DEUS do Down Under
IT’S a funny story, how DEUS have spent 21 years together but never made it to Australia.
‘‘ The first time we were invited by PJ Harvey, this was ’ 95, a fantastic period for her when she was really happening. But our bass player didn’t want to go because his side- project had to do a tour in Holland or something, I dunno,’’ recalls singer Tom Barman with a rueful laugh.
‘‘ The next time we were gonna come to Australia with Blur, but then the record company didn’t wanna give us tour support, so that didn’t happen.’’
DEUS finally reach our shores in May on the back of the belated Australian release of their sixth album, Keep You Close, ‘‘ although it’s not a tour,’’ Barman points out, ‘‘ it’s just a couple of dates’’.
Still, a couple of dates ( in Sydney and Melbourne) is better than none from Belgium’s biggest band ( besides Soulwax).
The fact DEUS have been able to tour constantly around Europe since the release of their first album Worst Case Scenario in 1994 is no mean feat, given the, er, artiness of some of their music. On record they flit from freeform jazz to off- kilter rock to the most sublime ballads.
It’s little wonder Barman says the band’s music has to be ‘‘ multifunctional’’, given the diversity of audiences they attract.
They count among their admirers REM’S Michael Stipe, Something For Kate’s Paul Dempsey, Elbow’s Guy Garvey ( who sang on their 2008 album, Vantage Point ) and Muse’s Matthew Bellamy.
But while DEUS have rather successfully eaten up half of his life, Barman still gets the feeling he should be somewhere else.
‘‘ I wanted to be a film director and I still do. I had absolutely nothing in mind,’’ he says of the band’s beginnings.
‘‘ I was just having a good time, I was 21 and I was in a band like the rest of the world’s population, I guess. Then next thing you know we got signed to Island and I started touring. Everything that’s happened since was not foreseen.
‘‘ Of course there becomes a certain ambition . . . But I’m struggling every day with, you know, this is not what I was meant to be doing!’’
Barman has a reputation in Belgium as a man who has, shall we say, enjoyed his success. He agrees there would be ‘‘ a good film, or at least inspiration’’ in the story of DEUS, but he isn’t about to make such a film himself.
‘‘ And anyways, who’s waiting for a film about a rock band? ‘‘ We have Almost Famous and Spinal Tap and that old rocker film with Billy Connolly, what’s it called? I don’t remember. So, no, I don’t think so.’’