Iva Davies is a bona fide Australian rock legend. Over his decorated career, he’s fronted Icehouse for more than 40 years, leading the band to an amazing 28 platinum albums, eight Top 10 albums and over 30 Top 40 singles. Icehouse will play Anthems festival on 28 March at Commonwealth Park, Canberra; anthemsfest.com.au
To show their gratitude for the work of the emergency services this summer, Anthems are offering all local and interstate firefighters, registered volunteers and associated emergency workers free entry.
So many of your Icehouse hits appeal across generations. What do you put that down to?
Iva Davies: It was so unlikely that I’d ever be a songwriter. We first became very popular as a cover band, then it started to become serious, someone had to write some songs, and that became me. The songs we covered were absolute classics, I was painfully aware that when I started writing my own songs I was setting myself that benchmark. We got signed and once that wheel started rolling, it didn’t stop for 16 years. The last thing on my mind when I was trying to fill the quota was whether our music will still be appealing in 40 years’ time.
What’s it like for you now to play before an audience and see people of all ages singing along?
ID: Especially something like this environment with a family-friendly audience, its extraordinary, generally if they’re smaller children, you know the music has travelled through that family. In my relationship with my children, who are young adults now, they reflect what I played them when I was growing up. A pivotal album in my life was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and I know that would still be one of my son’s favourite albums.
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What do you think makes a great rock anthem?
ID: What is incredibly gratifying is hearing a song that has great lyrical power and musical power, and certainly a lot of the great songs come with a political or socio-political edge. Something as overplayed as Khe Sanh has incredibly powerful and moving lyrics about Vietnam veterans.
You’ve also scored movies and dance productions. How is that process different to your band work?
ID: One thing that happened by accident is I ended up acquiring a very serious classical music education. Growing up I was destined to be a classical musician playing the oboe. Had things gone a different way, I would have almost inevitably been a professional classical musician. I’m an ambassador for the idea that a great education is incredibly powerful; it’s been the single most useful thing I’ve had.
What’s the most off-the-beaten-track gig you’ve ever played in your career?
ID: When we did the Man of Colours tour in the US, we had two Top 20 hits in the charts at the time, we were doing very well, but we did a strange tour that led us into some quite odd places. We played a water theme park in Orlando, Florida where the stage was set up to face a massive wave pool with the audience to the right. The most disconcerting thing was having this wave pool in front of us with a lot of people bobbing in these tyres, and every five minutes or so we had this loud alarm go off, and a huge wave set would start.
Note: Iva Davies’ responses have been condensed for publication.