Iva Davies is happy not making new Icehouse material. Picture: Cybele Malinoswki
Iva Davies is happy not making new Icehouse material. Picture: Cybele Malinoswki

The Aussie musician Iva Davies is ‘secretly jealous’ of

History is repeating - Iva Davies of Icehouse is watching his 23 year old son Evan following in his musical footsteps.

"He's the same age as I was when the first Icehouse album came out," Davies says.

"He's been playing in bands since he was 13. He's got a Les Paul (guitar), he's between bands right now but he's got mates he jams with in a warehouse almost nightly. Being in a band is a fun thing for a 23-year-old. He's got that mad energy to assemble his mates, carry their equipment around at ridiculous hours of the morning and play in some tiny place."

Iva Davies put Icehouse on ice for most of 2019. Pic: Cybele Malinoswki
Iva Davies put Icehouse on ice for most of 2019. Pic: Cybele Malinoswki

Davies is keeping his son up to date with developments on Sydney's lock out laws, which he says has crippled the chance for bands to play, as well as for people to see live music at all hours like they could in the era of Flowers (the original name of Icehouse).

"I know my son is intensely jealous we evolved at his age where there were opportunities for bands, and also managers, lighting, crew - everyone was swept up in this incredible push. I'm praying for that to return.

"I told him at 22 when Flowers started I'd just terminated my entire 11-year training in playing the oboe, that was what I was entirely destined to be doing professionally. I said to him at 22 Flowers was just a hobby for me that I didn't see any future in. By 26 I'd written Great Southern Land. Lots happened that I didn't predict."

It's now a decade since Davies re-formed Icehouse as a touring proposition, first getting the band back together for 2009's Sound Relief charity concert.

Always avoiding any retro bills, they've created such a major following that in 2018 Icehouse sold a remarkable 240,000 tickets in Australia - comparable with what they were doing at the peak of their commercial success in the '80s with albums like Primitive Man and Man Of Colours.

Icehouse back in 1980 when they were still known as Flowers.
Icehouse back in 1980 when they were still known as Flowers.

Davies says they've "deliberately" wound down touring this year to plot their next move for 2020.

"It'll be a generational thing, that's all I can say."

Part of their success isn't just nostalgia sales, they've been discovered by new audiences. 

Davies says the first time he realised the band had regenerated its fanbase was when they played Homebake festival in 2011 and had been asked to focus on their 1980 debut album, home to We Can Get Together, Walls, Icehouse, Sister and Can't Help Myself.

"The promoter told me most of the audience would be around 20 years old. I said he was insane, because they wouldn't have been born when that album was released, let alone know the songs. I was expecting the biggest disaster ever."

 

 

 

Three songs in, as well as Steve Kilbey from the Church in the front row, Davies realised something odd was going on.

"It was just teenagers mouthing all the words to all the songs," he recalls.

"Now I understand. At the time my son was a teenager. I've seen how he has trawled back through history and found the '60s and '70s.

"If I was to define his taste in music it'd be '70s. His entire life revolves around YouTube and then going down online rabbit holes researching where that drummer came from and who he went on to play with. He has a massive knowledge of all things rock and roll. That explains it.

"When I was his age I had three albums I'd saved up to buy, now kids have access to the entire history of music.

Iva Davies in 1987 circa Man of Colours.
Iva Davies in 1987 circa Man of Colours.

"One of the things that confuses me about watching that is the few attempts I've made to come to grips with what's being generated in the way of new music in Australia. I find it very difficult to align the sort of people who might be listening to us with the sort of people who might be listening to young acts emerging through Triple J.

"They seem to have very little in common. The logic of younger people finding Icehouse music through the internet is obvious, how those same people listen to new music that I can't relate to at all - that is the mystery to me."

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Icehouse scored 21 Top 50 hits between 1980 and 1990, including Top 10 hits Crazy, Electric Blue, Love In Motion, Hey Little Girl and Can't Help Myself. Davies says factoring in big hits, as well as key album tracks, makes writing out setlists that won't disappoint people but don't run for three hours is a nightly dilemma.

"It's a fantastic position to be in (to have too many hits), but to leave out Top 5 singles seems almost criminal. But we have to do that every night. It's really tricky. The band have personal favourites, things we haven't played for a while, they're constantly harassing me."

However Davies still has no desire to write new Icehouse material, and would rather dust off deep cuts like Uniform or Boulevarde to keep the set interesting.

Iva Davies on stage during Homebake in The Domain 2011. Picture: Mitch Cameron
Iva Davies on stage during Homebake in The Domain 2011. Picture: Mitch Cameron

"I am inherently lazy at this point in my life. I have become secretly jealous of people like Paul Kelly who seem to have so much energy and keep recording new material and are constantly at it. I've had time to reflect on my peculiar songwriting process by comparison to people like him or Nick Cave.

"It was only recently I came to the conclusion that my writing periods were so intense, because that was the effort required from me because I was so bad at it. It was always like pulling teeth for me. I had to completely submerge myself in songwriting 24/7 for a block of time.

"Because my son is starting songwriting, I had to talk him through what my process was. I was in a state of absolute hyper vigilance. I'd go to a cafe and be listening in to every conversation just in case someone dropped a phrase I could use as a line in a song. Walking down the road I'd look up and see a sign that said Angel Street and that became a song. But to be in that state looking for anything that would trigger inspiration was exhausting. So that's why I'm jealous of Paul Kelly. How can you keep coming up with ideas all the time? Aren't you just wrecked?"

Icehouse headline the first annual Crowd Surf Festival at Sandstone Point Hotel, Bribie Island on May 9, 2020. Tickets go on sale Thursday at at 9am AEST via Ticketmaster. 

 

 

Iva Davies and mullet, 1986.
Iva Davies and mullet, 1986.


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