David McCormack interview

DB Mag, Aug 2004

David McCormack is my hero. I know he never won an Olympic gold medal, never saved poverty-stricken children from burning buildings, but for me his was an even greater feat: he filled my adolescent mind with the joy of pop music. Sure, I might have grown up on the angst-ridden hostility of grunge, but for many years Custard was the light shining through the tunnel of doubt, the sweetness to combat any sorrow. And luckily for me, even five years after that band's break-up, he's still recording - and whatever it is that he had, he's still got it.

"I feel honoured to have featured in your mind for eight years," he exclaims, after hearing my personal story. I also tell him Custard played at the first show I ever went to. "Oh yeah, with Swervedriver [and Powderfinger, and Screamfeeder...] I remember that big gig. Yeah, that was fun - that was probably just before we broke up, wasn't it? I guess we broke up in '99..."

Since then, McCormack's thirst for songwriting has remained unquenched. Only a short while after the end of Custard he formed The Titanics, whose debut/only album 'Love Is The Devil' almost topped the heights of Custard's swansong 'Loverama.' Then that band kicked the bucket, so McCormack went out on his own, recording the electronically-infused 'The Matterhorn', before bringing yet another band together, The Polaroids, for 2002's sensational 'Candy.' So with that history, it's quite amazing that this band has stuck around for a second album.

"It's a bit of a record, isn't it, going on recent form?" he wryly chuckles. "I guess I've been enjoying changing as much as possible, whenever I want. But I guess two albums with the same band, these days for me it's quite a feat! I enjoy writing songs. I sort of have this need to write songs, and then once I've accumulated enough songs that's when I put out an album under some sort of name, whether it's 'The Matterhorn' or 'Candy,' or - what's the new one called? - oh, 'The Truth About Love'."

The new record, might I add, is an absolute corker, up there with 'Loverama' and '...The Devil' as some of the best work he has ever done. I guess that means that he just improves with age. "I guess I am getting pretty long in the tooth, I've been doing it, shit, for fourteen years! So yeah I've been doing it for a while, but I still like it, I don't really tour as much as... well, as much as I used to. I haven't been to Adelaide since 2002 when we played at Bar 107. That was weird, there, that was a hotel foyer! Is that still a venue?"

That leads me to another important part of the David McCormack experience - the man himself is one of the most entertaining performers in the country.

"I don't mind it, I don't mind giving it a go!" he laughs. I mention that the first time I saw Custard play, I remember him jumping into the sizeable and quite raucous crowd to serenade an unsuspecting punter.

"Did I, really, where at? At the [Adelaide Uni] Cloisters? Wow, it sounds like I was having a good time. I might have to do that again. I must at least equal that performance next time I come to Adelaide!"

The other defining feature of The New David McCormack, post-Custard, has been his independence from the bustle of major record labels. Funnily enough, in his mature wisdom that desire seems to have subsided.

"Now I'm back on a record label. After doing everything myself for three or four albums, it is great to have a record company. I'd forgotten how much... especially within a very enthusiastic indie record label like Laughing Outlaw, after being this sole light in the dark it's great to have someone else there holding a few candles. Like someone else who can make a few posters or book an ad, or take it into a radio station, instead of me having to do it all. It's great, I'm feeling like a rock star again."

Ben Revi