Australian rocker Dion Bayman has just released his superb new album, “Don’t Look Down”, on April 6th, Check out my review of the album here. He was kind enough to grant me an interview about the record, what inspires his music and what is next in the cards for him.
MMR: Dion, I hope you are doing well. First of all, congratulations on the new album, I love it. A fantastic follow up to the outstanding “Afterburn” album. As I stated in my review, “Afterburn” was one of the best melodic pop rock albums since artists like Bryan Adams, Richard Marx and Rick Springfield were in their prime, so I had my doubts as to whether you would be able to match the strength of that record again. As it turns out those doubts were unwarranted and you yet again put out one hell of an album. So first question, what inspired this album?
DB: Hi David, thanks for the interview! I usually get inspired by listening to other music. I’ll hear an awesome song and think to myself “I wanna try to write an awesome song too!”. Listening to music is definitely my biggest inspiration.
MMR: What is your approach to songwriting? I know some artists get a riff in their head and build around that or have a lyric swimming around and build a song around that. What is your process for writing a song?
DB: I have a general idea of what kind of song I want to write before I begin. I write the music first and then lay down some basic tracks. I then layer some other instruments and sounds until I get a decent arrangement. I then sit with the music for a few weeks and get a “feel” for the lyrics. Once the lyrics are written and recorded that’s when the fun begins with lots of re-recording and tweaks. A lot of the time the final song turns out a lot different to how I imagined it at the beginning!
MMR: I know you have said some of your inspirations are Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and Keith Urban, to name a few. How do you feel these artists have influenced your songwriting and is there a particular band/artist that you feel has been the biggest influence on your writing style?
DB: The late 80’s early 90’s was when I really started getting into music, so the big artists of that time I guess have influenced me the most. Yes artists like Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi were influences, but also Def Leppard, Europe and Richard Marx were all over the radio at that time and I loved that kind of music. Growing up there was always music in my house, whether it was Elvis, Abba, Bee Gees or jazz and classical music, it was always there and I loved it! These days though for me, it’s all about melodies, big choruses and harmonies, good production and arrangements. I try to add those elements to my music.
MMR: One of the things that always impresses me and is the first thing that one notices when listening to your music is your ability to write incredibly catchy melodies with some really great hooks. Does it take you long to write these songs or are all of these infectious tunes just swimming around in your head waiting to come out?
DB: The melodies basically come out when I hear the music. If I hear an instrumental track I often find myself humming a vocal melody over the top. It’s just something I’ve always done. Having piano lessons as a kid would’ve helped a lot with that I imagine.
MMR: The new album is entitled “Don’t Look Down”. Is there any special meaning to this title or is it just picked from a hat of several titles you were fiddling with?
DB: I have to say that I’m terrible coming up with album titles. I decided on the cover art some time ago as I really like the pic, so I basically needed a title to match the cover. I came up with ‘Don’t Look Down’ as I think it’s a pretty cool name for a rock/pop album and matches the cover art nicely.
MMR: Let me say that, as with “Afterburn”, there are no bad tracks on this record. But one of my personal favorites is “Keep Coming Back”. How did this song come about?
DB: ‘Keep Coming Back’ is a song I wrote years ago. When preparing for this album I decided to go through some old demo’s and came across this song. I listened to it and thought “Wow, this is a great song! I need to re-record this and release it!” So I changed a few lyrics, fiddled with the arrangement a little and gave it a modern touch. It turned out great and it’s also one of my favourites.
MMR: What are some of your favorite tracks off of the album and do any have a special meaning?
DB: Honestly I find it very hard to pick a favourite. I like them all for different reasons. I like ‘One More Reason’ as it’s a kick ass rock song with an interesting middle break. I like ’24 Hours a Day’ as it has a little Keith Urban vibe going on with a huge chorus. I like ‘For You’ as I spent a long time on the arrangement as there’s a lot going on with many tracks. Seriously, I could name every track on the album! As far as any songs having a special meaning, some are about my life and others are not. I’m not saying which ones 😉
MMR: My wife has commandeered the new album and has been singing your songs around the house. I have gotten a lot of positive comments and emails about it after posting the review. I realize the record has not released yet, but have you received much feed back on it yet?
DB: The album has just been released today (6th April). A couple of early reviews have come out and I’m happy to say that they’re great! So far so good 🙂
MMR: Now I realize hoping to see you live all the way here in North Carolina is likely a pipe dream, but are there any plans to do any touring there locally in Australia for this album?
DB: I don’t have any plans to do any touring. I toured for 20 years and have to say that I’m much more interested in writing and recording these days. I have a lot more to learn!
MMR: I have four records by you at this time. “Truth Or Dare”, “Smoke And Mirrors”, “Afterburn” and of course the new one. These are the only ones I have been able to find anywhere but I have seen on the web about a possible 2009 record titled “Rise”. How many albums have you recorded at this point in your career?
DB: I’ve recorded various demo CDs over the years thinking they were great at the time. ‘Truth or Dare’, ‘Rise’ and another demo CD called ‘Standing Tall’ were released years ago but quickly pulled as I wasn’t happy with the production. A few songs from those albums were re-recorded and appear on my more recent releases as I really like the songs. I don’t even have copies of those demo albums anymore.
MMR: One of the most impressive things about your music is that you handle everything yourself. From songwriting to playing all of the instruments to mixing to production. It is quite envious, especially to those of us that were not blessed with a single musical talent. How is that you came to being able to do all of that yourself?
DB: Lots and Lots of practice! I’ve always been interested in writing my own songs. Even when playing in cover bands I wanted to throw an original song in the set or record an original track. As far as mixing and production goes, I guess I’ve been doing it a very long time. I used to record on those little 4-track cassette recorders. I’d “bounce” so many tracks that it was amazing I could make anything sound decent at all! As technology has improved it has given many musicians the opportunity to produce good sounding music. There are so many great producers out there and I’m always listening and learning.
MMR: Here in the USA the music scene basically sucks ass these days. Artists like Justin Beiber, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Nickleback pervade the radio waves here while most of the melodic rock genre bands are coming out of Europe. Obviously you have some phenomenal artists like Rick Springfield and Keith Urban there, but I have noticed what seems to be an influx of melodic rock bands coming out of Australia. What is the musical landscape like there and is this genre of music relevant there?
DB: The landscape here is pretty much the same as the US I think, especially in regards to radio play. There are some great melodic rock bands in Australia but like the US, the genre isn’t the most popular.
MMR: Melodic rock and AOR are sadly not very popular genres of music these days. Which I certainly do not understand. Most artists in this genre struggle to get by and have to maintain day jobs as well just to make ends meet. There are very few bands with the longevity of someone like Bon Jovi that are still able to sell out arenas. Thankfully artists like yourself are still putting out music for us fans regardless of this fact. What is it that keeps you releasing this genre of music with the music scene being what it is these days?
DB: Well I certainly don’t do it for the money! 😉 The honest truth is I just enjoy writing and recording songs. It’s always been a hobby of mine. When I finished recording the ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ album it was the first album that I thought “hey, this isn’t too bad”. It was the first album that I actively sought other people’s opinions on apart from my family and friends. I decided to send it away to some review sites and also give it a bit of promotion on Facebook. As it turned out the reviews were great and I started selling some copies and getting excellent feedback. I want to keep improving with my songwriting and continue to make the best sounding music I can.
MMR: What are some of the biggest challenges you face with being a one man show as you are as opposed to being tied to a record label?
DB: One of the biggest challenges I have is promoting my music. Having a label behind you can obviously open a lot of doors regarding promotion and get your name out there. Apart from that there are advantages in not having a label as well. I get to release my music on my terms and at the time I choose. Also, since I do everything myself chances are I wouldn’t play nice with others anyway 😉
MMR: And finally, what is next on the docket for Dion Bayman?
DB: For now I’ll take some time and see how the new album goes. I usually like to release a new album every few years, but sometimes life gets in the way as we all know.
MMR: That is all of the questions I have for you today, Dion. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview and answer my questions. Again, great album, great music and obviously just an all around nice guy. I can’t wait to hear what is yet to come from you.
DB: Thank you David. Best of luck with your site and thank you very much for the tremendous support you’ve given me.
For more information on Dion Bayman visit his website and Facebook.
And by all means, order his phenomenol music today and support this artist.