The legendary Australian rock group Hoodoo Gurus return to Adelaide with The Dandy Warhols and Even this Tuesday night for a show that is not to be missed. This tour celebrates the Hoodoo Gurus 40th anniversary since their first live show in 1981. With a new album Chariot Of The Gods in the armoury the show will feature a fantastic mix of songs from a stellar career. Hi Fi Way speaks in depth with Dave Faulkner about the tour and their new album.
You must be excited now that this tour is underway and happening?
Very much so, as you say it has been a long time in the making. We had a few false starts and I even had a narrow scrape the other day on my morning walk I almost got hit by a car going through a red light at a pedestrian crossing. I reckon I was within one second of being collected by that car. It was a couple inches from me as it came screaming past at sixty k’s an hour, I managed to pull up in time. One second earlier I would have been right in the middle of that bonnet.
Do we need to wrap you up in cotton wool so you can finish this tour?
I know! I’m feeling a bit superstitious about all of this! This tour will happen. Before a tour I usually get sick for some reason and I have had so many tours where I have toured with the flu the whole bloody time. I’ve used lots of garlic and stuff like that to ward off the congestion that affects the voice. This tour I had it like a week ago and I woke up in the middle of the night with the aches and pains in my extremities and a bit of fever thinking oh my god I’ve come down with something. But no, I was at the end of an illness with the fever breaking. It’s all different, I can’t tell if it is a good sign or a bad sign.
How tough is it now touring with so many moving parts it only takes one thing to throw everything out?
One drummer! Yep, Nick our drummer was the one who caught Covid a week before the tour last time and kyboshed the whole thing. It was insane thinking about all the organising that was turned on its ear and starting again, all the promotion and everything else, and getting The Dandy Warhols to find a space in their schedule, you name it, it was ridiculous. Luckily, thanks to everyone being so positive and generous especially The Dandy Warhols and their management they quickly put this back on its feet and do it again. We were talking at that stage the earliest we could do it was December, so to make it happen in September is fantastic. Right there was a victory, to get them back at all was amazing because they have a whole bunch of stuff they are doing around the world. We did think that we had lost our window of opportunity. We’ve made it happen again and here we are.
Forty wonderful years as a band is an incredible achievement which needs to be celebrated, can you believe how fast the time has gone? The last couple of years might have dragged on a bit…
The last ones have gone fast as well, at times it felt like it would never end. Early on in the pandemic it was like is the world ending, is this it? I remember going for a walk early on in the pandemic and I went out at 3am in the morning and wouldn’t meet anyone but people would be out sweeping their front stoop and things like that. It was like is this radioactive and will I catch something as it was such an unknown quantity.
Forty years, yeah it is bizarre to imagine from where we are now to where we started. It is unthinkable and I’ve always said it whether it was twenty years ago or thirty years ago, we have only ever done the same thing which is just do what is in front of us. In the beginning it was just get some gigs which became lets make a single. Once you have done that it was lets make an album and getting a record deal was no easy thing. One thing did lead to the other and we got an album out, that was great, we did what we thought we could do. Then it was like lets make another album and so and so forth and here we are.
Do you get a plaque or a statute giving you have already done the gold watch?
Ha! We gave ourselves a gold watch! I forget whose quote it is but it is a great one but ugly buildings and prostitutes all become respectable in their old age just by still being there! We are a bit like that, we’ve always been a little left of centre and a little left of where anyone else wants us to be whether that is the alternative market or to far to the commercial market for them in their minds, or for the commercial side to far to the alternative market in their minds. We never thought about it, we’re just ourselves and we never pitched ourselves in a direction to be what other people thought we should be. We did what we felt like doing and we have always done that and continue to do so. It is the only way to be really. The Mentals said it way back and very early on I loved it, Martin Plaza said The Mentals are like their own genre and don’t fit in to anyone’s genre except their own. They are like Elvis movies, their are no other movies like Elvis movies. Only Elvis could make those movies and we are a bit like that only that we are the only movie like that. We’ll keep Hoodoo Guring away and whether that’s what people want of us or expect of us we’ll deal with what we can do.
I couldn’t imagine a year going by where there isn’t a Hoodoo Gurus tour or festival appearance.
We had six years apart, we did break up and at that time it was forever. I took on board all that ageism of the industry where you release an album and no one is paying attention, don’t want to review it, don’t want to talk to you, no one will play it and the only thing that is worth talking about is newer bands because you’re a known quantity. You take it on board, it is stupid and is completely bullshit but there is this idea that you are occupying someone else’s space in the universe and get out of the way to let them take over as it is their rightful heritage. No artist is replacing another artist, they replace you if anything, they come along and people say they want to see them and don’t want to see you any more but it’s not like the fact because you are still doing gigs no one else is going to get any, that’s nonsense.
We broke up, it was a stupid idea at the same time I was feeling triumphant about it being at the top of our game and feeling proud about we had done. That was a nice way to do it without getting to an embarrassing end where people aren’t coming to see you or releasing records that are horrible. I didn’t want to get to that point where I felt that we weren’t up to it. Six years I had that idea in mind and fortunately some songs kept popping up that were just meant to be Hoodoo Gurus songs. I had the band The Persian Rugs at one stage, which at one point had all the Hoodoo Gurus in it, I never thought that it was a strange thing to happen at the time. The was one song I wrote When You Get To California, when I showed it to Brad he said that if I let anyone else play on it I’ll kill you! He wanted to play on this song and I had written as a 60s rock song and that fitted in to the wheelhouse of The Persian Rugs. Later on, we gave it a shot at rehearsal and I still believe that The Persian Rugs even with all the Hoodoo Gurus in it wasn’t the Hoodoo Gurus. It was a different thing as it had a different energy, the songs had their own demands to play. We started playing When You Get to California and within about one minute I said stop, stop we can’t do this, it sounds like the Hoodoo Gurus, so we didn’t play it. When I tried with other musicians and other songs I had written they were more on the rock side. It just didn’t sound right to me, they were obviously meant to be Hoodoo Gurus songs but they weren’t Hoodoo Gurus or so I thought.
Four years later we did the Homebake show after we broke up, they lured us out of retirement for one concert, it was really weird because the magic was there immediately when we got to the rehearsal room. It was like we stopped the day before not like four years apart where people had grown apart from each other and strangers musically. The Hoodoo Gurus was on fire straight away, like humming a long, the way to describe is that I had this luxury sports car, this fantastic high performance vehicle but only kept it in the garage on blocks with no wheels on so you could never drive it. It is a have and a never to use, that’s what the Hoodoo Gurus were for all those years when we didn’t play. It was crazy, there was this beautiful machine that I could get in to and do some serious circle work but I wasn’t letting this happen because I was sticking to a principle that the band had broken up, people saying that this was a stunt and excuse to reform and get more attention. It really was legit and we broke up forever but it was the music that dragged us back together.
I’m surprised that people would say you have nothing left to say as Chariots Of The Gods shows you still have plenty to say and raises more questions about what you might do next for the next album?
Thank you, that might be a bridge to far, I’m not going to predict that is going to happen, we may never do another album. I’ve learned not to second guess myself about these things because I did it wrong a few times. This maybe the last album and therefore this is the last stage of the band because once we stop making new records we won’t be touring. That’s how we feel, we did a whole lot of time between albums, this time it was twelve years because we were going through the whole thing with Mark wanting to retire and we didn’t know if wee could continue without Mark as he was so much a part of our identity ourselves. At first he didn’t tell us he wanted to retire, he wasn’t interested in doing any more records and he didn’t want to do much touring. He knew a new album would mean a lot of hard yakka.
It was a weird stand off in a sense. There were other things going on and I shouldn’t lay it all on Mark as there were other dynamics going on in the band. Eventually, he did make it clear he wanted to retire and we were thinking that’s all we got just enjoy it while we can. As long as Mark wanted to play we would keep going until that point and then decide what we were going to do. Eventually he quit and we got Nik to replace him. It didn’t quite work for us, it was like a rebound relationship, we never quite committed whole heartedly to Nik and saw the great things he was offering as we were missing Mark. After eighteen months of Nik playing with us Mark realised he missed playing after all and wanted to come back. Mark came back and played another ten months, Nik was happy to step aside and was a big fan of Mark’s drumming. After ten months he didn’t want to do this any more, he was right the first time and had left. We had to make our minds up, Nik has been with the band for four years now since that last stint with Mark. We tried other drummers and they weren’t a patch on Nik, we decided we weren’t going to break up when Mark’s stint is over as we felt like we still had things to say and things to do. We got Nik back and the whole idea was to make a new album because there would be no point otherwise. We had to do new music to be a real group not just an oldies act. If we don’t do another album be prepared is all I can say!
Was it deliberate to have two different track lists for the vinyl and CD versions of Chariots Of The Gods or was it a case of having too many good songs available?
It was a bit of that, the album that is on the streaming and CD that is the album to our mind. The bonus tracks on the vinyl were more for those who couldn’t get enough and also we had too many songs to fit on one vinyl. It isn’t great dynamically to have that much music on each side, if you get a bad cut it is very quiet with all those grooves there. Sonically we thought, our previous album Purity Of Essence came out on vinyl in Spain and that had sixteen songs and they put it out on a double vinyl album. We had that in the back of our mind as that worked for Purity Of Essence so let’s do the same thing with this one. We had this non-album single Hung Out To Dry and two covers we done for different reasons.
One was a Beatles version of I Wanna Be Your Man for a radio station in New York who asked us to give them a live track that no one else had. We did a bit of tidying up to make it interesting for the recorded version for the album. The Dylan track someone asked us to submit a track for a Dylan compilation which I don’t think has gone out as it turns out. When we were looking for tracks that seemed like a natural for the vinyl. Hung Out To Dry could of gone on the album but we had enough of that Trump guy so let’s not have it on the album. We didn’t want an association with Trump at all.
Have you been stoked with the fan response to the album?
Totally, I think we have had the best reviews of our career globally. People think back to Stoneage Romeos and they have must of been so fabulously crazed at the time but they weren’t. When we released Stoneage Romeos at the time it was a bit of a sleeper. It wasn’t until a year later when people started to acknowledge it as a great album. People liked it but after a year it took on a bit of stature. The reviews were along the lines of good job by these guys they have a nice album out. It wasn’t like hallelujah the great debut album is here. Same with all the albums, this album has been universally praised. We are very grateful for that. Importantly for me I’m proud of that and it sounds fresh to me. It suggests forward motion and not looking back to something better before. It is a growth and a rejuvenation. It seems like a reboot of the band. It started with the first single Answered Prayers and that was something a little bit different to what we had already done. We just went from there and it as a series of singles. It was more artisanal in a way, it wasn’t a one size fits all doing it like an industrial production line as you often do when you make an album. This other way we hadn’t done since the first album. We were writing as we went, I don’t sit down and complete songs when I write them ever. I just accumulate scraps of ideas and some of go back decades but they are not songs until I want to make an album. It isn’t until I force myself to knuckle down and go back through these things and find inspiration or actual songs. The songs are all written just before the album in essence even though some of the parts come from way back. The inspiration is what is happening around at the time when I’m writing the song, the lyrics and even the music as well as what feels goof to me know and what works well in the rehearsal studio when I take them in there.
Thinking about the album it must be a tough balance with the tour set list giving the new songs air time but still playing the classics?
Oh yeah! We also have the thing with the songs that weren’t famous, if people are die hard fans they would would be chuffed to hear us play, nice surprises to give people a couple of those and have them thinking I never would of thought I’d see them play that song. They know there are certain songs we have to play because they are iconic and the songs that people would feel short changed if we didn’t do it as that for them is the Hoodoo Gurus and who is this band masquerading as the Hoodoo Gurus. We understand that and that’s a natural thing. It is the same with the Stones and expecting to hear Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash and Paint It Black… there’s so many good songs. We do have a balancing act and we are not the type of band that can play three hours. It wouldn’t happen and you wouldn’t like either even though people think they want more ice cream. We’ll do a substantial set and cover most bases and people will feel like they saw us not just a part of us.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch The Hoodoo Gurus on the following dates with The Dandy Warhols and Even. Tickets from Frontier Touring…