Gavin Doniger is an artist who lives and bleeds real-deal rock and roll. Since 1998 he’s been a constant presence on the East Coast music scene, strapping on his trusty six string and hitting the road under the guise of rootsy, blues rock duo Mescalito Blues, or simply under his own name.
His prodigious talents were most recently on display within the grooves of 2018 album (as Mescalito Blues) ‘Tall, Tales, True’, a rock-solid collection of blues-inflected swagger with plenty of dirt under the fingernails.
Since then, he’s been busy working on a collection of new material with a slightly different musical slant. Along for the ride on the Doniger rock-train are some of the local scene’s finest musical illuminati in the form of Joe Macphail, Liam Bowditch and George Carpenter – who also lent his production skills to the record. Gavin had already worked with most of his talented support ensemble on the last Mescalito Blues record, with the guys this time tweaking their template to create a new rock hybrid that defies easy categorisation.
In the words of Liam Bowditch: “In this day and age, everything is highly categorised, but our music can’t be put in a box. It can’t be described in just one genre. We formed this band because the music we were creating didn’t fit into our former acts. It’s fresh, it’s catchy and it hits on subjects relevant to what’s happening in today’s society”.
Gavin himself adds further insight into the origins and inspiration that begat Doniger, the band; “How it came together is that even though I am a blues artist, I don’t always just write blues songs. I write all sorts of music. The only way to work with these songs was to make a completely new act. I had a belief that these songs were worth pushing – they’re a mix of all the different kinds of music that has influenced me over the years. So, I guess it can’t be put into just one genre.”
Case in point is the first up number under the Doniger moniker, the striking and confident ‘Back To You’. The track sets the bar high early, with Gavin’s rock-grizzled vocals moodily soaring over an insistent, spacious, modern rock groove which oozes both grit and soul. Lyrically, the song holds a mirror up to the self-obsession inherent in today’s society, encapsulated in the memorable refrain of its gutsy chorus; “everything that you do, it all comes back to you.”
The song serves as a precursor to the pending release of Doniger’s debut album, ‘Renegade’, which will be available in late November, and was mastered by Paul Blakey and completed with the welcome assistance of a RADF grant, funded by City of Gold Coast and Queensland Government.
Gavin describes the process the guys undertook to pull the album together.
“These songs were recorded over an eighteen-month period, with three separate two day studio sessions. The majority of the songs were ideas with lyrics which needed to be structured into full songs, taking the time to play around with ideas and trying to create different sounds for each song. The recording process was definitely a melting pot of creativity between the three of us.”
For an artist renowned for his tireless work ethic when it comes to plying his trade in the live realm, the ramifications of this year’s COVID outbreak certainly hit Gavin hard, forcing him to redirect his focus towards the studio, he explains.
“After performing 100 – 120 shows each year, week in week out, to make a living, COVID forced me to take a break from the live circuit. With the gigging scene grinding to an immediate halt and with no work, it forced me to redirect my energy into my song -writing and this project, which has been a positive.
“But I do really miss playing all the live gigs and probably took for granted how much the public need live music too. I really look forward to getting back out there and playing live again. I love it. I miss it. It’s what I do.”
As to what’s on the horizon following the release of the debut Doniger album, Gavin and the lads are ready and raring, whatever the future holds, as long as they can bring the rock, Gavin says.
“The Doniger project ultimately just wants to be heard. Whether that is via live streaming, film clips, social media, live gigs – whatever this world allows us to do in these crazy COVID times.”
Gavin Doniger’s new musical project, Doniger, are releasing their debut record, ‘Renegade’ on 27 November, which we’ll be reviewing in the December issue of Blank GC. In the meantime, be sure to check out the album’s lead off single, ‘Back To You’ which can be heard at the Doniger Bandcamp page.
IMAGE (C) mbrand Photography