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Interview: DIESEL

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It doesn’t really feel like thirty years since singer/songwriter/guitarist Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel) first burst on to the Australian music scene but his latest album, released last month, is testimony to that fact.

The album, ‘Diesel – 30: The Greatest Hits’, features thirty songs and with the exception of the opening track, his new single ‘Give Me Saturday Night’, it is virtually a retrospective of the singer’s body of work over the last thirty years, including all his hit singles plus a few extras that he has recorded over the years. Thirty songs over thirty years. Quite an impressive collection, to say the least and even Mark was a bit taken aback by the extent of his catalogue. “I think when it really hit home is when I got the gatefold for the cover and I saw all the (songs) on the cover in chronological order. It shouldn’t really take something like that to make it really ring true, but I think that the visual that I saw on the cover kind of hit me. I hadn’t looked at my catalogue in that way.”

Looking back over his musical career and how it all began, he recalls the early days. “Johnny Diesel and the Injectors was very much the aftermath of a band we were all in before that. We all happened to be in this band called Innocent Bystanders that we were in for about two or three years. I started looking for bands to play in from the age of 14 and by the age of 16, I found this band called Innocent Bystanders. That band already had a singer and songwriter. He was a few years older than me and he was already quite a bit ‘down the road’, because he already had a career and he kind of took me under his wing. But I guess he wanted to move on and do other things, so he disbanded our band, and that was the catalyst for me to start thinking about doing my own thing and writing and singing my own songs because I hadn’t done much of that before. I was in this band that already had a singer and songwriter, so I didn’t have the pressure. And I think it was from about the age of 18 that I started thinking along those lines.”

“We got signed, we made a record, we toured the world three times and, by 1991, I was tired. I don’t know why but I felt something had shifted. I just wasn’t feeling it any more. The band thing was great for that one record, but I didn’t have the vision for the next one. When I don’t have the vision or a burning in my stomach, I can’t commit to it. I really didn’t want to go through the motions of making the second album just for the sake of it and having to pull the plug on it.”

The success of that first album would ordinarily have placed the singer under a lot of pressure when following it up with his next album but he says he managed to avoid the so-called second album syndrome by coming up with a record that was very different to his first. ‘Hepfidelity’ was Diesel’s first solo album and was destined to be a huge hit, topping the ARIA album charts.

His music covers a range of genres from blues to rock to Americana, which gives it a wide appeal. “I like the fact that I can play different types of music although a few times I’ve questioned it,” he admits. “Is it OK? Are people going to be OK with this? But it feels good to me, so I don’t see why I can’t go in this direction and that direction and be inspired by anything in between. There are so many great artists that have made an impact on me and it’s interesting when you think of some artists and think they’re definitely that kind of genre or whatever and then you read things about them and you realise that ‘Oh, they like that artist. That’s really surprising.’ That’s how music is really. Just because you like one type of music doesn’t mean you have to stick with it.” And the singer will certainly be mixing it up a bit on this tour, with something to please every taste and, as he points out, “If you don’t like one song, chances are the next one will be completely different!”

“We’re doing some really different things on this tour as far as instrumentation goes,” he explains. “There’s a lot of different stuff happening. The band that we’ve got is really dynamic and I want to show just how dynamic it can be.”

Diesel also has recently had a signature Fender Stratocaster created in his honour and he is clearly thrilled and very flattered. “I wasn’t really paying attention,” he tells me. “I had so much going on around that time. The record was being released and it was a really cool thing to have at the same time but actually holding it in my hands, it was a very tangible thing. It kind of humbled me; it really kind of brought a tear to my eye when I first got it. I thought ‘Wow!’ I’m really humbled by having my own guitar, especially as there’s the nostalgia factor too because it was the guitar that I had when I started. It’s not the exact one but to me it looks so similar.” And the guitar will definitely make an appearance at shows on this tour which he is excited about. “Yes,” he says proudly. “I’m really looking forward to that.”

Diesel is currently touring the country with his ‘Give Me Saturday Night Tour’. Get full tour details and book tickets here.

 Get your copy of ‘Diesel – 30: The Greatest Hits’ here.  

 

by Sharyn Hamey

 

Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2018.  All rights reserved

 

 

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