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Aussie artists
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Howzat! Archive - September 5th 2012

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HAPPY MAN
"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 (http://artfacts.australiacouncil.gov.au). 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.


CHART WATCH
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)


HOWZAT! PLAYLIST
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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