No Longer A Hunter, But Still Searching

A “Westgate” era article on Mark’s music and direction.

Author: Jeff Crawford, Messenger South Community News.

Date: 2 July 2007.

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Article Text

Mark Seymour no longer runs on the rock band treadmill he used to.

The former Hunters & Collectors frontman says he has found new ways of “doing what I do”.

These days the Melbourne singer/songwriter not only pens songs for himself, but also composes for film and theatre and even has his first book in the pipeline.

His recently released fifth solo album, Westgate, is the result of a theatre production he contributed to last year.

“It was about the 100th anniversary of the eight-hour working day … and I was asked to write, among other things, a song about the Westgate Bridge collapse,” Seymour says.

“I really had to take it very seriously, there was a lot of research, a lot of interviews … it really made me tackle songwriting on a much more objective, narrative level. Once I’d digested that I started thinking about a lot of other things, so I scrapped everything I’d written prior to that and it began the whole story of the album.”

Nearly 10 years into his solo career, Seymour sees these collaborations as a way of breaking the pattern that Hunters & Collectors and most other acts follow.

“When you’re in a band, you just go through this seasonal existence, where you’re touring and then you have a lay-off period and then you write material, put another album out, then you tour … it’s great, but it’s just one form of theatre that’s being repeated over and over again. You’re just inside this machine, and I did take quite a few years to come to grips with the fact that it wasn’t there any more.

“It only just dawned on me – quite recently, over the past couple of years – and I started looking for other ways of doing what I do.

“A lot has happened due to the consequences of that. I’m really busy, I’ve never been busier.”

Seymour also confronted the Hunters’ legacy, having spent years avoiding his earlier songs. The change of heart was sparked by recording acoustic versions of H&C classics on Daytime and the Dark (2005).

“The interesting thing about making that acoustic record was that it made me come to grips with the fact that I do have this big catalogue of material that I wrote the bulk of. You can’t really reinvent your identity once you’re established, there’s an identity in that material that is me, regardless of the subject matter.”

He says he feels liberated by jumping off the rock treadmill and being commissioned to write about challenging subjects.

“It’s given me a future. I’m just looking for ways to exercise my craft on a broader level than just putting albums out and hoping they get played on the radio.

“The issues are changing for me. I’m just getting older, I suppose.”

Mark Seymour – Governor Hindmarsh, Saturday (July 7). Bookings: Venuetix or the Gov.