Dom Mariani - Born To Boogie With Carson, The Coloured Balls, Band Of Light, Aztecs & More!

Dom Mariani - Born To Boogie With Carson, The Coloured Balls, Band Of Light, Aztecs & More!

dom mariani interview
(Photo: Robbie Harrold)

Ahead of the release of the new album by his latest band, the heavy hitting Datura4, Dom Mariani of Perth garage-rock legends The Stems and power pop greats the Some Loves and the DM3 reveals his long-hidden love of classic Australian blues and boogie.

Upfront of Perth garage-rockers The Stems, Dom Mariani was responsible for one of the most-loved Australian albums of the 80s, At First Sight,  and a number of alternative chart-topping singles. Up front of subsequent bands including the Some Loves and the DM3 he has released albums the international power pop cognoscenti consider amongst the greatest the genre has ever had to offer. While he’s never had a genuine hit record, Dom can still pack out venues around the country with the Stems, and can still play to packed houses in Europe. He is a cult musician’s cult musician and has made records that stand alongside the best of his heroes including the likes of the Raspberries, the Standells, and the Smithereens.

While he would of course never ditch the music he’s previously made, Dom always has more than one project on the boil, and his newest group is the heavy hitting psych and boogie band Datura4. Datura4 has released two great albums to date and are set to release their third. They remain with Los Angeles label Alive! Records, which is best known for releasing the first Black Keys album and other Dan Auerbach-produced artists including the Buffalo Killers and the Black Diamond Heavies. They also release power pop great Paul Collins and 60s Detroit garage great Scott Morgan, so Dom is amongst some significant peers.

Ahead of the release of the Datura4’s new album Blessed Is The Boogie, we chat to Dom about this hitherto unseen side of his musical repertoire, and we asked him to name and talk about his 10 favourite Aussie blues and boogie tracks from the 1970s. Enjoy.  

ILYOS - Hi Dom. You’ve been playing in bands since the late ‘70s, which I guess means you grew up with a lot of the heavy Aussie boogie and psych/prog/proto-metal bands. You’ve given us 10 of your fave tracks – were you an avid fan of this stuff at the time?

DM - Totally, it goes back to my early high school years. I shared a bench with another kid in woodwork class whose older brother had some cool records. I bought myself a fuzz pedal and jammed for hours on heavy riffs with my high school band. We’d be in my parent’s garage, and mum would come down with a bowl of Cheezels and a bottle of coke during our break.

It may have started with ZZ Top’s “La Grange.” When I first heard it on the radio, I was blown away and immediately went out a bought the single. I guess from there it was Canned Heat, Cactus, Status Quo and Foghat. The connection to John Lee Hooker came through these guys. GTK was also important, it introduced me to bands like Carson, The Coloured Balls, Band of Light, The Aztecs and Daddy Cool. The first concert I ever went to I see was Lobby Loyde and The Coloured Balls. That was ‘74 at Fremantle Oval, part of an all-day festival line-up. I’d never heard of them before.

There was a strong hard rock and progressive blues scene here in Perth in the early to mid-seventies, about the time that I was getting serious about playing guitar. Local bands like Sitting Bull and Fatty Lumpkin would play our high school socials and free daytime concerts on the weekends. 

ILYOS - You’re internationally known for your love of ‘60s style garage rock and power pop – does it feel weird playing this music?

DM - Weird!? Hell no! I may have hidden my guitar skills and love for this music from the general music scene, but people who know me know that I have been into and always loved this stuff. These are my influences and when punk around it became a guilty pleasure. 

I guess I’ve shied away from wigging out on long solos with my previous bands, I played what the songs needed. There’s no need to overplay or show off when the song doesn’t need it, but Datura4 has given me back a freedom that more free-flowing (make it up as you go along), especially live.

ILYOS - Tell us a bit about the other guys in the band.

DM - Warren Hall was in an early line-up of the Drones. He is a fantastic drummer and shares a passion for hard rock, boogie, and blues. Stu Loasby, our bassist, has been with me for a number of years and plays in the Majestic Kelp. He is a true lover of Classic Rock. Bob Patient is our newest member who came in at the later stages of the album’s gestation. He plays with Dave Hole and was once a member of Fatty Lumpkin back in the day. He’s a killer Hammond player which has added an extra dimension to the album.

ILYOS -  We know you’re a big fan of Californian band Earthless who you are playing with soon – who are your other favourite contemporary heavy bands?

DM - Endless Boogie, Electric Wizzard, and Fu Manchu.

ILYOS - Tell us what we can expect from the new album Blessed Is the Boogie? The title track is killer.

DM - We’ve had our challenges getting the new album done but we the band can say it is our most solid effort so far. It rocks and grooves... each song holds its own. The introduction of keyboards has added another dimension to the music. I think it follows on nicely from the first two albums.

Now let's listen to Dom’s top 10 Aussie boogie blasters!!

Boogie Pts 1 and 2 – Carson

Aussie Boogie Kings. Broderick Smith sings ‘I’m a wolfman crawling on my knees.’ A cooler groove you won’t find - top of the pile. 

Judgment – Chain

My favorite track from Toward the Blues

Don’t Knock My Boogie - Fatty Lumpkin 

A local hit by a great Perth band. The lead singer John Worrall also played the flute which gives this track it’s unique signature. They were known for their progressive jams and covered the odd Jethro Tull tune. (Bob, our keyboard player, was in the group for a stint a few years after this was recorded). 

Destiny Song – Band of Light 

From the album Total Union. I first saw this on GTK. Great tune from Phil Keys ex La De Das.  

The Lesson So Listen – The Masters Apprentices

Just a killer track from a great album A Toast of Panama Red. Doug Ford’s fantastic guitar playing is all over this album. 

Boogie Woogie - Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs

From More Arse Than Class – relentless boogie rock. Billy Thorpe on fire. 

Morning Good Morning – The La De Das 

Technically from New Zealand - I remember seeing this on GTK – Phil Keys on vocal and the great Kevin Borich on slide for this joyous and catchy tune. 

Human Being - The Coloured Balls

Lobby Loyde was a force nature – rocked like no other. I managed to see the Coloured Balls at a concert held at the Fremantle Oval. They were drunk, loose, loud and powerful. I’ve never forgotten it. 

Bad Boy For Love – Rose Tattoo 

Members of Buffalo and Buster Brown form a band and record this solid gold classic. Pete Wells' slide guitar is wonderful. 

Golden Miles – Healing Force 

I first came across an edited version of this song on one of those K-tel comps that we had a home. It’s an amazing song with wonderful organ and soulful vocals. Written by Perth’s own guitar great Lindsay Wells. 

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