Livingstone Daisies have a pretty impressive line-up, well known to fans of discerning Australian roots and rock ‘n’ roll music – Van Walker (Vocals, Guitar), Liz Stringer (Vocals, Guitar), Michael Barclay (Vocals, Drums) and Cal Walker (Vocals, Bass).
With the release of their debut album Don’t Know What Happiness Is, The Daisies have crafted a record that is a joy to behold – jangly, melodic and thoughtful tunes – plenty of pop sensibility but with a good dose of Scotch and Coke. This offering is short (eight tracks) but immensely powerful and will make you want more.
I can’t wait to see The Livingston Daisies perform this material live. This album should not fly under the radar.
Here are some thoughts from lead singer/songwriter Van Walker.
I know very little about flowers but I read that Livingstone Daisies thrive in sunny, dry conditions, bloom for weeks and close at night and on cloudy days. Does this have anything at all to do with the band name?
Van: The band name came about because we wanted a decisively summer feel to the record. We recorded the album at a beach shack in summer, we wanted it to be released in summer, so though it was recorded last summer, we waited until this summer to release it. The flower only blooms in summer and, though most of us are night-owls, we thought it appropriate for our sound. The name also came from The Viz Profanisauras (an extremely funny collection of slang from the British comic, VIZ).
LIVINGSTONE DAISIES 1.n. Bot. Attractive flowers that come out when the sun shines. 2. n. attractive knockers that come out when the sun shines, causing taxi drivers to mount the pavement, milkmen to fall down manholes & straw-hatted vicars to ride their bicycles into fruit barrows.
So much has been achieved by the band members already, why form this combination at this time in your careers?
Van: It started as just a fun weekend away to record and make music among friends. The initial batch of songs were written by me, and the second batch were also penned by me. But the idea is anyone can write the songs if they wish, we were happy to go with the songs at hand. For busy musicians who are often touring the same material, it’s very welcome to try something different, and most artists generally are not one dimensional, there are always a lot of different sounds they’d like to explore, and old sounds they used to explore that they’d like to enjoy again. Most people become known for one style or genre but rarely is it the whole picture. We all get into many different styles, from rock’n’roll (The Swedish Magazines) Psyche (Go Go Sapien) Garage (Skywest & Crooked) roots & blues (Liz Stringer) folk-trad, pop-rock (Barclay in the Coloured Girls and Weddings, Parties, Anything) to my solo country finger-picking stuff.
How did the songs evolve and how were they progressed to finished product?
Van: The band evolved from a recording session the four of us did, a while back, at the beach shack, where we had fun with some pop rock sounds similar to that of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and early 80’s Saints. The idea was to utilise the fact all four members were singers, so to get into building harmonies to these jangly pop songs. While we were doing this we realised we were all fans of the Scottish group, Teenage Fanclub. So over the next few months I wrote a bunch of songs more in this style, which ended up being Don’t Know What Happiness Is. If we ever release the first recording session it is more in the Heartbreakers/80’s Saint’s vein.
The vocals to me are beautifully understated but crucial to the album’s sound. How were the vocal tracks laid down?
Van: We recorded the album in four days. Each day we would record a few bed tracks, then of the evening we’d light the bbq and have a drink, and as we could hear the mixes coming from inside, we’d each work out harmonies and guitar parts and go inside and record them. So we built on the songs very naturally, having a good time, and just singing what we thought suited each track. We also avoided using headphones for recording the overdubs, which kept the takes live & loud.
An eight track album is shorter than average – presumably a decision to not compromise on the quality?
Van: We always planned to release the album on vinyl, so although we recorded about 14 songs, we wanted to keep it four tracks a side for optimum hi-fidelity.
On the opening track you talk about putting the bins out on Wednesdays – is that really your bin day?
Van: When I wrote the song our bins did go out on Wednesday. A friend of mine who kindly gives me topics to write songs about suggested the topic Wednesday (because it was a Wednesday when she suggested it) so I wrote the song. However, we moved house about a year ago, and now our bins go out on Sunday. And now I always forget!
Released on Popboomerang Records – http://www.popboomerang.com/bands.php?id=64&page=livingstone-daisies