It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since The Stems released the cult classic ‘At First Sight Violets are Blue’, but the Indie legends are touring to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album AND are set to reissue the long deleted title as a limited digipak ‘anniversary edition’ CD on November 3rd!
Speaking to founding member Dom Mariani recently, Glam Adelaide’s Dazz Hassan had the privilege of discussing the tour, the band’s history, and how The Stems helped to shape Australian Indie music.
30 years? Wow, that’s hard to believe.
“It seems like a long time, doesn’t it? Music’s one of those funny things that never dies, it’s there forever. It’s always going to be there and what we did 30 years ago has connected with people, and it’s a bit of a historical thing. Personally, I’ve kept doing it (playing music) because it gave me the confidence to keep writing songs and stay interested in it. If it had been a flop I might have taken a different path.”
If you look back 30 years ago, would you have anticipated where The Stems would sit in terms of your influence & legacy within the Aussie music scene?
“Good question. Back then I would have never thought much of it. You can look into the future but we had high hopes, and thought we’d be chart topping & tour the world etc. We were lucky enough that what we did was popular, we had some good tunes, and we loved what we were doing. Where I’ve ended up, I’m pretty happy with though. If we’d had any degree of success that was ‘life changing’, we probably wouldn’t have done all the music that we did since then. I’ve had a great journey, and it’s always been about rock and roll. The art form is more important than owning a mansion.”
When not fronting The Stems or his other band, Datura 4, Mariani is a building designer by profession and sees it as a viable ‘other option’ for when there are down times between gigs.
“When The Stems broke up, luckily I had a qualification, and coming from an Italian background my parents always pushed me that way when I was younger. I never took it seriously then but did it so I could keep playing music on weekends. I worked in the design industry for a few years before The Stems became popular, then gave it away when we were on the road, then went back to it when the reality of paying bills hit. Since then though, I’ve got a real passion for Architectural work.”
Apart from the great music, what do you think was the critical success factor for The Stems?
“I think the music really, it was really hook laden. We’d always been about that, along with melody. That’s what it is, a melody or whatever gets you in. There’s always a hook to it. I think the knack of being able to write a catchy song was the charm of The Stems. And I guess the image was part of it, really cool and it fitted the music. It was a combination of those things, a package of sorts. Where music goes wrong sometimes is when it’s all about the image though, and no substance. I wouldn’t say it was crafted but it was carefully thought about and we were all likeminded. It all seemed to work.”
And do you see The Stems as having some kind of legacy among the Aussie music scene?
“Not really. We’re not the upper echelon pf music, maybe somewhere in the middle, and the fact that people are still interested in seeing us play makes me proud and thankful. We’re just grateful that people want to hear us play still.”
It’s a very humble approach, but without a doubt The Stems had a huge influence on many Indie acts of the time, in terms of style, fashion, and of course musically. The Stems were a part of a wave of Indie Aussie bands that broke ground including The Saints, The Triffids, The Church… heck, most of the decent groups that started with ‘The..!” It was a great era for music.
So, what’s different these days in the music scene?
“A lot has changed, in fact the whole world has. Music has been affected, because the old days of going to a record store to browse & buy an album has been replaced with downloading digital files. It’s just exploded. Anyone can write a song and put it online and g go viral. It’s harder in some ways. These days it’s hard to quantify to make a living from selling records, so you get out there and play live. I’m noticing that the bigger, more established bands are still doing well though. I don’t know who’s current or who’s not at the moment really. There’s a lot out there now, various qualities and some crap too, that’s why the older music has a tangible thig about it, a longevity”
Couldn’t agree more, the resurgence in ‘nostalgic’ acts is ever strong, and they still pull a crowd because people that grew up on good music still want to see it, experience it, and be a part of it. There’s plenty of mileage in good old pub rock! As long as bands like The Stems are around, we’ll be in great hands.
“The new line-up has reinvigorated the band, it’s still a great live act.”
No doubt about that at all Dom!
THE STEMS – 30th Anniversary Of ‘At First Sight Violets are Blue’ Tour
Thursday 9th November 2017 Brisbane Hotel, Hobart TAS Tickets https://brisbanehotel.oztix.com.au
Friday 10th November 2017 Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne VIC special guests: Rocket Science Tickets https://thecroxton.oztix.com.au
Sat 11th November 2017 The Gov, Adelaide SA special guests: The Garden Path Tickets https://thegov.oztix.com.au
Friday 17th November 2017 Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW special guests: Rocket Science Tickets http://www.factorytheatre.com.au/events/factory
Sat 18th November 2017 The Triffid, Brisbane QLD special guests: Rocket Science Tickets https://tickets.thetriffid.com.au