For Diesel, the blues are never far away. From Come to Me to last year’s Days Like These to his blues-based 1996 collaboration with Chris Wilson, Short Cool Ones, he’s always infused the spirit and the sound into his music.
But Diesel’s blues have never been as blues-to-the-wall as they are on Project Blues: Saturday Suffering Fools, a loose-limbed, fired-up trawl through the music that inspired one of Australia’s rock legends. “The album is like an encyclopaedia of what blues is to me,” Diesel says. “You’ve got your Chicago style from the ’50s, you’ve got the ’70s funkier blues, the feral mountain blues, and there’s an Australian tinge too, that colonial, convict blues.”
Rather than continuing down the same road as Short Cool Ones, the new album Project Blues: Saturday Suffering Fools takes a sharp left turn. “Having done the harmonica and guitar thing, I thought about the whole thing with horns,” Diesel recalls. That thought led straight to Bernie Bremond, erstwhile Johnny Diesel and the Injectors saxophonist who now lives and plays in Darwin. “He’s been down or I’ve been up there and we’ve jammed, but officially, we hadn’t done
any recording since 1991, when I left the band,” Diesel says. “It was really cool, it was like we picked up where we left off, but it was still obvious we’d done an awful lot in between – some things stay the same, some things change.”
So, has Diesel now done enough suffering for the blues to go another 13 years between drinks? “I don’t tend to stay on anything for too long – attention deficit disorder,” he admits. “I don’t think it’s ever left the building, but this has rekindled a want to infuse the blues in with my music again in a more obvious way.”