Hunting for final curtain call
WHEN Melbourne band Hunters & Collectors re-formed for charity concert Sound Relief in 2009, frontman Mark Seymour was fairly final about the chance of it happening again. ‘‘This is it,’’ he said at the time. It took a natural disaster to get them to think of sharing a stage again, having said no to countless offers to re-form since their acrimonious split in 1998.
But two years ago, Hunters reformed to play a V8 Supercars gig in Sydney. At the time, Seymour admitted the money on offer was too much to refuse.
The planets have aligned again, with promoter and Hunters tragic Michael Gudinski again coaxing one of his favourite bands back on stage. It was the strategic placement of multiple ducks that got the reunion across the line.
First there’s the release Crucible, a tribute album (on Gudinski’s label) to Hunters featuring Eddie Vedder, Neil Finn, The Living End, Paul Kelly, The Rubens, The Avalanches, Something For Kate, Birds of Tokyo and more.
Then the offer to perform unofficial and accidental footy anthem Holy Grail at the AFL Grand Final – a slot Gudinski picks the musical acts for.
Then a Melbourne-only slot opening for an act Seymour respects – Bruce Springsteen.
Then for most weekends from January to March they’ll tour the nation playing winery shows for the A Day On the Green events, with Something For Kate and British India, also on their tribute record. Two theatre shows in Melbourne and Sydney have been added for April.
‘‘None of those things would have made sense in isolation, but all of them together was a pretty good incentive,’’ Seymour admits of the re-formation.
‘‘We’ve taken all of these (reunion) proposals on a case-by-case basis. There’s no broader plan. There would have been a real risk in just doing a tour for the sake of doing a tour.’’
When the band came off stage at Sound Relief there was a feeling of euphoria but it was slow release – it’s taken more than three years to communally agree to a full tour.
‘‘We hadn’t played together for so long and it was the biggest crowd we’d ever played in front of,’’ French horn player Jeremy Smith says. ‘‘To play at the MCG and everyone’s barracking for the same team – that doesn’t happen very often. But we didn’t walk off stage going ‘That was so good, we have to reunite for a tour’. There were not emails flying around to our manager to co-ordinate a comeback.’’
Sound Relief also gave the chance for the kids of the band members to see their band their fathers were in live for the first time.
‘‘My kids loved it, they went nuts at the magnitude of it all,’’ Seymour says.
Band members are excited about the tour, but are also painfully aware of the workload involved.
‘‘The challenge is getting it right,’’ Seymour says. ‘‘Taking a professional approach. Doing everything by the book. That’s what Hunters were always good at, high-end production values and being so meticulous the show worked every night. That’s not a particularly rock attitude. You go out and make sure the gig works. That’s what makes this a worthwhile exercise.’’
They’ve regrouped in Richmond’s Sing Sing studios to get their AFL set into shape. Don’t expect any cheesy medleys – they’ll play Do You See What I See and Holy Grail at half time.
‘‘Of course we’re playing Holy Grail,’’ Seymour says. ‘‘That’s the whole point of the exercise. We didn’t actively pursue having a footy anthem. You’d get in trouble doing that. This is incredibly random.’’
– CAMERON ADAMS
Crucible: The Songs of Hunters & Collectors (Liberation) is released tomorrow. Hunters & Collectors play the AFL Grand Final entertainment program at the MCG on Saturday. Hunters & Collectors, You Am I, Something For Kate and British India play A Day on the Green, at Sirromet Winery, Mt Cotton, on February 2. Tickets go on sale on October 11.
Reformed Melbourne band Hunters & Collectors, led by Mark Seymour (far right).