Living Daylight Press Kit: Live Wire
Live Wire article on Hunters and Collectors again showing the American perspective.
Date: October 17, 1986.
When Melbourne, Australia’s Hunters & Collectors toured the States three years ago, they were not a happy bunch. Though their droning, percussive art-rock, punctuated by an off-kilter horn-section, was a cause celebre back home, the nine-piece outfit found mostly indifference when it landed in England and the US. To top it off percussionist Greg Perano and lead singer/guitarist, Mark Seymour were not on speaking terms, so it looked like the band – Australia’s Great Avant-Rock Hope – would splinter, under the weight of bad blood, bad deals, and bad times.
Back in Melbourne, Perano and guitarist Martin Lubran promptly left while Seymour, drummer Doug Falconer and bassist John Archer- took Hunters & Collectors in a different, more commercial direction. Though the stone age funk under-tow remains, the Hunters are now more of a pop band, and this side of them is on stunning display on their first LP for IRS Records, Human Frailty.Though the group took its name from a song by German exper- imentalists Can, and though Seymour was a roadie for Melbourne’s death-rock bad boys, the Birthday Party, Hunters & Collectors still recognize the power of pop. “We just started playing more rootsy, basic, Australian rock and roll,” explains Seymour by phone from Melbourne. “At the start of the band, we were writing pop arrangements but after we introduced percussion and the second guitar, it became more obscure and we began playing more drawn out music. So when the change came, I was able to orient the songs more around melodies.
Onstage recently in Auckland, New Zealand, Hunters & Collectors demonstrated why they are one of Australia’s best live attractions. Pared down to a six-piece onstage, the Hunters put on an intensely physical, bass-driven set that combined the power of the prehistoric with the intelligence of the information age. “Our music developed in a pub environment and it’s a cutthroat situation because you either cut the mustard or you don’t”, explains Seymour. “And you’re playing to redneck audiences in central New South Wales, and to highly sophisticated intelligentsia of Darlinghurst in Sydney. We just developed a style of being really blunt and physical on the musical level, but with the lyrics I wanted to make statements that were credible to both those types.”
Along with Midnight Oil, Hunters & Collectors is one of the few groups to earn the respect of both audiences. On the basis of Human Frailty, it’s easy to see why. While tracks like “Say Goodbye,” “Throw Your Arms Around Me,” and “99th Home Position” are almost primal in their simplicity, they dig deeper emotionally than standard-issue pop-rock.
But the most surprising element of their recent shows is the amount of humor and playfulness involved. Perhaps befitting Melbourne’s soggy climate and art-obsessed music scene, the Hunters used to take the stage with all the solemnity of the Philharmonic. With the intra-band struggles out of the way and Seymour throwing himself into physical culture when the time permits (he runs in 800 to 1500 meter races at home), there’s more of a spirit of sheer fun about the band. Says Seymour, “I started [running] near the end of school, but I stopped for awhile because I got into drugs very heavily and I was a bit fat and slow. Then, when this new music started happening, it created this new optimism, so I do it now to keep fit and to perform hard as well.”
Hunters & Collectors play the Roxy in Hollywood on October 11 – 12, Cal Poly Pomona on October 14, Back Door Theater in San Diego on October 16, the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on October 17, Kiss in Costa Mesa on October 18, the Rock Palace in Fresno on October 20, One Step Beyond in Santa Clara on October 22, and Wolfgang’s in San Francisco an October 23.
~ typed up by Caelie.