Aussie Group Going Strong
Canadian article around the time of the Living Daylight EP release in Northern America.
Author: Wilder Penfield III, Toronto Sun.
Date: 29 April 1987.
Original URL: N/A
Is it too late to call Hunters & Collectors the next small thing? You can see for yourself on the MuchMusic spotlight today at RPM May 21, and on most blocks you can still be the first one to own their Human Frailty, which was as vital a rock album as got released last year.
Eventually the rest of the world is going to catch up and make these Aussies the current big thing, but right now they have the unforgettable fire that U2 really had in the days of Boy, October and War – plus their own increasingly horny sound and passionate purpose.
For example, on the opening track of their new EP, Living Daylights, frontman Mark Seymour is raging, Clash-style: “I’ll live on the dole or I’ll die in the dust / If they turn up the shift then the strike we must / The company’s here by the money’s all gone / But I’m still digging, I’m still strong!”
And then there’s a pacific chorus of affirmation: “We will not die, and it is no crime / Ya take the whole world upon ya shoulders for the very last time.”
Seymour, who writes the words he sings, tells me that the songs is really about Broken Hill, and old silver and zinc mining town on the edge of the desert between Adelaide and Brisbane. The band stopped over one night en route. “It’s a pretty amazing anachronism. Our bass player John hit upon the idea of doing a gig there… and we met a lot of young kids who were growing up in Broken Hill and had never been out of town – never been to a capital city, never seen the sea.
“As well, at the time we were there, the miners were out on strike, and while the entire town is controlled by the union and is going through a gradual decay, the miners have this incredible sense of pride in the place. And I had an image of Atlas holding up this society with his arms.”
The author, however, has obscured his tracks. “The language in the lyric isn’t that specific,” he admits. “It was more the sentiment I wanted to get across.”
But he’s being more direct than he used to be. “I’ve always thought that music really matters,” he says, “and I’ve always taken the whole process seriously, but it’s only been in the last couple of years that we’ve started trying to make really clear, obvious statements. Because there’s so much of living that people forget, but there’s always a song or two that documents the power of any period of your life, and when you have this hit of dejà vu, it puts you in touch with yourself.”
“A lot of times you can actually get a point across better by avoiding rhetorical language. In taking a subject that is extremely depressing, instead of telling the audience, ‘This is what I’m talking about, and isn’t it awful, and you should think it’s awful too,’ you can put yourself in the position of the person doing the act, so that you come across as ugly and the audience can see what you’re talking about acted out in a really personal way.”
We’ll be able to preview maybe half of the songs from the fifth Hunters & Collectors album, scheduled for October release. “What seems to be taking shape gradually has less angst and more of a sense of accepting the world and our place in it. And it’s more atmospheric; we’re doing more jamming, more grooves with more of an open-ended feel. It’s quite accessible, probably quite commercial, but cooler, there’s sort of an Astral Weeks-y feel to it.”
Even if it doesn’t make them the next big thing, you’ll have to catch them now to say you saw them when.
Thankyou to Roger Brown for typing out this article.