DIESEL | Interview
The AMPLIFIED electric band tour 2015 sees DIESEL closing his front door behind him yet again and this time he’s leaving his acoustic guitars at home as well!
In a career spanning 13 albums, DIESEL has explored many facets of guitar and its relation to his writing and performing. This tour is about finding the lead, the tether that connects his electric heart, the reason to “plug in” in the first place!
“I have done an amazing amount of solo acoustic shows, the journey has taken me places never imagined, having said that, I’m really looking forward to being able to play material that really needs the bombastic energy of a band. Plug in, turn up, you know the drill!” he said.
Local fans are lucky to be able to catch Diesel (and support act Alex Bowen) at Lizotte’s Newcastle (Friday June 19th & Saturday June 20th) and we were lucky enough to catch up with Diesel (aka Mark Lizotte) on his way out the door to embark on his latest tour.
Word has it that you grew up in a large family – how many brothers & sisters did you share the bathroom with and which one had the greatest influence on you (good or bad!)?
I am the seventh of seven and believe it or not, in the small town where my family started out (Little Compton Rhode Island U.S.A) that was an average size family! There were families with nine and eleven children on the road we lived on. Bathroom situations were hectic, that's all I can say... as far as the influence my siblings had on me musically, I was a sponge, not one out of seven kids was blasé about music.
Was it a musical household – or were you the stand-out? What was your instrument of choice?
My father played sax, at home and at gigs. That made an impression on me very early on and lead me to believe that being a musician could be a reality. In actuality I never really thought too much about it, I was dogmatic from day one, I just had to get the right combination of things, starting with getting an electric guitar in my hands. Having said that, I don't regret the 6 years I played cello every day, I still use it. Was I the standout? I think there are a few siblings in my family that could have made a career out of music (some have done just that) I think I was just a bit crazier and threw caution to the wind!
Did you always aspire to the music industry and who was your greatest supporter in the early days?
I really didn't know too much about the music industry per-say, except for what I'd read in autobiographies of artists I would get from the local library. Thankfully my older brother helped me get going right at the start, taking me to auditions and speaking for me if he felt someone needed convincing. People could see the potential but were a little nervous about my age (I was 14).
How did you get your first big break?
I would get the Sunday paper classifieds on Saturday night and start ringing the wanted ads. After many awkward situations, I fell in with a decent bunch, things progressed from there. The band I ended up making my first record with (Johnny Diesel and The Injectors) was actually made up of elements of the first band I joined.
What do you love the most about what you do?
The thing I love the most is playing live. I love making records too but can't imagine only doing that, it's too cerebral, the live show is a challenge, making music out of "thin air" - every time you get on stage you fill a space with sound that wasn't there before. I also love the way it brings people together in such a natural way. Everyone needs job satisfaction and knowing that I've maybe helped someone forget about everything for a few hours is a good feeling.
What do you hate the most about what you do?
I've grown to dislike the travel, it's exhausting! The romanticism has long gone, bring on teleportation!
You answer to a number of names… which sits most comfortably with you?
Mark, that's my name! (OK – stupid question!)
You’ve played venues all over the world – does Lizotte’s feel like home to you? Is this reflected in your performance – do we see a different Diesel here?
I think without even realizing it I "let go" a little more when I'm at Lizotte's, it's easy to feel at home when your family is at arms-reach. (Mark's brother Brian owns and operateds Lizottes Newcastle)
Tell us about “Let it Fly”… Would you describe it as a departure from the norm – or part of the journey?
"Let It Fly" (as with previous records) has my musical "D.N.A" right through it. With each record I just find new ways to make it sound like something you haven't heard from me before, ultimately it's just me pushing myself, there's always a sound I want to try.
What are your 3 favourite songs and what’s the most embarrassing tune on your iPod?
I could never pick three songs, there is just so much music! But for the purpose of this I'll say any three songs by Jimi Hendrix or Otis Redding. As for embarrassing, I think I might have some "Sound Of Music" tracks in my iTunes. (Do- a Dear!)
What’s something about you that we don’t know?
I'm actually the shy type, it's just something that happens when I'm standing in front of a guitar amp… the noise is intoxicating!