Dion Mariani is of near rock n roll folklore in this town. As a member of The Flairz back in the noughties – Australia’s much-hyped tween rock group – the man (boy) was thrust into an LA label war that intended to make them into an outfit as massive and polarising as The Jonas Brothers (said band’s manager was primed to sign them up to a major label, multi-album deal). Big Money was tossed about, but ultimately the band decided that giving up their normal teenage upbringing for a soul-altering Hollywood experience would be detrimental to their overall development.
Fast forward to when they left a Fremantle High School and former Flairz bandmate Scarlett Stevens shot to national fame again as the drummer for pop group San Cisco. With old man Phil Stevens – the man behind John Butler and The Waifs – at the helm the band took few wrong turns and despite being an acquired taste they beat the hype-machine around breakout single ‘Awkward’ and became a household name.
Meanwhile, Mariani was basking in the shadow not only of Stevens, but also of his very own highly-rated uncle, Dom Marinani of 80s Mod hero’s The Stems. That’s not say he wasn’t up to mischief. Nor that he wasn’t prolific. Aside from managing local bands and helping promoters at major Perth venues book the best bands and drain kegs, he was also having a crack in white-hot indie bands like Custom Royal and Ray Finkle. When he wasn’t playing and recording original material he was manning the fort in cover bands to pay the bills.
Anyone who’s seen Mariani play guitar never forgets it. You can tell the man’s had an axe in his hand since before he could spell. The pedigree (Harrison, Hendrix, Townshend, Richards etc) is perfect and the performance is always impassioned and utterly compelling with undeniable ‘I’m-in-the-centre-of-the-universe’ presence.
We now come to Marinani’s latest musical foray, simply titled ‘Better Tonight’ under the new moniker, Vancool. It’s a belter of a track that sounds like it was recorded on the beach in Malibu as opposed to his mate’s garage. The guitar tone is pure Harrison in the leads and solid Davey Lane, You Am I-esque in the rhythm. He played every instrument on it. The lyrics are simple and effective and one suspects they’re about holding onto life-affirming ambition. It’s the perfect track to accompany a sunny spring morning when everything in life seems achievable and just plain good. Put simply, the world needs more of this music. Mr Mariani, it’s a pleasure to have you back.