You’d be hard pressed to find an Australian who doesn’t know the Icehouse song ‘Great Southern Land’. It’s as iconic as vegemite on toast. In 40 years the band has had 28 platinum albums, eight Top 10 albums and more than 30 Top 40 singles. Their music transcends age and demographics. 

Yet, Icehouse’s founder and creative lead, Iva Davies, denies he’s one of the greatest lyricists of our time. From an early age he admired the likes of Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Joni Mitchell. “They have set a benchmark for me that I will never even go close to. In a way, it’s kind of depressing. When you admire somebody’s body of work, and then realise that you’ve only dipped your toe in the water. You know, you will never attain that kind of artistic success.”

It’s an incredibly incongruous belief for an award-winning, world-famous pop rock star from country New South Wales, who plays the bagpipes, oboe and guitar. Iva’s played in symphony orchestras and composed scores for ballets and Hollywood motion pictures, like Master and Commander. He pioneered the use of electric synthesisers in mainstream music. He’s been inducted into the Australian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was presented with an Order of Australia medal for services to music, entertainment and the community. 

Iva admits he’s received a lot of correspondence over the years about songs like ‘Don’t Believe Anymore’. “Many people have thanked me for writing that song,” he said. “It’s probably the most personal song I wrote. My own situation, which produced that song, was an incredibly unhappy period for me. One letter I received from an 18-year-old woman was in a dreadfully abusive situation and felt she had no way of getting out of it. When she heard that song, it kind of saved her life, because she realised that somebody was as unhappy as she was. Now that’s a bizarre kind of gift to give to the world in a way, but nonetheless, it means a lot to a lot of people. And I’m acutely aware of that.”

It’s one of the reasons Icehouse never tire of playing their hits. The other is the unpredictable nature of Icehouse, which has had 19 members in 40 years. “The dynamic of a band is a very fluid one. We allow variability … the show will never follow the script, which puts a lot of adrenaline into the evening and an element of excitement,” Iva said.  

The humble 68-year-old, who will perform at Lighthouse Rock at Burnett Heads this October, attributes Icehouse’s success to luck and support. “I was drawn to music at a very young age and incredibly lucky that I had good teachers,” he said. From there Iva just “jumped in at the deep end”. “I was making it up as I went along and just kind of winging it,” he said. 

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Lighthouse Rocks is on Saturday October 14 at Burnett Heads. For information about tickets and transport go to lighthouserock.com.au