“So we did that big tour with Kiss and Motley Crue and then ended up doing a few more tours overseas with Australian Defence,” says Sheree “Shaz” Newton, casual as you like, as if that’s what a rock chick naturally does every day of the week.
And truth be told, that’s exactly what any self-respecting Rock Chick should be doing! The occasion was Kiss’ international 40th anniversary tour, which kicked off in Perth Arena end of February 2013 and saw Diva Demolition open for not only Kiss and Motley Crue but the resurrected Thin Lizzy in eight huge shows across the country before finishing mid-March in Mackay’s Virgin Australia Stadium. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the nation. Even more so when you realise Shaz didn’t mention that before those particular Australian Defence tours – and she’s done six of them, playing Timor Leste, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, in one lineup or another – Diva Demolition had gone straight into dates opening for Aerosmith and The Dead Daisies in Melbourne and Auckland, New Zealand. And the Diva had only really been together a few months at the time, so cop that!
Diva Demolition had evolved out of another band Shaz had been in since 2005 by the name of Legless. An all-grrl band, Legless had come together as part of a recording mentorship for female musicians called Show Us Your Riffs, one of those innovative things Adelaide is renowned for. Oh yeah, I should have mentioned Shaz is an Adelaide girl, though she’s been based up in Brisbane for a few years now. Then again, have band, will travel – Shaz is a true Rock’n’Roll Road Hog, so watch out – the Diva’s comin’ to town!
Shaz has been besotted with the guitar since her parents gave her one when she was all of four years old. That guitar saw her through school and into university, where she did a degree in jazz – what do you want? They weren’t offering a degree in rock’n’roll! She did that on the side, playing in bands all through her uni days; all sorts of bands, rockabilly to surf to indie/alternative, you name it. Adelaideans still remember those sellout Rockabilly Kustom Kulture shows. As for the surf thing, that comes from her dad, who used to play Shadows and surf instrumentals to her when she was barely out of the cot. No way was Sheree Newton NOT going to end up a musician! Even a particularly nasty car accident in 1995 couldn’t keep this Rock Chick down. As painful as it was, that was probably easier to bounce back from than that crazy old business of falling in love and breakin’ up heartache business – though at least that gives you plenty to write songs about! Along the way, Shaz picked up an international Gibson and Epiphone guitar endorsement, and sold out her own show at the 2008 Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Anyway, along comes Legless, which even managed a tour of Japan, and then its bastard offspring Diva Demolition, launching their album Like It Too Much on that 2013 Kiss/Motley Crue/Thin Lizzy tour. The following year, a song Shaz co-wrote titled Together made it onto that perennial Australian soap, so beloved in the UK, Neighbours, while in 2015, a remix of the Diva Demolition track Can’t Wait by multi-Grammy Award-winning American, Lawrence Fordyce, reached #16 on the US DJ Charts. And then there have been the Diva Demolition comic books, which follow the Diva’s transformation into a Rock Chick with superhuman powers! Stay tuned, there are more in the works.
Then came Delve Deeper. The songs for that album were written on the road in Europe, with the initial recording done in Hogfarm Studios in Sweden, and THAT was quite the adventure, let me tell you: “We picked up some work, playing in bands in clubs and pubs and got on a couple of festivals and it was bloody great,” Shaz explains, “lived out on a country property in Croatia which the drummer owned.” The Divas had gone over without a drummer and picked one up when they got there. The only problem was this guy didn’t work out.
“We found another drummer, had major accommodation issues and ended up sleeping on trains, got an apartment in Croatia but then had Illegal Alien issues, not being able to stay in the country for more than three months. So I confused the shit out of border patrol all through the EU, getting all these stamps in my passport, and of course they’re so damned lazy my passport was a mess of stamps; anyway, got through it all. A friend in Adelaide hooked us up with a bloke in Sweden, who invited us up to play two festivals (the Vasteras City Festivals), but we had to make our own way there – 2000 ks from Croatia! ‘Don’t worry, we’re on!’ Found our way up there and instead of getting paid for the concerts, he gave us accommodation… and a recording studio… and food… and ways to get around. It was so good.”
As it happens, some old friends from Brisbane decided to visit Croatia and expected Shaz to meet them, so back to Croatia went the Divas. Then, out of the blue, “The Dead Daisies were touring through there and David Lowy said, “Can you get over to Zurich?” – Fuck yeah!! Overnight train – I do not recommend sleeping on trains in Europe!”
Back in Australia, however, things didn’t quite work out. Let’s just say relations within the Diva soured so spectacularly that on the final concert of a “blues” phase of the band that was never meant to be, Shaz spectacularly smashed her guitar – “At a blues festival! And it’s all up on YouTube!!” Lucky she’s got a guitar sponsorship!!
The down side of things was that she found herself homeless, couch surfing for some four months before she finally pulled herself together, recovered her confidence, locked herself away in her room to write, got her head together again… and learnt to sing!
The past few months have seen her back in the saddle playing solo gigs all over, but her heart is still very much in Diva Demolition, so to that end, Shaz has been recording with Robbie James (GANGgajang), who recorded the vocals on the two Diva singles, then will be doing the album with Paul McKercher, whose produced albums for artists as diverse as Eskimo Joe and Sarah Blasko. Diva Demolition will be relaunching themselves at the March 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival. Oh, and she’ll be sneaking in a surf guitar side project as a bonus.
You’ve been warned – get ready to ROCK…