BLAST FROM PAST
RELIVE ICEHOUSE’S GREATEST HITS THIS WEEKEND
Iva Davies may be Australia’s most successful reluctant songwriter. His band Icehouse are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and remain one of the country’s most successful touring acts.
In 1977 they started as covers band Flowers, playing songs by the Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Lou Reed and T-Rex. Flowers’ Icehouse album came out in 1980, giving Davies a new name for the band when another group was already trading as Flowers and hits including Can’t Help Myself, We Can Get Together and Walls.
More chart success followed – Love In Motion, Hey Little Girl (a major hit in Europe) and the anthemic Great Southern Land, now included in the National Film & Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia archives.
Davies says the 1984 ballad Don’t Believe Anymore is the one “diary” moment in Icehouse’s catalogue, written after a bitter break-up.
“The songs on the first Flowers album were the first songs I ever wrote. I consciously went to great pains to not put myself in any of the songs. The result was they’re exactly about me.
“Only Don’t Believe Anymore is definitely about me. It was a really bad time for me. That is a very good document of a very bad time.”
Icehouse’s sound morphed during the ’80s, embracing rock for 1987’s Man Of Colours, home to US top 10 hits Crazy and Electric Blue. It remains the highest-selling album by an Australian band in ARIA history. The belated follow-up, 1990’s Code Blue, only scored one top 20 hit with Miss Divine, while 1993’s Big Wheel was a commercial disappointment and Davies froze Icehouse to enjoy fatherhood to son Evan and daughter Brynn. “I basically retired after six weeks of the Big Wheel tour when my first child was six weeks old.”
Davies was financially sorted. Unlike most musicians, he owned his own songs and would licence them to record companies, increasing his income.
Davies officially reformed Icehouse for 2009 charity show Sound Relief, the first chance his children saw him as a musician. “They didn’t know anything about me in that world until they were around 13, until Sound Relief. We hadn’t played, the whole of their lives.”
Icehouse are once again a regular touring act, but this time on their own terms and without the gruelling schedule of the past.
Their concerts are still at the high-end of production for a local act, something Davies picked up early on. Flowers invested in sound and lighting as soon as they started out.
“We were investing in stuff that made us look like a big band when we weren’t. Even to this day, that still underscored to me the value of production.”
Iva Davies and the rest of Icehouse will perform at The Star tomorrow and Saturday night.