Diesel will be playing old hits and new when he performs at the Coffs Harbour Golf Club on November 5.
Diesel will be playing old hits and new when he performs at the Coffs Harbour Golf Club on November 5. Jesse Lizotte

Diesel is back, firing on all cylinders

COVERS are back in fashion and that suits Diesel just fine.

The singer songwriter, real name Mark Lizotte, is on the road with his latest album Americana, a tribute to the American rock and roots music on which he was raised.

"It definitely seems to be with YouTube people are getting into doing different versions of people's songs more than ever," Lizotte observed.

"In the '90s, in the whole grunge period, it was very secular and people didn't want to do covers as much," he said.

"Back in the '60s if a song had any notoriety then people jumped on it and got a version of it out as quick as they could, right back to Pat Boone doing Tutti Frutti."

The 50-year-old admitted he turned his nose up at cover bands as a teenager.

"Around age of 18 I was so broke and I got a call from a drummer I'd been playing with and he said 'there's a band being formed they asked if you and I want to be in it'," he said.

"I thought I'll do it for a few months to pay my bills but it turned out trying to learn everyone else's songs like that taught me a lot of discipline.

"Musicians shouldn't begrudge other people's songs because you can learn a lot from them."

On Americana, Lizotte pays tribute to artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan in a nostalgic reflection on his own American roots; the ARIA Award-winner was born in Massachusetts and moved to Perth with his family at the age of five.

"They're the songs embedded in a lot of my fans' brains pretty well; we probably have very similar record collections," he said.

"My shows are like going into their lounge rooms and playing their record collections."

In the case of Here Comes My Girl, he wanted to celebrate the quiet achiever from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1979 album Damn the Torpedoes.

"I could never figure out why it didn't burst out on to the radio more," Lizotte says.

"I'd just put the needle (of the record player) straight to that song first because I want to hear that song straight away," he said.

"Then I'd play the rest of the album and let it run to that song again so I'd get to hear it twice.

"That's how obsessed I was with that song.

"The synergy between the lyric and the chords is something that doesn't always happen in songwriting.

"In that song they marry together so well.

"The feeling of dropping down to the E from the A goes hand in hand with what he's singing in the chorus.

"It's a very powerful, simple song."

Lizotte felt free to take more creative licence with Bob Dylan's Queen Jane Approximately.

"I grew up listening to A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," he said.

"I heard it so much growing up in Perth and I didn't know it was a Bob Dylan song at the time."

Lizotte revealed he had originally planned to release an album of original songs this year, but delayed the project after the concept of Americana captured his imagination.

"When that photo arrived from my brother who was going through my dad's stuff, I saw it and thought 'this is the cover'," he said.

"It was like a sign.

"It's not very often you have the cover before you start the record."

Diesel plays Coffs Harbour Golf Club on November 5.

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