The Unofficial Dave Dobbyn Biography


The music of Dave Dobbyn can be heard echoing throughout the cities and small towns of New Zealand, as a backdrop to whatever occasion is the excuse for the current festivity.

No twenty-first birthday party would be complete without Dobbyn's first bands (he was the guitarist) anthems to bonking and booze, Th' Dudes' "Be Mine Tonight" and "Bliss". His mid-eighties pub-rock outfit DD Smash produced the New Zealand classics "Whaling" and "Outlook for Thursday", a staple on any real Kiwi bar's jukebox. His songs can even be heard wafting from the P.A. at weddings, with the syrupy love ballad, "Oughta be in Love", from the soundtrack to the animated feature film "Footrot Flats: the Dog's Tale". The film also spawned Dave's biggest commercial hit, the catchy "Slice of Heaven".

Since the chart topping days of DD Smash, and his hit soundtrack to Footrot Flats, Dave has recorded three solo albums, beginning with "Loyal" in 1988. It produced two hit singles, in the longing title track, and the bouncy "Love you Like I Should", both of which feature regularly in his live sets to this day.

There was a long wait for the next album, the dark, loud, and abrasive "Lament for the Numb". Bruce and Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello's Attractions were used as the rhythm section. Due to poor promotion, and competition from a cobbled together greatest-hits album "The Dave Dobbyn Collection", the album sold poorly in New Zealand, and unfortunately never made it to overseas release.

A switch to the Sony record company in 1994 heralded a new album, and a new outlook on life. The list of musicians on the resultant album, Twist, reads like a Who's Who of New Zealand music; Tim and Neil Finn, Alan Gregg, Ross Burge and Don McGlashin from the Muttonbirds, and singer/songwriter Emma Paki. NZ on Air even financed a "comeback" TV special, which was aired in late 1994, the same time as Twist was released. The album was given a facelift (three of the more commercial songs from Lament for the Numb were tacked onto it, to the detriment of a few of Twist's more unusual tracks) for the US release, and Dave got his first international exposure supporting acts like the Finn brothers and Sheryl Crow.

Since the early-1996 Twist tour, Dave has been laying fairly low, helping produce (or playing on) the odd single by the likes of The Exponents and Greg Johnson. His standout performance of the Split Enz classic "Poor Boy" on the ENZSO album was an obvious highlight. He has popped up at the occasional one-off gig since then, and new songs have been performed, such as the moody "You Will be Set Free", and the fanatical story of "The Hallelujah Song". It sounds like the long-awaited new album could be on New Zealand shelves by September 1988.

(Author:Jon-Paul Hansen)

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