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DAVEY LANE Atonally Yours

Davey Lane
Davey Lane

“I guess mortality plays a part in some of the songs, whether directly or indirectly. There was a space of time when I lost a couple of family members and a couple of close friends, and whether I wrote a song for them, or whether it was playing subconsciously on my mind, that kind of bled into it a little.”

You Am I guitarist Davey Lane has just released his debut solo LP, Atonally Young. PATRICK EMERY reports.

Davey Lane might be a busy man, and a guitarist in regularly high demand, but he can still find time to sit down and embrace the role of singer/songwriter. 

“As busy as I am, I do still get a fair whack of spare time. At the cost of being a well-rounded person with a skerrick of social skills, I do like to sit around and write my own songs – it’s all I do in my spare time, really,” Lane says. 

“Songwriting has gone from what was a few years ago, a bit of a hobby, into something of a bit of an obsession.  With this record it’s like I wanted to try a whole bunch of new things – there’s still a lot to learn, and a lot to unlearn as well.”

Lane first came to prominence in the late 1990s as the precocious second guitarist recruited by Tim Rogers into You Am I, having played previously on Rogers’ first solo album, What Rhymes With Cars And Girls.  Outside of his time in You Am I, Lane fronted mod-pop band The Pictures. Over the next decade Lane became an in-demand session and live performer, including lending his considerable guitar skills to Jimmy Barnes’ backing band; forming Stevie Wright tribute band, The Wrights; and joining the late Jim Keays on his 2012 garage rock album, Dirty Dirty,(at next month’s Music Victoria Awards Lane will perform a tribute to Keays’ music).

In 2013 Lane released his debut solo record, a five-track EP titled The Good Borne Of Bad Tymes.  Lane’s new album, Atonally Young, picks up where the EP left off, with a mixture of ‘60s pop sensibility and ‘70s rock attitude.  “I have made a concerted attempt to pare back those activities where I am a sideman to somebody else, which is always good – to be able to pay your rent playing guitar is pretty good – but I’m enjoying doing my own thing at the moment,” Lane says.

The songs on the album were written over a three-month period, with Lane recording a set of demos that he would eventually take into the studio with long-time collaborator Brett Wolfenden, along with James Fleming of Eagle And The Worm and producer Tony Buchen.  “I set myself a challenge to write at least a couple of songs a week,” Lane says.  “For a few months I didn’t have a lot on, so I’d hole myself up in my room and demo the tracks to a point where I could paint as full a picture as possible.  I’m a pretty ordinary drummer, but I guess I’m good enough to play on my own demos!”

Lane describes the title of the record, Atonally Young, as a “wry pun,” and says the phrase came to him almost by accident when he took a break while writing the last song on the album, The Light Of The Sun.  Once discovered, the phrase seemed to fit the fledgling collection of tracks.  “I suppose the record has a certain atonality about it, and even though I’m certainly not a spring chicken, playing music keeps me young in some sort of way, so it fit in that sense,” Lane says.

As a student of the best ‘60s music, Lane is familiar with the conceptual masterpieces (and flawed explorations) of The Who, The Kinks and The Pretty Things.  While Lane says there’s no unifying concept underpinning Atonally Young, he does admit the loss of some family and friends around the time of the writing process made its way into some of the lyrical themes explored on the record.

“I guess mortality plays a part in some of the songs, whether directly or indirectly. There was a space of time when I lost a couple of family members and a couple of close friends, and whether I wrote a song for them, or whether it was playing subconsciously on my mind, that kind of bled into it a little.”

Lane concedes there is a stream of consciousness aspect to some of the tracks on the record – the curiously titled The Last Of The Freakazoids being a good example – but within the loosely constructed lyrics can be found a liberating freedom.  “There are lyrics on the record I laboured over, but equally I liked switching off the conscious frame and writing whatever came to mind,” Lane says. 

“Whether you try and pull it apart and make it make sense, or just leave it as a random Bowie-esque cutting the words up and throwing them up in the air and seeing how they land – I kind of enjoy that.  While there’s a fair whack of nonsense on the record, this is also the first record I spent a bit of time writing lyrics as well, and I enjoyed getting into different ways of writing lyrics.”

Last year Lane found himself the subject of a slightly tongue-in-cheek campaign to have a street in Abbotsford adjacent to the Yarra Hotel (where Lane can occasionally be found pulling beers) named after him.  Initially bemused by the proposal, Lane was perplexed at some of the subsequent commentary. 

“It started out as a bit of a laugh, but after a while I was fielding questions from people who were saying, ‘don’t you think you’ve got a sense of entitlement if you want a street named after you?’, and I was like ‘No, I don’t! This has nothing to do with me!  I only work here!’(laughs).

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