Do Re Mi, arguably the most successful Australian act of the post-punk era, make their long overdue return this summer for the By The C Festival appearances (featuring Icehouse and Sunnyboys) and headline shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The Sydney born band featuring singer Deborah Conway and bassist Helen Carter are best known for the chart hits Idiot Grin, Adultery, Guns and Butter; the indie chart topper Standing On Wires and the controversial Man Overboard.
Thirty years later, and following a successful solo career (Conway) and a career in non-profit management, working for Greenpeace, aged care and disability organisations (Carter) an invitation for Do Re Mi to appear at the inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards proved the catalyst for the reformation but other factors played a part too. Helen Carter answers some questions for Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles.
Awesome news that Do Re Mi are back, did it take much convincing?
Thanks! We didn’t need convincing but we needed the right time. Deb and I had been talking and staying in touch over the years, and the time was right, following our one-off performance at the Australian Women in Music Awards last year. Peter Oxley from Sunnyboys called me and asked if we were interested in doing the By the C festival with them, Icehouse, the Church and Mentals. It was a great opportunity.
What was the catalyst to get the band back together to play some shows?
Once we realised that we could breathe new life into the material and it sounded great, it was full steam ahead. Our original drummer and co-songwriters Stephen Philip (guitar) and Dorland Bray (drums) were sadly not available, which almost put the kibosh on the whole thing. But we had other ideas…I brought in Julia Day on drums, who had been in a band in the 90s with me and Stephen, so I knew she was right, and then Julia introduced us to Bridie O’Brien, a phenomenal guitarist. Clio Renner our keyboard player works with Deb regularly so we feel good together.
What was the energy like in the rehearsal room?
Me, Julia and Bridie have been rehearsing for a few months. We wanted to be as tight as possible – musically and personally – so that we had a real band feel, rather than it being a few people backing me and Deb. It’s worked fabulously. By the time of the full band rehearsals a few weeks ago, we were on fire.
Did it take a bit re-learning some songs?
Oh my, yes indeedy doo! Do Re Mi wrote highly percussive and arpeggiated songs, and my bass lines have always been melodic and funky. But once I got going it was like riding a bike but painful for the hands, ha ha!
Is this the start of something more long term?
Definitely for Bridie, me and Julia, yes. Deb’s got a new album coming out this year so she’s busy with that – but who knows? It’s possible.
Is there a prospect of new music?
We never say never, but it wouldn’t be for a while.
Do you get nostalgic playing these songs again?
No, I get horny 😉 Nostalgia is a regressive notion in a way. I just love playing with the band and making loud music. People have commented that the songs have stood the test of time and still feel relevant.
Are you excited to be touring in the company of Icehouse, Sunnyboys, The Church and Mental As Anything?
Many of the musicians in those bands I’ve known for ages and it’s been fantastic to catch up with them again. Backstage is a little less raucous these days though!
Beyond the tour are there any plans for Do Re Mi?
I want to take advantage of the momentum and write with Julia and Bridie as soon as possible.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Do Re Mi Tour Dates
Friday 8th February 2019 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Friday 1st March 2019 – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney NSW – SOLD OUT
Also appearing at By The C
Saturday 2nd February 2019 – Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta QLD
Saturday 9th February 2019 – Leura Park Estate, Curlewis VIC
Sunday 10th February 2019 – Glenelg Beach, Adelaide SA