The last time I spoke to Dragon bass player, Todd Hunter a few months ago, Dragon was getting ready to wind up their tour and about to take some time out from performing to devote to finishing their new album and now they have done just that. The band’s latest CD, ‘Roses’ is released this week and I had the pleasure of catching up with Todd again to hear about. “We’re very happy with it,” he tells me. “There are some very strong songs on the album. They all sound like Dragon but they all come from very different origins and there’s a deep seed of psychedelia running through the album.”
‘Roses’ was definitely a group project. All the members of the band had a hand in writing the new material, says Todd. “So it’s very mixed. We had band camp at my place down on the south coast in summer which was great.”
Todd says that he finds inspiration for his songs all around him. “It’s like fishing,” he analogises. “You just sit there and wait for something to happen or you have something in your mind or see a phrase or something. In the back of your mind, you’re constantly cataloguing things and storing them. I don’t find it easy to get time to write because there’s so much going on but the actual writing itself, once you relax back into it, it’s great. It’s easy to remember how those parts of your brain are wired. It’s like a process you don’t use in your normal life so you sort of come back to it. It’s very familiar which is great. It’s a very enjoyable thing to write songs. It’s a way of getting something that’s inside… out. It’s a very fundamental thing.”
And these days, there is not the same pressure that Dragon faced 30 years ago to come up with a hit. “You can do whatever you like. It’s really free so it’s good.”
Since the last time we spoke, Dragon has covered a lot of ground and been to a lot of places. But there is never time to stand still for long. “There’s a lot of travelling coming up as well so it’s good to get the album finished off. We’ve got to keep moving.” Todd rattles off a long list of towns that they will be visiting over the next few months, including some out of the way places that probably don’t get to see too many ‘live’ gigs and, of course, there is the usual New Zealand tour at the end of the year; a place where the boys are always met with open arms. But is there much of a difference between the response the band gets in Auckland to, say, Alice Springs?
“Crowds are very different, no matter where you’re playing,” he explains. “Whether you’re playing at a concert or at a theatre or whether it’s a tiny little club, so you never what’s going to happen or what surprising things can eventuate. You can never tell.” However, there is one thing that you can count on at every Dragon gig. You can guarantee that everyone will have a great time. “No matter how dismal everything is, by the time you start, everybody is as one. We just love playing and we have a good time. It’s not something you’d ever want to stop doing. I really love playing. It’s a most enjoyable thing. And you’re always learning, no matter how long you’re doing it. You’re always learning how to do different things.”
And what is the most important thing that Todd has learned from his time with Dragon? He is quick to respond. “Not to take anything for granted. That’s the most important thing, and to stay away from always doing the same thing. The band is really evolving. It’s exciting playing the new songs. They’re melodic, with big singing choruses.”
The band will be performing a selection of the new songs from the album on this tour as well, of course, as all the old songs that their fans know and love. “We go back and forth between the old songs and the new ones,” he promises. “So we don’t leave the crowd behind.”
Dragon will be officially launching ‘Roses’ with a special gig at The Basement in Sydney tonight.
‘Roses’ is released today on iTunes. To purchase and download your copy, go to:https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/roses/id919850623
You can also listen to tracks from the new album on https://soundcloud.com/dragon
For a full list of Dragon’s upcoming gigs, go to: http://www.dragononline.com.au/events
by Sharyn Hamey