DIESEL Americana album cover

There’s a concept brewing over at Diesel HQ … an album on which Mark Lizotte, known far and wide as Diesel, will pause to look back on the path that led him to today: eight studio albums, six ARIA Awards, one of our nation’s most lauded and accomplished rock guitarists and singers.

And appropriately, for an artist born in America and raised in Australia, the concept is: Americana. Diesel will be paying tribute to the artists that influenced his own musical stew on a new album – and on tour – by putting his unique stamp on some classic songs.

“It’s such a broad term, Americana – it means different things to different people,” Diesel says. “From moving out here from America, then moving back and forth again … I wonder if I would have as much fascination and love for American music if I had just stayed in America all my life and never made it out to Australia? It’s safe to say I probably wouldn’t.”

The music may be American, but Diesel will approach it the only way he knows how … “It’s very Australian what I’m doing,” he says. “That mongrel thing – taking music, whether it’s from England or America, then crossing things over. We’re not scared of mixing things up here and breaking the rules. Never have been.”

The selection process has been torturous – “It’s really hard ’cos it’s such a deep well; how far back do you go? I literally went: OK, I’ve got five minutes, grab the most essential things out of your house before the house burns down!’” – yet also fearless. Witness Diesel’s thought process on daring to tackle Born to Run by The Boss, Bruce Springsteen:

“It’s like someone saying, ‘I’m going to rewrite the bible’,” he  laughs. “You just don’t touch it! But I thought, if I’m gonna make an Americana album, I may as well get in the ring with Muhammad Ali – the featherweight’s gonna take on the heavyweight and we’ll see what happens. So, if Born to Run is a stranger, I’m going to go right up to that stranger on the street and kiss ’em on the lips. That’s it.”

So now, a quarter-century after he busted out of the garage and into the Australian psyche with Don’t Need Love and Soul Revival, it’s time for fans to hear the songs that made the man. With recording underway, Diesel will be taking his concept out on the road THIS SEASON/MONTH, infusing his Americana selections into his live set before releasing the album in 2016.

Among other songs Diesel will be reinterpreting for the album – and road-testing on tour – are:

Here Comes My Girl by Tom Petty (1980)

“I remember hearing him on radio in the ’70s when we lived in Arizona. That’s a song I had a real attachment to from when I first heard the opening chords – they have this beautiful lilt to them.”

Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash (1963)

“I’ve got big plans for Ring of Fire – it’ll be done in my own way. It’ll still have its DNA, but I’m not staying on the map … I’m going right off the map.”

The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell (1968)

“It’s all about loss of innocence. I related a lot to it as a kid – we lived in the country and we did catch fireflies, butterflies … It’s part of my American childhood.”

Rave On by Buddy Holly (1958)

“As a kid seeing him with those thick glasses and that guitar, it was like, ‘What is that?!’ That Stratocaster is a classic guitar now, but when he started playing it, it was revolutionary. He grabbed it and made it his own.”

Fire and Rain by James Taylor (1970)

“James Taylor writes beautiful songs that really lend themselves to being Memphis’ed up a bit. And that’s what I’m gonna do – less folky, more Memphis.”

Angel From Montgomery by Bonnie Raitt (1974)

“It talks about American heroes but it’s a real bummer of a song at the same time, it’s asking questions about, surely there’s more than this?”

Rainy Day Women by Bob Dylan (1966)

“It’s a party on legs, that song. Guitar players love Bob Dylan songs, historically, going right back to Jimi Hendrix saying, ‘That’d be a good song to let a guitar go nuts on …’ with All Along the Watch Tower.”

Retrace the steps of Diesel’s musical education on the road THIS MONTH/SEASON and stay tuned for the album in 2016.

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