Mark Seymour & the Undertow make a new mark with Mayday
A brief interview and article on Mark’s new album Mayday.
Author: Martin Boulton, The Sydney Morning Herald.
Date: 29 May 2015.
Mark Seymour plays a song from the Undertow’s new album
EG editor Martin Boulton sits down with Mark Seymour from The Undertow to talk about band dynamics and performs Football train from their new album Mayday.
During a stellar career that spans 35 years, there would be few venues in his home state of Victoria where Mark Seymour has not performed.
From his earliest days with Hunters & Collectors, who released their debut self-titled album in 1982, to the new Mark Seymour & the Undertow album Mayday released today, Seymour is a stalwart of Australia’s music industry.
In November he will play at Hanging Rock with his band, supporting Cold Chisel’s headlining show at the same iconic outdoor venue that recently hosted Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart and the Eagles.
In August he will step onto the stage of St Kilda’s National Theatre for the first time as part of a run of shows to support Mayday, an album he’s intensely proud of creating with bandmates Cameron McKenzie (guitar), John Favaro (bass) and drummer Peter Maslen.
“The band has pretty much developed a sound out of performance,” Seymour says. “There’s a lot of good creative energy that’s emerged through touring around Australia. We’re a very tight unit … and my song writing has flourished in that environment.”
Mayday comes after the first Undertow record in 2011, which was followed two years ago by the covers album Seventh Heaven Club, including Seymour’s take on Bob Dylan (Can’t Wait), Tom Petting (Counting On You) and Lucinda Williams, who also sang with Seymour on Come On.
The new album has Seymour “returning to a very old way of writing” and enjoying the influence of listening to the blues. “I’ve been listening to a lot of blues and the way old blues artists reverse and invert chords, but they’re always the same chords. It forces you to twist the melody,” he says. “It’s the illusion of simplicity, but you can create a whole lot of drama.
“There’s a lot of empathy on the record [and] my storytelling, too, has become more narrative driven. I invent characters or occupy the space of somebody else and imagine myself in their condition, but there’s a lot of me in there.”
Lyrically, Seymour says there is also “stuff I’d shelved” that eventually found a home on Mayday because the band was “warmed up and feeling good” about what was flowing each time they came together to play or rehearse.
Now it’s time to step onto familiar, and some not so familiar stages, and bring the songs to life, along with some older classics.
Mark Seymour & the Undertow play at the Factory Theatre in Sydney on August 1, St Kilda’s National Theatre on August 7 and Brisbane’s Old Museum on August 15.
See The Age online to watch Mark Seymour perform two tracks from Mayday, which is out now.