Be My Guru: The Evolution Revolution Hoodoo Gurus gig
It seems befitting that the upcoming Hoodoo Gurus reunion gig is being held in Perth. With three members originally hailing from the sunny west coast shores, long-term fans (and newer punters) are in for a mammoth experience. Not only will all eight members be on stage playing, but British India, Jebediah and Ratcat are joining in the fun as well. Iconic lead singer and guitarist, Dave Faulkner, is just as excited as anybody, "the line-up is crossing all the decades together!" While Faulkner returns to Perth regularly, "I've been back three or four times already this year" the 'Evolution Revolution' concert came unexpectedly, "as soon as we started rehearsing together, you got the feeling of what it was going to be. And, to savour that again is something I never thought would happen."
Gen X'ers will remember the Gurus only too well. Faulkner left Perth for Sydney in 1980 and the original band (Faulkner, Roddy Radalj, James Baker, note; Kimble Rendall came after) formed at a New Year's party. "It was a really, really hot and humid night, we climbed out of the upstairs window and … just had a beer, had a chat about music." The three friends bonded over the acts they were seeing around town, what they liked playing and of course, their love of music. "We just formed a group to play those songs, that is what happened."
The band have made a significant impression on younger audiences now too, with their performance at this years Splendour in the Grass going 'gangbusters', much to Faulkners surprise. "We never get played on Triple J, just commercial stations," leaving the puzzled front-man wondering "who is going to see us really? It is not like our old fans from 20 years ago are coming to Splendour in the Grass." He starts laughing and adds, "I was worried we wouldn't have anyone to play to!" With a few thousand punters jammed into a "huge, huge marquee – all singing along", there never really was any doubt. After all, the band know how to deliver great rock.
He's enthusiastic when recounting the experience, "people were saying we saw this great crew called … Hoodoo Gurus?? They'd never heard of us before, but really enjoyed it." The gig also attracted the attention of a promoter who wanted to put on a festival in Perth, once he heard about their Splendour performance. "He wanted that, not the Hoodoo Guru's we are now." Faulkner laughs and advises he thought, "... if he's got the money and the place, we've got the inclination!" For the band, their July performance has turned out to be the start of a new lease on their musical life, "[it] was fantastic, really great – [Splendour] it's what I hoped it would be."
Excitement wasn't always the case. Some of the members initial reactions were not overly keen. Especially, to revisit something that was a part of their lives a long time ago. The idea had been suggested a few years ago, with Faulkner diplomatically asserting they decided to "let sleeping dogs lie." He breaks into uproarious laughter when asked how things are now, "the dogs are growling again!" There's a fantastic energy and spirit to the iconic front-man, he carries an amiable and optimistic viewpoint on this once off reformation, "people had a think about it, they now feel comfortable and quite excited about it."
Splendour was like a warm-up he explains, "James Baker and Clyde [Bramley] came back to that, we worked through the [Stoneage] Romeo lineup (Faulkner, Shepherd, Bramley, Baker), then Mars [Needs Guitars!] (add Mark Kingsmill) and then the current line up (add Rick Grossman), when we all get on stage." He says the rehearsals have offered a fresh, new dynamic, "it was just great having James back on the drums and Clyde playing songs from the they way they sounded back then."
Fans will be clamoring to know, the band are putting out a four-track EP. And, the songs are from Le Hoodoo Gurus days, tracks that never quite made the recording cut. Faulkner laments as he explains, "they could've been on Stoneage Romeos, but we didn't have room for them. To be honest, for a variety of reasons – we just said (pauses for a moment) lets forget about those songs, I want to write other songs." He advises they were good songs, the band used to play them in the repertoire, then they fell out.
Faulkner held a bee in his bonnet all this time, until they recorded one song for each of the band's different incarnations [minus the current line-up]. He says animatedly, that Brad [Shepherd] remembers seeing Le Hoodoo Guru's first gig [before he joined the band] and the songs sound like the band then, not four variations of the songs, "rather than some made up forced thing … like a marriage!"
While recording the songs easily dissipated the bee in Faulkners bonnet, music fans may remember the debate about the Live Music funding initiative with Andrew Bolt last year. That left more of a sting. "It is just a classic case of a fuckwit … he is, he took something I said – one comment and made it out to be like I was saying something completely different." Basically, Faulkner was made "live music ambassador" a title unbeknownst to him. The article is definitely worth having a read. He advised that Bolt "turned it into the government making policy on the run and blah blah blah, just because it was in the middle of the election campaign, and he wanted to have a shot at the current government." He emphatically advises it's unfortunate he was used as ammunition, "he is a complete asswipe, who doesn't care about truth or anything anyway. He has a complete political agenda that he wants to push at any opportunity and he will use any ammunition, he doesn't care. When asked about the current state of play, it's not a positive turn of events "live music funding is zero."
It raises a valid point surrounding the music industry, and Faulkner is part of a great number of causes to help artists and Australian arts & culture, including: Support Act, "a charity purely started in the music industry, to help people that ... y'know, may not have been as successful as people as myself", A Feast with Friends – an event being held at Lizotte's Restaurant [Brian Lizotte is Johnny Diesel's brother], "we put ourselves on the block and raffled ourselves off!" a contributor in The Saturday Paper where he reviews upcoming albums and a judge in The Australian Music Prize, "I get to hear all the Aussie albums, certainly the good ones. I judge a lot of them myself, try and chose the best one." In his 10th year, he confides he's seen a lot of change.
He explains while the "splintering of music is the most predominant", resulting in a "million different sub-genres and they are all kind of meaningless", he see the hip-hop scene becoming quite well-established in Australia, "and it's a force to be reckoned with. Great, great records being made and they are rooted in the local." He adds that electronica (as a genre) is finally starting to become a bit more serious too, "people are starting to get better albums and not just do something that sounds like they did in their basement for bit of fun".
The community not registering on his radar is the once-famed Indie Rock. " … such a tired, tired genre. I really get sick of the latest and greatest band from Melbourne ... then two months later no-one mentions them." We discuss the demise in comparison to hip-hop and electronica, with the ever comedic Faulkner suggesting "there's a lot of posturing with content in the rock scene unfortunately." Mockingly he states, "I'm a deep person ... and therefore you'll like my band."
One thing fans can be assured of with the upcoming Hoodoo Gurus gig, is a complete lack of posturing. After 30 years in the Australian music scene, punters are in for a memorable experience. When asked how he still finds the momentum to deliver the classics, he breaks into laughter, playing music is something he's always enjoyed. For him, the musical act itself is pretty engrossing. "I am not sitting there and listening to myself, I am quite busy! I am singing, playing guitar, trying to figure out what I will say before the next song … I'm going a million miles an hour. I'm thinking about the change in songs, where to pause, … so I am not really there."
Will they play '1000 Miles Away'? Are there any songs they might leave off, like 'Tojo?' He jokingly confides that audiences might not be happy about that. "People [would] almost have a justification to go to the small claims tribunal. It's false advertising, you are not Hoodoo Gurus! You didn't play your most famous song!!" He does however reveal that in rehearsals the ending of the practice set has been mammoth, "we did a song with two drum kits and everyone singing and playing ... and that song is Leilani, what we finish the show with." It appears in the case of Hoodoo Gurus, everything old is new again.