Seymour Flix

An interview with Mark before his Canberra Flix in the Stix gig.

Author: Matt Petherbridge, BMA Magazine Canberra.

Date: 15 February 2011.

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The open air experience is big. We’ve had some absolute pearlers

Mark Seymour knows all about telling stories. The former (or current) Hunters and Collectors frontman (depending on the occasion), is currently travelling around regional Australia showcasing a contingent of great Australian and overseas short films as part of Flix in the Stix. No stranger to civic events, Seymour has been performing two sets in between the short films to great success. With the tour set to end in the picturesque National Botanical Gardens, he caught up with BMA’s Matt Petherbridge about the tour so far, the marriage of music and film and details on his upcoming album.

“Although the shows are weather dependent, the contrasting entertainment is a winner! I had my doubts, but the novelty [of the idea] attracted me,” Seymour muses. “The open air experience is big. We’ve had some absolute pearlers. Orange was a stand out the other night!” I admit to him at this point that when I first heard the Hunters and Collectors classic Holy Grail at eight years of age, the lyrics painted the story in my mind without ever seeing the music video. Given the nature of his upcoming performance, I put the question to Seymour about whether he thinks that the marriage of music and visuals can impinge on the imagination.

“Not at all,” he states. “I love music videos. They’ve always varied in quality, just as bands and performers do. Punters will always free associate, it’s entirely personal.” Speaking of personal relationships with art, Seymour continues to have mixed feelings about his old band Hunters and Collectors. “The band was bloody huge and it still gets ignored mostly when the gurus write their occasional retrospectives, so I’ll take the accolades however they fall.”

He implores me to read all about the band’s history in his memoir Thirteen Tonne Theory, referring to the chapter Great Idea for a Song as “funny in a tragic way”, pointing out similarities between the exchanges from his band and Metallica’s in their documentary Some Kind of Monster. From the man who wrote Holy Grail about Napoleon’s march to Moscow on a lark during an otherwise dreary recording session, Seymour has long been regarded as one of Australia’s best storytelling songwriters. He describes his collaboration with Australian poet Geoff Goodfellow, Tobruk Pin, which follows the story of “a big industrial accident and the consequent worker solidarity it inspired” from his 2007 album Westgate as one of his proudest songwriting moments.

However, Seymour remains upbeat about what continues to inspire his songwriting. “My thoughts change all the time; I’m constantly chasing the muse. I get bored easily, which of course fails to explain why I remained true to the band for 18 years. I have to say, that was a fairly long winded aberration!”

Catch Mark Seymour live at Flix in the Stix, held at the Australian National Botanic Gardens on Saturday February 26. Tickets are available through Moshtix.