Dragon is a band that has been through a lot in their 40-year existence. The New Zealand-born group won over Australian audiences during the ’70s and ‘’80s with hits like ‘April Sun in Cuba’, ‘Are You Old Enough?’ and ‘Rain’, cementing their place in Australian rock history. They have not been without their hardship, however, losing keyboardist Paul Hewson to a drug overdose in 1985 and lead singer Marc Hunter to cancer in 1998, the latter of which ended the band’s existence at the time.
“After Marc died there was no band and there was never going to be one,” explains Marc’s brother and bassist Todd Hunter. “I did soundtrack work for ten years and at the end of that time I just felt like the songs needed to be played again, and I got a bit lonely for the Dragon songs.”
Todd reformed the band in 2006, adding a third era to the band’s already legendary career and breathing a whole new life back into Dragon.
“What it’s like now is what it was like in the beginning,” says Todd. “Where you just turned up with your guitar and played. It’s very simple now.” Dragon is currently in the middle of ‘The Trilogy Concert’ tour, a celebration of the three eras of the band evolution, playing all of the hits and some of the more obscure numbers from their four decades on stage.
“It was just a thing of looking at how we could present all the songs. We could never get around all the songs in one night, so we thought if we looked at it as the three major line-ups of the band and the three eras it sort of focuses it all,” explains Todd. “So when we do the concert we do the first set of the current stuff, then we do the ’80s and then we do the ’70s last – it’s like an archeologically dig back through the music.”
For Todd, a lot has changed over the years, not to mention he now finds himself in his sixties, but he has a secret to keeping shows as energetic as always.
“I think the trick is to have a young drummer who has a huge amount of energy, but in saying that, though, physically I’m playing a lot harder now than I did when I was 20. Now the whole feel of the music has changed,” says Todd. “In those days there was a sort of back and forth funky sort of sway thing going on. Now you have to play the verse quiet and hit the chorus so fucking hard to get everyone levitating above the crowd. It’s a completely different energy – I love it.”
For fans going along to a Dragon show this year Todd says you can “expect to hear all the Dragon songs you know and to sing them like crazy and just to have a great time”. It’s the perfect way to honour all members past and present.
“Some nights when there are a lot of people and they are singing really loudly, it’s like Mark and Paul live on in their music and it is a complete honour to be part of that,” says Todd. “If Mark was here we’d still be playing. It’s really simple, it’s what you do.”
When&Where: GPAC, Geelong – May 9; The Capital, Bendigo – May 10; and The Palms @ Crown, Melbourne – June 14
Written by Zach Broadhurst