When you break down the name of some bands, they really do tell you exactly what you need to know. In this case, it’s taking hard driving rock numbers and serving them up in the cocktail bar (at Lounge Lizard O’Clock) with a smooth finish.
I had heard the name The Acca Daiquiris before through friends in high and low places associated with Thursday nights at the National Press Club and other jazz-related venues, but gun to my head, I’d struggle to pick them out of a line-up.
So when bass player Geoff Rosenberg contacted me via social networking last week, I had little to go on. But true to my congenital affliction (chronic interviewitis), come 7pm on Friday night we were conversing o’er the telecom lines, and I started by pointing out to Geoff that I was breaking some very new ground with this interview.
Bill Quinn: Now Geoff, this is the first time I’ve done an interview with a covers band so please be gentle with me.
Geoff Rosenberg: Yeah, I suppose we are a covers band, but we don’t always see ourselves as such. We do do covers, but we do original arrangements.
BQ: Just on that point, do you find there’s any snobbery on that? “We do originals and you do covers?”
GR: Nah, not in jazz. Because in the jazz scene, most people are doing standards. It’s not about if it’s original, it’s about how you play it, how you do it.
There are a million bands around doing the songs that we do – proper covers bands, where they just copy the original. But I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to listen to what we play…
BQ: Yeah, I have. I have! I had a great time listening to some of the little snippets on your web-site today, and I’ve got to say that I’ve never heard Born To Be Wild, Jumping Jack Flash, or The Boys Are Back In Town done exactly like that!
GR: No, of course not. So we’re basically taking the germ of an idea and changing it into something completely different.
I’ve been in lots of original bands in the past but this is almost the most creative endeavour that I’ve been involved with, really. Even compared to some of the original recording bands that I was in back in the mid-80s, making albums of original material and touring and promoting.
This is by far more fun. More musical anyway, that’s for sure.
BQ: On your Facebook page you talk about the distinction between baby boomers and Generation X. Do you find that your music tends to appeal more to an older set, or that younger people are hooking into it?
GR: We appeal to lots of people. Our friends bring their kids who are 14 year olds, 16 year olds, 12 year olds. I mean, they have no idea what it is we’re doing; they’ve got no reference point to it, and obviously don’t remember any of those songs at all. They don’t recognise any of it.
But even people who should recognise it sometimes don’t. Until we get into the song and actually sing the hook line. People don’t know what the song is that we’re doing.
BQ: Do you get that thing where people get to bar 12 or 24 and go, ‘Oh, it’s that song!’
GR: Yeah, it’s really good fun watching at a gig. Usually you’re playing away and you’re looking out for the people – when you don’t have the lights in your eyes. Often it’s the Sunday afternoon gigs – Sunday afternoons seem to be reserved for ‘quote jazz unquote’ all over Australia.
But you pick the table or tables of people who are actually listening and getting into it, and you watch out for them asking each other ‘What’s this? What’s this one?’. And inevitably you get to the chorus and you sing ‘My Generation’ or ‘Smoke On The Water’ or something and it’s ‘Aaaahhhh!!’
Or quite often they just laugh.
BQ: At this time of year when you’re looking at a set list, are you trying to swing it around to more danceable songs?
GR: We don’t play at a lot of places where people are going to get up and dance a lot. We play at places where there’s lots of passing by traffic like open air gigs, and we play at festivals where people are just there to listen to the music.
Occasionally people get up and dance, but we don’t do those dance venues. At the [National] Press Club people might get up and dance, though a lot of people go there to talk.
But we do some fast shuffle things and some Latin things.
BQ: A lot of musicians I talk to are used to listening audiences. I guess with your music (and this isn’t a derogatory thing), sometimes like at the [Sydney] Opera Bar, you’re part of the furniture, aren’t you?
GR: Oh yeah. Yeah, the Opera Bar for sure. Although the first four or five tables tend to be really interested. People clap! We sell CDs at all those gigs every time we play.
We have a whole series of gigs at the Queen Victoria Building. And because it’s December now, they’ve got us on (as well as the second Sunday) they’ve got us on a couple of Wednesdays doing lunchtime gigs.
People stop and sit down and listen.
We do festivals too. We’re doing more festivals. In March we’ve got the Kiama Jazz Festival, we’ve got the Thredbo Jazz Festival, in June we’ve got the Darling Harbour Festival. We’ve got Parramatta on Australia Day.
BQ: Let’s talk about Canberra. Tell us about those gigs.
GR: That’s right. We’re doing the Press Club on Thursday night, the Harmonie German Club on Friday night. That really went off last time we played there. We come to Canberra once every six months, but this will be our third trip this year, so we build it around the Press Club on the Thursday and the Brassey Hotel on Sunday. And then Saturday night at the Casino.
BQ: Back to Friday at the Harmonie German, Bucky has done an amazing job there with the Friday night music gigs, hasn’t he?
GR: Yeah, I’ve only been there a couple of times. Funnily enough, I used to play there in the late 70s in Canberra bands (because I come from Canberra).
It doesn’t seem to have changed at all!
I can’t really tell that it’s 30 years or 35 years later.
BQ: Around about the mid to late 70s, I played there a couple of times in a brass band for Oktoberfest and I can tell you, no. Structurally it has not changed in that time.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
GR: Yeah! Bucky took me for a walk through the big room, I guess you’d call it the auditorium. We used to play there in the 70s supporting the likes of Sherbert, Renee Geyer, Kevin Borich Express, Ted Mulry Gang and even ACDC in the late 70s when they were doing gigs half-way between Sydney and Melbourne. And that room doesn’t look like it’s changed either!
Then Sunday afternoon at the Brassey then back to Sydney.
Four days, four gigs. For your chance to see The Acca Daiquiris on this soujourn to Canberra:
Thursday 13 December – National Press Club, Barton
Friday 14 December – Harmonie German Club, Narrabundah
Saturday 15 December – Casino Canberra, City
Sunday 16 December – Brassey Hotel, Barton (afternoon)
Facebook event for all gigs: