It was a decade ago that two Irish backpackers came to Australia, met in a Bondi Junction pub and started DJing together. Now one of Australia’s leading dance acts, and with a pair of Aussies in their ranks, The Potbelleez have just released their second album, Destination Now, and are preparing to tour. So we caught up with Dave Goode (pictured far right), the man who started it all…
You’re from Dublin, what appealed to you about the Australian music scene?
At the time I came here, 10 years ago, I had read in Mix Magazine that Pete Tong said it was official that Australia was really kicking. And at the time, in Europe, it was all very much stale and dance music hadn’t been going that long. And Ireland, there wasn’t anything new. So I decided to take the opportunity and give it a chance and went for it.
So you came out here as a backpacker?
Yeah I came out here on a one-year work visa, but I wasn’t really a backpacker, more of a “flashpacker” really, I came out here with a box of records. Then I went down the study route to extend the visa.
What did you study?
I did audio engineering and sound production and then I did to keep the visa going, I did marketing business and management, so it kept me legal and in the country. And now I’m a citizen, you can’t get rid of me!
If you didn’t make it with music, what would you be doing?
Well I’m a printer by trade, I did an apprenticeship when I was 16 which funded my record habit. So I’d probably still be doing that.
How was it touring with Usher?
Oh it was amazing just to be around him and all the crew. They’re like athletes! They’re big time entertainers, working like a big oiled machine, so professional. It really showed us how to be professionals. And obviously every night of the week there were massive crowds. Which was amazing.
You’re touring in June?
Yes, we’re starting a 30-date tour around the country and then heading off to Europe and doing MTV Ibiza and we’re doing a festival in Ireland called Electric Picnic. But we’ve got the album tour in Oz first, our biggest priority is Australia. We’re extensively playing round the country, not just the metro places, but regional as well.
What are the similarities between the Irish and the Aussies?
We don’t mind to take the piss a bit! A third of the country is of Irish descent so we’re very similar and there is a similar pub culture here as well.
How was Bass in the Grass up in Darwin?
We love Darwin, we book there quite a bit. The NT is just a brilliant place, we just love it up there and we always get a really good reception up there, everyone is really lovely. And the weather is beautiful.
I remember you performing on Big Brother. Are you a reality show fan?
Well funny you should mention that, last year we did X Factor as well. It’s a different medium, to get your music out there and heard, you know what I mean? There’s not as much money in music anymore, so just to get your music out there. It’s a big platform and I know a million bands who would kill to get their music out there on TV. So we embrace it.
Who inspires you?
The four of us are very different, that’s why it’s an interesting mix. I have been brought up and influenced by the dance music of the early nineties. And that’s where I get mine from. Also on a songwriting level, people like Mark Ronson, and maybe U2.
How did you meet Jonny, the fellow Irishman of the band?
We met in a pub in Bondi Junction, the Tea Gardens. I was DJing and he came up and started talking to me and we got a long really well. And I found out he was having some trouble with his girlfriend and so I said, “I know what its like to be on your own here, if you have any problems just give me a call and you can crash on my couch.“ And he knocked on my door the next Monday. It was literally like that. Very organic. Then we came up with the concept.
Tell us about the new album
It’s out this week. We released the last one two-and-a-half years ago, so we took a bit of time to get this one ready, so we really feel that we’ve moved on as a band since the last album. And it features the four of us quite heavily and as collaboration. And Blu, our female singer, is up in the forefront quite a bit, not just Ilan.
You seem to get compared to the Black Eyed Peas a bit? Because of the 3 guys, one girl?
I don’t think people do just because of that. They’ve made inroads in the US with dance music and we’re both releasing music on the singles charts, but as far as their music goes, it’s not really our cup of tea.
You used to play at Moulin Rouge in Kings Cross?
Yeah we played there every Saturday night for five years. I haven’t been there in a while though.
I think it’s closed down actually….
Oh really? To be honest, I don’t go out that much, If I do have a night off, I am more inclined to stay in and cook a meal for my girl or go to a restaurant. You gotta understand that a lot our lives are based around clubs and loud music and free drinks. So when we get a night off, it’ s like the last place you want to be. Ilan is different, he goes to a few gigs around town, we all do our own thing when we have time off.
Advice for a backpacker who has just arrived?
If there’s a will there’s a way. If you fancy it here, do whatever it takes. You know, there were periods here when I didn’t think I would make it as a resident or citizen, but I just stuck out it. Opportunities arrive. I’ve had so many friends who just throw it in and go home and get miserable at home, so I always say, “just don’t leave, do whatever it takes, whether it s a study course or get sponsored, there’s a way to get in.”
The Potbelleez play Sydney (June 16), Wollongong (June 17), Melbourne (July 2), Brisbane (July 21), Byron Bay (July 22), Fremantle (July 29) and Darwin (August 5).www.thepotbelleez.com