True Believers 2014 Wrap Up

An overview of 2014 and peering into 2015 from the perspective of the fan-run Hunters and Collectors Internet site True Believers.

Author:  Stuart Fenech.

Date: 31 December 2014.

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To quote Mark Seymour, “what the hell was that?”!

2014 was the biggest year for Hunters and Collectors since disbanding back in 1998.

Following the reunion tour news in 2013 along with the Crucible tribute album, 2014 delivered 20 concerts across Australia and New Zealand. This included eleven ‘A Day on the Green’ shows, five pub or theatre gigs, two supporting Bruce Springsteen, one supporting The Rolling Stones and an early secret gig in Castlemaine.

The tour that was never meant to happen was a serious, professional juggernaut. Every component and aspect of the music and it’s presentation meticulously detailed and refined throughout the tour. It earned the band a well deserved Helpmann Award for Best Australian Contemporary Concert.

So what now!? Well, the last concert was supporting The Rolling Stones in New Zealand and there are definitely no gigs planned at any stage in the future.

Yet the world of Hunters and Collectors is still rocking!

There is the PledgeMusic campaign to create a limited set of 2014 tour box sets featuring full recordings from The Enmore (Sydney) and Palais (Melbourne). With 36 days to go and 82% of the way there, it is important to sign up and make sure this project goes ahead. Click here to visit the PledgeMusic website.

I have heard ‘final mixes’ of the box set recordings and they are special. The audience interaction, quirky discussion, set list and timing is retained. These are the most ‘authentic’ Hunters recordings to see the light of day. They are remarkably close sound wise to being at the concert.

How the PledgeMusic campaign goes is likely to influence future projects, which have a reasonable chance of occurring. I will put it out there there that some of the ideas put forward by fans on the Facebook and or mailing list have or are being kicked around. That’s all the information I am giving away!

We continue to provide a rare track of the week from The Vault every week here at True Believers, now also sharing each recording on Facebook and Soundcloud. There remains the possibility of bigger releases of music, but we want to quality to be top notch before any such endeavour occurs. In the mean time, we have plenty more to share!

The Vault tracks give a hint of the massive archival ongoing archival project behind the scenes. This year, there were two large components of note.

Firstly, John Archer completed converting a series of old digital recordings he had. Incredibly, he had a working Sony PCM-501 machine from the early 1980’s, which is now a digital music era antique. It recorded digital music direct to VHS tapes, which have now been converted to a modern digital file format. We did have to use an analog out from the PCM-501, but the quality is still spectacular. John personally converted these 25 top quality from 1985 though to 1992 for the archives.

The second major project component has been in the area of vinyl digitisation. Using a mix of Rob Miles and my equipment, we connected a Rega RP40 record player, Rega Fono MM pre-amplifier and a Moto analog to digital converter. We pedantically attacked minor electronic interference and other issues, resulting in ‘not fully professional but magnificent’ recordings. Comparing with digital recordings, the vinyl rips are warmer, with the dynamic range of early CD releases but the aural punch of later CD remasters.

There are now over 300 Vault recordings carefully split into individual tracks and labelled. The Hunters and Collectors archives, which also include related artists, clocks in at 438GB – about 100 DVD-R’s. Rob and John have been great sports in this project to enable it to get to this incredible stage!

So as I write this, many readers are probably preparing for a cracking new year celebration this evening. We wish you all the best for the evening and the year 2015 ahead!

We are anticipating a stellar 2015 in Hunters land. Before mid year, we should have two brand new solo studio albums!

The first is Mayday from Mark Seymour and his band the Undertow. Mark’s solo work continues to push his lyrical and musical boundaries, each album gloriously building on the ground of the last. This is the first album of new material since 2011’s Undertow.

The second is Plays Bacharach and David from Jack Howard and The Ambassadors of Love. Jack’s ‘Bacharach and David’ shows have to date only been enjoyed by lucky Melbourne audiences, but now thankfully we all get to enjoy the show! Melbourne audiences remain outrageously lucky to have Jack performing in various bands most weekends.

Lastly, a big thank you to Hunters and Collectors, crew and management. This is a band that involves their fans and never accepts second best when it comes to what is provided to us in concerts, merchandise and music. You are all legends.