The last few months have been something of a whirlwind for Diva Demolition. Opening for KISS and Motley Crue on their Australian tour, as well as opening for Aerosmith, hot on the heels of performing at last month’s amazing Rock for Doc benefit concert for Doc Neeson which, singer and bass player, Kylie Cowling tells me, was ‘’Just amazing! It was an honour to be there, among some very big names and for such a great cause.” Which, I have to agree, it was.
When I spoke to Kylie for this interview, the band had just returned from Dunedin, where they played their first show with Aerosmith and she was still in awe. “What an amazing band!” Kylie declared. “That Steve Tyler… I think he’s super human. He’s got such energy. The concert was massive. There were about 20,000 people there and everyone was on a real high. There was this real buzz and to open up was really amazing. We were stoked to be there.”
Diva Demolition also played in Melbourne but unfortunately not in their home town of Brisbane. “It would have been nice to play to the home town audience again.” Kylie agrees. Both Kylie and guitarist, Sheree live in Brisbane, having moved there in 2010 from Adelaide. “Brisbane has been very kind to us. We have had plenty of shows there and some great opportunities.”
Sheree and Kylie originally hail from Adelaide. “We were in an all-girl band for several years in Adelaide,” Kylie tells me. “The two of us moved to Brisbane and had to reinvent ourselves somewhat. It was a bit more difficult to find female players. Most of the good ones already had a few gigs and we really wanted dedicated players so we had to change our outlook somewhat and we changed names eventually too so we really had to reinvent ourselves – for the good of course!” While the two girls have always been the core members of the band, they are now satisfied that they have found just the right musicians to work with. “We have had to juggle the drumming position among a few people but we have settled on Zac now and we’ve also got Ricky, the guitarist, playing with us now. He sort of discovered us in a way. He was playing with Doc Neeson’s solo outfit in Brisbane last year. He took word of us back to Sydney and told Spitfire Music about us so really he has been the catalyst for all these great things happening. He is a permanent member of the band but he likes to keep it pretty low profile. Ricky certainly adds a bit of an Aussie Rock element to our sound. He is a bit of a Malcolm Young style guitarist. Previously, we’d been playing as a three piece which is challenging at times but fun. Now we’ve been able to expand our sound, just with that extra guitarist and that really frees up Sherree to concentrate on the lead. Consequently, she’s able to shine a lot more without having to hold down the fundamentals of the sound.”
And now, to top it all off, the band has released an EP, ‘Diva Disease’ which features some great rock songs written by both girls, in collaboration with a couple of other people. “It’s good to write with other people,” says Kylie. “You always get a bit of a different insight and different inspiration. Quite a few of the songs on that EP are co-written. There’s a song called ‘Bitch’ which is co-written with a guy called Mark Langley who works for the Defence Force. He was one of the guys we went away to the Solomon Islands with and to the Middle East. We like to grab ideas and hooks where we find them in life and we certainly acknowledge those people who give them to us. It’s always nice to share a slice of the pie. Sherree certainly also adds to the mix there. She’s come up with some good lyrics. ‘Blow Your Hair Back’ is mostly her work lyrically. It’s a funny saying she has. When something impresses her, it ‘blows her hair back’. There’s a story behind that. Until recently, Sherree was an account executive for quite a big company and she had to give it up, of course, for rock and roll. I think some of her work colleagues coined the phrase a couple of years back and when we moved to Brisbane, she started using it as well. Think of Motley Crue in their Dr Feelgood days, in the video clips where their hair is blown backwards. It kind of comes from that.”
Let’s just backtrack here a minute. What’s this about going to the Solomon Islands with the Defence Force?
“We have actually been on four (Defence Force) tours,” she explains. “We did a tour in 2008 to Timor West, with the all-girl band that we were involved with in Adelaide. A couple of years later, we got a call from Mark Langley and he asked if we wanted to come to the Middle East the following week. It was such a rush! It was an amazing tour. We just played acoustically. It was to all these places that were actually quite dangerous. All these helicopter rides and many, many stories to tell. Our third tour was to the Solomon Islands and that was in 2010. That was like a holiday compared to the Middle East. Every time we go somewhere, we get a little glimpse of what the armed forces are up to overseas and they do some amazing work. In December last year, we went to Egypt and that was just an amazing trip; very eye opening. We played on a base that was about 15 or 20 kilometres from the Gaza Strip and we had lots of stories. Every time we went overseas and we could see how it is in another country, it just made us grateful to be here in a country where we are safe and where the possibility of revolution is zero. We live this wonderful life; a rich lifestyle and we always feel grateful about that.”
The girls had no prior involvement with the Defence Forces, nor had they ever been to any of these places before so they learned a lot from the experiences. “I suppose we had preconceived ideas about what the Defence Force does,” the singer admits, “but it was very, very different in reality. There is so much more than just the fighting aspect of it. Basically, they help a lot of people in need and keep families safe and teach them skills. There’s a lot more to it behind the scenes. I think that everybody should do a little tour overseas and see what happens. I think that a lot of people would change their minds about the Defence Force. It’s a credit to our people who go over there because they do suffer. They do put up with very, very harsh conditions and dangerous conditions as well.”
Being in the thick of it all gave the girls a better perspective of life on the frontline and exactly how it impacts on those who are a part of it. “You walk around the place during the day and see all these very serious faces,” she explains, “and then we’d jump up on that stage and those very serious faces would light up and after the show they’re so grateful to you, especially the Aussies. The Aussies really like to talk to the entertainers and the comedians and just say: ‘Thank you. For a whole hour and a half, I forgot I was here.’ But then as quickly as their faces light up, you see them shut down again and get back to work.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the band also recently toured with KISS. “From the army to the circus,” she laughs. “I still don’t really know how we managed to find ourselves on that bill. All I can say is that Spitfire Music, our record company, are absolute champions. You wouldn’t have dared dream about it! We’re very grateful for that experience. It was just magnificent. I think somebody, at some stage, must have listened to our recording and also Andrew McManus probably has had a fair bit to do with that as well. He’s been a real supporter of us in the last few months. As the promoter, he has a lot to do with who plays on the bill. He’s a nice chap and loves his Aussie rock and loves his Aussie Rock chicks!”
And then, of course, they followed it all up by opening for Aerosmith.
“The last few months have been a dream run for us. I don’t know what we’ll do next. We are looking to solidify what we’ve done here in Australia before we venture out overseas so the next couple of months we’re going to be going back to those places where we played and got such great reviews and make the most of the fans who have come on board with us. I suspect they’ll just be smaller pub shows where you’re just a band starting out. Even though you’ve played with KISS, you’ve still got to go through the process of getting people on your side and doing the hard road. And we’re quite looking forward to that. The big stadium shows are unbelievable but you only get a half hour to play and it seems like it’s over before it’s begun so we’re looking forward to getting back to more intimate venues and getting more on a level with people who are watching.”
“We’re just trying to have a good time,” says Kylie, “and that’s what rock and roll is all about. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. I hope that our song writing shows that we like to have a bit of fun and have a good time.”
‘Diva Disease’ is out now. You can download a copy through iTunes. Click on the link below.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2013 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved
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