Hunters & Collectors Reunite for Sound Relief
An article about Hunters and Collectors reforming for Sound Relief.
Author: Cameron Adams, Herald Sun.
Date: 12 March 2009.
Original URL: http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25175180-5006024,00.html
Hunters & Collectors were never going to get back together. So are they happy to be back?
Michael Gudinski has three words to describe his shock at Hunters & Collectors re-forming: Hell freezing over.
Hunters frontman Mark Seymour isn’t quite so dramatic.
“Michael likes a big statement,” Seymour says.
Indeed – Gudinski excitedly watched as the band re-formed for their first official photoshoot since their split in 1998 for extrahit’s cover this week.
As the Hunters assembled in the bowels of the MCG to be taken on to the hallowed turf for the photo, Gudinski punctured what Seymour called an “uncomfortable” mood.
“He walked into the room and said ‘Afternoon Comrades’,” Seymour says.
It was a reference to Seymour’s band biography Thirteen Tonne Theory, in which the singer referred to his Hunters bandmates as communists.
“That was an incredibly ironic comment in the book but Michael doesn’t give a s— about subtlety,” Seymour says, laughing.
“Put it this way, Michael Gudinski is extremely excited.”
He’s not the only one.
This is the surprise re-formation no Hunters fan expected to ever see; the best-case scenario happening for the worst possible reasons.
“In a strange way if that pre-existing event (the Black Saturday bushfires) hadn’t happened the band wouldn’t have got back together, it’s as simple as that,” Seymour says.
“Once we all agreed we were going to do this we all tacitly accepted we have to get completely involved in the energy of the band and what it did.
“We have to recreate that energy, which from a social point of view, is a pretty unusual thing for anyone to do. It was many many years ago that we played.
“But what underpinned it all was that we were asked to do it to raise money to benefit all these people who suffered from the fires.”
The call to re-form Hunters was one of the first Gudinski made; “that set the pace for everyone,” the promoter says.
Once the band discussed the plans – via email – and decided to reunite came the obligatory rehearsals. Seymour says they’ve been “interesting”.
“The rehearsal process is as much about just getting comfortable being in a room with people who haven’t really spoken a great deal to each other for many years as anything else,” Seymour says.
“Everyone seems to know the material, just because we played it for so many years. On top of that there’s the dimension of the rock factor, getting comfortable with volume and dynamics and the whole musical journey you have to go on to make that sort of music really powerful. It’ll be good, we’ll play really well on the day.”
He baulks when asked if his book was discussed among the band members – Seymour wrote about his disatisfaction with the band’s democratic financial split regardless of songwriting input.
“The way the band structured itself was a source of frustration for me and I think for many of the others,” Seymour says. “It’s just I was the one who happened to write the book.”
Seymour’s book details the tensions that led to the band’s demise and his subsequent solo career.
But there was a breakthrough at Wednesday night’s rehearsal.
“People were laughing,” Seymour says. “Or I was. That was a watershed. As with all bands, you have to warm to the company you’re in. The physical fact of playing the music has helped. We were all a bit uncomfortable with each other when we first turned up.
“When we did the (MCG) photo because we weren’t physically doing anything but standing around. It’s obvious we were all uncomfortable about being there. It was interesting to observe that process of just trying to come to terms with being there together.
“That’s as much about the eclectic nature of what we’re like. We’re all really strong, big egos. We’re all different temperaments. You couldn’t get a more disparate bunch of people. The only reason we were there was we were going to play this music together.
“I think that really reflects in the way the band sounds. This band has a chemistry that is unique. We have a very intense, mechanical rhythm section. It’s almost brutal in its level of power.”
It’s that power Gudinski is looking forward to as one of the band’s big fans.
“They’re one of the most iconic Australian bands of all time,” Gudinski says.
“They’ve always been the people’s band, a very, very Melbourne band. They’re a band that never sold out and never will.”
There is a nice sideline for Seymour as well as raising money for those who need it – it’s the first time his kids will see him with his old band.
“People will see an array of groups that cover three generations, and many will be seeing certain bands for the first time, including my own children, which is fantastic,” Seymour says.
Despite claims from Gudinski about the band turning down re-formation offers in the past, Seymour says they’ve never been asked. Presumably because people knew the answer.
“Bands get back together for business reasons as much as anything else.
“In this case there is no financial incentive at all.”
And don’t expect this reunion to be more than a one-off.
“This,” says Seymour emphatically, “is it.”
Sound Relief, $75, Ticketek.