Interview: Davey Lane talks to Todd Rundgren and about his new album Don’t Bank Your Heart On It

Davey Lane

Davey Lane is probably best known as being the lead guitarist in one of Australia’s most-loved groups, You Am I. You might also have seen him on stage playing with Jimmy Barnes, Crowded House, The Saints or a number of other formidable acts. Davey has also helmed his own band, The Pictures, as well as performing and recording under his own name.

Tomorrow, 13th November, he will be releasing his third studio album, Don’t Bank Your Heart On It. It’d be best described as a mixtape, with Davey enlisting many of his friends and favourite artists to contribute. These include Todd Rundgren, Vika and Linda Bull, Chris Cheney (The Living End), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon), Robyn Hitchcock, Georgia Mooney (All Our Exes Live in Texas), Mark Wilson (Jet) and Stu MacKenzie (King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard).

The album shows Lane flexing his muscles as a songwriter. It’s a beautifully diverse album, with some rip-roaring sonic rushes, and some lush melodic masterpieces. We had a chat to Davey Lane earlier this week about the album, and we also have the exclusive first look at the video for “Acceptance”, which Davey created himself this week. As an added bonus, Davey has provided us with a conversation which he had with the legend that is Todd Rundgren. You can find that at the end of the article.

How does it feel knowing your album Don’t Bank Your Heart On It is just about to drop?

Look it’s one of those things. I’ve lived with the record, at least the machinations of getting it mixed, mastered, etc intensively. It has been my thing for the last couple of months.

I put a single out about five weeks ago and I was listening to it incessantly right up until it was released. I don’t think I’ve listened to it once since it was released. It’s that thing where you make this thing and then hand it over to the cosmos. Throwing it out into the ether and once it’s out there, it’s not my thing anymore, it’s for whoever wants to hear it.

It’s weird; it’s almost a grieving process, saying goodbye to this thing which you’ve looked after. It’s like looking after a dog for a couple of years, you develop a relationship with it, then you have to give it back at the end of the day. It’s not quite as emotionally investing as that of course, but it feels a little like that.

You’ve called it a mixtape – you’ve got some stellar musicians on it. Was this always the intention?

No – not at all. This record tracks a couple of years in my life and I didn’t set it out to be a collaborative thing to start with. To me, I always looked at those records with a feature artist thing a little cynically. I thought so & so is just getting their more famous mates to prop them up, and get a few more streams on Spotify. It was more the kind of thing that when this record started to take form, it proved to be a story.

A lot of the people who featured on the record are people I’ve worked with over the years and in most instances are really good friends of mine, and the record is a sole searching kind of thing. Many of those that featured on the record were around at the time that the experiences which shaped these songs happened. It was almost like forming a play of sorts and having different people come in to narrate different parts of the story.

Also, for me as a music fan, it was a thrill of having musical heroes such as Todd Rundgren sing on it. That really appealed to me.

Probably half the tracks on the album talk about the end of a relationship, but musically it’s pretty upbeat. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Yeah. I don’t think the best songs come from beer and skittles. A lot of the songs do come from experiences, times in life which are trying. But I’ve always enjoyed countering that, at least musically. The darker themes are framed and uplifted by a joyous music backing.

It certainly does that. It’s not On The Beach (Neil Young)

As good as On the Beach is…

It’s a great album – but, a totally different vibe.

That’s the thing, with something like On The Beach – I don’t really write many songs in minor keys. Most of them are in major keys and “up” sounding. I might throw some jarring changes in there. Whereas On The Beach, with tracks like “Motion Pictures” and “Ambulance Blues”, they were pretty minor key kind of songs, which is a songwriting trope which Neil did better than anyone really.

On the track “Acceptance”, you’ve got Todd Rundgren, as well as Vika and Linda Bull. This is a killer combination having the three on them involved.

Absolutely, when I look back it now, I’m sending out single art etc, and there’s my name next to Todd Rundgren and Vika and Linda. I’m wondering how the fuck did that happen? I’ve played with Vika and Linda for a long time, and they are both people who are very dear to me. And, Todd is a big musical hero of mine and we’ve played together and we are working on other things together.

It worked out that the song is pretty representative of what the record is about, but it’s placed towards the end of the album. The record starts out depressing, it gets more depressing, and then ends a little more optimistically.

The song is me; I do the verses, asking the existential questions of myself, staring into the abyss, then two angels (Vika and Linda), and one wizard (Todd Rundgren), deliver the answer to those questions. So as I was saying the record, is a play of sorts, with different people coming to narrate different parts. Having those three on there is a thrill.

Enjoy the debut of the video for “Acceptance” – first seen here exclusively on the AU Review

The song deals with anxiety. Do you think blokes generally are getting better at talking about and managing anxiety?

Absolutely! I think it’s something which should be. I’m turning forty next year. Going back twenty-five years when I was at school, even then, which in the scheme of things is not that long ago, there was a tendency to tell people to just “pull yourself together”. In retrospect, I realise I was going through depression and having anxiety attacks, and the ramifications of that I’m still trying to unravel today.

I think I got off pretty lightly in that regard, a lot of people fared a lot worse. I think it’s important for males to dispense with the whole “be a bloody bloke”. Thankfully I think those barriers are being broken down, people are having open discussions and not suppressing them.

Nice job on the video clip by the way (thanks for letting us show it first). Did you make it yourself?

I did, yes. I created it last week. I was thinking of doing something animated. But, everyone was slammed for time, and I thought, after a few drinks, that I’ll do it myself.

I bought Final Cut Pro and thankfully with a moments notice I got onto Vika and Linda and asked them to fill the green screen and do their bits.  Todd (Rundgren) who lives in Hawaii, does his own videos so he knows what he is doing. I asked him to mime along to the song and send something to me really quickly. He said ‘ok – I can do that’ – and so he did. It has an 80’s lo-fi type of vibe. It was a lot of fun to put together.

It was fun to do, and I know now I can do it myself if need be in future.

And you’ve got your band-mate Tim Rogers on the final track …

Yeah – as I was saying – it’s no coincidence that he is on the last track and he is my best mate. During a lot of dark times, which formed this record, he was there to pick me up. So yeah, basically the song is about well… life throws you these challenges, and life isn’t so bad, and you pick up your bat and ball and keep strolling on.

My relationship with Tim is deep, we’ve been there for each other so much. This song has a feeling of us walking off into the sunset to finish off the record is a nice thing.

As of next year, it’s 22 years together. We’ve seen a lot, done a lot together

I dig his vocals on that. The falsetto kicks arse

He had to do this from home, due to lockdown. It was cool to open it up, with Tim being Tim Rogers. There’s nothing better than that.

Yes, it reminded of the album he did with The Bamboos

I agree. I think on that record he reached another level of singing. He really came into his own.

“Some Other Wonder”, is another highlight on the album with Robyn Hitchcock and Georgia Mooney from All Our Exes Live In Texas.

Yeah – we did that in London. Georgia was over there, and I was playing shows with Robyn. I had the song and thought that they would be perfect for it. “Some Other Wonder” is a bit Beach Boys and also has a Sid Barrett thing to it. I’ve played with Robyn over the years. A ton of our time is spent nerding over either Syd Barrett or The Beatles, and it was really easy. When I got home I put the bits around it, the strings etc.

Are you planning to tour the album?

Yeah, absolutely, within reasonable parameters of course. There are some songs which are harder to pull off live. But, there are others which are unabashed rock songs which are going to be pretty fun to play. Offers are starting to come through for shows, so if not December probably January for some local touring.

The album title, Don’t Bank Your Heart On It, do you still have optimism going forward?

Yes, absolutely. At the time, it was a phrase which kept going around in my end. I’m not sure where it came from. I’m not even sure if I didn’t steal it. When things have gone dark, it was a phrase which kept coming back to me.

But yes, my headspace has veered towards optimism from when that phrase was rattling around in my head.

Finally, a few quick-fire questions…

Favourite Beatles album?

This changes every day, but today it’s Revolver

Favourite You Am I song to play?

“Guys, Girls, Guitars”, no cancel that. It’s a brand new song, which we haven’t played live yet. But we’ve been recording it. It sends the hairs standing up. It’s called “The Water Boy”.

Favourite drink at the bar

Manhattan or an Old Fashioned

When are we going to see the next You Am I record?

We are working on that at the moment. This is the first one we’ve had to do like this, with Andy and Rusty in Sydney, and Tim and I in Melbourne. Tim and I are working on guitars and vocals at the moment. We should have it finished by the end of the year, and have something out in the first few months of next year.

I know its de rigueur to say ‘it’s the best we’ve done yet’. But, I reckon it’s easily the best YAI record in ages. It’s going to be a goodun!

Thanks for your time Davey. Good luck with the album.

Don’t Bank Your Heart On It by Davey Lane will be released 13th November 2020. You can pre-order limited edition merch bundles (including green vinyl) HERE

The chat between Davey Lane and Todd Rundgren is broken up into two parts.

The following is the second part, again featuring Davey Lane and Todd Rundgren, exclusive to the AU Review.

Bruce Baker

Probably riding my bike, taking photos and/or at a gig. Insta: @bruce_a_baker

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