It’s been a while since I’ve posted in the 3, 3 and 3 series, which features creative people talking about the things they love. I’m delighted to break that drought by introducing Tony Durant, who I first met in the late 1970s when he came to Perth from the UK to produce an album for ‘suburban boy’ rocker Dave Warner—and ended up staying. Ric, my husband, recorded and mixed that album, Correct Weight, and we have been friends with Tony and his wife, Pauline, ever since.
Tony had a fascinating career in London before arriving in Australia. He describes how he abandoned the expectations that his upper middle-class family had for their privately educated boy, and instead plunged into the psychedelic London music scene of the late 1960s. His art psych bank Louise played alongside Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. ‘They went on to greatness. We missed it by that much, as Max Smart would say!’
In the early 1970s he recorded an album, Fuchsia (Pegasus/B&C Records), which he describes as ‘a weird art rock thing with string quartet’. At the time, he says, ‘it did nothing’.
After a decade or so of making music in Perth and touring with Dave Warner, Tony moved to Sydney with his family in 1990, drawn there by a publishing deal with Polygram. He spent a number of years as a hands-on parent—something he describes as a ‘great privilege’—and made documentaries about vintage speedway motorcycle racing and the legends of the 1930s who had raced alongside his father, a top West Ham rider.
And it’s around this point in Tony’s career that we have to backtrack to that 1970s album, Fuchsia. It’s a story best told in his own words:
Life can present some surprises. About 10 years ago, Fuchsia became a cult album on the net, totally unknown to me. Mojo magazine ran a story, and an Italian label contacted me about a re-issue. A Melbourne film company did a short doco on the story. I tried writing in the same vein, and soon a new album was written, which received great reviews. A young Swedish band, Me and My Kites (a song title from Fuchsia I), contacted me. They’d grown up on Fuchsia music and had recorded one of my old songs. They asked me to sing on it, released it through a European label, and last July I toured UK, Holland and Scandinavia with them. Between gigs with the Australian Fuchsia band, I went back to Europe in July this year, having been invited to play at a couple of festivals in Denmark and Sweden. And I continue to work regularly with Dave Warner from the Suburbs. Life just could not be better!
And now, over to Tony again for his 3, 3 and 3 responses…
3 things I love about what I do
1. The satisfaction of taking a blank sheet of paper and creating something you, and hopefully others, see artistic value in. Fascination with the creative process, in both personal and universal terms, and in my case, with ideas which appear meaningless, coming from the subconscious, and are then forged into some meaning through the conscious thought process. Meaningless lyrics slowly metamorphosing into a song with purpose. And it’s interesting, going back on half-finished works from years ago, and finding all those years of experience have given you skills you never realised you had, to complete these abandoned works, sometimes with surprisingly good results.
2. Meeting and working with wonderful people who become part of your music world. As we grow older we have less baggage, less to prove, and music takes on a really fun aspect, as well as a quality to it (I like to think!). I get contacted by people from all over the world, telling me how much those idiosyncratic little songs I wrote all those years ago mean to them. Some of these people I have a drink with when they visit Sydney.
3. I love that unexpected things/coincidences continually happen. The unexpected seems to follow me. Finding myself in positions that scare me; challenges and situations that a few years back I would not believe I could have attempted. On stage, talking to an audience and leading a band again. I could never have imagined this would happen.
3 places you’d like to visit, or revisit
I have many beautiful memories of places such as Greece, Bali and South Africa, where I grew up. But I feel it’s probably best not to return, as many times places you love change for the worse, and those beautiful memories are jaded.
1. I loved the USA, which I visited for the first time about five ago. We had an amazing road trip: LA to Austin (Texas) to New Orleans and back. The history that I had read so much about came to life. There is so much there to see, and so yes, several return visits could be on the cards.
2. And of course Sweden, where a group of young people have made me feel so welcome, and have been instrumental (excuse the pun!) in the continuation of the amazing Fuchsia journey. Louis, my son, joined me on bass this trip, which has been a beautiful experience I will always treasure. Fano Island Festival, Denmark, was special, as I met and played with local musicians there for the first time.
3. We plan to visit Cuba and Alaska, which I’ve heard a lot about.
3 favourite things in life
1. Top of the list is family. My wife is a very special person, and I’ve loved being part of the process of our children’s growing up to be such different and loving individuals. And, with them, their cohort of friends has kept me in touch with my youth, an experience where I feel I can re-live every precious minute. We only grow old on the outside! Yes, to me, family is the basis of everything.
2. Playing songs I wrote and arranged 40 years ago—and that still work.
3. Coming home with full anticipation to see what Pompey the dog has destroyed in our absence this time!