22 Aug 2017

Video Premiere: Losing Heroes by The Bads

From RNZ Music

The brand new video from The Bads 'Losing Heroes' combines charming nostalgia and animation to create a visual ode to the band's much-loved musical mates and heroes Graham Brazier, Dave McArtney, Prince, David Bowie, and Marc Bolan.

The Bads - Dianne Swann (When The Cat's Away, Julie Dolphin) and Brett Adams (The Mockers, Julie Dolphin) "wanted to pay tribute to the musicians who have shaped our musical landscape and have influenced our lives on many levels, - it was in our minds that a lot of those musicians are no longer with us, and with the recent passing of so many amazing songwriters and groundbreaking artists, we wanted to find a way to express that gratitude."

We’re losing heroes but they will stay heroes
Face the reality, shine on the memory

Resonated, gravitated
Under your influence, I mutated

Brett Adams shares his earliest memories of 'The Braz'

Graham Brazier still from the video for  Losing Heroes by The Bads

"I first became aware of Graham Brazier when I was probably in my early teens. I had only just realised there was music being made in NZ, and some of it was very good. In my eyes at the time there was Split Enz, Dragon and Hello Sailor - Three great bands with great songs and three instantly recognizable, distinctive, charismatic singers. I thought they were all great. Roll on five years and I am at a Cold Chisel show at the Logan Campbell Centre, and a band I wasn't familiar with were about to open for them. My friends told me: “The singer is the guy from Hello Sailor!”

Graham was pure rock ‘n’ roll, in a cool, Mink Deville / Jim Morrison sorta way, dancing, twirling clapping out his cigarette or even momentarily tucking it behind his ear, while throwing and catching a tambourine. He was just ridiculously cool - I was sold on The Legionnaires. 

Brett Adams and Graham Brazier

Photo: Supplied.

Roll on another year and I got to meet Graham when my band opened for The Legionnaires at the Gluepot. I wasn't very happy with our performance but Graham told me it was good and that made feel a whole lot better. Behind this very cool exterior, I learn, is a very warm kind person, and extremely funny.

Somehow a year later I ended up playing in Graham's band, at that point called the Corner Boys. Being around Graham I got to see he was sort of a constant performer, entertaining all around him almost all the time, not just on stage. Whether telling rock ‘n’ roll stories, reciting poems or just being extremely funny, it never let up.

I guess I learned a lot from Graham, about music, and about life. I was 22 years old. Graham had some truly great, unique songs. Some had such dreamy, dark romance - Songs like 'Vermillion', 'Servant', 'On Past the Seine'. During the time I played with him, I found myself getting lost in those songs, he had such colourful imagination. I still enter that same dream-world feeling now when I hear those songs. 

After I left for the UK, I didn't see Graham for probably 14 years but when I returned I was very pleased to be asked to play on East of Eden. Again Graham had come up with some magical songs, casting that same spell...

Dianne Swann on the impact Dave McArtney had on her music

I was still at Kamo High School - often escaping home to a house at the corner of our street where a young (but still older than me) group of musicians were flatting and had their band gear set up in the living room, and if I hung around long enough I would get a turn on the mic, so shy I couldn’t look at anyone while I sang. This house attracted an extended group of musicians, some who have remained lifelong friends. One of these guys had left Whangarei to go to Auckland University and would often arrive back with stories of seeing Hello Sailor gigs - the tales were described with awe excitement and disbelief that these rock legends were our own. Local music didn’t get a lot of attention at that stage. 

I didn’t get to see that version of Hello Sailor play live, but like Brett, I did see the most incredible performance from Graham Brazier and Dave McArtney and Harry Lyon in the Legionnaires when they supported Cold Chisel in 1983 at Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland. The performance was majestic, strong and a complete force. Mind blowing.

I cherish my vinyl copies of Graham Brazier’s Inside Out, and Dave McArtney and the Pink Flamingos albums.

I was so completely taken with Dave’s songs and voice. He could get this amazing grit and edge to his voice when he sang, a real growl, but all with a warmth and soft edge. I guess I could also relate to his enigmatic shy-yet-still-with-swagger stage persona. 

Dianne Swann and Dave McArtney - After The Flood.

Dianne Swann and Dave McArtney - After The Flood. Photo: Kerry Brown

In my stint in the original line-up of When Cat’s Away I chose 'Gutter Black' as one of “my” songs and when we performed at the After the Flood benefit concert for cyclone Bola, Dave was also on the concert line-up and he joined us on stage for that song. I think that was the first time I got to spend any time with Dave -  I have a photo of us talking back stage. A bit later, Dave and I shared a band and a two-week residency at the Chateau at Ruapehu – days were spent on the mountain and playing a show every night – what a blast that was. I remember his son Gabriel was about three or four, and have clear picture in my mind of Dave teaching Gabe to ski. 

When I returned from a long stint living in the UK, Dave invited me to become a member of The Pink Flamingos and after that I was also a member of Dave McArtney and Friends. When I think of those times I think of Dave calling a “rehearsal” at his house and me, Dave Khan, Earl Robertson, sometimes Lisa Crawley would try and rehearse Dave’s songs, while Dave would cook us a great Thai green curry and pour the wine. I loved playing and singing on Dave’s songs. I loved blending my voice with his. It was also great to hang out and talk music, books and film with him. You could rely on seeing Dave in his Chuck Taylors at most events around town. Always good to see him.

Dave MCArtney and Dianne Swann live at The Kings Arms.

Dave MCArtney and Dianne Swann live at The Kings Arms. Photo: Jason Hailes

The last time I saw Dave was at the album launch for our album Travel Light in March 2013. He sent us the most wonderful email the next day full of praise and love. A few weeks later I got a call from him in the hospital, his wife Donna was speaking for him as he had had tubes down his throat and his voice wasn’t working too well. Again he wanted to tell us how much he loved the launch and how proud of us he was. I didn’t realise at the time that might be the last time we would speak.

More about 'Losing Heroes' - the title song of The Bads current album

"We wrote most of the songs for this album over the summer of 2016, and recorded in the winter at Sitting Room studios with Ben Edwards. Losing Heroes is one of the co-writes on the album and was the last song for us to finish lyrically - Brett had had the chorus guitar line kicking around for a long time, and we wrote the verse and chorus melody that summer, and most of the lyrics – the chorus and the first verse. The concept of the song comes from that last line in the first verse “I’m searching for the knife that carved the creature.”

"In the first verse we have woven song titles from Bowie, Prince, Dave McArtney, Graham Brazier, and even a tribute to Brett’s childhood hero (who died in 1977) Marc Bolan.

Ladies in blue, and red shoes
Doves crying in the gutter

Over you
That telegram I sent
Is trying to reach you
And I’m searching for the knife that carved the creature

"We finished off the second verse in Lyttelton, just before we recorded the song – and in this verse we very much wanted to pay tribute to Dave McArtney and Graham Brazier, so the story is told through song titles and lyrics from both of their songs.

Lonesome old star, in a Chevrolet
Bold and forlorn
It’s just the motorway
The party rolled over
A satellite Texan
On a leaving platform
Give me direction

"We thought this was a way of honouring these artists and as long as we sing this song live they are with us all the way.

"Bowie and Prince and Bolan were hugely influential, and you will find well-loved copies of their albums in our collective record pile  - it is hard to imagine our lives without those sounds and personalities to intrigue us and lure us into their worlds.

Graham and Dave were like heroes to us as young musicians looking up to them and we were both in awe of their rock star swagger and incredible musical talents. We both went on to spend time with them in different musical projects and also as friends and that always felt like a gift and some kind of stamp of approval.

'We miss them both."

The Bads play their last New Zealand record release show at the Old Stone Butter Factory, Whangarei on Saturday 26 August.