CASTING A GURU SPELL
Band members have come and gone over the past three decades, but iconic Aussie rockers Hoodoo Gurus have maintained their passion. They head to the Coast tomorrow night for a special show
As the Hoodoo Gurus approached their 30th anniversary in 2011, their leader Dave Faulkner came up with an ambitious idea. He wanted to reunite all four line-ups of the seminal Australian rock band that had fused punk attitude with pop sensibilities to cross over from Sydney’s alternative underground to the top of the mainstream charts.
His current band mates, Brad Shepherd, Rick Grossman and Mark Kingsmill – the longest-serving Gurus crew since 1988 – were into the idea.
So were original members Kimble Rendall and Roddy Radalj, who formed Le Hoodoo Gurus with Faulkner in 1981. They had left the band in 1982, replaced by Shepherd and the band’s first bassist Clyde Bramley.
Their founding drummer James Baker wasn’t into the idea. Baker was sacked in 1984 and joined the Beasts Of Bourbon. His seat in the Gurus was taken by Kingsmill, who retired from the band last month.
“James wasn’t interested at all. He has his other bands and he thought it would be weird to play with us and then go back to that,” Faulkner says.
“He was still a bit conflicted, I think. It took him a couple of years to kind of get his head around it … He was thrown out and that was controversial. And we still haven’t spoken about it, to be honest, because it’s not one of those things you can really talk about. And it doesn’t change anything.”
Faulkner suggests Baker’s participation in a Beasts reunion in 2013 may have changed his mind and about 18 months ago, Baker told Faulkner he’d like to do it.
With all eight members on board, Be My Guru: The Evolution Revolution – featuring all four line-ups – made its debut at a gig in Perth last November.
It is impossibly rare for a band to maintain its original line-up over a career spanning decades. Tensions brew, desires cool, friendships stretch and life and death test the bonds. But music seems to have a gravitational pull, bringing bands back to each other despite those disagreements.
“It’s not about friendship, I’ll be honest. We have other lives and we need to have other lives otherwise we would go insane,” the frontman says.
“Obviously you have great respect and pride in each other’s work and everything you’ve done together. We’ve given so much of ourselves to each other and relied on each other so there is a bond.
“Even with James, when we played together there was no tension. It’s wonderful to have all those things drop away and just be musicians together, sharing those songs we own with each other.”
Faulkner is an exceptional songwriter, which is why Hoodoo Gurus’ songs have lasted the test of time.
He’s performed with several bands but is best known as lead singer, principal songwriter and mainstay.
Faulkner formed the band in 1981 with Shepherd and, apart from a six-year break from early 1998, continues to perform with the band to the present day.
The Hoodoo Gurus announced their farewell tour in 1997.
The spark for a revival was most likely inspired by the 1986 hit, What’s My Scene, which was reworked for the NRL to become That’s My Team, the theme for the rugby league competition’s TV advertising campaign in 2003.
It is 33 years since Hoodoo Gurus released their first album, Stoneage Romeos, with the debut single Leilani and like many other Aussie bands, are proud of their longevity.
In 2012, they released Gold Watch: 20 Golden Greats with one new song, Use-By Date, a tongue-in-cheek addition to the album.
Faulkner is a champion of live music and a huge fan of smaller venues.
Some time ago, the man behind such memorable hits as Bittersweet, Come Anytime, My Girl, Like Wow – Wipeout and Miss Freelove 69, launched a tough ongoing battle to save Sydney’s dwindling live music scene.
The Hoodoo Gurus will play Twin Towns at Tweed Heads tomorrow night.