Rockbrat Chat: The Dave Crompton Interview (ex-Surrender, Godspeed, Fetish)

Dave Crompton: February 2013

Cowboy Col did an interview with Jed Starr, in which they discussed an old friend of mine.   I decided to look up my old mate, and see what he was up to these days.Now I knew he had retired from the music scene, however I was surprised to learn that he had returned, or at least, was planning to return.

Now, you may or may not know Dave Crompton, or you may know of the bands in which he was a member, and if you dont, it would do you well to Google both Dave and his bands.   They certainly rocked the pubs back then, and it seems there is a chance it will be happening again!

Dave moved from Adelaide to Sydney back in 1982, with his band called Venom.  Over the course of the next few months, there were several line-up changes to Venom, and they renamed themselves Killer.

Killer played many successful pub gigs but when they went into the studio to record their self-funded album, it was suggested to them that it might be wise to change their name, as there was another band recording elsewhere in the world, with the same name.  And Surrender was born.

Surrender made some great inroads into not only the pub scene, but into the national and international scenes as a support act, but more on that later.

Surrender succumbed, as many bands do, to a fall out over what are now long forgotten issues, but not before completing the self-titled album which Jed Star mentioned in his interview.   I caught up with Dave Crompton himself in the palm lined pool enclosure of his Sydney home. (Interview conducted by DarcyDuke, Feb 2013)

DarcyDuke: Shortly after the collapse of Surrender, you were approached to front an up and coming band, for one gig only I believe?

Dave: Yeah, about three months later, I was approached by a couple of the guys from “Godspeed” who told me that they had recorded a few songs for the “THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER” album, and they needed a front man for the gig at the Hordern Pavilion in a few weeks time. I joined them for the gig, and stayed for two years!

DarcyDuke:  What brought the Godspeed era to an end? 

Dave: {smiling, and hesitating} Musical incompatibility

DarcyDuke: Would you like to elaborate on that?

Dave: No thank you {flashing a smile that indicated there may have been more to the story, but also that I was never going to get it}

DarcyDuke: So that was the end of Godspeed. Though it didnt keep you off the stage long did it?

Dave: No, I was always very fortunate in that way, I had a visit from the drummer from “Tough Luxury”, Grumpy, who I had known for a while, to see if I was interested in fronting them.

DarcyDuke: So what was the reason for choosing Tough Luxury, rather than looking elsewhere, they were not exactly playing what you had been involved in, in your earlier bands. Surrender, Godspeed, etc., were very heavy, yet Tough Luxury were more “melodic”

Dave: I listened to what they had down in demos, and thought with a little creative license, and collaboration between us all we could turn what they were doing into a force to be reckoned with.

DarcyDuke: The first gig I think was at the Seven Hills Inn, a favourite haunt for pub bands back then, and the band had been rebranded Fetish I remember.

Dave: The Seven Hills Inn…….. a lot of memories there.

DarcyDuke: There was also a gig I went to at Mudgee, after you had been together a while, I remember seeing signs in all the shop windows branding Fetish – a Top Sydney Band.

Dave: Yeah, that was a bit of creative license in itself….. we were so “Top” that the support band didn’t show, and we had to do a set as support, then come back and do our own set. I think with the stage clothes etc., no one actually noticed anyway. That place was amazing. You could literally see people moving up and down while standing still, just from the volume we cranked out. Not sure what effect we had on the grapes that year.

DarcyDuke: Fetish played a lot of interesting gigs; I remember one gig on the back of a truck at the Fire Museum at Penrith.  Then there was the Freedom from Hunger Concert in Martin Place, with several unknown and known bands, organised in part by Doc Neeson that was the first time I heard you sing the ZZ TOP song Tush….brilliant! You also supported Kevin Borich at the Seven Hills RSL. Who else have you played support for over the years?

Dave: Shit…. that’s a loaded question, what are you doing? Testing me for senility? Where do I start?   In Adelaide, in a band named “Heist” we supported UK Squeeze, Swanee, Mi-Sex, Radiators.   As Killer/Surrender we supported Swanee, Radiators, Choirboys, TMG, Rose Tattoo, Motorhead, Uriah Heep, Cheap Trick and Sweet in Sydney.   Fetish supported Stevie Wright for a gig or two also.

DarcyDuke: That is an impressive list of names. Over quite a number of years. So…. back to the Fetish years, what brought Fetish to an end?

Dave: Well, Fetish didn’t ever actually end. There was never a screaming match, or a “This is over”  thing. It dissolved…. or decomposed. *laughing*

Fetish performed their last Australian gig at Selinas, and were due to meet up with each other in Vancouver. I left Australia in 1989 to go to England, my grandfather was dying and I wanted to see him .  Fetish were meant to meet up shortly thereafter in Vancouver, and tackle the east coast of the US. But it never happened. Some of the band moved to other places, some moved on with their lives in different directions, and I ended up staying in England for 3 years.

DarcyDuke: So what prompted the move back to Australia?

Things in England were not as glamorous as I had remembered from when I was a kid, I am sure they were close to the same, but I was not. I had been planning a return to Australia for some time, but there were issues. We owned a house there by this stage, and its not so easy to just up roots and leave, and my wife and I now had a second child (our first was born in Australia) so it was not something we could just jump into. Well, so I thought. So it had been on our minds for some time, and I remember one freezing morning, driving to work, I heard a band I had discovered while in England, “Firehouse” on the radio. They were singing a song of theirs that I could not remember having heard before. The song was called “Home is Where The Heart Is”. Well, that did it. I didn’t go to work that day, or any other day. I turned around, and we started planning, and within a few weeks the house was rented out, and we were sitting in Hong Kong Airport with two little kids for a 13 hour stopover, on our way “Home”.

DarcyDuke:  No sooner had you landed and you ended up in another band… how did that happen?

Dave: It was just a simple matter of catching up with some friends. I went to dinner at their place, he was a keyboard player, and was in the middle of putting a band together. The night we went there, he was heading off to band practice, and I tagged along. Apparently they were looking for a singer, which I didn’t know at the time, they asked me to sing a few songs, just fooling about. Next thing I know, “Mad Hatta” was formed… and I was the singer.

It was only a short stint… I think we only lasted about 6 months, and the commitments of life, and the changing access to good venues, all combined to bring it to an end. We now had 3 kids, and I guess I decided to become a “responsible adult” *laughing* and get a real job.

So I put a hold on the music, and I just never went back. It was never a decision that “This is it, I am now never singing again”, it was just what I needed to do at the time.

DarcyDuke:  So Tell me, what brought about the comeback…. what inspired you to get up on a stage, and do it all again?

Dave:  Ha ha….. yeah. Well again, it was not something I planned, not by a long shot. A friend was having a 50th birthday bash, and decided to also make it a “rockers reunion” for the bands from the ‘80s. I was not planning to sing on the night, in fact I was quite adamant I was NOT singing on the night. But, as it turned out, there were others who had different plans, and I ended up getting up and doing a couple of numbers with some old mates.

The candle was re-lit.

DarcyDuke:  So that was it? You just decided to get back onstage?

Dave: Shit no. I was still not thinking about more than the two songs that night, and I might add I was thinking about how bad my timing had been, but then, no rehearsal, I was happy enough. It was not a gig, it was a party, and it was for fun, not a paying audience, so, yeah, I was happy enough. But the real pressure came after that. I got a LOT of pressure from friends, others in the industry, I started getting phone calls asking me to help or do different projects, or work with this band or that, and you know, I still didn’t really think I was going to do anything, but at dinner one night, with my wife and kids, they started putting the pressure on too…. and so I thought “Why Not?”

DarcyDuke: None of your kids had ever seen you perform. Is that right? But they were at the birthday party, and saw you. What was it like singing on a stage, in front of your own children for the first time?

Dave: That’s right. They were all too young to see me before. What was it like? Terrifying!  Not just performing in front of them, but a room full of people, other muso’s. I remember when I walked up on stage to do “Wishing Well”, there was no one on the dance floor. Everyone was hanging about the edges. I turned around on the stage when I got to the mike, and the floor was full of people. I guess some were looking forward to hearing me sing, or I like to think that, but I reckon there were some who were waiting to see me flop. *laughs*  Hey!  It’s a competitive industry.  It was hard to start, but only took a short time before it just felt natural again. My kids loved it, which was important to me, and my wife had a smile on her face for a month!  Well, I hope it was a smile

DarcyDuke: Getting to the original reason I got back in touch with you to do this interview….. Jed Starr in his interview, was quoted as saying that To this day, Surrender (and front man Dave Crompton in particular) were the ultimate band/artist.  How does it make you feel to hear that type of comment from someone in the industry?

Dave: OLD! *laughs* Seriously, somewhat humble really. Something I was never known for in the past.

DarcyDuke:  Jed also compared you, and the self titled Surrender album from 1984 in particular as equal to any Rainbow album, with the exception of Rising. Now I understand Rainbow and Dio in particular were long-time musical influences for you. As a singer, it must make you feel good to be mentioned in the same breath, and compared equally to your idols.

Dave: Yeah…… I don’t see it. I mean, I try to sound similar to others, but in my own style, for me to play Rainbow, Sabbath, Zeppelin…. to be mentioned in that vein, I guess I must have been doing something right. I always wanted to give a “Larger Than Life” show, compared to other pub bands. I really liked Dio’s style.  It is embarrassing, I guess, to be told that.

DarcyDuke: Okay, before we move to the NOW, do you have any regrets from back then?

Dave: You know, as simple as it sounds, I regret screaming too much. I have a reasonable voice, and I can hit some reasonable notes, and NOT scream, but I guess you get caught up in the atmosphere and the lifestyle, and I think there were times I screamed simply to piss people off!  Its weird, but hey, what can I say, it was the ‘80s

DarcyDuke: So, here we are, almost 20 years after your last gig, I guess the question has to be asked….. how good are you, how good is the voice compared to then?

Dave: The voice is nowhere near what it was, but saying that, I am still feeling great, don’t look too bad for an old guy, and the ego and attitude have long worn out – which makes it all better in the long run.

As everyone knows, Metal Rusts *laughs* I was known back then for the amount of alcohol I could consume. These days I think it will have to be Valvoline…. know what I mean?

DarcyDuke: I read your Facebook page… Did you build that page?  

Dave: NO!  In fact I was asked to do a page, by a long-time friend, and when I wouldn’t, he did. I find it a little intimidating actually, but its growing on me *smiles*

DarcyDuke: Facebook must have changed the landscape completely since you were last looking to promote yourself

Dave: I use it, I see it, but I don’t get it. Not really, I mean, from a business perspective, or promotional perspective. You have a page, and all these people come along and “like” you…… But do they?  It’s certainly different.

DarcyDuke: So what are your immediate plans?

Dave: I guess short term, is the SECOND annual rockers reunion, as it has become known, this August (which started out as John Flaherty’s birthday last year, and took on a life of its own).

For want of a better name, I want to put together a “Dave Crompton Band”, filled with musos from some of the previously mentioned bands, do a few songs, and I want that to be really tight, the way it should be.

DarcyDuke: And then? Is that it?

Dave: No, that’s not all, I always loved the encore part of the gig, and here we are, this is now my encore. I am looking to recruit serious members to put a band together shortly after the reunion. I am planning on putting together a band with some new and some old stuff. There are also some serious offers I am looking at to do other work as well.  For example I have just come back from Adelaide where I was lucky enough to record a couple of songs on a Dio Tribute album.

DarcyDuke: Well thanks for your time Dave, and thanks for the memories of the past, I look forward to hearing more from you in the future, and you keep that oil flowing through those vocal cords.

Fans interested in contacting Dave can do so via his Facebook page

4 thoughts on “Rockbrat Chat: The Dave Crompton Interview (ex-Surrender, Godspeed, Fetish)

    1. I remember to this day seeing my uncle sing live on stage in NSW and sitting on the Drummers (Fish I think his name was) shoulders until I was taken off by a roadie. That memory has always stuck in my head and I guess is what made me get into music, Thank you with all my heart Uncle Dave, ROCK ON!!!

  1. Good interview DarcyDuke. The Rockbrat and I were heavily into the mid 80s metal scene (particularly from Sydney) and I have fond memories from that time. I do recall going along to the Thunda From Down Under concert at the Hordern, with Lotus and Lightning Rock and others I can’t recall who were on the bill. Did Dale sing with Lotus that nigh t? I cant recall. Anyway. Also remember seeing Fetish support Brian Connolly’s Sweet at Selinas.

  2. Agreed….good i/v DarcyDuke – there are a lot of rock and HM fans from the local 80’s Sydney scene who will dig this. Col: I think Godspeed were on that Thunda Downunda gig at the Hordern too….

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