Seymour Solo

A general “Westgate” era interview with Mark Seymour.

Author: Vaughan Mayberry, Cairns Post.

Date: 13 July 2007.

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Mark Seymour has the ode to the average Australian down pat, writes Vaughan Mayberry.

It’s been almost a decade since Mark Seymour’s beloved Melbourne rock outfit Hunters & Collectors split.

But despite going solo, nothing much has really changed for one of Australia’s most accomplished songwriters.

Seymour still holds the plight of ordinary Aussie battlers close to his heart and it again has surfaced in the release of his fifth solo album Westgate.

“It’s a set of songs about people I’ve actually met,” he says from a hotel lobby in Melbourne as he prepares for another sojourn around Australia.

“Stories told by others – all true stories.

“I like that they’re all invisible and had to confront difficult periods in their life.”

Westgate follows his 2005 release and was a labour of love for Seymour with the tracks evolving from his song writing from the theatre production.

And there is a distinct change of tactic musically for Seymour.

He takes on a more folk-driven ballad style, driving away from the contemporary rock and pop ditties he became accustomed to on his previous four efforts.

The lyrics revolve around the forgotten tragedies and hidden triumphs of people he knew or had spoken to from the heart of Melbourne’s working class western suburbs – situated near the Westgate Bridge.

Seymour has produced a bunch of stories based on post-Second World War trauma, with the centrepiece – and title track – about the Westgate Bridge collapse in 1970.

Seymour went to great detail researching the background for the track, watching footage, reading many books and even trudging through transcripts from the Royal Commission into the disaster.

“There was something very apocalyptic about it – something that big falling down,” he says about the Westgate Bridge collapse.

“It’s an event that doesn’t come up for mention that often.

“But it has been affecting people in some way and I thought it needed more attention.”

The album was also a chance for Mark to spend some time with his brother Nick – the bass player from the recently reformed Crowded House – who lives in Ireland.

Much has been written in the media over the years about their sometimes estranged relationship and their completely opposite personalities and song writing abilities.

Ironically the pair has both been involved in the release of an album recently – Crowded Houses’ Time On Earth came out last month.

But Nick found time to play bass on many of the tracks on Westgate.

And despite rumours and innuendo about their strained relationship the pair has collaborated on most Mark’s solo projects so far.

Mark Seymour performs at the Vertigo Bar this Saturday from 10pm and Sunday night from 9pm.