My Life So Far - Dale Ryder
Wednesday October 24, 2007
The former Boom Crash Opera singer talks fame, pots and Freddie Mercury.You were born in India. What is your family background?We call ourselves exotics. We're actually Anglo-Indian. My mum has a Spanish-Portuguese background. My dad is English-Scottish. I was born in Madras, down south. We lived in Bombay and I went to boarding school. I got to Australia in, I think, 1968. Was that a difficult time to arrive here?It was hard, especially going from a private boarding school to Coburg Tech. That was the biggest culture shock. That school was full of skinheads and it was very racist. I was 13 or 14. I'm glad that school has closed down now. I never, ever wanted to meet - apart from a couple of people who got picked on a lot - anyone who went to that school. It was really awful.Did anything positive come out of that time?I tended to keep to myself, so I did a lot of painting and writing. In the later years I grew my hair and started playing guitar. How did you meet the rest of Boom Crash Opera?I always wanted to sing, always. I had a cover band and we were driving to a gig when the drummer said there was a band that didn't have a name yet but had some good songs. That was in the '80s. In one year we had a song out that was top five on the radio. I wasn't mature enough to enjoy it. I was in my early 30s and I should have been a lot more mature than I was, but I thought I was entitled to a bit of sex and drugs. I've spent the last 20 years growing up a little. What was the song Onion Skin about?I didn't write the lyrics, but it's about how an onion has no soul. You can peel all the layers off and there's nothing inside. It's a metaphor for a person. There's no essence to them, you just keep peeling layers and they make you cry. Maybe it was written about me, I'm not sure.You helped with your parents' business. Do you still paint pots? My parents had a ceramics factory. I used to do a lot of hand painting of the pottery. When we weren't touring or I needed some money I'd go and work for my parents. They had a whole bunch of shops but they've since retired. I just don't get the chance now. My wife is a high-powered account manager person and I look after my daughters (aged five and six) each day. I do the cooking and cleaning, that sort of thing. Take them to school and ballet. I work at night and my wife, Tanya, is a real go-getter. So it just worked out perfectly. You're singing Queen songs in this new show. I'm basically scared shitless. Freddie Mercury had an amazing voice and did these intricate melodies and harmonies. It's really daunting. Thank God there are other singers as well.Are there similarities between your voices?There used to be, but not any more. People used to say that a lot. But as you get older your voice changes. I'm 52 now. I don't hit those notes any more.What else are you working on?I've been threatening to do an album and I've written a lot of songs for that. I think I'm scared to. My wife keeps pushing me. I've been writing a book for a long time. It's the same thing. I think it might come from being bullied at school. I tend to stop just at a crucial point. I need that kick in the butt to get over it. The book is about what if heaven and hell weren't mythical, but real places. So Elvis can go to heaven and hell and he keeps visiting both. Then God and the Devil swap jobs for a while. -- LUCY BEAUMONTOrchestra Victoria Rocks Queen is at The Palms at Crown, October 24-25. Call Ticketek 1300 795 012.