The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







It's 25 years since Mark Lizotte aka DIESEL signed his first deal with a major label and he's been making great soulful music ever since: enthralling Australian and Worldwide audiences and critics alike. But it has been five years now since we last heard original material.


Well the wait is finally over: on ‘Let It Fly’ Diesel is at his timeless best. We caught up with him this week to talk about the album and his upcoming 'Velvet Curtain Tour' which runs through October and November...


'Let It Fly' was released through Liberation Music on August 9th, 2013.





Mark: Hi, Mark thanks for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit. We have been listening to the album, “Let it Fly” all weekend! You must be thrilled by the way it came out?



Diesel: Yeah, I’m pretty happy! There was sort of blurred vision there for a while, but at the eleventh hour we were more focused, which was good.



Mark: You described it as “my life’s work, so far, brought to fruition”. It’s a pretty heavy statement to lay on an album! But, when you listen to it, there are so many strands to it that seem to come together. You also mentioned the process was quite chaotic, so how was the writing process for this one?



Diesel: It wasn’t written in one sitting, or in one stage, as it were, it was all different things along the way. It wasn’t the most cohesive feeling, until I realised certain elements were starting to glue it together and I gravitated towards those things that brought it together as a complete album.



Mark: There is some great stuff on there, from the opening track, “Money Maker”, which is a real earthy, blues song to the ‘rootsier’ feel of “By Your Throne”, which has got some great banjo! I take it, that’s you playing the banjo?



Diesel: Yeah, it’s got strings on it!! If it’s got strings, I’ll have a go at playing it!



Mark: Whose throne are you talking about in that song: did you have anyone in mind?



Diesel: (laughs), well you know it’s metaphorically speaking!! It could be one of many people.



Mark: Ok, so you’re leaving that one open for us?



Diesel: Yeah, I like to leave things open!!




Mark: You have some great guests on there as well, your daughter sings on one track with you, what was that like?



Diesel: She had already sung backing vocals on a few of the other tracks at that point, and so I had to gently coax her, and put the idea across about maybe singing a verse of her own. She’d already added some beautiful textures to songs like “Last Shower”, “One Phone Call” and “Navigate”. I had this song sitting off the side there, which was a project, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to make the record, I have about a dozen of those which could be another album, or the start of another record. So, there was a bunch of songs sitting there, and I thought this could bring it in to the fold, if she was going to sing this verse, and finish off the story.



Mark: It works well, and it’s a fantastic song. Tim Chaisson contributes as well, not just on “Last Shower” but on “Navigate” which is one of my favourite songs on there.



Diesel: Yeah, Tim, played some beautiful stuff on there, I gave him direction as to what I wanted, a kind of orchestral vibe, and he came up to me afterwards and said, “Mate, I actually played violin on that, not fiddle!” I hadn’t actually thought of that, there’s a difference, as people say, “fiddle”, but violin is more orchestral sounding, he’s definitely a fiddle player! But, anyone who can play like him can do anything! He’s very versatile; he’s used to being this kind of “rogue fiddle”, just meandering all over the place, cutting his own path, and so to do specific layering parts like that, which is what I wanted, and he was asked to play some cello with that as well, which he hadn’t played in a long time. I used to only play cello in the privacy of my own home! I get to bust it out though when another player comes along, which is kind of cool!!



Mark: It’s a diverse album; “The Miles” is probably my favourite track, and there are some ‘fun’ songs on there, like “Sound of Guitar”.



Diesel: With “The Miles”, I didn’t even realise, well, I knew there were these little gaps and stops and things, but when Tim came in and I played him the song, literally, I played him it once, and I said do you want to have a go, and he said, ‘yeah, let’s do it’, and that was what he played, what’s on the record, which is pretty mind blowing for me! All the little areas where I left him to do his thing, I didn’t even realise they were there until he started doing these little embellishments and I was just thanking the heavens for that because I was already happy with the song, liking where it was going, but when he did that, it was exactly what it needed.



Mark: It is a great album, and I think it will stand the test of time. I am now going to slip in that impossible question for you, have you a particular favourite that you’re looking forward to playing live on the tour?



Diesel: Probably, “The Miles”, because we are having Tim come around the country with us, so a good portion of the flavour, that he brings to the album, will be represented on stage, which is very luxurious, to say the least! We’ll be laughing it off and enjoying it, while it lasts, and so I will really look forward to playing that song with Tim, I’ll be able to play the mandolin, and he can play the fiddle, and for that particular song, it will be really cool!






Mark: So, in October/November you are touring around WA, NSW, Victoria, ACT, with the “Let it Fly” tour, and you’ve also got “The Velvet Curtain” tour going on in SA, NSW and Victoria, how are those regional shows going to differ from the “Let it Fly” shows?



Diesel: Well, solo, is always a big difference for me. I suppose it’s a lot more free form, because there’s no band around for me to have to adhere to, not in a bad way, but I have become very loose with my solo thing. I really enjoy falling back in to the band; I like the feeling of having a backbone behind me that I can lean on, which is such a good feeling. But, as for the venues I’m doing, they are perfect for solos, so I’m looking forward to that as well. Its performing arts centres that I’m doing which I have got some planned for later next year in WA and other parts of the country as well, thankfully there’s not many parts of the country that don’t have this really well put together, art centres. So, I’m starting to use them now for the first time ever, and the solo is great, to have a really captive audience like that, you can do the old dropping the pin, and hearing it drop sort of thing! It’s nice when you’re playing some of the more delicate instruments as well, that I’m trying to play on stage, with the more subtle songs, and you have all that space to work with. So, that’s a good thing, and then when I get with the band, its back to the noisy thing, which is great! I wouldn’t enjoy one without the other.



Mark: it’s great to see you coming back to Perth as well, what’s it like to come home these days?



Diesel: Look, it’s a bit of a shock, to see the change but at the same time it’s kind of exciting. There are still some places that are exactly the same, which always makes me laugh and it makes you feel like you’ve never been away, then there are other pasts that have radically changed and you wonder where you’ve been! I know it’s a city that’s gone through a real boom, but it’s still got a fresh feel. For me it’s the sights and the sounds and the smells, especially near the ocean that just take me back sometimes, and I think ‘wow, I didn’t know I had that memory’ or I see something and it really knocks me off my feet. You’d think that Australia coastally would be pretty much the same but there’s some really distinct things I get when I go back, that I guess other people would feel about the place they grew up, but it still surprises me.






Mark: So we’re almost twenty five years as a recording artist, looking back over that first twenty five, do you ever think about the next twenty five? Are you someone who thinks they may be able to give music away to some degree for a quiet life sat on the porch, or are you going to grow old disgracefully like the old bluesmen?



Diesel: (laughing) I definitely have the intention and the will, so as long as my body is willing I’d still love to do what I do.  It’s pretty hard to project forward another 25 years and I can’t believe it’s been 25 already! It feels like about ten maybe! (Laughs) But then you start to dissect it and you think yeah there’s those two years, oh OK then I did that and it all starts adding up: It’s easy as a number and you can start to pull it apart, but wow it’s hard to comprehend! At least for my little brain anyhow! 



Mark: As long as you grow old disgracefully and you do it on the stage that’s all that matters!



Diesel: (laughing) Disgracefully exactly!  



Mark: For someone who grew up around so much music, and looking back at that first marker in your career, who would you say has been your most enduring influence over time?



Diesel: Probably, Hendrix is one of them, I still love what he has done, and there’s still stuff coming out, it’s amazing, I still can’t believe they keep finding stuff! The latest, they’ve brought out, I’ve only heard snippets of, but it sounds like there was the making of another album there. Sadly, he never got to do it and bring it to where he would’ve liked to have seen it. But, there are influences constantly pulling at me, whether it’s an old one or a new one, I think there’s just great music being made, every moment, on this planet! It’s kind of overwhelming, the amount of noise that is out there at the minute, the internet has become a vessel for people doing things and getting it out there, sharing it with people straight away. Fifteen years ago, that was really hard to do, there’s incredible change right now in the music industry, so the internet is an incredibly powerful tool.



Mark: It is, but I guess the flip side of that, is, it is incredibly hard for young bands to get noticed when you are in that ‘sea’ of music.


Diesel: Yeah, there is still a lot of unearthed music out there, but a lot of it, does still to seem rise up to the top, if there’s something really unique about it, or really potent about it, like the cream, as they say! I think it’s a human process; we have that filter mechanism, kind of thing.



Mark: Yes, it’s a wonderful world out there, there’s so much to stumble over!



Diesel: Oh, yeah, if you’ve got two hours to waste, or even more or less! You just want to go on and just surf from one thing to another! There’s no limit, and it’s like, I’ve got to go to bed now, its 3 o’clock in the morning, I’ve been doing this since nine!! You’ve like discovered forty new artists, which you’ve never heard of before, it’s incredible! They all come from, anywhere from Whyalla, to South Australia to Iceland! It’s not all coming from one country anymore, it’s coming from everywhere.






Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album, just to see how it all came together, what would it have been for you?



Diesel: Stevie Wonder’s ‘Innervisions’, is up there and it’s always noted as a ‘classic album’, there are the ones I remember sitting on the floor listening to through headphones, like the first Fleetwood Mac album, my sister had, it had a white cover. Just listening to the way they were put together, has always left an indelible mark on me, and not just that, it’s the way it flows, the way it’s an album, not just a song, or a bunch of songs thrown together, there is a form, as to how they’re placed and maybe it wasn’t always the grand plan from the beginning, it’s something that happens somewhere along the way. When you start that journey of making a record you start thinking about all those things, that’s the kind of mindset I’ve been buoyed to. I know to some degree it’s shifted away from that, just the focus being taken away from the album, but, by the same token, a lot of new music: new bands and artists are doing just that – making albums again. Tame Impala is one who really seems to understand that.



Mark: I think you’re right and it’s heartening to see that. I think we have a few seconds left is it OK if I slip in a real easy one to close? What is the meaning of life?



Diesel: (laughing) the meaning of life? I wish I knew the answer to that one. I think it’s to live and to live it vivaciously. Like every day is your last day, and don’t ever wish time to go faster.



Mark: Thank you so much for taking the time, best of luck with the album and we’re looking forward to seeing you when you hit Perth.



Diesel: Yeah so are we. I can’t wait to show Tim the West.



Mark: You’ll have to take him down Scarborough Beach!



Diesel: (laughing) I will. He’ll probably say ‘Wow it’s just like Vancouver!’  Cheers mate, see you later.






Diesel spoke to Mark Diggins 12 August 2013





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