Iconic Australian rock band Boom Crash Opera are heading to Adelaide for a Weekend Of Rock. Big in the mid ‘80s to the mid ‘90s and still writing and performing. They are known for their intense stage show that blends high energy, artful intent and boisterous humour. Their live performances draw on a string of hit singles, starting with Great Wall and Hands Up In The Air (1986) though to the techno stomper Gimme (1994). Songs like Onionskin, The Best Thing and Dancing In The Storm are radio anthems that are still heard to this day and will feature when they play Weekend Of Rock. Hi Fi Way speaks to singer Dale Ryder about playing in Adelaide for a Weekend Of Rock with Jon Stevens and Daryl Braithwaite.
It is so good that Boom Crash Opera are heading to Adelaide for the Weekend Of Rock and can now start talking about playing shows this year?
It has been a while, it is great being able to play live. I did a rehearsal with our drummer and I definitely wasn’t used to it, it wasn’t easy!
Do you feel a bit rusty and might take a few shows to get back in to the swing of things?
Absolutely, rehearsing is one thing, jumping around on stage and singing at the same time is another. Being with a whole bunch of people will be weird as I have been so isolated because I’m at home and my wife works so I have been pretty much on my own. It is going to be really weird, even in a room with five people is strange and will be with a whole bunch of other people.
Playing Weekend Of Rock in Adelaide will be a good show in front of a big crowd…
I’m really looking forward to it because I love those big stages, I love lots of people and hanging out with Jon Stevens and Daryl will be great fun. The Angels play before us and there’s a whole heap of bands coming up I have noticed. It will be really good fun.
Do these types of shows feel like a family catch up of sorts?
That’s the best part of those gigs, we’re on first and we’ll get that done, we can’t fly out until the next day so we can have a few drinks backstage and watch the other bands. It is more of a hang out than work really. That’s the good part of getting old being in a rock band.
Playing all those big hits must be a great feeling seeing how the crowd reacts to them?
It is great fun, we did Red Hot Summer last year and we like those big festival shows. Everyone hangs out, everyone is happy and having a good time getting to hear great songs, sit in the sun and have a few drinks… what more could you want?
Boom Crash Opera is all about playing live, how did the band keep busy last year?
I basically went in to isolation, I’m sixty six now and I didn’t want to do anything. Basically I’m retired, it was good for me, I did a lot of cooking, doing some stuff around the house, all that stuff that needs to be done like re-doing my deck, renovating and painting fences. It was all those things I could not do because I didn’t have time. Pete was writing songs, he’s a Professor of music at Uni and he pretty much kept going with online stuff. I’m not sure what Maz was doing, he usually does his own little thing! John (our bass player) is a teacher and he was really busy. I took it pretty easy, put on a bit of weight…
I think we have all got some COVID kilos!
Ha! Ha! I haven’t got it in me, I’m sixty six and I don’t have that routine mentality. It will have to go on its own!
Have you experienced anything quite like what happened last year in your career?
Nup! I think the last real dilemma we had was back in the day in the late 80s, maybe early 90s and all the pilots went on strike. We had all these American pilots flying in, lots of the flights got disrupted, that was the last chaotic thing as a musician I went through. We have had bushfires and disasters like that which have lasted a few days and it has gone. Even now we have gigs booked and we still have doubts whether those will one hundred percent happen, I just don’t know what’s going on! That’s the hard part. Each week is like a new week for us, it is an awful way to live but we’ll have to get used to it.
Does it take you back to a time where bands would literally play week to week?
Yeah, that was fun! At least we could travel, now there isn’t any travel. I’ve been playing a lot of acoustic gigs locally with Jason Singh from Taxiride, we’re all compromising and coming to some sort of arrangement given that we can’t have the whole band. These venues have the capacity for crowds which is good and we can get the industry started again. The industry has really felt the pinch as well in particular the venues. We’ve got gigs planned until the end of April. Some of our Red Hot Summer shows have been rescheduled for next year and I still have that marked on my calendar.
Has there been much pressure from fans to start thinking about writing another album?
At the moment it is never say never, Pete is a prolific writer and he’s getting older as well. Depending on how we go this year and how we all shape up, we have a few songs ready to go, it’s a matter of whether we can all get together and be healthy enough to do it. There’s no point doing anything if you can’t tour it and that is really the only way people get to hear new songs. We’re always up for new material. This next tour we are doing we’ve pulled out a whole bunch of old songs that we have never played live which will be really daunting for me as a singer because I sang those songs thirty years ago. I’m not that kind of a singer any more, so that will really funny when we start rehearsals when we try them out.
Are you surprised with what you find in the archives?
We’ve always loved those songs but they are incredibly difficult to play as a band live as there is a lot of stuff in it. That was a daunting thing back in the day but as you get older you can do it stripped back and not be that precious about it. It can be just as good with an acoustic guitar and that’s when you realise it is a good song that doesn’t need all that other stuff behind it. It is always about me as a vocalist, it is one thing singing in a studio doing one hundred takes but to sing the whole song is another thing. I think that is true for a lot of singers.
The forty year anniversary is approaching for Boom Crash Opera, any plans to celebrate that?
Oh god! Jesus! I honestly never thought I would be doing it at this age! If we are around that has got to be something. Daryl is seventy and singing really well, maybe I’ll keep going!
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Boom Crash Opera with Jon Stevens and Daryl Braithwaite at Weekend Of Rock at Adelaide Oval. Tickets from Ticketek.