GNT Mark Interview
George Negus Tonight (GNT) interview with Mark Seymour on Hunters, acting and life in general.
Author: Brendan Hutchens.
Date: Broadcast 3 September 2003.
Original URL: http://www.abc.net.au/gnt/people/Transcripts/s938762.htm
Broadcast 6.30pm on 03/09/2003
Mark Seymour reached Australian rock cult status throughout the 80’s and 90’s as the lead singer for Hunters and Collectors. Performing around the world and being on show is what he’s always done best. Now that Hunters and Collectors have broken up, what’s life like for Mark Seymour? Brendan Hutchens visits Mark and finds that he’s discovered a flare for a different kind of performance and he’s had to start from the very bottom…
GEORGE NEGUS: Well, the last really big band that it happened to was probably Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil. When a band disbands, as it were, where does that leave the individuals involved – the people who relied on the band and its music for their living? You’d have to remember Mark Seymour, lead singer with the legendary Hunters & Collectors. Well, here’s, these days, a different Mark with Brendan Hutchens.
BRENDAN HUTCHENS, REPORTER: Hunters & Collectors hold a special place in the heart of Australian rock music. They were the quintessential pub band who took their music to the people and to the suburbs. They enjoyed huge success and adulation.
MARK SEYMOUR: We were a pretty, kind of, serious, intellectual bunch, but we really liked to party. And, er… We loved bands.
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and ‘Holy Grail’, in particular, became anthems for a generation. But like all good things, it came to an end.
MARK SEYMOUR: The end of Hunters & Collectors was a very sad episode, I think. It’s taken me a long time to get over it. I don’t think I’ll ever be over it, honestly.
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: A change of direction late in your working life is a challenge most people can appreciate. But rather than fearing the prospect of having to learn something new, for some, it comes as a timely breath of fresh air.
MARK SEYMOUR: Haven’t started.
(FOOTAGE OF RED ’70s CAR)
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: This the one you go cruising in?
MARK SEYMOUR: That’s the one. Slowly.
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: It’s a rock’n’roll car.
MARK SEYMOUR: I kept getting asked to audition for films by people, you know? I had no kind of, you know… I hadn’t sort of investigated what it took to become an actor. I got to audition for some fairly interesting films and didn’t get them – didn’t get the parts, you know?
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: But the casting agents and directors were seeing something in Mark, and he decided to explore the avenue further. So Mark Seymour, rock star, became Mark Seymour, burgeoning actor, and the change of direction seems to be doing him good.
MARK SEYMOUR: The thing I’m finding really interesting about it is it’s almost like there’s no limit to how good you can be as an actor. You know, there’s just…there’s no limit to it. You can just go on and on learning about it, really.
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: Mark is finding his feet as an actor, and after a few short films, he’s landed his first role in a stage production.
MARK SEYMOUR: It’s called ‘Matilda Goes Down’. It’s about a girl who has a depressive personality – she has a psychological disorder – and I’m her dad. (Laughs)
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: Starting again at the bottom of the ladder is one of the pitfalls of a change of career. But for Mark, the sacrifice is worth making.
MARK SEYMOUR: Early on, it was hard. I think I was quite, um…paranoid about the fact that everyone I was dealing with was half my age. But then I kind of… The thing that gradually dawned on me was that people in their early 20s sort of have this…it reminded me what I was like at that age. I really believed the world was my oyster and that I had unlimited potential.
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: Younger contemporaries also have the advantage of being able to keep up with Mark.
MARK SEYMOUR: The thing I love about working with young people is that they have this boundless enthusiasm, especially actors. I do like being told what to do. I really enjoy being directed. I’m not actually in the hot seat, you know? I’m part of a team of people who are sort of bringing this thing up, you know? And that’s really…that’s a big relief.
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: It’s opening night, and all the hard work in rehearsals is put to the test in front of a live audience for the first time. Mark is a seasoned performer and the stage is no stranger to him. But this isn’t a pub full of rock’n’roll-loving revellers. It’s a very different crowd altogether.
(Seymour sings) # I’m just a man with communication problems
# Some people say… #
MARK SEYMOUR: To be honest, I don’t really think there is any difference. Whether it’s 2,000 or, you know, 50, the stakes…you know, the issues are still the same. You know, you’re still engaged in the act of performing. If you can’t walk out in front of the crowd and just turn something on, then you’ve got no business being there, you know? And I think that’s something that I’ve really grasped, you know – that really excites me.
MARK SEYMOUR: Use the other one.
ACTRESS: The kitchen table? We can’t have guests at the kitchen table. No, we need the dining room table, Fred.
MARK SEYMOUR: Why? It’s only Anne and Malcolm.
ACTRESS: Oh, Fred! I need the table to serve my nice china. The china won’t look nice on the kitchen table.
MARK SEYMOUR: Well, if it’s nice china it’ll look nice anywhere.
ACTRESS: Oh, Fred!
BRENDAN HUTCHENS: After years of being known for one thing, Mark has shed his skin and reinvented himself. He’s having fun and building a new career at the same time.
MARK SEYMOUR: The thing about the acting is that it enables me to, you know, exercise all this creative energy outside the music industry and outside of being Mark Seymour, that guy in that band. (Laughs)
GEORGE NEGUS: Mark Seymour – no longer “that guy in that band,” as he put it so nicely himself.