Hoodoo Gurus tour nationally for their 40th anniversary December 2021.
If there were a soundtrack to 1980s and 1990s Australia, it would be raw and brash, teaming with badass rogues exploring life's regrets and loves while ringed by strife and rebellion from pockets of powerlessness.
The 'greed is good ethos' saw the '80s kick off the globalisation of the Australian economy to end in a recession "we had to have", resulting in two tumultuous decades of incredible financial highs and lows.
It was a time for intense reflection, where Australia was forced to question their values and where they stood in the world.
This financial turbulence and cultural fall out would shape the Hoodoo Gurus through an era of incredible transition for an enduring 40-year career. In celebration of their success, Hoodoo Gurus return to stages for their 40th Anniversary national tour in December – complete with a new album and The Dandy Warhols as the main support act.
"Sometimes when people talk, they say 'you guys broke up, didn't you?'," frontman, songwriter and Hoodoos mainstay Dave Faulkner laughs. "We reformed," he confirms. "We shed another skin."
The Hoodoo Gurus first exploded onto the scene with debut track 'Leilani' establishing their classic approach to '60s rock tinged with an impenetrable edge of guitars and drums.
"We just wanted to amuse ourselves – we kind of still do." - Dave Faulkner
Evocative chart toppers like 'Bittersweet' reflects a time seeking answers to regrets while 'My Girl' and '1000 Miles Away' tugged at the heartstrings, but the multi-layers and levels of song writing perfection, resonating lyrics and catchy hooks with 'What's My Scene' propelled the Hoodoos firmly into Australian households.
"It's in hindsight you ask, 'How did we get here? What happened?'" Dave laughs. "Because in a way, we were never really welcomed as we weren't a commercial radio natural, and we weren't indie radio. We never had an armchair ride from anyone. We just pushed our own way through."
While the band would be inducted into the 2007 ARIA Hall of Fame to eternally cement their position in Australian popular culture, the Hoodoos' blooming musical career during the '80s and '90s trod a risky path fraught with shifting dynamics in an iron-fisted industry.
They were the antithesis to everything Aussie music. Their penchant for rock meshed classic '60s rock and psychedelic to garage sounds and punk.
This was quite unlike anything else in a scene occupied by golden pub rock kids Cold Chisel and Midnight Oil on one side, counter-balanced by the commercial popularity of INXS, Pseudo Echo, Crowded House and Icehouse on the other.
In a brave, new, transitioning world where Aussie music was still growing into itself, the lines had been firmly drawn between rock and commercial – and never the twain would meet.
God forbid being a commercially successful independent artist – this was simply not a thing. "At first, we just wanted to amuse ourselves – we kind of still do," Dave says.
"When we formed in 1981, it was just a conversation about music and the different bands we saw around us. You had the new wave electronica thing in Sydney and there were the pub rock bands.
"There's a big gulf between those two poles with a lot of music in between not getting heard. That was our goal – to play the songs we liked, the music we liked.
"We thought we'd be a cover band when we started, but when we started rehearsing, we were writing songs. We could never be bothered learning the covers. It was like an accidental birth playing music we liked."
Hoodoo Gurus would help lay the foundations for the Australian indie scene – before indie music was officially a thing – of today's triple j favourites and powerhouses following in their wake.
"We were one of the earliest bands to blaze that trail from the complete indie side of things to the mainstream," Dave reflects, "and in many ways, we caught flack for it because it wasn't kosher to have records and still be considered a valid independent band.
"The Ramones encapsulated everything about rock & roll to me," Dave adds. "They just made it clear. Punk rock was a really pivotal moment, but I put it down to Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.
"Suddenly it was okay to have a number one hit – and you weren't selling out by doing that. Before that, somehow you couldn't be any good if your music succeeded on the mainstream.
"But we write the songs and record them for ourselves, and then the songs go out and they become other people's property and adapted into their lives. The things they relate to may not be the same things I put in there – but they're just as valid.
"And as a songwriter, that's what you do. You interpret yourself and figure out who the hell you are and what you're doing and where you fit. That's a lifetime job for any person."
As the band evolved through members and dynamics shifted, the Hoodoo's energy would progress through albums, particularly with standout records – 1985's 'Mars Needs Guitars!', 1991's 'Kinky', and 1994's 'Crank'.
"I've learnt after all these years the actual chemistry of the people in the band is really, really important," Dave says. "Nobody ever really knows about the inside mechanics. You can only learn these things by doing them, unfortunately; by making the right decisions that are painful.
"You go through some hard times when you didn't have to and you cause other people pain when you don't intend to. We've got a history as long as my arm. It's not a history we're ashamed of."
With their first album in 11 years due later this year, new single 'World Of Pain' illustrates their eternal indie rock sound with their standard ruffian approach. "It's the energy," Dave confirms.
"We're thrilled to showcase that. Naturally, we want to show people what we're all about today. We're very happy to be playing.
"We've got a whole bunch of new songs, which people don't want to hear about when there's talk about a 40th anniversary because they want to celebrate everything the band has been – which we always do. We want to pull out our old songs, but at the same time, we've focused on new material because we're really excited by it."
Hoodoo Gurus & The Dandy Warhols 2021 Tour Dates
Wed 1 Dec - The Riverstage (Brisbane) Fri 3 Dec - Sidney Myer Music Bowl (Melbourne) Sat 4 Dec - Hordern Pavilion (Sydney)* sold out Sun 5 Dec - Hordern Pavilion (Sydney) Thu 9 Dec - Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre Sat 11 Dec - Belvoir Homestead & Amphitheatre (Perth)
Hoodoo Gurus also join The Superjesus and Def FX at Eatons Hill Hotel (Brisbane) 17 July – a fundraiser gig for Redcliffe's The Breakfast Club. They also join Jimmy Barnes, Jon Stevens, Diesel, Vika & Linda and Chris Cheney on the 2021 Red Hot Summer Tour.
2021 Red Hot Summer Tour Dates
Sat 16 Oct - Mornington Racecourse (Melbourne)* sold out Sun 17 Oct - Mornington Racecourse (Melbourne) Sat 23 Oct - Roche Estate (Hunter Valley) Sun 24 Oct - Mount Penang Parkland (Central Coast) Sat 30 Oct - Berry Showground (Berry) Sun 31 Oct - Patrick White Lawns (Canberra) Sat 6 Nov - Westport Park (Port Macquarie) Sat 13 Nov - Bendigo Racecourse* sold out