Dragon is a band that is always searching for new and different ways to approach their live shows; things that might be fun to do. And, as founding member and bass player, Todd Hunter explains in this recent interview with Rock Club 40, that is pretty much how they came up with the idea for the Countdown Years Tour. “Let’s just play a whole bunch of songs that we love from the 70s; the songs that we saw on Countdown and do the songs that we played on Countdown as well.”
Obviously, there will be a wide choice of songs from their own catalogue and an even wider choice of extra material to choose from. “Basically, we’ll go through and find a song we really like; ‘Yesterday’s Hero’, ‘Summer Love’, that’s a great song. And anything that we can make sound good so that there’s some point in doing it. It’s going to be great fun I think.”
Countdown, of course, played an important role in Dragon’s history and, indeed, for the Australian music scene as a whole and Todd says that the band wants to salute that.
“Countdown was huge,” he acknowledges. “It was so noticeable from the first day you were on that things had changed forever, irrevocably and Molly was such a huge proponent of Australian music so it’s a great thing to remember. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of fun doing it.”
It’s about forty years since Dragon first appeared on Countdown and Todd recalls the first song the band ever performed on the show. “It was a thing called ‘Star Kissed’. Countdown was an extraordinary experience and the first time we did it, we were just wondering what the hell we’d come across!” he laughs. “The Countdown days were interesting. You had three runs through, including a dress rehearsal, to an empty studio and they’d bring all the kids in and they’d start screaming and it would not stop until they cleared them out so when you actually played, you were miming to the instrumental track and singing live so of course you couldn’t resist being stupid.”
They got to know the Countdown crew pretty well and, of course, Molly. “He really liked how ‘poppy’ and approachable our music was but he was always dismayed at how badly we behaved, which is fair enough. So he was always torn between scolding us and, in Humdrum, saying ‘Well, this is great. Check this out!’” He remembers with a laugh.
Todd isn’t sure just how many times Dragon appeared on Countdown but he points out that they weren’t just limited to performing their hit singles. “We did all sorts of stuff including B sides and odd things as well, rather than just the singles so there would have been a lot over that whole period.” And that gives them a plethora of material to choose from for their upcoming shows.
“They always had the most extraordinary people,” he recalls. “It was always great to watch. Overseas bands like The Police were both arrogant and funny. But even just walking back and forth to the stage, Bob Hawke would be walking past because he’d be on and he’d say ‘Hi Marc’ and Marc would say ‘Hi Bob’.”
There is one memory in particular that springs to mind for Todd when he thinks back to those days. “Billy Idol came into our dressing room. We told him we were waiting and he spent an hour with Marc and Paul singing a whole bunch of Maori songs. I have no idea how he knew them but he was faultless the whole way through. That’s pretty wild; so random. Overseas artists were always hanging around in the cafeteria. Everyone was equal and someone would wave and you just got to talk to them all.”
As for remembering details of their actual performances, Todd admits that it’s all a bit of a blur. “The crowds got more and more hysterical as we were having a few more hits. ‘April Sun’ was the first one where it got sort of hysterical. But at that stage things were pretty mad. We toured with Sherbet in those years. I’ve got a tape of a concert and it was just this screaming the whole time. It was really weird. It was exciting to play. I must actually put that tape up on Sound Cloud. I think it was at Festival Hall in Melbourne.”
I have to confess that I was probably at some of those concerts at The Hordern Pavilion in Sydney…
“You were probably screaming,” he laughs. Hmmm…. No comment…
“We did play a show with Sherbet a few years ago too. That was great,” he says. “That was the benefit for Harvey James at the Enmore Theatre.” And more recently, Dragon was one of many in the local music industry who pulled together to put on a benefit for Mick Skelton, the drummer from Thirsty Merc who suffered serious injuries after a car accident while on tour last year and for the family of roadie Shane Cooper who tragically lost his life in the same accident. “It was a beautiful thing,” he recalls. “Everyone was there at The Enmore. It’s good when people look out for each other in tough times.”
The Countdown Years Tour kicks off in March but before that, Dragon will be joining forces with two other great bands: The Angels and Mi-Sex, for the return of The Clash of the Titans, an eight date tour of New Zealand. As for who is headlining, well, the three bands mix it up. “We toss a coin as to who is playing in what slot,” explains Todd. “It’s like an old fashioned boxing or wrestling match. It’s great. It works. Last time we did it, practically every date was sold out.”
Check out the full list of Dragon Tour Dates
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2016. All rights reserved