Hunting and collecting stories
A brief article about the West Australian context of Mark’s new album, Mayday.
Author: Simon Collins, The West Australian.
Date: 27 May 2015.
Mark Seymour reunited with his band, the Undertow, after last year’s successful reunion tour with Hunters and Collectors.
The WA flavour on Mark Seymour’s latest album extends beyond the cover picture a fan took on Beaufort Street.
Mayday, the former Hunters and Collectors frontman’s third outing with the Undertow, ruminates on the concept of home.
The song FIFO was inspired by a conversation Seymour had with a miner making the long journey home to Queensland from Port Hedland. “He’s been doing it for 17 years,” the 58-year-old father of two says from home in Melbourne. “He was over it but he couldn’t stop.
“I immediately connected with him because I understood the conflict. You enjoy the money and you can see it’s bearing fruit — he had half a dozen properties in Caloundra — but he was working in the middle of this absolute mud hole.”
Seymour understands the itinerant lifestyle. His childhood moving around with parents, both State school teachers, morphed into the road routine of a touring musician with the mighty Hunters.
In recent years, the ARIA Award-winning rocker has made a habit of chatting to fans after gigs, and their stories — often hard-luck tales — blend with his own on Mayday.
“It’s proven to be really interesting,” Seymour says. “You’re connecting really directly and people say the most random things.
“My career has been quite unusual in that we (Hunters and Collectors) came out of the pubs in the 80s, and the pubs were always full, so you never thought to question who you were playing to.”
As an ambassador for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Seymour is asking plenty of hard questions on his Facebook page about the who, what and why of refugees.
“The personal abuse that was served to me by strange people, I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “There was this really angry attitude that I would dare to touch on the subject.”
Seymour believes asylum seekers have become political fodder but retains his faith in Australia’s multicultural society.
“There’s a high degree of tolerance for racial and ethnic diversity in this country,” he says. “There’s no question about that.” Seymour’s genuine interest in and interaction with the realities of Australian life has made Mayday his most politically relevant offering in years.
The album is also his first with the Undertow three-piece since last year’s successful national reunion tour with Aussie legends Hunters and Collectors, which he describes as “absolutely huge and physically demanding”.
“I couldn’t do anything else,” Seymour recalls. “I just came home buggered and lay on the couch until the next gig. It was a massive tour.”
Mayday is released May 29.