Scott Darlow is a man of many talents. From his early beginnings playing brass in a Salvation Army band at the young age of eight years old, to being the driving force behind the ‘Drought Breakers’- A fundraising effort for our Aussie farmers and today’s released version of Dragon‘s classic ‘Rain’, but the question still remains….. who is Scott Darlow?
Our Melbourne correspondent, Kylie Carns caught up with Scott and delved deeper into the multi-instrumentalist’s past, present and future.
KC: You have come from such a diverse musical background. With your family involved in the Salvation Army and then living in Hong Kong as a child, and obviously your indigenous background, do you think this has sculptured you as an artist today?
SD: yeah.. I guess it has. We all end up who we are because of the journey don’t we? There’s that old saying its not about the destination, its about the journey and it’s so true. If you really want to talk about music influence for me, my earliest memories of music are brass bands in the Salvation Army and harmonies, like three and four part harmonies. Even to the annoyance of anyone that has ever played in a band with me, I always throw in three and four part harmonies all over the shop and I’m sure its partly because of that but also the upbringing I had with my father who loved playing Johnny Cash and The Beatles, The Beach Boys and all of those bands where everyone was singing. So yeah.. its absolutely part of the melting pot.
KC: So was your whole family involved in music, or was it just your father mainly?
SD: Well. My dad was actually tone deaf. He was horrible, but I was playing the cornet when I was five and I was playing in brass bands with grown men by the time I was eight. The only real way I can explain it, is that when you are born, God just gives you stuff that you can do, you know, and you can’t explain it. You can just do it. So I took to the cornet at aged five and I could just play it , so by the time I was eight, Dad, even though he was tone deaf, he picked up the centre horn and he joined up a band and we sat in there and suffered through it for years (laughs) but he did it to keep an eye on me, but it was a way to spend time together which is really sweet. Mum had a really good voice and she could sing and her mother was a concert pianist and my eldest sister always sang growing up as well, so yeah, music was always in our house everywhere. I remember as a kid, we would get in the car and pretty much the four of us (there were four of us kids) and we would be singing to whatever tape or CD was playing and we were always singing harmonies and the like. It was a good way of growing up
KC: Did you always know that you wanted a career in music?
SD: Nope. I really fell into it. I went to uni and I studied teaching and I always played music and taught music and no one really said to me that I should do this as a job and eventually I remember as a teenager sneaking into a nightclub in Melbourne, sneaking into to see a cover band called ‘Beyond Belief” with Matt Hetherington – who’s a Helpmann award winning actor (award for the stage play Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) He is amazing. He was fronting this cover band and my trumpet teacher used to play trumpet with them and seeing Matt sing I was like “man that’s cool”. At that point, I was like, I want to do this. so that’s where it really began. But even after that, I still wanted to be an footballer and I played VFL footy for a little bit. I really wanted to play but I kept getting injured and some guys that I went to uni with, heard that I played the trumpet and saxophone and said that they would give me $25 a night and all the Cascade Pale Ale you can drink, so for $25 and a skinful of Cascade, I would go on and play the trumpet, trombone, saxophone and didgeridoo and anything you blow into and I played in cover bands. Then I started writing songs and I had a friend that heard them and suggested I make a record and I thought yeah.. alright but then again, there was no real ambition behind it, just do it and then you know I had a record so may as well do some shows and I woke up and I am doing this.
KC: So you were a music teacher, was there a bit of madness or faith that made you quit teaching and become a full time musician?
SD: No. It was my Dad dying. He passed away from alcoholism at 57 and I had been teaching two years and I stood there at his funeral thinking that life is really short and my daughter was six weeks old and I had been married for a year and I questioned what it was all about. You realise that time is the thing that you cant replace; you cant budge it. I realised that I needed to do something with my currency that lasted and made a difference and it was that moment looking at my daughter who was six weeks old in my arms and looking at my father in an open casket and the two of them together and just going, what will she say about me when I die? What will her story of her father be? Look I loved my Dad, he was my hero growing up, but he broke down in his 40’s, cheated on my mum, drank himself to death, gambled the house away.. all of it, all the classic stuff, and I thought, I love him and I miss him but I kind of lost a bit of respect for him as a man and the choices he made and it kills me to say that , I hate saying that but you know, what will my daughter say about how I spent my currency. And I realised at that point that I didn’t care about teaching Music or English. I was passionate about Aboriginal people and so I made a decision that day that I would do what I could for Aboriginal people every single day and I realised that music was a great conduit, and has probably more impact around the world then any politician in the last 40 years. That was one of the real big shifts for me at that age of 21 or whatever it was . This is what I am going to do. I am going to use music as a vehicle to make change for Aboriginal people. At that stage, I had released an album, so it was like lets do something. At that moment, it sort of really kind of gave us the idea to really work hard and change direction a bit.
KC: Moving on to the albums that you have recorded, I must say that you have got huge kahunas to cover such an Aussie classic such as ‘Solid Rock’ and you have actually done it justice as well, but can you describe how you went about getting Shane Howard’s blessing to do it and how he actually joined you on the recording of it?
SC: Yes.. So initially what had happened, was I met Shane a couple of times and he is a lovely fella. Anyone will tell you that he is the most beautiful fella. So we met and I had done this version of his song and if you are going to do someone’s song you have to do it different enough to be worth doing. You have to put your own stamp on it. And so as you know, we kinda we did it different with the guitar part at the start. So I rang him up to get his blessing and I said that I had done a version of his song and if you don’t like I won’t release it cause, he’s my hero, and he gave me his blessing and but I kind of live my life by the ideology of if you don’t ask you’ll never know and I rather get said no to 1000 times if it means getting one yes that counts, and so I said ‘would you like to sing it with me’ and I didn’t
think that he would say yes and he did! So I set it up and got him set up in the studio and he turned up and sang it. He came to Triple M with me and sang it live and did all the PR and he couldn’t have been more generous or kind or humble. I learned a lot witnessing this great legend of Aussie music as far as his humility and generosity and work ethic.
KC: Going on with Aussie greats, you have just toured with Jon Stevens and touring with Diesel, do you feel pressure being their opening act? How do you go about preparing for something like that?
SD: There is no pressure really, cause at the end of the day (Diesel and I were just talking about this ) when I was starting out, I remember going to see him – He did a full band show – a free show at the Mooloolaba Surf Club during Schoolies Week going back, and I rocked in there and I remember standing there thinking you hear one bar of his guitar playing and you know it’s him playing, cause he is so unique in his playing. Then you hear him sing and you go, That’s Diesel, just through his voice. Just one note he’s so unique. And I realised at that point that its not about being the best, it’s actually about being unique. So at that point I thought, what did I have that nobody else has got? Im not going to be the greatest singer or the greatest guitar player and I realised that I had my personality, who I am as a man and I’m really comfortable in my skin and so I turned around in that scenario and thought no one could be Scott Darlow except for me. So if I am opening up for Jon or Diesel, Im never going to be them, but they are never going to be me either. If I didn’t believe that I had something unique and great to offer as an artist, I probably wouldn’t be there on that stage. I really don’t feel stressed out about it, its a good fun time.
KC: So whats on the horizon.. What’s next for Scott Darlow?: Is there anything we can look forward to as in tours or dates planned for a new album?
SD: Yes.. Im actually recording at the moment with Mark AKA Diesel, so we have two songs in the can and another three that we are doing so early November. I am doing some dates with Mark late October/early November and then we go straight into the studio a week after that. I have got a release that will be out in the next week or so, and then depending on when that sort of winds down, we will then go to radio with the next single which is a song that I wrote with a guy called Craig Pilkington who you might remember from the band called The Killjoys. So Craig and I have written this rock song called “When it fades away” which I really like. It’s a really cool song and that will go to radio towards the end of the year maybe early January. Leading into The Under the Southern Stars Gig.
KC: Just finally Scott, what advice would you give young musicians trying to make it in this industry?:
SD: Be a good person. It’s not just the talented people you want to work with, it’s the easiest to get along with . Work hard, work on your craft. Be the best artist you can be, but also understand that no one can be you, so be unique and be yourself, be comfortable in who you are. When people say you’re no good, just smile and keep on working. Don’t give up as persistence is king.
KC: That’s great advice Scott
SD: Well, it has given me a career (laughs)
KC: Thanks so much for your time Scott. Its been a pleasure talking to you
SD: No drama mate
Scott has just released The Drought Breakers “Rain” with proceeds going to the Australian Farmers. Sarah Mcleod, Adam Brand, Todd Hunter and Jack Jones all play on the track supporting our farmers that need assistance from us all. They are the backbone to our country. Let’s help them as much as we can!
You can download Rain here:
Scott is touring in October with Diesel.
Thu 25 OctRichmond, VICThe Corner Hotel
Fri 26 Oct Chelsea Heights, VICChelsea Heights Hotel
Fri 02 NovAdelaide, SA The Gov
Sat 03 NovWallaroo, SA Coopers Alehouse
Tickets can be purchased via the usual outlets https://www.eventbrite.com/
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