Dom Mariani - Popsided Guitar 1984-2004:
Dom recalls this period as a creative one during which he was flexing his songwriting muscles: "I remember a very positive vibe. The songs developing over a longer period of time. Road to Rome was recorded over an 18 month period. Sessions were interrupted by 2 to 3 month breaks. In that time new ideas would come and I'd approach a tune differently to the way I had originally intended. 'Something Heavy' is a good example of that. Originally it was to be more acoustic guitar driven, but I then had this idea of using Hammond organ on it. I asked Bob Patient to play something in the vein of 'Til I Die' (The Beach Boys) and it completely changed the feel of the song."
With Road To Rome released simultaneously in Australia and Europe the DM3 seemed to be on the verge of a major breakthrough internationally. Reviewers hailed the album as Dom's strongest-ever effort – not to mention, in an alterna-era still teeming with lapsed grunge bands, a long-overdue reclaiming of powerpop's primacy. Following a '96 European tour, however, circumstances forced the combo into an unforeseen hibernation, during which time Dom and his old Stems bandmates got back together for a handful of local reunion shows in February of '97. Eventually, though, sessions for the third DM3 album got underway, spreading out over a long period that saw bassist Italiano retiring and the Stems' Julian Matthews coming into the DM3 fold.
Rippled Soul, issued in August '98 (it was preceded by two 1997 compilations, the American-only best-of Dig It The Most, on Greg Shaw's Bomp! label, and the Citadel rarities set Garage Sale), reflected a group in transition. "The band was changing. The album was also recorded over another lengthy period and I guess it sounds a little patchy in places. It was great to have Julian in the lineup; his bass playing is quite distinctive on that album."
Yet with the clarity afforded by hindsight, it's obvious now that DM3 had just about run its course. Bassist Matthews left following an overseas tour, prompting another hiatus for the band. 1999 saw Dom and Bartolone back in the studio making the Just Like Nancy EP, the group's recorded swan song. Replacing Matthews with Mark Jenkins and adding Jeff Baker on guitar, DM3 toured Europe in November but split up after returning home. Dom briefly revived the name in 2001 for a short Italian tour, and to commemorate the overseas trek a second DM3 rarities set, Italian Style! Garage Sale Vol. 2, was released on the bands 1 2 3 Red Light label. But by this point Dom was already thinking about a project that had been gestating for some time.
Backtrack momentarily to 1986. That's when surf quartet The Stonefish, featuring Dom, guitarist Greg Hitchcock, bassist Velo Zupanovich and drummer Dave Shaw, surfaced long enough to record one-off EP - titled, appropriately enough, From 20,000 Fathoms.