Dancing Heals is a Melbourne-based four piece that tastefully weaves tales of nostalgia, angst and lust into melodic and memorable popular songs lying somewhere between the thump of Arcade Fire and delicacy of Nick Drake. They have just completed work their debut album with acclaimed producers and engineers Mandy Kane, Tony Espie (Brous, The Holidays) and Paul ‘Woody’ Annison (Children Collide, The Living End).

Within weeks of the album’s completion their new single “Live & Learn” was placed on a promo campaign in the US for NBC TV’s hit series Covert Affairs, their second US sync deal within twelve months. Last year’s single, “Diamonds” garnered airplay on US college and internet radio stations, including the influential KCRW.  Back home, the music video (by local filmmaker Tim White) for “Diamonds” received rotation airplay on ABC’s Rage, screening for five consecutive weeks. Jon-Lee Farrell, lead singer, took some time to hop into the Tone Deaf Spotlight…

What’s your earliest memory of performing and who inspired you to start?

My earliest memory of performing on a somewhat serious nature was at high school lunchtime concerts when we were 14 or so… doing terrible versions of songs like “Jerks of Attention” by Jebediah. Jebediah and other Australian bands of that time including You Am I, Silverchair, The Mavis’s were a big influence on starting a band.

You must answer this question honestly or we steal your rider. What and where was the first gig you went to?

The Cranberries at the Silverdome in Launceston, Tasmania! I was 13.

 ‘Fess up. What records have you stolen from your parent’s record collection and why?

I didn’t think their collection was very cool until I grew up and got over trying to listen to what was ‘cool’. At about 20 I discovered their Kris Kristofferson records which I still love for the amazing stories and simple classic song structures.

What’s on heavy rotation on your iPod right now?

Grouplove, J Mascis’s last solo album Several Shades of Why, M83’s last efforts and some In Utero.

How do you find new music?

YouTube. The radio. Dan (Trakell, the Heals’ singer/guitarist) trawls a lot of music blogs on the internet and always finds great new music.

Do you have any particular ritual before you go on stage, or even a lucky charm you take with you?

No rituals… sometimes a little hug.

If you could curate your own festival, where would it be, who would be on the bill, how many people would you let in and what features would it have?

It would be at a paddock somewhere about an hour out of Melbourne. There would be a small ticket fee and there would be the option to trade art for food, drinks, etc. in the style of Burning Man. The stages would feature diverse artists ranging from Paul McCartney to Arcade Fire, to Bruce Springsteen, to Air, to TV on the Radio, to Band of Horses, to Peaches….With a limit of 5000 people.

When you’re Rolling Stones Big, what are you going to request on your rider: don’t be shy. We want specifics!

Tortilla chips
Jameson’s Irish Whiskey
Don Julio Tequila
White towels
A golf buggy

Because it’s more fun to do things together, which living Australian artist would you most like to collaborate with? Tell us why?

Perhaps Luke Steele because of his diverse musical directions. He has some very over the top and eccentric ideas on songs and then a great craft for simple acoustic songs like the Let Your Love Be Love EP. I think he’d be a great collaborator for us to flesh out new ideas.

What is your band’s music the best soundtrack for?

Point Break. There’s a party, there’s a chase scene, there’s a love scene… a little bit of everything!

Where we can see you play next, what releases do you have available and where can we get them? 

Dancing Heals’ new single is a double a-side, titled “Live & Learn/Hillary May”, available on iTunes now. Following their Fuse Festival showcase at Adelaide’s Ed Castle this Thursday, Feb 23, the Melbourne launch for the single will be at the Toff in Town on Saturday 25 February with support from Them Swoops & Hayden Calnin and guest DJ Simon Winkler (3RRR).

Full launch dates: 

Adelaide – Thursday February 23 at the Edinburgh Castle (as part of FUSE Festival)

Melbourne – Saturday February 25 at the Toff in Town.

Sydney – Tuesday March 13 at FBi Social (Jurrasic Lounge Afterparty)

Newcastle – Wednesday March 14 at the Cambridge.