DION OF THE D4, INTERVIEWED (2003): Rock'n'roll soldiers

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DION OF THE D4,  INTERVIEWED (2003): Rock'n'roll soldiers

We catch him at the unglamorous and very un-rock'n'roll Ponsonby Food Hall but Dion of the D4, the North Shore band that has captured hearts and imaginations in Europe and Japan, is only too happy to chat.

The band goes on tour this month but for most of the year it wouldn't have been uncommon to run into various members of D4 around the shops and foodhalls of their hometown. Big in Europe maybe, but glad to be home and writing for a new album away from the hectic touring schedule they set in the past few years.

"We went to the States and England in March and April and have been back home since then. That said, we've been back and forth to Japan. That was the first place we went to when we started overseas.

"I think we could get bigger crowds in other places now but our record 6Twenty came out there this year, and we hadn't been back since 2000, so it was time to go again.

hero3"Since we've been back the shows have been sold out. The last gig was to about 800 and after that we did the Fuji Rock Festival and our tent was packed. And it's fantastic money. I've got three jumbo jets now."

The perception that the D4 are coining it in is largely based on the column inches they have been accorded in the British rock press, which has taken to them in the same way it adopted the Datsuns. The truth is somewhat different, although Dion admits things are much more comfortable financially these days. Rich?

"I'm loaded, mate. Not really. The reality is we can do what we do and this is the first time I've been able to do it. I'm living pretty comfortably, but not in some penthouse hotel apartment. To those people who want to know about the money I'd say, 'Mind your own business. I don't ask how much you earn'."

The machine around the four members however has grown parallel to their increasing profile.

hero_thumb_d47Not quite like the White Stripes when there used to be three in the bus and now there's 16, but as they have management now, it allows the D4 to spend time on what they do best, make a rock'n'roll noise.

" Last year, before we went away, we were managing ourselves and doing everything ourselves. Now we've got management and an accountant which we never had before, but we make sure we've got hold of those reins.

"We don't just pass it over to them and say, 'Go do what you want'. But it's great having these people to help us because it allows us to do so much more. Once you start earning a bit more money and getting more people to shows, you can afford to spend a bit more on crew and things to make the show that much better."

The focus for the band these past few months has been on writing new material for their second album - some of which will feature in their sets on tour - which they hope to record by the end of the year.

"That's why we've been home most of this year. We just don't have time to write while we're on the road, we're too tired. We've been demo-ing some songs here so we can just go into some studio somewhere and whack 'em down.

"It's cool because since we've been touring so much it's great to be on the other side of it and writing and recording. It's fun recording ourselves because we're always learning, and it's going to help us once we get into the studio to do the record."

He talks of a New Year's Eve gig and their Big Day Out appearance after this tour, then it's back on the road in Europe and the States next year.

But by then they will have been away for a while and in the fickle world of rock - especially the trend of garageband rock - dare we suggest they might have been forgotten in their absence?

hero_thumb_d41"I don't think so. If it wasn't for us writing right now we'd be touring the States or somewhere, but we needed time to write the record. People are still emailing us asking when we are coming back.

"I suppose if you don't strike while the iron's hot it can be a problem. But I don't think that's the case with us because I know our second record is going to push us up another notch, and those people who were interested last time are still keen, and we're going to pick up more along the way."

The bad's profile in Britain is difficult to discern from this distance. One week's breakout band can be consigned to history within a month or so, and column inches don't necessarily sell shows or records.

"We are popular, but not top of the mainstream or anything. I'd say we're skirting the mainstream overseas, but we're not huge. But people back here are proud of what we've done.

"I wouldn't say it's a struggle, but we're just climbing up the ladder. At the start of 2000 we were nowhere and we couldn't expect it to just explode, but we're making ground."

And being associated with the garageband trend? "It could be a double-edged sword. It might not be fashionable within the media in a year or so, it probably won't be, and we could fall away.

"But I believe we will build a strong following and keep hold of those people. I'm going to use it to our full advantage."

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