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Greg Bryce on the 30th Anniversary of DV8 Live! at Belmont 16s

Greg’s musical career began in the rock industry as a singer-songwriter guitarist with Newcastle band DV8. This band filled huge auditoriums during the 80’s with their hard-hitting original rock songs penned by Greg. They recorded many charting albums and singles during this time. His songs also feature on the Screaming Jets first two platinum selling albums as well as the ‘Hits and Pieces’ album and their most recent album, “Do Ya”. Since the mid ’90s, returning from two and a half years studying and teaching yoga in India, Greg focused most of his energy on acoustic music. His high energy, percussive guitar style draws from many influences including pop, blues, funk, rock, jazz and bluegrass. He also spent 13 years as a member of Jigzag (1997-2009), the highly regarded folk/roots trio who have played main stages at major festivals throughout Australia such as Woodford and Port Fairy and also overseas in Canada, UK, Denmark and Finland. Jigzag won The Best Live Act Award at the National Folk/Roots Awards in Canberra 2006 which was voted for by peers, audiences and festival programmers throughout Australia. JIGZAG also won the “Best Band” award at the Golden Fiddle Awards at Tamworth Festival 2009. Many of Greg’s songs feature on their albums. Since 2000 Greg has been playing live and recording again with DV8 as well as performing solo acoustic shows. He’s also been performing with Hot Yogis playing original acoustic music since 2011. His solo show, as well as featuring his own songs (new and old), mix some of his favourite cover songs from a wide variety of both recent and classic artists and styles. Just recently, Greg and DV8 bassist Mark Middleton, have joined a band called “ROCK n ROLL Inc” with Grant Walmsley and Craig Rosevear of the Screaming Jets to play the very best songs of DV8 and Screaming Jets. Click on “Rock N Roll Inc” for some recent snaps taken at the 50th Anniversary of the Merewether Boardriders’ Club.

Recorded over two nights at Belmont 16s in April 1987, DV8 Live! went on to become one of the bands most successful releases. Almost 30 years to the day since it’s recording, the Newcastle based band will head back to Belmont 16s to honour that legacy. We caught up with frontman Greg Bryce ahead of the show. 

NL: The show at Belmont 16s on April 1 is the anniversary of an iconic moment for your band. When you think back to those final shows at the 16s in 1987, what stands out in your memory?

GREG: I recall being very focused on my playing more than anything because I knew it was being filmed and recorded. Also how much fun it was playing my guitar and gliding over the top of one of the best rhythm sections in the world at that time in Brad and Brett. It was pure joy. Effortless and joyful to be playing with those guys and all the songs that had been honed to perfection over all the years of playing live and also recording with great producers like Peter Blyton and Kevin Shirley. The other memory is the feeling of love and excitement from the huge crowd and possibly a little sadness that we were finishing at the height of our powers.

NL: Your guitar style has been described as “percussive”. Is that something you aimed for, studied or did it just turn out like that?

GREG: Our bassist Mark and I talk about this all the time. Rhythm is SO important. The groove comes first! As a guitarist, especially when you’re in a power trio, you’re providing a rhythm that synchronises with the bass and drums to create something either exciting and danceable or a rhythm that supports the feeling of the song. With DV8 stylistically you’ll hear lots of short, sharp percussive playing that feels appropriate to drive the song along. At other times it’s more sustained. Even in the lead solos phrasing and rhythm are important otherwise, it just becomes drivel. I think it comes from lots of jamming together.

NL: Tell us about the guitar rig  you’ll be using at Belmont 16s on April 1, and how it differs from the setup you used for the show all those years ago.

GREG: On the original show I used a 100-watt JMP Marshall, a Fender Twin and a Mesa Boogie amp all going at the same time and mixed together to create a huge onstage sound with my 1972 Fender Telecaster Thinline and a few effects like chorus and delay. This time will be slightly different. Just 2 amps. The same 1976 JMP Marshall and also a Fender Dual Showman head through a Marshall 1960 cab. And probably mostly my new G&L guitar with a few appearances by the original Tele.

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NL: You spent two and a half years studying and teaching yoga in India. How has that influenced your music composition and your approach to the industry?

GREG: Yoga and meditation are key practices in my life that support me on all levels. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They keep me anchored in a good state and my creative juices flowing. My writing feels just as fresh as ever and I have much more versatility these days as a guitarist and singer.

NL: How has Travis Suprano’s drumming influenced the sound of the DV8 we know and love today?

GREG: Travis is an awesome drummer! He has just the right groove and power for DV8. We’ve had some amazing drummers over the years and Trav really works hard and enthusiastically to take the best of their legacy and to combine with the freshness and originality of his own style. I love his hi-hat work and he hits hard and with the personality like a good Newy rock drummer should. With our new songs, I find that he comes up with his own grooves that are perfect for our style.

NL: How close are you guys sticking to the set list from the ’87 gigs at the 16s?

GREG: We’ll do 90% of the songs from those shows and add a few newer favourites as well I think. We’re still deciding. We’ll also add some songs from the 1988 “Can You Hear Me” album that haven’t been played in a while. Definitely, all the favourites will be played.

NL: The band are known for their energetic shows. How do you keep fit both physically, vocally and mentally?

GREG: A lot of the energy is generated from the feeling of excitement we have from our chemistry of jamming together. I have my yoga to stay agile and Trav surfs heaps and is super fit. Mark has always been an athlete and has had many years of rigorous martial arts training and practice to make him a lean mean bass playing machine. Vocally I’m working hard every week and so I drink lots of water and do warm-ups for the vocal chords. Meditation and a good music practice regimen help with mental strength I’d say.

NL: In your opinion, how’s the health of the local music scene?

GREG: It’s a many-layered question. To be brief…There’s not so many live gigs for bands these days and most of the ones available are cover song gigs. I know there’s some good young talent about that are getting a name for themselves and doing some fresh original music like “Introvert”, “Throw Me To The Wolves” and a few others. Jordan Watts is a great local metal guitarist with a world class band.There are many great players still performing fantastically like Nick Rashke, Justin Ngariki, Grant Walmsley, Dai Pritchard and many many more. There are many young performers from the Hunter area who’ve gone on to success globally and not really local performers anymore like Gooch Palms. Rosie’s School of Rock is creating lots of opportunity for young hopefuls and giving them tools and experience that we had to learn by ourselves over years of trial and error. So, on the whole, I’d like to accentuate the positive. Get out and see your local bands people!!!

DV8 Play Belmont 16s on April 1. Tickets available here:

(PHOTO: courtesy of Craig Wilson Swamphouse Photography)

Written by Newcastle Live

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