dom mariani - The I-94 Bar
A debut as strong as “Demon Blues” was always going to be hard to top, but but Perth’s hard rock combo extraordinaire Datura4 has scaled that mountain seemingly without trouble.
There’s a deeper psychedelic vein running through “Hairy Mountain” than its predecessor and the songs are just a touch stronger. Dom Mariani and Greg Hitchcock have solidified what was probably a fun idea involving teenage bandmates reuniting into a serious guitar partnership with some scorching sonic explorations. And the gun rhythm section of Warren Hall (drums) and Stu Loasby sounds in command and totally at home.
Robbie Harrold photo
One of the album highlights of 2016 was "Demon Blues", the debut release by Perth-based rock-psych-boogie band Datura4.
A quartet led by Stems/DM3 songwriter Dom Mariani and ex-New Christs, You Am I, Bamboos and Monarchs guitarist Greg Hitchcock, With Stu Loasby (bass) and Warren Hall (drums) completing the line-up, Datura4 conjure a heady mix of guitar-raunch 'n' roll and heavy melodic jams - in the tradition of the Colored Balls and Masters Apprentices, yet unlike any other Australian band currently treading the boards.
Their second album "Hairy Mountain" has recently been unleashed by US label Alive Natural Sounds and we chased down Dom Mariani for a brief grilling, ahead of a quick-fire tour of Australia's East Coast.
Mickster Baty at home in his Off The Hip shop.
The music industry is a shallow trench full of sharks and transient imprints, to paraphrase Hunter S Thompson. Independent record labels come and go with the regularity of manufactured reality TV stars and only a few manage to find their niche and prosper. In Australia, only Citadel is still standing from the halycon days of the 1980s. A few rose in the '90s to fill the gaps left by the demise of Phantom and Waterfront. Since the 2000s, the most enduring has been Melbourne-based Off The Hip.
Off The Hip grew out co-founder Mick ("Mickster") Baty's love of all things garage rock, powerpop and psychedelia. A drummer and veteran of one of Sydney's finest garage-trash outfits, The Crusaders, he went on to killer powerpop bands The Pyramidiacs and The Finkers. Baty saw Off The Hip as an outlet for his own music. He had re-located to Melbourne by then and formed The Stoneage Hearts, a shifting cast of players who produced top-shelf garage rock with a pop bent.
A retail operaiton operating out of his house morphed into a bricks-and-mortar shop in Melbourne's CBD and a floodgate of releases via the fledgling label ensued. It's been an enduring success - on its own terms - since then. Off The Hip - the label and the shop - have inspired and contrinuted to the existence and growth of hundreds of bands.
Last month, the Off The Hip label celebrated its 15th birthday. We decided it was high-time for Mickster to occupy the interview seat.
The term “jam band” first flashed across my radar in a small bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the early ‘00s. It was in a pub called The Eight Ball, underneath the much more famous Blind Pig. I was lucky enough to be sharing a drink with Scott Morgan. (Ooops. I dropped a name.)
“Who’s playing upstairs tonight?”
“Some jam band.”