Don Walker - By Robert Dunstan

 

Don Walker, keyboard player and main songwriter of Australian rock legends Cold Chisel, is about to record a new solo album and is currently on tour road testing songs for the release. Last here for Cold Chisel’s reformation tour back in late ’98, the Sydney based musician who also played with Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen as Tex, Don & Charlie in the 90’s, began our telephone interview by saying he wished he could get over our way more often than he does.

"Yeah, it’d be good to come over more" he said "but it’s always a matter of finding the right time and the right place to play."

Don will use this tour to showcase his new songs and his band will be guitarist Red Rivers, Garrett Costigan on pedal steel, drummer Angus Diggs and double bassist Michael Vidale.

"We’ve done quite a few gigs together over the last six months" Don said "because we’ve been playing Sydney and also the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival which went really well. The only thing was that we were playing at the same time as Ben Harper."

"I also did a gig with (guitarist) Jeff Lang on Sunday morning during the festival with Angus Diggs playing drums" he said.

Don, who scored the soundtrack for the 1981 Scott Hicks movie Freedom, has released two solo albums (Unlimited Address & Ruby) under the band name Catfish as well as the stellar We’re All Gunna Die, and has now commenced work on a new album.

"I put down some rough tracks last year and have been playing them with the band since November," he said "After we’ve done a bit more live playing, we’ll go into the studio for a day or so and put down the new songs and see if we can’t come up with something.

"There’s a lot of new songs and I like to record them as soon as we get a good performance. He added.

The musician has had some songs recorded by country artists such as Adam Brand and Slim Dusty with Don’s Looking Forward, Looking Back being the title of Slims’s 100th album release.

"I wrote Looking Forward, Looking Back especially for Slim, " he revealed "it wasn’t a song I wrote for myself to record."

Don also co-wrote Mood Swing with Daddy Cool’s Ross Wilson that has since appeared on the latter’s new album, Go Bongo, Go Wild!

"Ross and I wrote that a long time ago as a torch ballad" he stated. "It was probably around 1993 - or even before. Ross has since played it live a few times and there’s a great recording he did of it four or five years ago with a full jazz band but never released. But the new version is also really good."

Noted music journalist Anthony O’Grady recently penned the book Cold Chisel: the Pure Stuff, which essentially dealt with the bands recent reformation. My subsequent review suggested it showed some members in a poor light.

"All I can say is that everyone involved was given a draft to read for corrections and comments to approve before it went to print." Don said. "Whether everyone did that or not, I cant say, but everyone was certainly given the opportunity."

"Apart from band business meetings, Anthony was present most of the time during The Last Wave of Summer and the warm up gigs for the tour. I didn’t see a tape recorder, but he was certainly a close eyewitness to what went on. And even though most quotations aren’t word for word, they’re probably accurate from what he heard at the time."

Is Don generally pleased with the contents of the book?

"Err, there are a number of places in it now where I feel like a real goose" he said after a thoughtful pause.

"But y’know, that’s not to say what’s been written is not correct" Don concluded with a wry laugh.

Don Walker plays the Highlander Hotel on Fri May 11

2001 Rip It Up magazine Issue 624, May 10

 

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