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Charles Buddy Daaboul

On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, solo musician and No Art drummer Charles Buddy Daaboul and I sat in the courtyard of a mostly deserted Stanmore pub, populated almost exclusively by weathered old men, to talk all things his new EP, Three Colours Green. I’ve condensed our epic over hour long chat into this here back and forth.

When did you first start playing a musical instrument?

When I was four, I had one of those microphones with the weird cable and you shake it and sing into it. I always used to sing, and I used to be in heaps of choirs in school. Our school used to have this competition, you know those Qantas ads, when the kids are on the rocks and stuff and sing, there was a girl from my school in my choir who sang in that tv ad. They had auditions but our teacher just chose the best few singers to go.

What do you think you would’ve ended up doing if you weren’t doing music?

A rally car driver. I really mean it! That’s what I used to do on my weekends when I was younger, I always would play music or just sing, and try to play guitar, but I never thought of buying a guitar. This is when I was in primary school. Then I’d watch rally car driving on SBS. I know how to drive but I never knew how to drive manual until recently, cause you have to drive manual to be a rally car driver. And people were like, “oh yeah I can teach you, I’ve got a manual car,” so I’ve been learning how to drive manual. I just went to Mystery Bay on the weekend and drove down these dirt roads real quick, so it’s not far off, me quitting music and becoming a rally car driver.

I just like doing things that you can go different places to do. Like golf, you can go all around the world and play golf. I love golf and I love rally car driving because you can drive anywhere and you can play golf anywhere, and you can play music anywhere really.

You could probably do all three, if you really wanted to.

I do sometimes, like I played in Canberra last year and nearly missed a show because I was playing golf before it. I looked at my watch and was like, “oh fuck I better go to the venue!” Then I could’ve driven home really quickly, which I did but not like a rally car.

Is golfing calming, is that why you do it? Because I think it looks boring as hell.

I think all sport looks boring when you watch it. I don’t ever think about golf as calming. It’s just based around nature, like you either play in a forest or near a beach or really nice locations. It’s not even hitting the ball, obviously you want to play well, but it’s that thing where you’ll never ever be perfect at it… It keeps my mind awake, keeps me thinking how I can better myself. Because when you play music it’s so much fun but you can get lost in just being a musician, and most people do that. They’re like, “oh I don’t wanna work, I don’t wanna do anything, I just wanna smoke pot and play guitar.” Which is fine anyway. But it’s like when you don’t write for ages and your handwriting becomes real messy over the summer holiday, if you stop using your brain, you just become less creative and you can’t do anything. You just sit in front of the guitar, thinking what am I doing? But if you’re always doing stuff, not that I’m saying golf is the best thing to do to keep your brain going, but just doing heaps of stuff like that keeps you creative.

And you’ve got two music things in your life so you get to diversify, you’ve got No Art and your solo stuff.

And it’s two totally different things. In one I just play drums, get to be a real bloke and hit drums real hard. That’s just real fun and I can do whatever in that. Then in my solo stuff I’ve gotta do all the work, I’ve got to email people and book stuff and write songs, and not just any songs, you have to write songs that you believe in and are real true to you… people can sing whatever they want, but I like to sing about things that I’m really into. And when people hear me sing they think “oh he’s not lying, he means what he’s singing about or he’s heaps interested in it”. I can sustain a conversation about what I’m singing about, without getting too romantic.

Are there romantic songs?

Yeah there are definitely romantic songs.

Which of your songs would you quantify as romantic?

Let me just say that romance isn’t always a beautiful thing. There are ugly romance stories. My EP is real romantic, there’s four songs on it. Three songs are real romantic songs. Three Colours Green, the first verse is really mean, it’s like ‘run away/run away from me/you are green.’ It’s about running away from someone and hating them and going go away, but then in the second verse it completely changes. It’s like between the first and second verse I’ve thought to myself, “nah I don’t really mean it,” so I sing the opposite thing in the second verse, and then in the outro bit it makes it even more confusing, “oh actually maybe I did mean what I said at the start,” I still have a heart to kind of think, “am I being a jerk or am I not being a jerk”.

It’s not about certain people or anything, obviously you have moments with people and you get inspired to write songs, but I don’t write about particular people or particular moments. It’s more so, someone looking at an incident from outside, like if you’re on a train and you’re looking at a couple outside having a domestic and you don’t know who’s on more drugs, the guy or the girl, you don’t know who’s fault it is, you can’t pinpoint exactly what it’s about or what you’re talking about. Which is good if you start mentioning people’s names in songs…

I think it works for some people, it depends on the kind of music you make. Like if you’re Nick Cave or someone like that, you sit around telling stories, it’s different.

And I’d like to do that too, I’d like to write songs about exact people and mentioning their names. But maybe later on.

But there’s a certain bravery with it, like once you’re singing that at a gig and they’re in the room, or once you’ve recorded it, it’s out there and they can pick it up anywhere. That could go one of two ways really.

I don’t wanna potentially offend anyone. If I want to offend someone I’ll make sure to do it and do it really good.

I reckon they can think about it as, you know what, they’ve wasted their time, they’ve sat at home and spent their energy and creativeness to write about me, even though it’s not a good thing, they’re still thinking about me and wanting to turn me into a piece of art.

That is inspirational.

Yeah I’d be pretty excited if someone wrote something about me. There could be people out there, man what a song it would be, I reckon it would be such a nice song. If it had a shit guitar tone I’d be really upset though, that’s all I care about at the moment. Just nice tones.

I was going to ask you about Amsterdam II, because there’s an older song you have called Amsterdam. I was curious why Amsterdam II.

Well that song shouldn’t have even been written or created or even on the EP. I wrote four songs, well I wrote a lot of songs, but I wanted to get it done on vinyl and you can fit four songs on a 7”. So I wrote four songs, and the guy I was recording with, my mate Mark, we just recorded at his house in Picton, most of the stuff was done there, some in Greystanes and some in my apartment in Glebe. I wrote three on it, then I wrote a song called Redhead, and it was real punky and completely different from all the other songs. My mate Mark is the pickiest dude, and he’s like, “no I hate it, I’m not gonna record this song for you, it’s stupid. What you need is a real simple song like that Amsterdam song you used to have, that you still play. This EP needs something real simple like that.”

I was real pissed off, I hated him, I was like “oh I’ve got other friends who I can record this EP with.” We had a real big night and the next morning I woke up, and I never play acoustic guitar, it’s real hard on my fingers and I’m not very good, I had to play it this morning, and I wasn’t even in the mood to write a new song now because he’s forcing me to write it. I started playing the Amsterdam song just to get a vibe of it, then started singing it, because when I try to write a melody, I use whatever words are in my head and just sing them over and over, it doesn’t have to end up being in the song. Amsterdam II is pretty much Amsterdam 1. Like I was saying with Three Colours Green, from the first verse to the second verse I kind of change my mind, well what I say in the first song compared to what I say in the second song, is just the opposite.

The first Amsterdam has a good feeling right? Like it’s about being somewhere new… so what’s the second one about?

Well they’re both about hope. Dumb as that sounds, it’s just about being somewhere new and opening your mind up and having hope for all the fun things that you do in your life. But having a base that you always love, and that can either be where you live or what you do. If you always love that, you can build around that, you can build friends and new things wherever you go.

I was in Amsterdam when I wrote it so I just named it Amsterdam although it’s not really about Amsterdam. I sing about the canals, but I think of the canal in Greystanes every time I sing it. When I was real young you could swim in it, there was water in it before it became a bike track. I like the whole notion of water as being life giving, the whole canals thing and Amsterdam it’s about hope and life, this all sounds so stupid, but when you explain anything, it sounds stupid.

Listening to your EP, I found it, for want of a better word, really chill. You must be proud of it.

I just like putting all of my heart into what I’m doing now, and even if I’m not doing it in five years time, I’ve still got this record now, and who knows in 20 years it could be in an op shop, no one knows what it is, like what’s this piece of shit and put a 20 cent sticker on it. Then some kid will buy it and they’ll buy a record player in the year 2040, if they’re still around then. Or someone who works at 2WS in 40 years time will play my song. That’s all I want in life, to be played on 2WS or WSFM, whatever it’s called now. I don’t know if that’ll ever happen. They play Chilli Peppers on WSFM now! They play Under The Bridge all the time, and I’m like wait up, that’s like what 1990/91?

It’s of our time.

It’s on Classic Hits now. So I’ve got what, 23 years from now, Three Colours Green can be on WSFM.

So you do everything when it comes to your solo stuff, like “managing” and all of that. Do you enjoy it?

I love it. I got the EPs back and I thought, I better do some shows and organize the tour. I was just real excited to do all that manager’s stuff. I hate emailing bookers or bands, and you’re trying to organize a tour and trying to get the cheapest flights possible and they’re like, “we’re gonna be in Adelaide next week, can you come play this show.” And then you rock up and you’re like, is this even on, is it organised? Which it hasn’t gotten to that extent, but it’s pretty hard. But once you’re there and done, you feel rewarded. Like wow, I put this all together, and it’s not just about your record anymore, it’s you organising a tour, and getting from A to B, and going to the zoo in Adelaide. Well I haven’t done that yet, did that on a No Art tour, saw a panda for the first time, never seen a panda before.

I saw a panda for the first time in Berlin last year! But it was all alone and sad.

The one in the Adelaide Zoo was called Wang Wang. So even getting to do that stuff, organising time not to just play, but to play your gigs and do other stuff while you’re there. Why pay like $200 to get there and back, to go to Melbourne or Brisbane, wherever, and just get off the plane, play your gig and go home.

So what are you gonna do next?

I’m just gonna go on heaps more holidays and actually take time to sit down and write more music, instead of writing songs in between working and all that stuff. I’m gonna go out to the bush somewhere even for a bit, which I’ve been doing heaps of this year anyways, just going away and taking my acoustic guitar, and write some real simple songs. I’ve already started writing a few, like real simple songs. Not that these ones aren’t simple, but these ones I’m working on are really to the point. I’m gonna change some stuff, not in a bad way, just gonna be more me.

I’m just gonna change stuff up a little bit, just be real simple, and maybe play heaps more dirty pubs and try to get my music out to non-hipster people. Because people get trapped in that thing of writing music to be in this cool trendy scene. I think what I wanna do is not impress these people, I don’t want to impress anyone, I just wanna write songs that other people other than people in their 20s and 30s are into. I would love for some old lady to go I love that song that that boy wrote, I heard it on the radio.

I think that speaks to your skills as a musician if you can traverse age.

I just wanna be heaps accessible to more than one kind of crowd. Like when I played in Wollongong, there was this old lady there with a blanket on her in this chair watching me, because it was an art gallery/café kind of place. And she was tapping her toes, and I thought, I really don’t want to play this next song cause she’s going to hate it, it’s so noisy, and this was after the nice Ride Your Bike song. Now I’m going to play this noisy instrumental with reverse delayed guitar bits and she’s going to walk out and hate me, but she still had her toe tapping, so she’s into it.

Just goes to show you can’t judge….

I just want to make more people smile, have more people into it than a certain type.

Charles Buddy Daaboul II


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