Chatting with Iva Davies ahead of Crowd Surf festival

Published 3:38pm 17 March 2021

Chatting with Iva Davies ahead of Crowd Surf festival
Words by Kylie Knight

When Icehouse perform at this weekend’s Crowd Surf festival at Sandstone Point Hotel, fans will be treated to a new element giving them an insight into the creative process of the late 1970s.

Moreton Daily chatted to frontman Iva Davies about the show earlier today and he shared a discovery that’s added a whole new dimension to their set.

“Two months ago, I found a notebook which goes back to 1977, when the band started,” Davies says.

The book contains working “scribble of lyrics of early songs”, including original lyrics which were crossed out and replaced with the final words. These have been scanned and will be projected behind the band as they perform the songs.

It will be synchronised with the music, line-by-line.

Icehouse debuted the new element in their Melbourne show last weekend and are finetuning it for the Sandstone Point Hotel show this Saturday.

Icehouse will be joined by Pete Murray, The Black Sorrows with Vika and Linda Bull, Diesel, Busby Marou, and Katie Noonan for the Crowd Surf festival on March 20.

Chatting with Iva Davies ahead of Crowd Surf festival

Reminder of journey

Finding the notebook has reminded Davies of the band’s humble beginnings and how life has brought him to this point.

“This whole thing developed from a hobby. I didn’t think it would turn into a career,” he says.

“I remember there was a time I had resigned from being a professional oboist and was paying the rent by cleaning.”

Performing in a band was a hobby and at one point he even applied to do a piano tuner course at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. Thankfully, he didn’t make the grade and the rest … is Australian music history.

“I didn’t think any kind of living could be made from playing in a rock’n’roll band,” he says.

“I thought it would only last five minutes.”

It has in fact lasted more than four decades and the band is relishing the chance to play live music again after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of gigs in 2020.

“It’s been an incredible boost for members of the band and the crew. We did a show a couple of weeks ago and it was the first in 344 days, not that anyone’s counting,” he says laughing.

“The crew haven’t worked a single day in all of that time.”

The band returned to the stage in Sydney a few weeks ago and Davies says it was very different to other gigs, with fans having to bring their own chairs and refrain from dancing.

He even had to remind them to sit down in line with COVID-19 restrictions down there at that time.

It was surprisingly more relaxed in Melbourne last weekend.

“You could tell everybody and all the people working at the festival, were ready to let of some steam,” he says.

Davies says he enjoyed getting out of Sydney, the change of scenery, and being reunited with his ‘working guitars’ which are stored in Melbourne.

What he enjoys about the festival format

“I enjoy seeing the other bands. We’ve worked with some incredible line-ups over the last little period,” he says.

It’s something that didn’t happen ‘back in the day’ when bands were booked every weekend or touring.

This format brings them together for the show and gives them the chance to catch up afterwards.

“It’s strange how much of a network it has become. I’ve always been fairly insular, not for any reason, you just work in your own bubble and it was a rarity to meet up with members of other bands,” he explains.

He says crews work incredibly hard and quickly to get bands on and off stage at these gigs, and some set-ups including theirs are complicated.

But the festival setting and relaxed vibe is a hit with fans.

“Rather than just seeing a show, it’s a whole day’s activity,” Davies says.

“You can watch all the bands or just some of the bands. It’s a different experience to going to a theatre setting to see a band.”

He says having a car show incorporated in the Crowd Surf festival would add to the colour of the day.

Favourite song to sing live?

For Davies it’s Great Southern Land.

“It’s a very strange song … nobody outside the band and crew would appreciate … for a long time we’ve always used it as our first sound-check song. If we get it sounding right, everything else will fall into place,” he says.

He says there’s a few songs fans expect the band to sing at each gig including Electric Blue, Crazy, We Can Get Together.

“On the occasion that we have skipped one of those, people have let me know pretty quickly,” he says.

So, why does their music still resonate?

“That’s the million-dollar question, I’m not qualified to answer. I’ve got no idea, really,” he says.

When asked to recall a show that stands out in his memory, one springs to mind for Davies.

“We did a Royal Command Performance for Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1988 at the Entertainment Centre in Sydney. That was one of those events in my mind … it was a night to remember, particularly as we’ve all been watching The Crown,” he says laughing.

“It was the highlight of a big 14 months of work we’d been doing.”

The Crowd Surf festival is at Sandstone Point Hotel on March 20. Gates open at 12.30pm and tickets were still available at the time of publication.

To find out more and book, visit the website.

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