Mark Seymour Says No To Writing New Hunters & Collectors Material

Article on the 2014 reformation of Hunters and Collectors – confirming that no new material will be written,

Author:  Steve Bell, The Music.

Date: 26 October 2013.

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Hunters & Collectors were one of the defining bands of the Australian scene throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, their powerful, hard-hitting aesthetic and tireless work ethic forging them a massive following during the death throes of the previously lucrative pub circuit and beyond. They didn’t always achieve the critical acclaim that they clearly warranted but they always possessed a large and fervent fanbase, their years of hard work having transformed them into a consistently taut live proposition.

And then of course there were the songs. Everyone these days knows the ubiquitous Hunnas hits such as Holy Grail, Throw Your Arms Around Me and Say Goodbye, but they had in their armoury a clutch of anthemic numbers which acted like a panacea to their sweaty and adoring throngs, the sense of community in those packed pubs and clubs almost sacrosanct.

On the eve of their long-awaited comeback – first prompted by an offer to support Bruce Springsteen, which quickly morphed into a full-scale reunion tour – Hunters & Collectors’ frontman and songwriter Mark Seymour is reflecting on how the pub circuit shaped his band back in the day, given how unforgiving the crowds could be to bands that didn’t have their shit together.

“Yeah I think it did, I think it refined our sound,” he concedes. “Although the last thing we did in ’98, I guess you could call it a pub tour but it was so big – we were playing to such big crowds – that it sort of developed into a sort of concert-like environment, which is why we ended up being able to play okay when we did [massive 2009 bushfire benefit] Sound Relief. We’d just learnt a lot of things about how to play as a big presentation. I think to get out of the pubs and to play on a bigger stage in Australia without actually having any significant international success is a pretty hard thing to pull off, because in the end you’ve still got to play in Australia. You’re not going anywhere else.”

Seymour wrote at length about his tenure in Hunters & Collectors throughout excellent 2008 memoir Thirteen Tonne Theory, and one of the most interesting aspects was the band’s regimented internal dynamic – it functioned almost like a union rather than a run-of-the-mill rock band.

“I think there’s an element of honesty there that endured. Look, ticking my own box, I tend to bring that out in people,” Seymour laughs. “I’m not frightened of stepping up – if an issue has to be addressed, it has to be addressed straight away. I just think that there was a real hard, fierce sense of identity and determination in that group that enabled it to last as long as it did, even though we had quite mixed commercial fortunes. But I think that everybody really enjoyed performing. The gigs were always really exciting – some were better than others of course – but we always enjoyed that, which sort of saved us.”

He’s since forged a respectable solo career, but if all went well on this impending reunion could Seymour ever imagine writing for Hunters & Collectors again?

“No,” he states emphatically. “I’m not going to do it. I’ve been asked a few times, but I just won’t cross that line. I definitely stepped away. The thing is that the last couple of albums were really difficult to make, and I pretty much pulled my head in. The beauty of the band was its willingness to keep pressing on, but when Hunters came back and we made [1998’s final album] Juggernaut, which was… okay – I wouldn’t say it’s great – but I was just really struggling to find a way to put really catchy choruses in there: all the basic songwriting tricks, my toolkit, I’d just lost it.