Hoodoo Gurus headline the Under The Southern Stars 2019 tour.
“No one else does the Hoodoo Gurus like the Hoodoo Gurus,” lead guitarist Brad Shepherd declares. He's not wrong.
For almost 40 years, the Sydney band has been playing time-honoured classics for fans national and international. So much so that the boys have become a staple of the Australian diet, our version of royalty.
“I don't know if we necessary deserve to be seen as some sort of elite class simply by virtue of sticking around for too long,” Brad says and emphasises 'too'. But he admits their longevity is “something extraordinary”.
“There aren't too many bands that can stay together that long. We certainly fight and antagonise each other, but ultimately we recognise the value in what we do. We try to preserve that as much as we might disagree about certain things.”
When asked if they need to stay relevant anymore or, rather, find they're so ingrained in our culture that trying would be superfluous, Brad answers: “You know, it's like someone once said, 'Like politicians, old buildings, and hookers, if you stick around long enough, you'll earn respect'. And I can't remember who said it, but we may fit into that category now.” Brad then gives a deep belly laugh, an honest to god guffaw.
But their longevity is about maintaining enthusiasm, as he explains. “Call it arrested development, but I still get incredibly excited about performing in this band and playing rock & roll. If I get to hold an electric guitar and stand inside that music for an hour and a half, well, I'm having a good day.
“And I feel like we have a kind of unspoken philosophy when we go onstage. When we perform, it's my aim to be the best band in the world that night. I take that on stage with me.
“I think our enthusiasm and energy is evident. And we're pretty good at what we do. So I think that may contribute to the public perception of who we are as much as the time frame.”
On the subject of relevance, the band will be touring in January as part of the Under The Southern Stars tour, which brings together some of the biggest names in Australian rock (the 2019 tour includes You Am I, Eskimo Joe, The Superjesus, British India and The Getaway Plan).
The tour, which started this year, has expanded from three locations to six in 2019 and will cover venues in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. “I'm very much looking forward to doing these shows,” Brad says.
“We're good mates with all of the bands on the bill. We've played shows with all those bands over the years. I suspect there will be a healthy level of competition between the acts. As friendly as it is back stage, once we're performing, well, you really don't want to suck.
“Take You Am I; they want to walk away feeling like conquering heroes. They're not going to capitulate to the Hoodoo Gurus. They're going to put on their very best show. So we're just going to have to be on fire.
“People pay to come see us. I want to be good. I don't want to mess up. I want people to walk away happy and gobsmacked.”
But to get to that stage, Brad says he needs to practise – a lot. “Every time we perform a song it's a challenge for me. It's not like learning to ride a bike or the Lord's prayer. I really have to practise. Because if I don't, I mess up on stage.
“And we practised a lot in '81. We were afforded a unique opportunity. We got to ride the wave of the halcyon days of Australian pub rock.
“We played a lot and consistently before we had a record contract. And once we did get one, we toured relentlessly... your hands could play the song without thought. Your muscle memory becomes so good after a couple of months that you stand inside the music.
“It's a bit like surfing, I expect. You just ride the wave not thinking. And, frankly, that's my favourite place to be.”
Under The Southern Stars 2019 Tour Dates
Sat 12 Jan - Hastings Foreshore Reserve (VIC) Sat 19 Jan - Broadwater Parklands (Gold Coast) Sun 20 Jan - Sunshine Coast Stadium Fri 25 Jan - Harts Mill (Adelaide) Sat 26 Jan - Shoalhaven Turf Club (Nowra) Sun 27 Jan - Westport Park (Port Macquarie)