With temperatures soaring all around the country at the moment, the Red Hot Summer Tour is definitely appropriately named. Dragon lead singer, Mark Williams is looking forward to being a part of it all but not too sure if he is looking forward to the heat. And I can’t say I blame him. 2013 is off to a scorching start and the towns he will be visiting are right in the thick of it all. Scorching heat aside though, Mark is confident it will be a great experience for the band. Dragon is part of an all-star line-up that features the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Baby Animals, Chocolate Starfish, Ian Moss and, in some towns, with guests Ross Wilson and Swanee. “This is a fantastic tour,” he says, “because it’s quite extensive and it’s regional and they are great places to go. 2013 feels like it’s going to be a pretty big year. I think this Red Hot Summer Tour will just be the precursor. We just get to do forty five minute sets on this tour which is actually over a couple of months. We’re more like weekend warriors now. We don’t work every day. I don’t think we could handle every night now,” he laughs. “But, having said that, Dragon did seventeen shows in twenty days and we handled it pretty well. We had very few days off.”
But the guys will get a short break in March after the Red Hot Summer Tour. “And then Dragon are celebrating forty years of being Dragon,” Mark says. “And that will be another national tour and, I hope, regional as well. This is the first time I’ve ever been to Tasmania, on The Red Hot Summer Tour, so I’m really looking forward to that. If we get the chance and we impress them enough and they say ‘Yes, come down for the 40th Anniversary Celebration Tour’, I’ll be more than thrilled!”
So the band is celebrating 40 years of Dragon this year but how long has the current line-up been together? “It’s only been six years,” Mark tells me. “We haven’t been together very long. I don’t know how long the first band was together but we’re hoping to beat that record.”
Mark recalls when he first got the offer from Todd Hunter to join the band. “Todd gave me a call out of the blue, flew me over, sat me at the kitchen table and said ‘Hey, wanna join a rock and roll band?’ You know, I didn’t even know Todd at the time but he made the offer and, within seconds, I said YES!” And he has enjoyed the run so far. “And that is the word. It has been pure joy! The band has been allowed to morph as its own identity, not forgetting where it came from all the time but still allowing it to move ahead and Todd allowed that to happen. We’re all putting our bit in. We’re all writing; we’re all submitting. We all have a say in how this gig should work. We’re quite close in that respect. Although, since we live so far apart, our meetings only happen at a café at an airport in the departure lounge.”
Remembering back to when the band was writing and recording their Chase the Sun CD, Mark laughs at the way it all happened. “We finished something in August because we had a launch date of 4th August and roughly two or three weeks out from the launch date, none of us had thought of anything. We told ourselves six months ago, the launch date is August 4th and we had nothing until three weeks before! So this particular time, we all got into our own separate bedrooms in our own separate houses and put down stuff in our own way and then our drummer, Pete Drummond, put the whole thing together. And we kind of enjoyed it that way actually, where we didn’t have to see each other. We were quite happy with how it came together. We all had equal input and kind of left it up to Todd and Pete to piece it together and make something of it.”
Mark feels that, over the last six years, the band has grown to be quite a solid unit. “We actually enjoy each other’s company and as I said before, we all have our input. It seems to really work, the way that we’ve got it together. We’re kind of our own bosses. We don’t travel all the time with a tour manager or anything like that. And we’ve got Todd at the helm. He keeps us level-headed.”
While everything is coming together nicely now, there have been challenges along the way. “I went through a stage,” he reveals, “about four years ago, when I actually lost my voice. I lost the ability, specifically, to be able to sing. Something happened to my larynx. Nobody could find out what happened and, in six months, it actually picked up. I became the backline and I just played guitar. We got Darren Percival and Bernie Segedin to sing with us. So, in those six months, with me not being able to sing and just being able to concentrate on the music, it absolutely solidified the band as a unit and as friends too. We’re good mates.”
Mark believes that the experience changed the whole dynamic of the band. “I didn’t have to worry about singing; I just concentrated on how it was feeling and what the band was doing and my part in there and how it all fit together. Something happened in that six month period, which is really good. I never worried about it. I knew it would come back although physically I didn’t know how to sing. My vocal chords weren’t connecting. It was like a grunt. They thought that I would get over it in a week. Well, two weeks went on, three weeks went on, one month, two months… It was a long time before I actually recovered. It’s all good now. We’re trying to work out what might have caused it because leading up to that, I did about eight or ten gigs in something like nine or ten days and we were travelling up in Queensland so we thought it was exhaustion but it wasn’t that. We’ve just done seventeen dates in twenty days so it wasn’t that. I don’t know what happened.”
Fortunately, the singer has now fully recovered from the incident and everything is back to normal. So no more problems with the voice then? “It hasn’t failed me since.” he assures me.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2013 Sharyn Hamey All Rights Reserved.
The Red Hot Summer Tour is making its way around the country now
Tickets available from Ticketmaster. Ph: 136 100 or www.ticketmaster