Hunters and Collectors – Demon Flower Interview
A promotion only interview disc to accompany Hunters and Collector’s 1994 album “Demon Flower”.
Released In: [Australia / NZ].
Release Date: May 1994.
Australian Chart Position: (Promo only).
Availability: Extremely rare. Not available new.
Version: Mushroom Records Australian CD album.
Album length: 19 minutes, 55 seconds.
ReplayGain loudness: +1.98dB (2004).
- About Demon Flower
- About “Easy”
- About the new sound
- About “Panic In The Shade”
- About “Back In The Hole”
- About “The One and Only You”
- About “Mr. Bigmouth”
- About “Courtship of America”
- About “Drop In The Ocean”
- Back announcement for “Drop In The Ocean”
- About “New Born”
- About “Tender”
- About “Desert Where Her Heart Is”
- About current plans
- About “Betrayer”
- About “Ladykiller”
Q: The Hunters and Collectors have just released their tenth album. It’s called Demon Flower and we have here in the studio two members of the band to talk about the album.
Barry: Oh hi, I’m Barry Palmer from Hunters and Collectors.
Mark: What do you do Barry?
Barry: I play guitar mate, what about you?
Mark: Very loud too, aaah, I’m Mark Seymour, the singer from Hunters and Collectors
Barry: Play guitar too
Mark: A bit, yeh, not too much, it’s a bit unhealthy.
Q: Why choose “Easy” as the first taste of the new album?
Barry: I don’t know, “Easy” seemed to sit kind of in the middle of all of them and sum up the album musically anyway pretty well I thought. It’s got.. it’s dark, lyrically it’s dark but at the same time there’s a certain tongue in cheek quality about it which suggests that the band is maybe not taking themselves too seriously and the music’s got a… I really like the flow and everything. I said to you, a lot earlier, like, there’s something… ramshackle, it’s nice and loose, it’s rock and roll and it’s an old kind of rock and roll that people aren’t really playing anymore that we’ve managed to make sound all our own and fresh.
Mark: It’s very fresh.
Mark: I mean the album is an incredible range of different sorts of approaches we’ve taken with this record because there were lots of ideas coming from different directions but, umm. As far as picking out a song to be a first single, that one sounded the least like anything else we could think of that was popular on radio at the moment, you know. So we figured given, you know, our general position in the scheme of things in Australia, it seemed like the most, aaaah, sort of the strongest choice because it didn’t sound, it doesn’t sound like a grunge song, I mean it doesn’t sound like a funk song, it doesn’t really fit into any musical category that people, you know, have got flying around their heads at the moment.
Barry: You know, well it ain’t the Rolling Stones an dit ain’t the Clash but maybe it sits somewhere in there. You know what I mean, there’s an approach.
Q: This album sounds like a bold new stage for the Hunters even after all this time.
Barry: Nick Mainsbridge was on the engineering side of things and he was co producing and his approach is ‘let’s just make it exciting’ so people were… there was no latitude given to each individual, you know, putting down their parts. You know what I mean.
Mark: Well, it’s true, I mean, because the chips were down. We had to either, we were going to get a lot of creative return from making the record, so we’d already arrived at that point ever before we started writing and people had to really feel like they were getting something out of it on a personal level so there was just a lot more sharing and cooperation than there has been for a long time for us, you know. That’s why it is, in a way, you made the point before, that is sounds like we are experimenting more like we did in the early days.
Q: The second track “Panic In The Shade” has the image of Demon Flower in it and that is the album’s title. I was wondering where the idea for the song originated.
Mark: I mean I set out in the beginning to make a lot of the songs on the record ahhh, like portrait studies because I wanted to get away from talking about myself. I think with that song I’d sort of arrived at a point where I’d developed that approach to a point that I kind of really got to the real nitty gritty of what it was about human nature that obsessed me most, you know, because I’ve never learned the edges of it in terms of describing people in particular situations where they don’t necessarily show their best side and then Demon Flower is like, you know, probably like the archetypal scenario of someone’s mind, that you could say was a common thread in human imagination I suppose… what do you think Barry?
Barry: There’s like a lot of the, I mean you write… you seem to have the character studies through so many of the songs but and it’s like the, umm, Panic In The Shade is the most hardline, you know, really pull no punches.
Q: “Back In The Hole” is another dark song that’s almost a blues track.
Barry: Yeh, without being a, yeh, it’s great because it doesn’t have the blues format but it’s certainly a blues song.
Mark: Yes, in terms of sentiment.
Mark: And there was this really poignant story told by a prison, one of the wardens from Pentridge Prison which is just to the north of Melbourne and he said, it’s the main prison of Victoria, and he was saying how normally it’s the status quo in his job that he gets home from work and he has to sit in the car in the driveway in some suburb somewhere, Broadmeadows, whatever, he sits in the driveway of his car for half an hour before he goes inside to meet, for dinner so that his nerves can unwind. He was saying that his wife understands why he has to do it because otherwise he’d be taking his work home. It was on the front page and it was just brilliant journalism and anyway, I thought ‘wow, I’ll write a lyric about it’, it was original called ‘The Warden’s Lament’ and then Nick Mainsbridge said ‘Back In The Hole is better’ because it sounds pretentious. And um, but you know, it’s got that same time honoured story of, you know, the block going back to work on a Monday. You know, Monday’s the worst day of the week and that’s also what it’s about – it’s not just about this guy. But it’s got that blues grind about it because, you know, it’s got the scenario of the guy working in a prison is, it must be that heavy, you know, it must be an incredibly heavy job and that’s the way we’ve tried to express it.
Q: Another one of the more traditional rock songs here is “The One and Only You”.
Barry: Rock and roll, our Led Zeppelin. We, I don’t know, sometimes these things just happen. I’m sure I can’t remember who went first, Doug or I, (confusiong) Doug hit the Led Zeppelin beat and straight away it was we were playing it. It was really that simple, we had the whole song done in a matter of moments and we only had trouble getting the outtro. I mean musically that’s all I can say about it. Mark?
Mark: That’s me shifting away from myself and then looking at other people and going ‘well, this is what I’ve got in common with all of you’ that I’ve got this phenomenonally huge ego. And it’s like there are number of people I was talking about at the same time which was, as I said, the first song before I started breaking the whole thing down and looking at individuals and describing them. This is sort of like the first of those and it’s line mixed up with it as well. Just this talk about this phenomenonally huge ego, you know, here are you and you are just so bloody important, you know. That song was like, it was so, it was just this sequence of chords that were just, and we just moved through them really slowly, and in that, the room we rehearse is just a coffin, it’s just guitars… there’s no fidelity at all, like that’s the way we write, you know, it’s just this wall and we just stick mic’s in front of things and we have a little recorder, a multi track, in the corner, I mean trying to, you know, take that, going from there into the studio is like, it’s a complete change.
Barry: It’s good because I mean, because it’s like so reverberated, I’m trying to think, people just take a lot more risks… before we were playing live…
Mark: That’s true.
Barry: You know you don’t have to worry about everybody hearing every little riff you are trying or every kind of solo you are going for, you just keep playing continuously and hopefully when you come back and listen to the tape you then turn it up and down when it’s good and when it’s terrible. Seven jockeys I think we all want to write a part. That’s what it’s like, honestly.
Mark: Got to get Doug to hang back on the snare though.
Barry: Just like when I get the chance to say ‘hey Jimmy Page’. You know.
Mark: Just like that.
Barry: Just like that, exactly.
Q: I guess there are no prizes for guessing that “Mr Bigmouth” is the Premier of Victoria, Jeffrey Kennett.
Mark: Weeks before we even started writing I had that lyric sitting there and I, you know, it was either gonna never get used, which quite often happens, I’ll have things written that I never use you know, sort of, because I just forget I’ve done them because I’ll write another page and it just goes under them. I had this thing and I was flipping through the pages, you know, maybe that’ll work and the mood that Jeremy had set up, you know, it was just very fortuitous, it just forced me to sing in a particular way that I wouldn’t, and I thought that’s a really good angle because I’m not screaming, I’m doing the absolute opposite of what I’m known for.
Barry: That was one of your overall agenda’s for this record too, to not belt it out.
Mark: I mean it’s the only song on the record that you could definitely say is about one person. I thought ‘let’s really drive the point home’ in the darkest, nastiest kind of way. I mean it’s this description about this jerk, you know. Track number four, the track you are about to hear, is called…
Barry: The bigmouth, bigmouth.
Mark: Bigmouth. Yeh and it’s dedicated to the premier of the state of Victoria, which is where we come from.
Q: The next song we’re about to hear is a little more obscure.
Barry: Courtship of America, was like, you know, is a song about success. But it was going to be like a heavy almost like a ‘Come Together’ Beatles thing and I suppose the Beatles quality of it is still apparent in the end. But rather than just Mark singing in with the acoustic song trying to put in a new part he set up some microphones straight away in the room. There’s Mark playing acoustic, me playing electric, umm, Jeremy playing acoustic, someone else banging a tambourine, Jack playing trumpet and we essentially knew what we’d do in the rehearsal studio before we came into the recording studio and in about five minutes or ten minutes it was rewritten and we had this beautiful chorus. How thick is a brick wasn’t it?
Mark: Yeh, you know, people can take it or leave it, it’s not that, it’s pretty obvious what it’s about. It’s about, you know, trying to be successful in the states and it’s not happening you know. But it’s like, here you are in the middle of the time in Times Square walking around staring at neon signs and it’s like ‘what the hell am I doing here?’. I mean thousands of millions of Americans do that as well, they walk around in their own country wondering ‘what the hell am I doing here?’.
Q: What about “Drop In The Ocean”?
Mark: Aaaah, Drop In The Ocean, it’s aaah, how did that start… well, for me, that was, began, I had that lyrics pretty much written, lock stock and barrel. I had this thing with my father where my Dad’s got this boy car with a remote control alarm on it, you know. Dad’s sort of like retired and it all ties in to how he’s changed since retirement. He’s started getting into buying gadgets and be bought this, I mean I know him really well, obviously he’s my father, but I’ve seen him undergoing this phenomenal change, his attitude to the world has sort of like lightened because he’s started to become fascinated with toys. It’s like he’s gone back to his boyhood and he’s obsessed with this, he’s got this car alarm, you know those things that people have with a button and the car car ‘boop-boop or ‘bow-wow’ you know it always sounds sort of like a digital dog. He, you know, takes great pride in going ‘boop-boop’ you know, just before we go to the car. I just find those things, there’s something really dark about them, they sound really odd that people have those things. It’s just like this neurosis, techno neurosis, you know, and that kind of like make me start thinking about this idea of the electronic force field, you know.
Barry: The good thing about this, though is that of course, we all sitting there… like you’ve got your electronic force field on and you’re all sitting there going ‘is that me?’, ‘is that you?’, you know and this is constant and we’re always wondering who’s the lion.
Barry: Drop In The Ocean
Mark: Is track number five
Barry: And that’s kind of our ode to
Mark: My father and his remote control
Q: Mark, you have recently become a father which I guess has something to do with the next song “New Born.”
Mark: We were just sort of nibbling away at the edges of this thing. It was either a question, well I thought, where either going to drop it altogether or reconstruct the whole thing so I just went out into the other room and got together with Jeremy and we just started playing this acoustic driven rhythm based around the same chorus but with a new melody that I hadn’t heard. We basically came up with a completely new song but with the same chord structure and I turned into more of a Celtic melody which is something much, is generally, what I find easiest to do on my own – is to sing with an acoustic guitar and let melodies flow more. So that songs probably is an example of that side of the band. It’s more of an, aaaah, gentle flowing melody over acoustic chords that are very generic but at the same time it’s also about the birth of a child. And I used to find it really frustrating how people can become so besotted with babies because I didn’t have one. But as soon as I had one I realised why it was interesting because it kind of like, allows you to suspend for a moment, when you’re relating to a child you don’t have to think about your own crap. While when you’re dealing with other adults it’s like they’ve got their agenda as well that they are carrying around and there’s always going to be some kind of politics involved. And you know, I mean obviously children lose their innocent very quickly but when you are dealing with something that little, like the newborn, it’s quite, unconditional, you know, if you are capable of loving anything you can love a newborn child because it just accepts it without question.
Barry: Mark’s even been known to have said ‘that person’s problem is that they need children’.
Mark: Yeh, I have said that.
Barry: See this is how things change.
Mark: Yeh, I know.
Barry: If I said that to him three years ago I’d be walking around with a black eye.
Mark: No I wouldn’t! Come on!
Mark: I disagree intensely but I wouldn’t hit you.
Barry: That was one of the great examples of being able to take a song and start the song up in the studio. I think it’s like the gentle quality in that song is still evident on the finished recording. I think most of us had a pretty good time and a lot of that had to do with Nick Mainsbridge. It was fantastic. All Nick wanted was to be excited continually.
Q: On a more rocky note but still quite accessible there’s the next track, which is called “Tender.”
Barry: Tender. It is out, when I did this song, Jeremy said to me when I played my opening guitar riff he said ‘if you get away with that guitar riff I’m taking the next guitar solo’. Bad luck Jeremy, I got all the solos. Nah, it’s good, you know that songs got some musically, it’s got some great kind of stuff happening.
Mark: I mean the song that we umm, really started to question, you know, what potential we had in the songwriting department. How we could change the direction of things because what we had was a very typical Hunters and Collectors style delivery in the rehearsal room and then we looked and it and went ‘OK, how can we improve on this?’. What I like about it is that it’s got this really, the chorus is incredibly vulnerable. For me, it’s like, err, for me saying something that’s obviously autobiographical, but I’m feeling whereas in the past I think with Hunters and Collectors that’s always been a reason for sounding sad whereas with that song it doesn’t sound like that at all. It sounds like, it’s really, it’s very much a personal statement but it’s, but it’s very positive at some time which for me at the time indicated that I changed direction quite a bit.
Q: The next track is called “Desert Where Her Heart Is” and its quite a chilling portrait of a person.
Mark: It’s about someone who’s incredibly lonely and the desert is like where, the only place they fell they can relate to themselves that they keep returning, it’s a place in someone’s place that they keep returning to… because there’s something in their growth that is holding them back from dealing with the present. You know, and the other thing as well, I think Desert Where Her Heart Is is kind of about a lot of people, it’s about a lot of Australians, I think it’s a really, it’s the story of a lot of Australians. You meet people like that on the road a lot all the time, people who are haunted with something. You just have this transitory instant relationships that you form with people in band rooms where they come in and tell you their life story.
Barry: You get letters.
Mark: In five minutes.
Barry: And one song for them or one performance that’s merrily turned things around. I mean it might only be… transitory that I mean there are a lot of people out there that seem to run into us and also someone writes about this kind of thing and that maybe you might be a sympathetic ear or an empathetic ear.
Q: So what’s the plan now that the Demon Flower album is complete?
Mark: Well there’s a real possibility too that the consequences of what we do this year in Europe, you know, realistically it’s our best shot we’ve had overseas because of the fact that there are people working in promotion in London that have worked closely with us for years. So, you know, hopefully that will mean that there’s a bit more empathy with connecting with radio in Europe and stuff like that which we’ve never really had a shot at, except in Scandinavia. But, umm, I mean that could really set up a situation in 95 that we can look towards hopefully but, you know, again it’s anyone’s guess, it may not prove to be. You know, I mean, the thing is it’s like rolling the dice.
Q: “Betrayer” is also partly about changing your attitude about love isn’t it?
Mark: Yeh, cause I’d sort of, you know, I’ve been the betrayer, I’ve been betrayed, I’ve done everything you could possibly do, I felt that I could possibly do in a relationship.
Barry: And equally been done to you?
Mark: And be her? Yeh, we’d sort of both put each other through a hell of a lot you know, so we kind of knew we didn’t have any secrets from each other. So it really defines a point of arrival I reckon, that song. And the band really, it was one song that the band kind of, we jumped on it, really quickly and we’ve been playing it live for ages now. It’s really, it’s a really good live song.
Barry: Betrayer, this is my other favourite of the record, I reckon this is rock and roll. This is the future of rock and roll Mr Dave Graney.
Barry and Mark: (laughs)
Q: Which brings us to the last track on the album… is this autobiographical… it’s called the lady killer.
Mark: The lady killer. Well, that was great, that was probably one of the most exciting songs to record wasn’t it?
Barry: It was another one of those songs we recorded, we came back four weeks later, we said ‘this isn’t working, let’s start again’. We did the same process – we sat around with out microphones, guitars and Mark said ‘this song needs a middle eight, I’ve got an idea’ and he played it and as soon as he played the middle eight… all clicked, we went and rerecorded the whole song.
Mark: I mean, I’d written this portrait of this bloke, and, you know, it sort of came from, you know, I don’t know, I just, it came from a number of different sources. I mean I had lyrics about that kind of thing I’ve been writing about it for ages and ages and ages. And Mark Freegard described it as an Aussie bloke bonking himself stupid. But the Aussie bloke, you know, the image of the Aussie bloke in the bar of the nightclub whatever standing there with a beer and sort of going up to a sheila and saying ‘G’day’, you know, thinking that he’s really charismatic when he’s just not, you know. What’s really going on is the girl’s waiting for him to get pissed enough so she can get him home and as long as he’s got a decent job or reasonable job and he’s got a bit of money. I mean the mating calls of the pub are quite… they’re really basic aren’t they. I mean what people look for in each other isn’t that complicated really. And yet here’s this guy sort of like stumbling around a room at 4am in the morning or whatever it is and he’s pissed out of his mind. He’s still in there, you know, doesn’t mind being rejected now because he’s taken so many under his belt. I mean the more I got into that describing someone like that, the more interesting it became. Because it’s such a, you see it so much, it’s such an obvious thing in men. And so it was just great fun to write that lyric, regardless of whether or not you actually like the guy, you had to admire his persistence, you know. And aaah, you know, he’s still a true lady killer down to the bone.
Hunters & Collectors
Track by track script
With Mark Seymour and Barry Palmer
(See transcript – includes questions and ‘insert track’ instructions)
(p) 1994 Human Frailty Pty Ltd
(c) 1994 Human Frailty Pty Ltd
Cat No. PRD94/28