The D4 Biography
Bored at a little rich girls party and drunk on stolen bottles of wine, Dion found himself sitting on a sofa next to local acquaintance Jimmy, and the talk turned to how they might form a band. This was 1997. By 1998 the plans had bounced off the sofa and developed into the existing D4 line up. Vaughan had come up from the west coast of South Island with a saxophone and no purpose. Jimmy and Dion found him on the street and gave him a place to stay and a purpose shaped like a bass. Beaver was working in a sawmill, drumming with whoever asked and hoping to find a great raucous band that would keep him out of prison. One day out hitch hiking, he got a lift from The D4. Where was he trying to go?
"Oblivion," says Beaver.
"We thought we'd help him find it," says Dion. "We knew where oblivion was."
There was not much need for discussions about the band's direction. The four of them came together, bonded by an almost unspoken agreement that this was going to be special. In addition, the small Auckland (and Christchurch) underground rock scene nurtured the music. From the age of 15 Dion had been wagging school to hang out with the local coalition of bands centered on the Frisbee studio. The D4 would eventually record their first EP there in 1999, but before that it was an inspiring meeting place, with perfect punk credentials, located in a bank vault and for a while in a bacon factory.
Perhaps inevitably for a punk-ish band from NZ, The D4 have often had Radio Birdman and Australia's The Saints cited as influences, but in reality the proximity to unsung friends in the Auckland scene was far more important.
No one in The D4 is going to argue about the greatness of any of The Stooges, The Heartbreakers, Ramones, AC/DC, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Motorhead, Sonics, Mudhoney or New York Dolls. But their love of inspirational sensory experiences extends way beyond classic ‘70s carburetor dung rock, to 60s bands, 50s proto-surf, 90s Japanese hardcore, westerns, car chases, smog, girls, and um, pizza.
"A good pizza is fucking inspiring I reckon," affirms Dion.
Revved up to new levels of rockin’ fever, they set about recording their debut album in 2001, with Andrew Buckton engineering and 'the Don' of Frisbee studios — Bob Frisbee — co-producing. Later described by the NME as a "milestone" of the garage rock renaissance and cited as "essential" by Kerrang, 6TWENTY turned out to be one of the most explosive and focussed party rock'n'roll records heard anywhere for years. The opening “Rock'n'Roll Motherfucker” was a rubber burning declaration of intent that slammed both new converts and leather jacketed old rockers up against the back wall. Twelve songs later, having tattooed the stripped down full throttle brilliance of “Party,” “Come On!,” “Running On Empty” and “Exit To The City” on the heart of anyone in earshot, The D4 exited the building still raging gloriously with the wild imprecation of “Get Loose.”
In case anyone didn't get where they were coming from, and as a tribute to the original artists, they also lovingly covered three songs on the record: “Mysterex” by Auckland punk pioneers Scavengers, “Invader Ace” by Japanese band Guitar Wolf and “Pirate Love” by punk legend Johnny Thunders.
"There’s a mixed bag of feelings about this rock renaissance or whatever, because most of these bands that have become really popular have been around for a while because rock'n'roll has always been around and they've always been doing it," says Jimmy. "It’s just now that the attention is upon them, which I find funny and gratifying at the same time. But it's not a renaissance, it’s just the mainstream taking more attention of something that’s been continuously there since the 50s."
"Rock'n'roll is not a fashion for us," emphasizes Beaver. "It's always going to be with us and we're always going to do it."