Livingstone Daisies are a band are already well known for overdosing on harmony, jangle and fuzz and who made a grand and ambitious statement by recording two albums before even playing their first gig.
The band members - Van Walker (Vox, Guitar, Scotch & Coke) Liz Stringer, (Vox, Guitar, Scotch & Dry) Michael Barlcay (Vox, Drums, Cheap Red) Cal Walker (Vox, Bass, Expensive Port) will be no strangers to fans of discerning Australian Rock’n’roll and have teamed up as the Livingstone Daisies to create of Australia’s most formidable and exciting pop/rock bands.
With the release of their debut album Don’t Know What Happiness Is, The “Daisies” have crafted a record that is truly Australian yet tips it’s hat in appreciation to the members influences and inspirations (such as Teenage Fanclub, Tom Petty, Wilco, Bob Dylan, Big Star, Neil Young etc.)
As a listener you will work your way though the lush jangle of Wednesday, the honey coated gravel of Redhead, the powerful pop of Blue Solitude, the dusty country roads in Safety In Numbers, the rumbling and rambling Die On The Vine and the sun scorched melodies of Everything Has Got To Go and Keep Searching. Just when you think you have the band pegged they close the album with the mournful and epic “I Still Believe In You,” the perfect way to keep you guessing and (the album is 8 tracks long), keep you wanting more.
Lead singer/songwriter Van Walker details the recording of: Don’t Know What Happiness Is:
“To record our first album we didn't even have enough money to put petrol in the car to drive out to the coast to the shack where the sessions were to take place! It was a dire state of affairs for a couple of hours there, until we ended up at our local boozer & got a loan off the publican, a generous $100 to get down there, gas up the car, and maybe see us fed that night. Modest beginnings! Here we were, planning to 'out-cheese' Tom Petty & Jeff Lynn & their multi-million dollar recordings & we were literally left standing on the side of the road without even the means to make it to the session, much less put a clean set of strings on a guitar! But, where there's a will... and a great bunch of musicians who love to play, pure & simple, beyond all the other bullshit, focused & up for it. We had the songs, the lungs, the instruments, the microphones.... why couldn't we tackle this harmony-heavy material? All we had to do was get there...
We'd been very generously offered a friends family shack on the coast of Involach, regional Victoria, to hang out & do the recording, so it wasn’t all bad, don't get me wrong. We were actually very lucky! I think I played a festival & paid everyone, eventually, nowhere near what they deserved, or what lesser musicians would have expected, but we were getting there by hook or by crook. We set up in the loungeroom, rearranging furniture, having no idea if the room would sound any good or not, drums in the middle on the carpet, amps behind couches, with Steve & the desk in the master bedroom off the lounge. We recorded live without headphones (plenty of lovely spill) then overdubbed vocals & guitars & percussion without headphones, the playback coming in from the tape machine in the master bedroom loud enough to hear without the need of horrible cans. The other great advantage of this set up was, the window of the master bedroom looked out over the backyard, so after recording bed-tracks all day, by the evening we’d light a fire, fire up the barbie, and stand in the backyard drinking, listening to the playbacks, while each of us took turns doing overdubs. Drinking, standing around the backyard fire, we could see in the window, past Steve at the desk, working hard with a joint always burning in his fingers, through to the lounge where the increasingly pissed musician was overdubbing at the mic. We could hear & see everything clearly, so while we were relaxing, we were also performing, very naturally & most importantly, very cooperatively. The idea was, if you could hear it, or were singing along to it while hearing the play back, then it was probably a good idea to go in & get it down. So we built these songs up naturally as we heard them. By the end of the night we’d be drunk as lords & somehow sensibly stop recording. Then we’d wake the next morning, hungover, maybe swim in the ocean, start recording & do it all over again.
released January 1, 2000
“From the first guitar chord, you know this is something special. Managing to sound both classic and fresh, The L.D’s turn everyday tales – ‘The bins go out on Wednesday’ – into songs that’ll be stuck in your head all day. And the beautiful thing is it’s not too slick – this is the sound of real musicians playing the music they love.”
Jeff Jenkins (Inpress Magazine)
on't Know What Happiness Is
IN A field bordered by the carnivorous pub-rock power of the Swedish Magazines, the whimsical lyrical brilliance of Van Walker, the soulful tones of Liz Stringer, the hirsute charisma of Cal Walker, and the distant memories of Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls can be found in Melbourne's latest supergroup, Livingstone Daisies. Don't Know What Happiness Is comes replete with the pop sensibility of the Replacements, the Posies, Teenage Fanclub and Big Star. On Wednesday, the Daisies journey down the road to Ardent Records in Memphis, while Everything Has Got to Go affirms John Lennon's proposition that in the best pop songs live the saddest stories. Blue Solitude is emotional withdrawal in its ideal power-pop guise; Van Walker's and Liz Stringer's rich harmonies on Safety in Numbness can barely disguise a heart-wrenching narrative. When the rumbling beats of former Coloured Girls drummer Michael Barclay usher in Die on the Vine, the Livingstone Daisies are in full bloom.