Interview with Nic Dalton

From Australian Musicians Online July 2003


He's played in countless bands around the traps and runs one of the country's best loved indie labels - Nic Dalton.

Who are your 3-5 favourite Australian artists and why?
The Saints: their first three albums are classics and the following couple of Chris Bailey-led  albums have some of my favourite songs such as "In The Mirror", "Let's Pretend" and "Ghostships".


AC/DC: Along with Skyhooks, my favourite Australian band when I was in primary school (remember AC/DC were regulars on Countdown and extremely popular with young kids). Nothing can beat the power, riffs and catchy choruses of every album the band did in the second half of the '70s.


Skyhooks: The first band I saw when I was 10 and I absolutely loved their first two albums - perfect soundtrack to growing up in Australia in the '70s.


The Triffids: They were quite influential to me when I started playing in bands in Canberra in the mid-'80s. The Triffids weren't afraid to be a bit laidback in the world of Oz Rock and David McComb wrote a lot of fantastic songs.


Easybeats/Vanda & Young: on par with their UK counterparts during the '60s mainly because Vanda & Young wrote a lot of great songs which were sung by the gutsy singer Stevie Wright. Vanda & Young kept writing and producing a lot of the great Top 40 pop songs all throughout the '70s and as a team are up their with the greats.


Tell us about your label.
Half A Cow Records started in late 1989 by me and original co-owner Miles Ferguson, at the same time we opened the Half A Cow store on Glebe Point Road in Sydney. The label's original intention was to independently release local bands on vinyl who we personally liked - a trait that continues to this day. Half A Cow has released over 120 albums, mini-albums and singles by approximately 40 different bands on both CDand vinyl. Bands that have released records on HAC include Smudge, Art Of Fighting, Sidewinder, Crow, Kim Salmon and Bernie Hayes. HAC has also released classic re-issues by The Eastern Dark, The Missing Links and Pip Proud.


What do you think is the most influential Australian album of all time? 
Impossible for there to be only one but I'd pick AC/DC's TNT as very influential to the path that music took from the mid-'70s onwards. Contains the classics "It's A Long Way To The Top", "High Voltage". Production-wise, this album had guitar sounds with such power unmatched at the time anywhere in the world.


Describe your most memorable Australian music moment?
Seeing AC/DC play in the school hall at Ginninderra High School in my last week of 6th Grade in December 1976. I was down the front with my shirt off, on top of Tim Porter's shoulders, being spat on by both Bon Scott and Angus Young. After the show I was beaten up by the local first-formers while I waited for my mum to pick me up. Another mum saw what was happening and made me wait in her car until my mum arrived. I've still got the ticket stub for the show - ticket #1 purchased from Homecrafts for $5.30.


What is the most crucial advice you could give a local artist seeking success?
As I'm not an authority on commercial success I'd say stay true to your own path, try and write the best songs you can, be honest with your bandmates and don't get bitter about the 'music industry' if you don't become rich and famous in the first three months!


If you could have signed any act in Australia (past or present), who would it be?
The Moles - great Sydney band from the early '90s led by Richard Davies. Musically and personality-wise, they would have been perfect on the Half A Cow label.


What do you think is the most important issue facing Australian music today?
Lack of contemporary local content on mainstream radio.