ineties nostalgia is all of the rage these days and I can't figure out why. The eighties were so much more awesome and I can only imagine that a land mass such as Australia was even more awesome. CROCODILE DUNDEE put the curious continent on the map in a pop cultural sense for us yanks , but the the land down under had it's own party going on in the age of REAGAN. Almost thirty years after the bnd disbanded, we are just getting to know that band DE-ARROW who have just released a collection of demos that were cut between 1983 to 1989 through the label 20th CENTURY. If these were just demos, I'm curious to hear how the the proper releases sounded. In a time of mascara and big hair, DE-ARROW came to the fore armed with the sort of musicianship that was more typical of progressive rock bands - which were out of of vogue for the the time, but not so much these days. Keyboardist NOEL HART and guitarist DRAGAN STANIC have gone through the past brightly and assembled a collection of music that represents all that was possible in the decade of excess, but also gives a look at what American rock radio missed out on. This collection may not convert a non-fan but it will definitely make you curious to hear the band's proper output. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak to keyboardist NOEL HART regarding the collection. Here is how the interview went.
You and the former members of DE-ARROW are on the verge of releasing this collection of demos from the period of 1983 to 1989. How do you feel about this material that you have collected?
I feel great about it! We're actually very excited about it. We're pleased that we've got 20th CENTURY behind us to help us to release this material. We've been waiting thirty years to release this stuff, which has been a bit crazy. We feel quite good that they've instigated this whole situation. They've been very supportive which has been fantastic. We're excited!
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What was the inspiration for going back now and going through this material?
20TH CENTURY had been hassling us for a while now. A couple of years to release this material. There wasn't any reason on our part why we hadn't released it. It's just been sitting there and all of us had moved on to different projects and what have you. It's quite admirable on their behalf that they have pestered us so much because we've been forced into a corner and as a consequence, we've decided to release this album. We're having a lot of fun with it now. We've gotten to that point where we're going through the old demos and photos and magazine articles and letters. We've got copies of everything because back then everything was a hard copy. It's been a fun and interesting and daunting exercise for all of us really.
And with this look back to the band's past,a re there plans for a reunion?
There are no real plans for a reunion of sorts. We are toying around with re-recording some of the older tracks that were'nt demoed. The demo recordings we have are of the more catchier songs that we wanted to present to the record comapnies. We had a lot more longer epic type tracks that were a little more album oriented and we're toying around with re-recording some of those tracks. As far as a reunion goes, there is probably not going to be anything in the way of gigs, but there is a possibility that we will be doing some recordings.
What was it like going back and hearing these demos unearthed?
I hadn't heard them for quite a long time so it was quite enjoyable. We loved going through all of this old material. On that point, I'm going to say something about cassettes. Back in the day, cassettes were the way we recorded these songs and we've actaully taken that to the next level with the record company. What they've done on this CD is they have printed copies of our handwritten rehearsal tapes and on the liner notes below that are more copies of our cassettes. These days, cassette tapes are seen as kind of archaic, however that was the way that we all listened to music and shared our music. On that point, that was how we kept in touch with overseas interests whether it was magazine publications or radio stations or management or what have you. It was all done via cassette. So when I had listened to all of these old demos, it was like redisocvering the power that cassettes once had. We enjoyed it. It was fun.
And what kind of feedback have you guys received from the pending release?
We haven't had a whole lot of feed back yet because the album doesn't come out until later this week and we've only recieved a couple of reviews. So far, people have been really great. Some of the tracks have never been heard before so it will be interesting to hear some feedback on those. Four of the fourteen tracks have been released by other bands. I'm not sure if you realized this but ROXUS recorded two of the tracks on their debut album NIGHT STREET and another Melbourne-based band called WHITE WIDOW recorded the other two tracks. JUNO ROXUS, who was the lead singer of ROXUS sings on two of the songs on this DE-ARROW CD. I think it will be interesting to see how people respond to those as well. But in the meantime, we haven't had a lot of feedback just because the album hasn't come out yet.
How did DE-ARROW come together? What got the band off of the ground?
The singer LOU and I were rehearsing and jamming with another band. It was an okay band, but it wasn't exactly what we wanted to do. So LOU took me aside and said he had this great guitar player and drummer and suggested that we go form our own band. After one rehearsal with this new group of people we realized that everything clicked and we decided to continue on. The band came together during the eighties. We were together from 1983 to 1989 so we were pretty much a product of the eighties which is pretty funny. We had the big hair and we had the melodic rock AOR sound going for us. So it all came together because LOU and I were in another band and wanted to do something else which seems to be quite common. Bands are always interchanging constantly. It's a proverbial merry-go-round.
What was your musical experience before DE-ARROW?
Before DE-ARROW, I played in a bunch of different bands. It's a bunch of bands that you might not have heard of. I played in band called TAIPAN and I was playing with DAVE EVANS, who was once a singer for AC/DC who went onto his own solo band THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER. We were all doing different projects before DE-ARROW and afterwards, we all went on to different solo projects. Some of the guys are still producing and writing TV material and producing other artists.
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What was it that every member brought to the table that made DE-ARROW what it was?
When we used to rehearse, we would rehearse incessantly so it was a collabotrative effort. It wasn't one of those situations where only one person had the ideas and then everyone just followed suite. We were pretty much a tight unit. We rehearsed everyday for hours and we were a very dedicated group of people. I'd say that everyone brought their own element to the table. We always had a problem with singers. In fact, on this album there are about three different singers, but regardless of that I think everyone brought equal amounts of creativity to the table.
You guys were managed by the legendary KIM FOWLEY. Describe what that was like.
We were sending out our tapes to everyone through the whole tape trading scene and KIM FOWLEY's name came up through a mutual contact. A promo packet of ours ended up on his desk and he liked what he heard. At the time, he was a radio corespondent on one of the more mainstream radio stations here in Mebourne and he was contemplating coming out to a show. He came out and we did pre-production work with KIM and we signed a publishing deal. He wanted to co-manage us with a Melbourne manager named BRIAN DiCORSI. What was interesting about BRIAN at the time managed MOLLY MELDRUM who is a huge media figure in Australia. MOLLY hosted what was our version of England's TOP OF THE POPS. So BRIAN managed MOLLY who eventually launched MELODIAN RECORDS which ROXUS was eventually signed to, so it's kind of a small world. KIM was an interesting character as anybody will tell you. He gets a lot fo flack because he was so intense, however I thought he was great to work with. He was wacky and interesting and he put a lot of energy into the band and he helped the dream along. However things really didn't pan out in the end. We didn't exactly split with KIM but he went on to different projects as did we. It was an interesting experience. He was an interesting character.
What brought about the end of the band?
The nineties did. The singer was always the issue for us. At that later point inthe band, we didn't have a lead singer and we were toying around with the idea of having JUNO ROXAS stepping into the fold. We wrote and recorded some stuff with him, but at the same time, all of us were involved in different projects and DE-ARROW had taken a backseat unfortunately because of the singer situation. The opportunity opened up for our guitar player DRAGAN to join ROXUS who were just getting signed and looked like they had some promising stuff on the horizon. So he joined that band. I ended up moving to Los Angeles in '89 and lived there for about seventeen years. Everybody went on to different projects. So it wasn't a determined effort to split the band. It was one of those meandering type situations where everybody was sort of dabbling in other projects and the whole thing ended up petering out basically.
When did you move back to Australia?
I lived in LA from '89 to about 2006 and I married an American and it got to the point where the US was sliding down in terms of the economy and things weren't looking good. Australia just looked like the next new horizon. I hadn't been living here for a long time and my wife had enjoyed our trips to Australia, so we thoguht that we would take that step and I've been here for a little over ten years now.
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Are there any songs on this collection that stand out for you the most and have you excited to have people hear?
I'm actually more excited to hear what other people think. We're so close to these songs. We've heard them for over thirty years now and I think they are all strong in their own sense. The tricky thing is that there are three different singers so there are slight different periods for the band from early to mid to late eighties. With that in mind, all of the recordings sound a little different even though they are presented as a cohesive whole. DRAGAN on guitar and myself on keyboards were always the constant in the band. Singers were always an issue for us, so I think track wise, it's a little tricky to focus in on one or two songs becaue of the singer situation. Id' be really interested to hear what other people think of the songs, to tell you the truth. I don't have any particular tracks that I'd like to single out. I think it works as a cohesive whole despite the different singers.
What would you like people to come away with after they hear this collection of songs?
I'd like there to be some sort reaffirmation for how fun the eighties were. We're not trying to push across any serious message here. We were just having a lot of fun like a lot of bands from the eighties were during that era. There is no deep or hidden message. We just hope that people enjoy a snapshot back to the eighties. There was a lot of great material back then that was never released or released to limited availability. With this release, we're pleased that we're able to get a little more focus thirty years later.
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