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August 18, 2005 | Author: Joe Matera. Pics Marty Williams

Though the tag of new emerging talent has been flippantly bestowed on Melbourne four piece outfit Dallas Crane, the truth of the matter is, the band has been around since 1996. Originally formed from the seeds of the desires of a couple carpet cleaners with a passion for rock and roll, they ventured forth onto the Melbourne gig circuit, first under the band moniker of ‘Tempered Kin’ before settling on the name Dallas Crane. After two self-funded albums, 98’s (Lent) and ‘00s (Twenty Four Seven) —both of which were recently re-released through their current label, Alberts – and their recently acclaimed major label self-titled debut, the band’s profile has risen considerably, with the prospect of an international conquest on the cards.

The band, who have gigged with the likes of You Am I (Tim Rogers repeatedly refers to Dallas Crane as the best band in Australia) Regurgitator, Ryan Adams and Dan Brodie, finally inked their recording and publishing with Aussie icon Albert’s (home of AC/DC) in January of 2004, not long after their blistering set at The Big Day Out.

The band spent the past 12 months touring behind the album and recently ventured out on the Tough Guys Don’t Dance national tour with New Zealand’s D4 and Texan outfit Young Heart Attack.

When it came to the D4, they provided the perfect yin to the Dallas Crane’s yang. The D4 were initially formed by two Auckland, New Zealand natives, guitarist and vocalist Dion Palmer and vocalist and guitarist Jimmy Christmas back in 1998. Their self-titled, self-released 1999 debut EP, the D4 provided the template for their Stooges meets Motorhead-fueled garage-punk that would eventually come to full fruition on their first full-lengther, 2001’s 6Twenty. The newly released follow-up Out Of My Head expands on this formula capturing the band’s live energy and spirit in full, something which was made very evident on this tour.

With three bands on the same bill, I first asked Dallas Crane’s blond haired guitar player Pete Satchell, how does the band spend its time on the tour bus.

“We have an assortment of albums in the bus to keep us occupied between shows” he chimes. “Some of the staple CDs in our selection include the likes of Television’s Marquee Moon, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, The Modern Lovers self titled album and Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk. Oh and what Australian tour bus album listening collection can be complete without a album from AC/DC thrown in there?”

With each band’s members living in within close quarters of each other, are there moments where being out on the road can lead to things getting slightly out of hand?

d4scheck“There’s possibility for that to happen on any tour and with any band” says Satchell. “But one of the good things about being on the road with D4 and Young Heart Attack is all the camaraderie we have between us. And the drinking!

“And it’s no use being so precious because you’re going to be on the road with each other for X amount of nights, so you have to be friends” he continues. “This whole tour with D4 and Young Heart Attack all came out of our appearance on the same bill at the Meredith festival. So they’ve come over for this and then we’re going back to the US to do some shows with them at the end of May.

Obviously with the long spells on the road leading to homesickness, does Satchell agree this is one of the down sides to touring. “Over time you do get home sick, but it’s nothing really than like missing a washing machine!

A washing machine?

“Yeah we always have a need on a tour to have access to a washing machine” he laughs grinning from side to side. “Because of the increasing dirty laundry we amass during the tour. But I suppose, if you play in front of a different crowd every night they don’t know you’ve been wearing the same clothes every day”.

Talking to Pete in the band’s dressing room prior to the band’s show at the Hi-Fi, you can sense a passion and joy oozing from Satchell’s voice. The same passion that drives all the members of his band. And something that is shared with fellow tour mates The D4.

Speaking of which, stringy haired Christmas has just joined our conversation about all things tours. For The D4 tonight’s performance is even more hectic having just returned from a one-off show in their native New Zealand the night before. Though tired, Christmas is pumped and energetic and ready to rock and roll all night.

“This is the last night of the tour for us” he explains to me. “And tomorrow we’ll be up at 7.00am catching a flight back to New Zealand cause we’ve got our new album coming out. So we’ll doing the album release performance. Then we get a couple weeks off before going to Japan afterwards before heading to Europe to tour with The Hives. So it’s a very hectic schedule. But it’s cool, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had”.

yHAbandroomUsually the process of sound checking can take on many forms, some bands just coming in picking up their instruments and running through a few numbers, whilst others like The D4 personally lugging their instruments to the sound check themselves and also setting them up. I asked Jimmy what the rest of the process entails.

“The main thing is to make sure when I open my guitar case it is still in one piece” he begins. “Our gear obviously gets a hammering not just in the course of the show but in the amount of travelling we do. When it comes to airport handlers, we make sure they do their best cause it’s not the best place for a guitar to be.

“We then set up ourselves onstage and check to make sure all our amps are working” he continues. “And get all our leads and pedals working and set-up how we like them. We get our stage sound and make sure the onstage monitoring balance is right. The best thing for us is to be comfortable trusting that our front of house guy has got what he needs to control the sound comfortably. It’s not a good experience when all you can hear coming through in the monitors is your guitar! Festivals can be like that at times, real seat of your pants stuff.”

When it comes to gear Jimmy prefers to choose between a Fender Tele, a Gibson SG, and an Epiphone Olympic onstage and all running through a Vox AC30 amp. His partner in crime Dion, alternates between a ’64 Gibson SG Junior and a 1950s Les Paul Jr and for a bit of contrasting, an Epiphone 335. Amp wise Dion usually utilizes a 1970s non-master volume 50watt Sound City head plus matching cab. But for this tour, he’s using a hired Marshall JCM800 and cab.

yhadallasguitarsReturning to Dallas Crane’s set-up, both Satchell and main man Dave Larkin select from a collection of Gretsch guitars. “Though my main guitar is a 1972 Gibson 335” he explains. “I also use a beautiful hollow-body orange Gretsch. The reason the 335 is my main guitar is because I’ve had that forever. I got the 335 for my 21st birthday, so it is very sentimental. Amp wise I use Fender Tonemaster amps and this Fender 75 watt amp, which I’m told is a really rare thing. I first used a Tonemaster on our album, but it was owned by our producer and I fell in love with it. So I ended up getting this one which they tell is the last one ever made! And I use a 4X10 quad box which sounds great.”

When it comes to the rest of the Crane crew, bassist Pat Bourke uses P-basses running through a brand new series of Fender bass heads and cabs that the company had shipped out especially for him during a six month period from the States. For frontman and guitarist Dave Larkin, a choice of a White Falcon Gretsch and a Duo-Jet are his mainstays. On various songs to create contrast, he chooses from his various other coloured Gretschs as well as a mid-70s Strat. And though earlier in the band’s life he played through a Vox, he has now switched to using a Bassman amp.

Finally in achieving his tone which underscores Dallas Crane, Satchell’s secret is simple: “I just use a Boss pedal, the overdrive SD2 but use it more as a level boost” he reveals before summing up. “I don’t really drive it I just use it as a volume boost. I try and not let it affect my tone but just use it to help push the volume when taking a solo.”

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