Post-punk, new-wave indie act Johnny Hunter's newest release is the distinct and vivid 'Life' – a track that breathes in deeply the sounds of the '80s; think The Birthday Party meets The Cure with a healthy serving of The Church.
The band worked on this single with engineer Adam Greenspan (IDLES, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and Jack Moffitt (The Preatures) at Parliament Studios in Sydney.
"To find life is to find happiness, it is the ultimate end and purpose of our existence," Johnny Hunter's frontman Nick Hutt says.
"Life is not found in the darkness of the night, nor is it found in selfish ideals. It lies in the balance of the new day and how we approach our imperfections to bring balance to ourselves.
"The sun is shining, it's time for change, appreciate what you have, know who you are and lose yourself in 'Life'.
"Inspired by the moral dilemma I faced pulling beers for alcoholics to sustain a week-to-week pay cheque that was almost always whimsically spent on alcohol for myself.
"These people were dying right in front of my eyes (some did die) and I was joining them."
Here, the band share 15 tracks that directly and indirectly influenced the creative process for the making of 'Life'.
New Order - 'Regret'
My favourite introductions of all time and one of the best New Order tracks, the perfect middle ground for guitar and dance. This song makes me feel so many things at once. We played it first thing every morning in the studio whilst sipping our coffees.
One night we were racking our brains as what to do with life's intro, 'Regret' was on repeat and we were drinking quite a bit, then a moment of magic; Jack reversed the guitars and chopped them up to hear the intro you hear today.
There's a reason she opened the London Olympics in 2012 with this song. It's a motivational masterpiece.
Kate Bush - 'Running Up That Hill'
We weren't listening to this much at all throughout the process, but I think it must’ve been playing somewhere in the depths of our subconscious because vocally it's quite similar to the verses of 'Life'.
Depeche Mode - 'Enjoy The Silence'
During the recording process, my girlfriend started playing me this song and I couldn't stop listening to it. Texturally and vocally it's beautiful. When Adam asked us for a mixing reference for 'Life' I sent him this song.
Q Lazzarus - 'Goodbye Horses'
Also Becky Lucas once described the Johnny Hunter aesthetic as 'Buffalo Bill-esque' and he sings this song in 'Silence Of The Lambs'; if that's not full circle then I don't know what is.
We're big Lorde fans here at JH HQ. The pulsing synths and the overall production value in 'Green Light' is truly anthemic; the chorus is definitely a point of reference for 'Life'.
Lorde - 'Green Light'
'I, I wish I could swim, like dolphins, like dolphins can swim.' Nothing has ever walked the line of on the nose and sincere as beautifully as that lyric does. I always wanted to write something similar.
David Bowie - 'Heroes'
A big reference point for the lyrics of 'Life'. Sailing like a swan, swimming with the dead.
The months leading up to the first demo of 'Life', I played this song on my morning run everyday. Beautifully reflective upon a wasted life. Doing the same thing over and over again expecting change. I relate to this song so much it brings tears to my eyes.
The The - 'This Is The Day'
Trip-hop drums and the effortlessly cool vocals of Queen PJ makes this one of my favourite songs. The chorus is so beautifully performed and clever. 'We float, take life as it comes!' Very influential upon lyrics.
PJ Harvey - 'We Float'
American post-punk at its finest. Experimental vocals I only hope to equate to one day. Super important song to the process and chemistry of recording 'Life'. Jack had shown me this track in one of our first meetings and from then on, we knew we understood each other creatively.
CCFX - 'One To Wait'
Another American post-punk band that I love. The original demo of 'Life' was super unpolished and quite guitar-driven. We had a lot of comparisons to DIIV from friends we showed the demo to.
DIIV - 'Under The Sun'
I'm not sure how much Steve Kilbey would like me saying this, but I think this is one of the most underrated Church songs. Uplifting guitar lines and solid Australian rock foundations. A song I listen to when I'm feeling low to get me out of bed.
The Church - 'Metropolis'
I always use Kirin as a yardstick, his ability to dramatise storytelling in song is incredible. So tongue and cheek, yet so vulnerable, it's special.
Kirin J Callinan - 'Bravado'
I'm not sure how they recorded this, but it sounds like it's been recorded in a stadium; the space that every instrument sits in for this song is something we tried to emulate when recording 'Life'.
The Cure - 'Push'
The coolest band in the UK in my opinion. 'I Believe In Something Better' is a perfect art-synth song.
Fat White Family - 'I Believe In Something Better'
Early U2 is a huge influence on the band. Everything we write, we write with their production in mind. You can hear breathing in 'Life' similar to the breathing in this song.
U2 - 'Unforgettable Fire'
The background arpeggiated textures really shaped 'Life' along with Bono's fearless journey into his higher register.