Reunited Dragon still have puff

DRAGON

January 6

Harry Sawkins Park, Nowra

Tickets: 1300788503 or shoalhavenentertainment.com.au

Changes to a band line-up are always tough, for both musicians and their fans. When they're a well-loved band it can be even harder, especially if the reshuffle is due to tragedy.

When Dragon split for the second time in the late 1990s because of the prolonged illness and eventual death of founding member Marc Hunter, many were devastated the adopted Aussie rockers might not return.

But founding member Todd Hunter was inspired to reform the band in 2006, and vocalist Mark Williams, who joined as part of the new ensemble, thinks the band's experiences have only made them stronger.

"We've been through so many ups and downs as a band and I think we can fully say we've got the full colours of being a band now, we've been through everything," he says.

In fact, he believes Dragon's longevity lies in the fact that each time a new member has joined, they have been able to use their talents to bring something different to the music.

"Todd has allowed whatever changes have occurred for the band to morph it, given us a really good rein and each time he's had a line-up change it's been allowed to form into its own thing."

"The secret to the longevity of this band is the fact that it does change with the kind of people and type of musicians that become involved in it."

In fact, when Williams first joined the band, the plan was to strip Dragon back to an acoustic outfit with just a few guitars. Though they loved the sound and vibe this created, they found it was a flawed plan for one simple reason.

"Unfortunately the audience was singing louder than the acoustic band, so we had to change to electric," Williams laughs.

Dragon's hits continue to be popular across several generations of music fans.

They were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2008 and there are few Aussie rock enthusiasts who couldn't belt out the chorus to April Sun In Cuba, or who weren't secretly stoked when the recent TV series Puberty Blues used Are You Old Enough? in its opening credits.

But Williams says the band is not content to live out their days on the back of old hits.

They are constantly writing new material in order to stay fresh.

"We've got to have new songs basically for our own sanity, and we don't want to continue living off the laurels from things from the past."

Getting together to come up with new songs can prove a challenge though, with the four band members scattered around New South Wales. For their last offering, EP Chasing the Sun, each musician recorded their own part in the comfort of their own homes, sending their tracks to drummer Pete Drummond to finish off.

"We meet to write at airport lounges, at the back of the airport cafe," Williams chuckles.

"We do our rehearsals at sound check.

"We're fairly seasoned and we know each other pretty well so if someone goes off into a tangent in a sound check, someone puts their recorder on quickly so we can capture it."

Dragon are touring with the Red Hot Summer Tour, also featuring Jimmy Barnes and Ian Moss.

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