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"The ticket to Melbourne is in your hands/ There's stars
in your eyes …"
Hap Hayward wrote that line in the late-'80s when his band,
The Dead Salesmen, were pursuing the "Great Rock And Roll
Dream". It's now part of Hap's book of lyrics, Songs About
You ($21.95, South Publishing), which he's launching at
Readings in Carlton next Wednesday. What prompted the book?
"I cleaned up my shed over summer and found a heap of things
I'd written that made me a bit wistful," Hap tells Howzat!
"I'm not really writing songs at the moment so I thought
it was a good time to collate the journey so far. I've always
wanted to be an author of something and this idea seemed
like my big chance." The book reads like a diary. "Yeah,
it does," Hap agrees. "I threw up usually before every gig
with nerves and I often sat on the pub toilet having panic
attacks after it. One song starts with the line, 'I'm having
a bit of a breakdown.' I read it back recently and thought,
'Shit a brick - I really was!'"
The book shows that Hap is a fine lyricist, inventive and
interesting. "My best lines were questions," Hap says, citing
"Can a writer shape the future or just make history?" as
the line he's most proud of. Many of Hap's songs are bleak,
but darkly funny. "I drank a lot," he says. "I experimented
a lot in every sense of the word. And I hated myself a lot.
I always cracked jokes on stage, but I was just trying to
cover up how confronting and depressing a lot of my stuff
was. Maybe it's my fault these songs never crossed over
to a bigger audience. I've thought about it often. The world
I wrote about was pretty selfish, depressing and repetitive.
The music was dynamic enough to let us get away with it
for so long." Does he remember writing every song? "There
is a song called Call Your Sons Jesus, which sounds like
the most stoned piece of rubbish I have ever read. I don't
remember playing it at all, but Ryda from The Dead Salesmen
insists we did." Jesus was actually a recurring character
in Hap's songs. "Jesus was the main man for a huge chunk
of my life," he reveals. "I kept going to church to please
my mum. I wouldn't say I'm religious, just immersed and
deeply conflicted, I think. Even a lapsed Catholic can't
completely escape all those years and all those stories
and all the stuff that went with it. Well, this one can't."
Did Hap consider adding extra material to the book, stories
about the songs and the bands? "I was tempted, but I thought
I could upset the other blokes with my 'take' on those sorts
of things. The Salesmen have been getting along really well
over the past few years and I don't want to muck with it.
If I stuck to my lyrics and nothing else, there was no fear
of doing that." So did Hap's rock 'n' roll dreams come true?
"The 'All the beer is free' line became very true. I had
no money and quite often struggled with the rent but I don't
think I paid for a beer between 1988 and 2002." What's next?
"I haven't written in a long time. All of my favourite contributors
live in different towns. I don't know what is next, to be
honest. I might just focus on being a parent and a teacher
[in Ballarat]. As the book reflects, it was 'all about me'
for a long, long time."
JUST THE FACTS
The federal government has launched a new website, Art Facts
It features some thought-provoking stuff: "The median income
for musicians is $7200 a year … 9 in 10 Australians listen
to music each week, 4 in 10 exercise … 80 per cent of songwriters
are men. 70 per cent of music teachers are women … Digital
music revenues are set to overtake CD sales in 2012."
FINALS, LAUNCHES, ANYTHING
Spring has sprung, it's finals time and Split Seconds are
launching one of the great Aussie debuts of 2012 (at Ding
Dong on Saturday). The Perth band now calls Melbourne home.
Keys player, Ben Golby, has even adopted Richmond as his
team - the rest of the band are Eagles supporters.
Guy Sebastian's Battle Scars is the year's longest-running
local chart-topper, spending a third week on top.
Battle Scars GUY SEBASTIAN (number one)
Boom Boom JUSTICE CREW (three)
When The Lights Go Out HAVANA BROWN (20)
Run Alone 360 (24)
Dancing With A Broken Heart DELTA GOODREM (33)
Everyone's Waiting MISSY HIGGINS (34)
Timomatic has a big debut.
The Sapphires soundtrack (number two)
Timomatic TIMOMATIC (three, debut)
The Ol' Razzle Dazzle MISSY HIGGINS (four)
My Journey KARISE EDEN (six)
The Story So Far KEITH URBAN (12)
Falling & Flying 360 (17)
Deep Heat OH MERCY (21, debut)
Drinking From The Sun HILLTOP HOODS (22)
Fear & Freedom RICKI-LEE (25)
Happy Home DARREN PERCIVAL (26)
Broken Brights ANGUS STONE (28)
There Will Be Love ADAM BRAND (32)
The Temper Trap THE TEMPER TRAP (37)
A Is For Alpine ALPINE (38)
Spirit Bird XAVIER RUDD (40)
The Soaring General ANDREW McDONALD
Amanda SPLIT SECONDS
Making This Hard LOVE MIGRATE
Kill To Feel MINIBIKES
Bluestoned THE DEAD SALESMEN
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