Fault Lines shakes the norm: ​‘If I didn’t play how I do, I wouldn’t be where I am’

WORLD TOUR: Daniel Champagne will play the Mumbulla School for Rudolf Steiner Education hall on Saturday, June 17. Picture: Alasdair McDonald
WORLD TOUR: Daniel Champagne will play the Mumbulla School for Rudolf Steiner Education hall on Saturday, June 17. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Singer, songwriter and heart-stopping guitarist Daniel Champagne is bringing his new album Fault Lines, home to where it all began.

“I come back to Australia every year at this time, and if I only played 20 shows I would still come back,” the former Brogo resident said.

Champagne remembers his early exposure to music in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

“My earliest memory is being in a backyard in Oakleigh listening to my dad’s part time band rehearsing for their only ever show at the McKinnon Hotel,” he said with a smile.

Daniel Champagne's latest single All of My Stars.

After the family packed their bags and headed for the serenity of Brogo, he was immersed in music during his time at the local Steiner school, and guitar lessons with Dave Crowden.

“It was probably the isolation of Brogo that made me dedicate myself to the guitar, because there wasn’t much else to do,” Champagne said.

The time and space allowed him to look at his guitar in a different, which nurtured his unique style of percussive play.

“After learning classical guitar it made me realise I’d never get as good as [Andrés] Segovia, and at the time I was playing more steel string and saw its potential as an instrument has been studied much less,” he said.

“Most people study based on their own idiosyncrasies, and there’s more room in steel string guitar to make your own sound.”

"There's a lot about it I really love and a lot I really hate".

Daniel Champagne

Champagne’s approach to his new album, recorded in Nashville, Wallagoot’s Pirate Studio’s and The Alley in Melbourne, has led to internet forum rumours of the existence of two Daniel Champagnes – talk that brings a smile to his face.

“The single All of My Stars has me on an electric guitar that’s not mine, so there was debate on the internet as to whether it was really me,” he said.

“I’ve come to the realisation now that it may not be possible to replicate my live sound, so this record is very different to what you see live.”

The guitar has taken Champagne all the way to his new base in Nashville, and while life on the road isn’t all smooth sailing, even the worst times can have a silver lining.

“I’d just finished a Canadian tour and the plan was I’d fly from Annapolis to Nashville, but I got there and heard my friend had been refused entry to America because he had 3000 of my CDs in my car that he was driving,” he said.

“They thought he’d stolen the car and wanted him to pay all this tax, so he went back to a friends house in Vancouver and I had to fly back there and drive the 35 hour trip with him.

“We were sleeping next to the road along, and arrived two hours before the show, but it was at that show I met my new manager.”

The new album has been three years in the making, and it’s reflective of his growing maturity as an artist.

“I think I’m able to have an attitude where I’m very sure of what I’m able to do, and how to do it,” he said.

“One thing special about the album is there’s a string section on it.

“I learnt really bad fiddle at Mumbulla, but some of my friends have gone on to be international artists, so I got them on board.

“I was lucky enough to get Leif Helland, Jack Hobbs and Grace Hunt in the same place together for two days to record at Bournda with Geoffrey Badger and Dave Sparks.”

Champagne has been based out of Nashville in the state of Tennessee for a while, but he sees his roots as giving him a healthy perspective to experience the might of the music industry through.

“I think growing up on the South Coast you’re allowed to realise there’s more to life than money, whereas in America it’s more about money and fame,” he said.

“There’s a lot about it I really love, and a lot I really hate.”

With a name the same as a French sparkling wine, he said the constant the puns are unavoidable, but something he can see the funny side of.

“I’m going to do a tour of Canada where I only play ice rinks called Champagne on Ice, possibly with a Christmas theme,” he said with a laugh.

His talent and approach have seen him dubbed a virtuoso, but Champagne remains humble.

“I think it’s a word that doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to mean anymore,” he said.

“Nowadays I think it means someone who plays really well, and I think the child in me would love it more than I do now.

“If I didn’t play how I do, I wouldn’t be where I am.”

Champagne will play the Mumbulla School for Rudolf Steiner Education hall on Saturday, June 17 for $15, with support from Tim Winterflood.