Carl Dixon best known as vocalist with Coney Hatch, April Wine and The Guess Who expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer?
I became aware of popular music as a child in the mid-60’s and buying records in the late 60’s. The Beatles ruled the roost, but Creedence, CSNY, The Guess Who, Jethro Tull, Johnny Winter, The Who, Humble Pie and especially Free were among the many acts that caught my fancy. Singing came naturally to me before I was ever in a band, but when I was fifteen I joined in on vocals and basic rhythm guitar with some older guys because I could sing Doobie Brothers songs and the like and they weren’t able to.
Have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any notable bands?
No, I’ve never auditioned for a band and not gotten the gig. I did once talk my way into a second call audition for the Tommy theatre production when they were casting in Toronto, but I knew nothing about how to be in a musical at that time. When Lou Gramm was on the way out with Foreigner the first time I sent a letter to Bud Prager their manager and let him know they should seriously consider me if Lou quits. In a return letter he said merely “The Lou Gramm situation is being resolved”.
You have appeared on a number of albums. Do you have a favourite and why?
A few favourites I suppose, for different reasons. Many albums over many years, but perhaps my last solo album, “UNBROKEN”, made and co-written with the dearly departed Robby Boebel, has a special place in my affections. The focus I could give to my lyric writing and vocal performances really took me to some new places and some of the best singing I’ve ever recorded.
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
Oh yeah, more actually. I’m so much more in command of my instrument now and my knowledge and skills have built up to a crazy level after all this time.
After your terrible accident do you feel your singing has changed in any way?
Yes. It’s better. It’s hard to explain why, but perhaps I’ve lost any inhibition or up-tightness that may have been holding me back before the accident. When you realize everything could end in an instant there’s no reason to hold back. Just be open and inhabit every moment fully, give it all you have and be free and easy.
Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip top shape all these years?
Some vocalists are silly. It’s very simple. Eat healthy food, get proper rest, learn technique. Don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, stay fit. Many singers, even famous ones, don’t understand their voice and live in a fearful world of mystery about it all. Every singer can keep growing and improving. You don’t have to have a diminishment in ability.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
Sadly, most of them have died. Maybe the Iron Maiden guys. It would fun to be in the cockpit of that big flying machine.
Is there any unreleased recorded material from your days in the bands you’ve been involved with that could be released?
Not much. Maybe some song demos from Coney Hatch. We generally released everything that we thought was good enough.
Do you have any plans to release another solo album?
No “plans” at present but I’m not discounting the possibility. It’s great fun to write music and record it. What’s not fun is hunting for a deal with the way labels are these days.
It would be remiss of me not to ask if there is a chance of any new Coney Hatch material being released?
New Hatch album is a maybe, depending on the labels, budgets, etc. We have live album from Germany with two new studio tracks coming out shortly (finally!)
With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?
Oh, how I wish. We missed the boat in January with the British Lion UK tour we booked. Everything was set for us to attend and the label had money woes which meant we had no budget. I’ve been looking into how we might be able to get a small Coney Hatch tour. It would have to be for love, not money, I’ll tell you that for nothing!
You appear to do some production work and writing for other bands, is this something you enjoy?
Yes, it’s rewarding to help another artist realize their vision through producing music for them. The writing on the other hand, is more of a thrill for me than the artist because it means somebody else loves your baby and wants to give it a home.
Do you have anything in the pipeline at the moment that you would like to share?
I’m finishing up (albeit slowly), a “Songwriter Demos” CD package for Andrew McNeice, the pride of Tasmania and his Melodic.Rock.com label for release in the autumn. That’s been fun to piece together and it will hold 50-60 songs. Strictly for those very interested in Carl Dixon and the era I came through I think!
Interview by Stuart Dryden