Mark mines his creativity
“I MET a miner in the Western Desert one night after a show in Onslow. He was 62, lived in Caloundra and had been travelling across the country every two weeks for the past 17 years “to work in this hole” as he put it. I said, ‘Why don’t you stop?’. ‘Because the money’s too good’, he said.”
Mayday, Mark Seymour’s latest album with band The Undertow released last Friday, addresses notions of home.
It is filled with Australian stories like the Two Dollar Punter who “shook the hand of the smuggler” for the hope of a better life, the boy who might not have a home but has a footy team in Football Train and that miner “halfway between hell and nowhere”.
“I think the FIFO story is pretty interesting,” Seymour said.
“It’s particularly germane to Western Australia. We started going over there a lot and doing mining towns and camps.
“We ended up in some very, very rough places and playing to itinerant workers… and I ended up conversing with people who were in those places and that song emerged from that experience.
“I like the idea of documenting a particular time in history, especially given that’s quite a contemporary scenario.”
Mayday is Seymour’s first album since Hunters and Collectors’ reformation and tribute album Crucible in 2014.
So where did he find the time to create an album that he says was “the hardest record to make and definitely the most personal”?
“I deliberately set out to get the writing underway at the beginning of last year, well earlier than that, because I could see this Hunters thing looming,” he said.
“We just went about it in a fairly left-brain way, booking in rehearsal rooms anywhere and saying ‘Let’s just get together and play’.
“It really loosened up my songwriting, so I was knocking things up on the iPhone just with an acoustic guitar and throwing ideas at them and as a consequence the songs structurally are very simple.
“A lot of them are quite blues-based, inverting three chords and I just sing over them – keeping things very rudimentary and it just merges like storytelling.
“It’s melodic rap so it’s very loose and simple but live, it’s a really effective way of writing songs because they’re very easy to translate in front
of an audience.”