Dave Faulkner - What's My Scene

Dave Faulkner

Dave Faulkner from The Hoodoo Gurus chose the song What’s My Scene as some of his best work.

What’s My Scene is from his 1987 album Blow Your Cool!.

This is an edited transcript from Dave Faulkner interview on Some Of My Best Work.

I always talk about this one.

It stayed fresh in my memory for that reason alone, just bringing it up now and again, as an example of how things can happen and why I write the way I do.

I’m the sort of song writer that starts with the music first.

There’s a lot of people wonder about that, whether you’d write lyrics, first or the music first, well, I’m in the majority that start with a musical idea then come to the lyrics later.

It basically started as that little guitar figure that you hear that opens a song that, which is the melody line of the chorus, that was basically just me playing around the guitar just looking for little things that intrigued me.

That’s around a D chord shape was a quite a basic chord for any amateur guitarist, and I am one of those.

I just, did this thing by lifting up one finger and it makes that little two note figure, then I thought, “Well, how about if I do that?”

 

I like the sound of that, even though it’s very simple.

And of course, I just added a little extra thing about da-da-da-da-da-da-deeda and that was a tune right there and that was the chorus, as it turns out.

For me, I just was playing it over and singing that melody, and it seemed to say those syllables to me, like “what’s my,” “what’s my”, those two notes just sounded like those sorts of tones to me.

People think of lyrics and music being sort of separate things, lyrics, vowels and things, they have a tone and that’s sort of musical and notes can have a rhythm.

Those two things together, reflect on each other, in that I just thought “what’s my,” “what’s my,” “what’s my” well what’s next, and I’m thinking, “Well, “what’s my scene, baby?”

Because I like using those kind of archaic hipster terms.

Then it became what am I singing about what these words, that sort of triggered a thing in my mind of a theme that often recurs, too, which is, I’m fairly puzzled by myself, and how the hell I happen to be, who I am and how I am and haven’t kind of figured all that out yet.

 

That song was about that, just figuring out my role in life, and where do I fit in.

It was a theme that came quite naturally to me, but it was prompted by a melody ultimately.

Now, I think much more fondly at the ‘80s I mean, and when you’re in it, you thought this is kind of a dull time, because, I was a teenager in the ‘70s.

I’m more excited to remember how it was when the band formed.

That was a really incredible time the early ‘80s because it was after the punk rock era and that great flowering of culture then, punk went into fashion and it went into photography, music videos, everything was seemed to be cross pollinating.

Everyone was inspiring each other and working together as well.

Print makers were making amazing posters that were advertising gigs, it was just one big outburst of creativity.

Where we were in the inner city of Sydney, there seemed to be a new rock group, beginning every week.

You have a band playing their first gig or whatever and there’d be people that had just picked up instruments only a couple of months earlier.

Because that was the do-it-yourself punk ethos still influencing people.

Then it just seemed like everyone was doing something creative and were inspiring each other and it was all very, under the radar as well.

It was not for any purpose of career building or things like that.

It really was just people expressing themselves and being inspired by other people around them.

It was just magical.

This story continues below.

“I wanted people to think I was singing about something for real”

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Listen to this story on Some of My Best Work, a free weekly podcast hosted by music journalist Jane Rocca.

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We went through quite a development creatively on the second album, we did sort of, in a sense, define ourselves properly.

Some people wish we stayed like the first album forever.

But it was kind of a special thing that was could never be repeated really, that first album Stoneage Romeo’s.

It was a product of that kind of kooky early “80s” time was talking about plus the people that were in the band who went off, two of them left.

The first album was kind of much more cartoon like in terms of songwriting.

I was writing fictional stories around sort of ludicrous subject matter, like girls being thrown in volcanoes, and, you know, things like that.

The second album, I thought, I didn’t want to keep doing that, I felt that that was kind of a little bit dishonest.

 

I wanted people to think that I was actually singing about something for real, rather than making it up just to fill time.

The second album, we kind of had some success with the song Bittersweet, Like Wow Wipe Out one of our biggest hits that was on that.

We had a lot of success.

What’s My Scene really was following on from that, rather than sort of changing anything, but it was a massive hit. It’s true.

We actually had pressures from the record company to keep the success that we already had and to go further, break it into America and things like that.

We had a producer on the record a mainstream producer – it wasn’t right for us.

 

We ended up suing a record company after that.

It was an album of transition in some ways, we almost went too far in one direction, which was towards what I would call “80s” stereotypical “80s” pop music.

There’s some of the production on that record is unlistenable to me.

Because it sounds so cliched “80s” to me in places.

What’s My Scene’s huge success in a way, sort of, as I say, papered over the cracks of that, because it made it look like they’re still going on their way and become even bigger hits.

And it’s a triumph.

 

But for us, it was a mixed feeling at the time, because we weren’t happy with the album.

We thought the songs didn’t capture the way that we felt them ourselves.

It was a period of transition for us even though it appeared to be in the eyes of some people, they’ve arrived now.

We’d already kind of been clued in that this song was going to be an important one a single probably.

Before we did record the album, we went up to the Barrier Reef up to the tropical north of Queensland and did some shows up at Airlie Beach under a false name because we wanted to try out some of our new material.

The first night, I hadn’t finished a lyric of What’s My Scene, so I was in the hotel room, and just dashing out the final words for the second verse about the talent scout always checking out new blood.

We played the song and straightaway after the show, people were coming up and saying, “What was that song about?” “What’s my scene?” “What was that?”

Sometimes people come and say, I love your show, but just to name one song and say that song is a killer? Doesn’t happen a lot.

It was the first song we released off the album, so it was a hit when we before even toured.

It was already kind of like, in a way, a classic straightaway.

That song from the get- go was obviously an acceleration in the energy level as soon as we played it every time.

I am the person I always was, writing, I think I’ve gotten better at it.

There’s certain happy accidents that you can’t have twice and What’s My Scene for example, as I say that the opening riff, it can only be written once and in that in those words, in the way it all worked seamlessly that to me it’s almost the archetypal Dave Faulkner song, If I could write every song as well as that one I’d be very happy man.

It’s got so much juice in it, that song, even the bridge could be a chorus.

 

There’s no kind of wastage in that song.

 

It’s all like just driving and immediate and it just seems to all work seamlessly together.

So that’s something I go for anyway, as a writer, I just want the songs to be as economical as possible and to there’s also a conversational approach the lyrics I’ve always gone for where I’m not trying to be mysterious and have people puzzle out afterwards.

What’s My Scene is about a young man who’s still very childish in his mind, very unsure of himself, growing up physically, but you’re still really all at sea in many emotional areas of your life.

Now I’m older, I don’t quite feel as puzzled by myself, I am more self accepting.

Listen to this story on Some of My Best Work, a free weekly podcast hosted by music journalist Jane Rocca.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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