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Rock Club 40 chats with TODD HUNTER (DRAGON)

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It’s thirty years since Dragon released their ‘Body and the Beat’ album; the album that saw a reunited Dragon once again climbing the charts in the 80s. And to celebrate the album’s 30th Anniversary, Dragon is embarking on a ‘Body and the Beat’tour, performing the album in its entirety. I caught up with bass player and founding member, Todd Hunter, to talk about the tour and the making of the album.

“We’ll do two sets,” Todd explains. “The first set, we’ll do the whole of the Body and the Beat album from the last song to the first song which is ‘Rain’ and then the second set we’ll just start with ‘Young Years’ and do all the Dragon songs that people like to sing. It’ll be a really good night. It’ll be good fun. We do ‘Magic’ every now and again and we do ‘Body and the Beat’every night but because we can’t get around to all the songs, it’s great to actually focus in on some of these songs and do them again because they’re quite well known. We get requests all the time for them. We’ve been reverse engineering some of the songs, just recreating some of the parts that Pete’s going to play. It’s great to do that; to just look back at what we actually did and do it again.”

When the band reformed in 1982, their aim was to pay off a mountain of debt that had accumulated during their years of excess. Todd recalls how the album came about. “We didn’t have a record company when we first started doing that stuff so we just went into Rhinoceros Studios and started recording. We thought ‘We’ll record first and figure out how to pay for it later’. ‘Rain’ was one of those songs and Michael Crawley, who was the A & R guy from Polygram, was walking through the corridors of the studio and he heard that coming out of the control room and he burst into the control room saying ‘What’s that song? I’ve got to have it!’ and he looked around and said ‘What band are you?’  He’d just come over from the U.K. so he didn’t know about our show… or our reputation.  And he just signed us up and away we went. It was done in stages. The thing with ‘Rain’ was done first and then a producer called Carey Taylor came in and we did a whole bunch of stuff and then went to London to finish it off.  It took quite a long time and a lot of money to make that album.”  And worth every penny, as it turned out; a successful tour followed.  “And the single ‘Rain’ relaunched the band in the 80s and we just kept going. Some of (the songs), like ‘Rain’, were written a little bit before but most of them were done around that time and finished in the studio. In those days, you constructed and built it up layer by layer, like piecing together a painting, so people would bring songs. Robert Taylor brought a whole bunch in. Paul wasn’t writing much at that stage at all.”

It was not long after that things changed within the band; the line-up changed and so, too, did the sound.  Todd looks back on those changes. “There were two camps,” he explains. “I loved punk new rock and wanted our stuff to be much more ‘raw’ and sort of move on and some of the band just wanted it to be like it was which it never can be. It always has to keep moving. Alan Mansfield came on board. He was producing Marc’s records and we got him to come and produce ’Rain’. He is the guy who worked for Robert Palmer and did all the guitar parts for those songs like ‘Johnny and Mary’ and ‘Simply Irresistible’ and he joined us as a keyboard player. During the recording, he said ‘This song’s going to be No. 1’ and we said ’Well, if it’s not, you’re going to have to join the band.’ It only got to No. 2 because Austentayshus was No. 1 so he ended up joining the band,” he recalls with a laugh.

That period is often referred to as Dragon’s Glory Years but Todd disagrees with the analogy. “The great thing about being in a band is that the past is gone and the future is unknown so I definitely don’t go with the Glory Years at all. We’re still having great shows and it’s an incredible thing. It keeps on going and you keep getting a new high and the crowds are so great. You’d be really oafish to whinge about it in any way. It’s completely thrilling. Recently, we played to a whole bunch of people on the South Island of New Zealand and they just roared through every single song.”

And while Todd admits that it is nice to look back at the past and to keep those much loved classic songs alive, he says that the band is very much looking to the future. The guys are still writing songs and a new album, with fresh material, is slated for release this July or, as Todd says, “Whenever it’s ready.”

 

by Sharyn Hamey

 

Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2015.  All rights reserved

For full list of tour dates, venues and ticketing information, please visit www.dragononline.com.au

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