Seymour Recollects Top Gig
A Tasmanian interview with Mark Seymour at the time of two solo gigs.
Author: Libby Bingham, The Advocate.
Date: 6 September 2013.
Mark Seymour, Australian musician and vocalist best known as the frontman and songwriter of rock band Hunters and Collectors, is playing two solo gigs in Devonport tonight and tomorrow night.
Seymour chats today in The Advocate about why he was born to do what he does and the upcoming gig with the reformed Hunters and Collectors, at one of the biggest sporting events in the country, the AFL grand final.
Crucible, a covers album of Hunters and Collectors songs performed by artists like Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn, Matt Corby and Missy Higgins, The Living End, The Rubens and The Panics, is just released.
Q: You are headlining the entertainment bill at the AFL grand final. Is it your first time there and the first gig with the band reformed?
Seymour: It’s the first time for Hunters to do the grand final gig. I’ve done it a couple of times already as a solo act. Hunters and Collectors have been asked to get back together to promote a new covers album the record company has put out called The Crucible, which is a collection of the band’s songs covered by Australian artists and some who are international. It’s been out for about a week and the grand final is one of the gigs we are doing.
We already reformed and did a V8 gig in Sydney a year and a half ago, which was a very big show, and we played at the ARIA hall of fame.
Q: Hunters and Collectors are renowned for legendary live gigs. What’s it like when you get back together for these special gigs?
Seymour: It’s very powerful and just exactly as it was when the band played
Q: You just slot right back into it?
Q: In the past, some of the acts to perform on AFL grand final day have produced terrible moments and they tend to linger. Thinking of Meatloaf most recently. Do you get nervous about it as an event of that size and nature?
Seymour: No, not really. It’s my third time and we’ve got a song which is synonymous with the (football) code (Holy Grail). For whatever reason it just happened (to become an AFL anthem) which is great. I just get out there and treat it like it’s a gig in my loungeroom. If you treat it like a little room that always seems to work for me, regardless of the size of the room. You can kind of get freaked out psychologically just by the scale and even by just doing some big rooms per se but I play a lot and I just focus in on the singing. You’ve got to remember it’s pre-match entertainment and the punters are really there to see the game.
Q: Australian acts are featured this year. Hunters and Collectors at half-time and chart-toppers Birds Of Tokyo in the lead-up. I think Tina Arena is singing the national anthem. That should all be good on the day.
Seymour: I think you’re right…it’s a great privilege and an honour to play at the grand final. I think the thing is not to try to make too much out of it (the pre-match entertainment). I think the AFL can try too hard to make a Superbowl type event out of it. To try to promote the game internationally and get as much television as they can and I understand that commercially. It makes sense to do that but I think the game has such an inherent destiny and it is such an exciting Australian game it’s as simple as that and we are an Australian band. They ought to just make that a rule to have Australian acts (at the grand final).
Q: Is it any different for you performing live after all these years?
Seymour: No. Well, I don’t get as stressed. There’s always this massive adrenaline challenge and I get nervous – but it’s what I was put on this earth to do. I’m a singer and I enjoy the work. I’m able to work a lot and I just keep at it because I really enjoy it, it’s as simple as that. I get a lot of satisfaction from the experience. I treat my audiences with all the respect that is due and we generally have a really good time. It’s a good transaction and feeling. That’s what I think it’s all about and I don’t see any reason to stop.
Q: Has your passion for music and what you are passionate about musically changed over your career so far?
Seymour: My music tastes have changed and have broadened. I tend to digest stuff from many eras, and I listen to singers. I am very interested in singers. I’m a huge Nina Simone fan; a big Springsteen fan. In terms of where I am looking for ideas I tend to cast a wide net. I’m interested in the psychology of singers, especially if they have endured. What keeps people motivated and interested and my singing itself has changed a lot. What I do and how I sing on stage has changed a lot in direct line with how I have changed emotionally over the years. Being in a rock and roll band and playing for an audience is the same.
Q: You mentioned Bruce Springsteen and you are touring with him in Australia next year – is that right?
Seymour: Hunters and Collectors are doing two big shows with Bruce Springsteen in Melbourne. I saw him last year and it’s the biggest show you’ve every seen with just a massive amount of energy. A lot of singing. Huge brass. Backing singers and guitars everywhere, it’s just a great show. If you get a chance to see that check it out.
Q: How is the Australian music industry now – has it changed?
Seymour: I think it’s a media myth the idea there was this golden era. How you get your music out there has changed and young musicians have cottoned on to that. You have only got to look at this album (Crucible the songs of Hunters and Collectors) and you think some of these people (performing Hunters and Collectors covers) were not born when the band was around. There is so much Australian talent out there and thriving and with You Tube and the internet the opportunity is there to get their music out.
Q: What is your advice to young musicians trying to get a start?
Seymour: You’ve just got to be really persistent and have self belief. There is not magic bullet though you have got to cover all your bases. You’ve got to learn to write good songs, that’s the first thing – there’s a lot of band songs out there. And there’s no easy way; you’ve got to learn to perform in front of audiences and test the material out. It’s very grassroots and that’s just what I did, it was just chipping away at it. There are lots of little individual things you’ve got to get right and underlying it all you have just got to have a maximum amount of self belief and the years will bear fruit. Persistence pays off.
Mark Seymour performs at Red Hot Music, Edward St, Devonport, tonight and tomorrow night. Phone: 6424 2286 or 6424 9816.