Dave Graney brings the Lurid Yellow Mist

THE year that Dave Graney played his first professional gig, the Sex Pistols played their supposed last.

The Bee Gees ruled the charts with disco hits from Saturday Night Fever and the introverted sounds of the Cure and Joy Division heralded the dawn of the post-punk movement – it was 1978.

In the fickle world of commercial music, most artists are lucky if they manage even a fleeting run at professionalism. To maintain a career for over thirty years, as pop-culture icon Graney has, is the stuff of legend.

According to Graney, there’s a simple philosophy behind his longevity, “I like to make good music … with a bit of flash.”

That first show of Graney’s, playing punk and rock covers at a party in his home-town of Mount Gambier, South Australia, seems an unlikely beginning to a career characterised by a flamboyant sense of artistry. 

“Mount Gambier was very blue-collar with little on offer but hot rods, pool halls, booze and violence,” Graney tells Pulse.

“No one was into self-expression; it was music from the punk/post-punk movement that inspired hicks like me to become performers.”

Since first channelling his inspiration, Graney has been the ostentatious frontman for various post-punk influenced line-ups including The Moodists, The Coral Snakes and most recently The Lurid Yellow Mist.

While Graney’s music might never have been hot property commercially, it has always been brilliantly distinctive; an experimental concoction of punk/funk/pop/rock and even cocktail lounge that defies pigeonholing.

The title of The Coral Snakes’ 1995 album The Soft and Sexy Sound, for which Graney received an ARIA, is as good a descriptor as any for ‘the Graney sound’. 

Interestingly, when discussing success, there’s no mention from Graney of awards or financial gain. Rather, he talks of more heartfelt measures.

“People think that a musician’s ambition is to retire and become an aristocrat,” says Graney. “But most musicians just love playing music.”

“To me success is the camaraderie and joy I get from being in a band that understands my songs and helps me bring life to them.”

With priorities lying somewhere between the pleasure of making music with his friends and expressing his unique artistic vision, it’s no wonder Graney rates the current phase of his career as a high point.

He’s released a book of memoirs entitled 1001 Australian Nights, an exploration of the “luck, thrills, ambition and sensibility” behind his artistic life.

Additionally, The Lurid Yellow Mist are touring in support of a new album, Rock and Roll is Where I Hide, a re-release of twelve seminal songs from Graney’s back-catalogue.

Although the re-release is designed to remind fans of Graney’s creative path to date, he says that it’s far from a simple reproduction. 

“Some songs are markedly different to the original recordings,” he says.

“My singing’s different and I play guitar on an album for the first time. We also play some songs faster, with more groove.”

But after 33 years and 25 albums, is the thrill still there?

“Of course, Graney says. “People think that making music becomes predictable, but I can assure you it doesn’t.”

“It remains forever chaotic and anarchic.”

Dave Graney and The Lurid Yellow Mist bring their slinky brand of anarchy to the Gollan Hotel, Lismore, on Thursday, June 2 at 9pm. Free gig.

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