Nic Dalton: “Sure, I’d play with Evan again”

Nic Dalton: “Sure, I’d play with Evan again”

Alongside Evan Dando and David Ryan (see the bonus part), Australian musician Nic Dalton is part of what Lemonheads fans have become accustomed to calling the band’s “classic lineup” as it covers the period of greatest exposure (thanks to the albums “It’s a shame about Ray ” and “Come on Feel”). And if it depends on the wishes of the bassist and author of hits like “Kitchen” and “Dawn Can’t Decide”, a new meeting could happen, but as long as it respects the rules for preserving the environment. “I don’t only travel by train but would be fun too do a tour like that: relaxing, safe and better for the environment“, he explains.

Nic Dalton’s files: Lemonheads first show with the so-called “classic formation” (July 1st 1992).

Nic, also the founder of the independent label Half a Cow Records, is back with new music. He just released his first new tracks since 2018. That would be the single: “I Don’t Have a Team / Brenda Part 2”, a nostalgic dive into the romantic fun vibe that reminds us so much of bands like Godstar. About the A-side, Dalton explains that he had the song’s idea for a long time: “It was only last month when I sat down and forced myself to finally get the song written”.

Nic’s new single was also released by Half a Cow, a company that, unlike others, does not have profit as its reason for being. The essence of Half a Cow is helping independent bands to at least consolidate themselves in today’s streaming world. “It’s a lot of work for no financial gain, especially in these days where most people just stream music, but that’s not why I do it”, Nic admits. The passion with which Nic deals with the music business was one of the points that caught the attention of Evan Dando, himself a fan of artists on the label’s long list, like Smudge and Love Positions.

Evan, Tommy Morgan and Nic Dalton (songwriting entourage) – Boston Globe

While David Ryan has become a celebrated writer and Nic takes care of his company and eventual bands, Evan, as everyone who reads this site knows, is keeping the Lemonheads flame going around the world. Unlike many members who have already gone through the formation, Nic left his mark not only through the quality of his musical contribution, but through his solar charisma. With his relaxed and laid-back style, Nic provided such an unique counterpoint to Evan’s melancholy. That’s why “Kitchen” and “Dawn Can’t Decide” both written by Nic, are the ecstasy points at any Lemonheads show until today.

2 9 Things about Nic Dalton

Dalton, the entrepreneur

RC – Hi Nic, thanks for doing this interview. How are things going in Australia? 

NDGood and bad. Let’s just hope the good wins over the bad. We’re also heading into a very hot summer, which is very worrying as the bush is dry and fires are at the ready to create a nightmare.

RC – Let’s talk about your “first new music since 2018”: the awesome single “I Don’t Have a Team / Brenda Part 2”. First of all, what took you so long to release some material? 

ND I have put out new music with my bubblegum band The Sticker Club (two albums) and some old recordings but “I Don’t Have a Team” is the first ‘new’ song I’ve put out since a couple of other singles in 2018 (“Looking For Lawrence”, “The Teapot Refuses”). I have slowly been chipping away at an album since 2017, which is my main concern, and that should hopefully be out some time later next year. I reckon it’s got some of my best songs on it and has Peter Velzen on drums and Elmo Reed on guitar – two people I started out playing with in the Plunderers in Canberra back in the mid-80s .

RC – Do you already have a team? Any childhood episode inspired you to write the A-side of the single, because the lyrics are very detailed…. 

ND I have been thinking about writing “I Don’t Have a Team” since about 2009 and have written down all my memories and  anecdotes over the years which formed the basis for the lyrics. It was only last month when I sat down and forced myself to finally get the song written. It’s all true except for the other blokes standing around the barbecue and me jumping into the kid’s swimming pool. Sport, especially cricket and football (all the different codes) are really huge here in Australia and I have zero interest in watching it. I did when I was a kid, hence the song. And yes, I don’t follow any team.

RC – “Brenda Part 2” is a cover of Captain Sensible and Robyn Hitchcock. Who are they and what made you choose it to be your b-side? 

ND – I’m a massive fan of The Damned, one of the original punk bands in the mid-70s. I still listen to them a lot. Same with the Saints. Two of my favourite bands who haven’t dated at all, unlike some of the other ones! Captain Sensible was the Damned’s bass player  and then switched to guitar after their second album. He released a solo album in 1982 – Women and Captains First – and it is all killer, one of my all-time ‘sing along to every song’ albums. Very different to The Damned. We’d already covered “Glad It’s All Over” (from his next solo album in 1983) for the Love Positions back in 1986 and “Brenda Part 2” has always been on my list of songs to cover. I think Robyn Hitchcock wrote the words (he is an English musician and was a member of the Soft Boys) and are psychedelically brilliant.

The Guardian

RC – You have been running Half a Cow Records for more than 3 decades and you probably know a lot, I mean, a lot of independent artists – I run a show in Brazil based on independent artists and I kinda understand how hard it is for them to keep up with music as a primary job without getting any money.  Tell us what is the most difficult thing about running “Half a Cow” with smaller artists and what’s the best thing in this business. 

NDHalf A Cow is a one-person operation these days, unlike 1992-1999 when I had a label manager and publicity people and other staff in the barn. It’s a lot of work for no financial gain, especially in these days where most people just stream music, but that’s not why I do it. I love helping bands out, especially in their early days and I really love putting together reissues of music from the 60s to 90s and my own past, the bands I was in back then like the Plunderers. The most difficult thing about running a label is trying to see the enjoyment in sitting in front of a screen half the day sorting out streaming statements so I can pay the bands their share. Boring! 

RC – You probably have been following social media and you know that Evan is doing tours here in Brazil and in the U.S mostly to celebrate albums like “Come on Feel”. One thing he complained about, by the way, is that the cover of this one focuses on him, when it should also be about you and David Ryan. Do you have any kind of regrets of being part of the so-called “classic” Lemonheads formation?

NDI never thought of the album cover that way: it was Evan’s band, his songs, his voice so he should take centre-stage. I have no regrets and it was sweet that Evan wanted to cover “Kitchen”. As the Lemonheads was never ‘my band’, I never put any of my songs forward except for “Dawn Can’t Decide”. Evan was mixing “Confetti” for a single (and he needed some b-sides) and I kept hearing the engineer playing the drum track over and over and realised a song I was in the middle of writing slotted right in. So Evan and I created a new song (named after the opening line). I only recently did a recording of the song it came from…thirty years later!

RC – In terms of contribution besides songs like “Kitchen”….would you be open to a future invitation to be on the road again under The Lemonheads name?  

ND – Sure, I’d play with Evan again. As long as it was a ‘tour by train’. That would be fun!

RC – What’s your deal about only traveling by trains?

NDI don’t only travel by train but would be fun too do a tour like that: relaxing, safe and better for the environment!

RC – Talking about independent artists, do you have one to suggest to us?

ND I really like a band from Melbourne called Swim Team who put out an album in 2019 called Home Time. If they were from New Zealand they would be Flying Nun stars! I think they may have split up now (?) but these three women have given us twelve songs about navigating your way through life and relationships with friends and lovers in a most melodic way!


David Ryan: “I’ve never felt anything as wonderful as being on stage some nights”

Today a renowned writer with long, thinning white hair, David Ryan remembers the golden years of the Lemonheads, times when he himself felt like a “hot shot”. Although he has lost contact with Evan, he believes they are still friends:

I can’t believe how lucky I was to meet some of the people I did. Just random strangers who have become friends over the years. And honestly, I’ve never felt anything as wonderful as being on stage some nights. There was all this urgency that can’t be replicated, actually. I’m happy to have traveled to so many different countries, even if there wasn’t enough time to enjoy each place. But really, the few friendships that remained from that time and the feeling of playing on stage in front of a bunch of people is the main thing I took away from it all.

David Ryan

New England Review

David Ryan is now incredulous about the music industry, which he sees as very different from the times when record companies ordered and dictated: “The delivery system and the way in which they take advantage of artists has changed. It seems like there will always be someone standing between the artist and the entire world to control access to it, despite the times we live in today. In my time it was radio stations, record labels and “independent producers”. Today, it’s big data. I don’t know if we are in better or worse conditions. Before, record companies turned you into slaves, but they financed the budget for tours (which today the artist pays for), etc. To be honest, I loved the idea of ​​going into a big studio to record, looking at a bunch of my idols’ gold and platinum albums on the walls and pretending I was a badass for a week. I think that experience has been lost these days, as you can do all of this on a laptop. But lately a lot of people are doing what they’re doing because they love creating music. And my own enthusiasm at that time was wonderful while I think I could have done it under different circumstances,” confesses David.

Marcos Tadeu

Marcos Tadeu

Jornalista, idealizador e apresentador do Rock Cabeça na 100,9 FM, Rádio Inconfidência FM (MG) desde 2016. Acima de tudo, um fã de rock gringo.