NineMSN Mark Seymour Profile

A general profile on Mark Seymour.

Author: Marianne Latham.

Date: 19 February 2006.

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Mark Seymour’s early musical influences are not what you might imagine. Although he was the lead singer with Hunters and Collectors, a band known for their thumping, industrial, raw sound, he grew up with a love of Irish folk songs.

“My mother taught us how to sing in harmony and we had we had a small little family choir and we used to go in talent quests and things like that in the country,” he says.

“She loved Irish music. In fact, that sort of music was far more important to me in my adolescence than, say, the Rolling Stones or the Beatles”.

Mark’s musical tastes soon changed after meeting up with a group of fellow students at university. They began a band and soon music became more important than the career as a teacher he had planned.

“Deciding to become a creative artist, I mean there was no money around, I just took that step and thought, look I’ll just hope for the best and just did jobs, did odd jobs, saved up and bought a microphone and mike stand and amplifier, which is somewhere in this room, and the rest is history really.”

And what a history it was.

Hunters and Collectors very quickly became the cult band to watch live.

“I remember seeing them a number of times at the Crystal Ballroom, which was a classic, classic venue in Fitzroy Street in Melbourne,” says record industry figure Michael Gudinski.

“And every time I went there there’d be bigger queues and bigger queues and we really were very keen to sign Hunters for quite a few months.”

Michael Gudinski, whose company was then Mushroom Records, developed a separate label, The White Label, especially for the band. He remembers that it didn’t always go so smoothly.

“The Hunters were very educated. They were very opinionated and they just didn’t want to fall into the music industry mire and swamp. They wanted their independence, they wanted to do things differently and they wanted to have control.”

Mark agrees.

“We were young, angry men who thought the world was about to end and you know our music was pretty much about that you know, Hunters and Collectors music at that time was very heavy and dark.”

Once they began recording, Hunters and Collectors became firm favourites in the charts with songs such as ‘Holy Grail’ and ‘Talking to a Stranger’, but it was the beautiful ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’, that become an absolute classic.

It has since been sung by many well-known artists, including, Neil Finn, Pearl Jam and Ben Harper.

But in 1998, the pressure of touring and performing became too much and the band broke up. It was time for Mark Seymour to embark on a solo career and, at first, it wasn’t easy.

“I really pretty much went right to the bottom,” he says.

“You know like the ego took a real beating. But then gradually I realised, really, one of the reasons why it’s really hard is that you don’t really know how to do it properly, and the more I played just with the guitar, the more I realised there is actually a whole different craft to this. It’s a whole different way of performing.”

Mark has recently put out a solo acoustic CD Daytime and the Dark with the Liberation Blue label, and is constantly touring. He is also writing music for film and television, writing his own songs and short stories about life on the road with Hunters and Collectors.

He is also acting and has had guest roles in television shows such as Stingers and Blue Heelers.

His acting coach, Aleksi Vellis, from The Film Space says, “In my experience, singers are born performers and they’re able to get into the heart of a song or the heart of its meaning or its emotion and sort of that’s what Mark comes into acting with. He’s kind of got that built in. He either connects with an audience or he doesn’t and that’s what he strives for on stage I think.”

Although Michael Gudinski told the Sunday program he gets goose bumps thinking about getting Hunters and Collectors to reform, Mark is ambivalent.

“Look I think it would be fun. I mean we did have a taste of it at the ARIA Hall of Fame gig a few months back, but I’m a very, very stubborn man and I’m quite enjoying my career as it’s going now and so I’m not going to step sideways unless someone else comes up with a way of making it a very smooth and comfortable transition.”