Walking On His Own
Mark talking about solo life and the upcoming Seventh Heaven Club album.
Author: Tyler McLoughlan, Time Off.
Date: 7 November 2012.
Original URL: https://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/mark-seymour/
As a songwriter that holds a special place in the heart of Australian culture, Mark Seymour tells Tyler McLoughlan that it’s not enough to simply be that guy from that band.
With studio duties complete on his next record Seventh Heaven Club, Mark Seymour is in the midst of sorting the promotional aspects of the release ahead of this month’s national tour when Time Off catch up with him. “Well, it’s an interesting record; it’s a mixture of covers and originals, which is pretty unusual for me – I normally do all originals. I’ve decided to collect songs that I’ve performed over the years in my live shows; they all happen to have the one thing in common which is that they were love songs… and I’ve just written songs as well to complement the theme,” he said of the forthcoming March 2013 release, inspired initially by one of his favourite songs to cover live, Dave Dobbyn’s Beside You.”
As one of Australia’s most loved songwriters, Seymour hits the road nearly every second weekend, jetting to far-flung mining towns, expat communities in Asia and destinations that even his role as frontman of Hunters & Collectors didn’t take him. And though one would imagine an artist of such heritage could dine out on past successes very easily, as a solo artist the reality has been quite different.
“The biggest problem I faced as a writer when Hunters & Collectors ended was just a crisis of credibility I think,” he admits candidly. “Trying to get some objectivity and some sort of accurate measure of your own worth as an artist was quite difficult for me for a few years just because that band really overshadowed me. I mean, it was like having to work out what Mark Seymour was on about, and I can’t say I had any epiphanies, it was just a gradual process of writing good material and a couple of decisions I made a few years ago.
“One particular one was that I wasn’t gonna commit anything to tape when I was writing unless I was absolutely convinced it was gonna work and I was actually gonna promote it on the stage for several months and not just drop the songs, ’cause so often that happens with artists. They make a big song and dance about their new record and the media talk about their work – regardless of how much credibility they’ve got artistically – and they only end up playing two or three songs from their record, and I just didn’t want to fall into that trap again and I’d done it many times… So instead of [fans] just sort of coming along expecting to hear the old hits, there’s a interest in my new material,” Seymour explains.
Hitting the road through five states this month in trio mode, he’ll stay true to his word of focusing on solo compositions, as well as cherry picking the tracks from his Hunters & Collectors catalogue that best fit with his persona as Mark Seymour – the artist – in 2013.
“We’ve been rehearsing it like nobody’s business, so there’ll be new material in the set and solid stuff from Undertow, some material from the album before – Westgate. I mean, it’s a big catalogue – it just keeps getting longer!” he chuckles, trying to figure out the total number of solo records Seventh Heaven Club will bring him to. “I think this one will be ten, so yeah it’s getting there. The magic number for me is to have sustained a solo career for more than 17 years, which is basically what Hunters & Collectors did, and I’m up to 15. Oh, nothing will change,” he says flippantly of looking forward to the extraordinary career milestone. “I’ll just put a big cross in my diary!”
Mark Seymour will be playing the following shows:
Thursday 22 November – Wellers Of Kangaroo Groun, Melbourne VIC
Friday 30 November – Charles Hotel, Perth WA
Saturday 1 December – Grand Boulevard Tavern, Joondalup WA