cover story Features July 29, 2019

Darlinghurst sets off to refine the Australian country-pop sound

Darlinghurst sets off to refine the Australian country-pop sound

“After the run of hits in Britain and the two-year writing sessions in Los Angeles and Nashville, I returned to Melbourne at the end of 2015 with my options open.

“I’ve always loved music and always wanted to write great songs. But I knew something would happen, and I figured if I met up with like-minded people, we’d form a band.”

Jason Resch is the guitarist, singer and songwriter with new Melbourne country-pop harmony band Darlinghurst, along with singers and songwriters Cassie Leopold and Pagan Newman, and guitarist Matt Darvidis.

Their debut single ‘Sorry Won’t Get You Back’, out August 2, has already been programmed on country music TV and radio, and had them booked on major festivals.

KIX Country Network’s national content director, Justin Thomson, said, “It’s so exciting when you find a new band to follow and Darlinghurst is like finding a hidden treasure.

“I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform and everyone is in for a treat, immaculate vocals and musicianship with great songs.”

Resch began writing the song in Los Angeles and finished it in Melbourne with Leopold and Newman.

He says, “The wonderful thing about country music is the stories that it tells, and I think this song speaks for itself.

“It’s got a universal theme, about betrayal and heartbreak, and I hope it resonates with as many people as possible.”

Leopold, who takes lead vocals on it, recounts her approach to the song.

“Normally when someone writes a song about the pain of love, they see themselves as the innocent party.

“What I loved about the song was that it was someone admitting they had stuffed up and made a mistake.”

Resch’s London sojourn began when his high school band won an audition before UK producer Brian Higgins.

He passed on them but invited the teenager back to London to join his in-house production team, Xenomania.

Over four years Resch co-wrote a number of pop hits, including Girls Aloud’s chart-topping ‘The Promise’ which went on to win Best British Single at the 2009 BRIT Awards (“the backing track came together in nine minutes”), Alesha Dixon’s’ The Boy Does Nothing’ (UK #5, Aus #8) and The Saturdays’ ‘All Fired Up’ (UK#3).

That’s him playing guitar on Gabriella Cilmi’s ‘Sweet About Me’ (“easy-going and lovely but very determined”).

He wrote for Kylie Minogue: “When I heard she was coming to the studio I rushed out and bought her some Tim-Tams but she never ate them.”

He also, played keyboards, programming and guitar on six tracks on Pet Shop Boys’ Grammy-nominated Yes album (2008), and for which he co-wrote ‘More Than A Dream,’

“A great project to work on,” he says.

Needing a change in scenery, Resch moved to Los Angeles to demo his songs, and then to Nashville, a city where he did not know anybody.

He chuckles: “I went to Music Row where all the record companies are and knocked on the door of every single one – and every single one of them threw me out!”

Back in Melbourne, he was recording at Secret Sound Studios when its co-owner, producer Peter Dacy, told him of two singers using his studio to record original country songs.

The original plan was for him to write some songs for them.

But as soon as Resch, Leopold and Newman met up in 2017, they clicked immediately and decided to form a band.

Resch: “We never had to discuss what the band was going to be like. We knew we had our roots in country music, and the only thing we spoke about was that the songs had to come from an honest place.”

Leopold and Newman had trod the boards since their early teens.

Leopold did backing vocals for Christine Anu and Olivia Newton-John, and played theme parks in the US.

Newman cut an RNB Soul album in the US, and is a music teacher.

They also toured together in a number of tribute bands, covering Abba, Meat Loaf and soul classics among others.

These took them to rough mining towns where the men hadn’t seen a woman for six weeks and had finished their shifts and been at the bar since 7 am.

“So we’d walk on stage and they’d be wolf-whistling, it was crazy but they were fantastic blokes.”

Leopold came up with the name for the new band.

“I’d just written a film script called Darlinghurst about a group of misfits who come from all around Australia to audition for a musical, which is being staged to save a music theatre from being taken away from its owner.

“It had a country music feel to it, the ‘darling’ aspect had strong connotations to country music, and besides, it was the only name the three of us would agree on!”

Earlier this year, the decision was made to expand Darlinghurst into a four-piece.

Dacy suggested Darvidis, a hotshot guitarist from a family of musicians. He’d played on his mother’s album, which was recorded there, and had done work experience at the studio.

As soon as he heard the songs, he agreed straight away.

‘Sorry Won’t Get You Back’ is released through Helium Records.

Watch ‘Sorry Won’t Get You Back’ by Darlinghurst:

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