, Cold Chisel, Jason Isbell, The War On Drugs, The Waterboys, Drive By Truckers, The Clash, Rich Davies & The Low Road.
Question: What's next? Tour/Album/Single?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: 3 Album Launch shows at The Grandview Hotel in Fairfield, Melbourne through April and May. Then shows in Mount Gambier and Adelaide July 14th and 15th and a Melbourne show as a part of the Leaps and Bounds Festival at the Labour In Vain with Rich Davies & The Low Road July 22nd.
Question: Was there a moment you contemplated throwing in the towel?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: No.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: Playing live. It is an immediate rush and connection and in some way a culmination of the recording process. To see peopledancing to the music your band makes and singing your lyrics is a justification of the determination and hard work.
Question: What/who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: As mentioned, I don't feel part of an industry. I certainly don't make anything close to a living from music. I write songs because I need to for myself. People enjoy them and as long as they do I will keep writing and releasing the results. Many musicians inspire me, but I do this because I HAVE to.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: Keeping a band together that will share, follow, and expand my vision.
Question: What's a typical day like?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: A typical day for me is being a husband, father to twin daughters, and small business owner first. Dealing with the responsibilities, joys, and challenges that all that entails. Being and exisitng as a musician is secondary. On days where I am recording or playing a show there is extra pressure on those around me to ensure the family life stays constant and that the girls are looked after. On a show day I will spend the morning with my family and then check and pack my gear, write setlists, pack merch, and travel to the venue. Meet with the sound crew, set up the stage and sound check. Set up the merchandise section. Ensure the door list is correct. Then there is a bit of down time and sitting around before the crowd comes in the the show begins. Then it is meet the fans and friends after the show, man the merch desk, pack down and bump out my gear and travel home.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: The journey I have taken with Tim and Rob and the rest of the band, the way I have seen myself grow as a songwriter, and the joy we seem to bring to people who relate to my music.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: Bruce Springsteen or Paul Kelly.
Question: Can you tell us 5 things required for a happy healthy & enjoyable life?
Dave Wright and The Midnight Electric: A good balance between work and leisure, whatever that may be.
Try to eat nutritious food that you enjoy and avoid the sugary drinks!
Have an outlet. Music is mine. Find something that you enjoy, that brings meaning to your life and helps define who you are, and pursue it as hard and as far as you dare!
Try and put down the phone. Disengage from social media and pick up a book, go to an exhibition, see a band, travel. Experience life in person, not as a second- hand distillation, from a screen!
Interview by Brooke Hunter