STILL ROCKING: Dave Faulkner says the Hoodoo Gurus’ performance at Splendour In The Grass will not just be chronological, but archaeological. He says the band have moved past the bad blood between them.DAVE Faulkner makes no qualms about it: the highly anticipated Splendour In The Grass performance by both past and present members of the Hoodoo Gurus is unlikely to ever happen again.
Frontman Faulkner and the band’s current members will perform a selection of their classics in chronological order and will be joined by former drummer James Baker and former bass guitarist Clyde Bramley – who left the band after the 1984 release of first album Stoneage Romeos and after touring for the third album Blow Your Cool respectively – to perform numbers from the lauded debut breakthrough and for an epic finale.
‘‘It won’t just be chronological, but archaeological!’’ Faulkner jokes.
‘‘There was a lot of bad blood, to be honest – it really hasn’t been possible until pretty much this year because we never really saw eye to eye about what went down.
‘‘We still haven’t talked about it, but it was a very long time ago – 30 years ago this year – that James left the band, so we finally moved past it and luckily we can go out and enjoy it once again.
‘‘It’s difficult to talk about it, it’s not like talking about ex-girlfriends or something, it’s different to that – you share a certain sort of unified bond that creates a certain music and obviously when you change that mix that changes the music you make as well, so it will be nice to see how those sounds sound with that dynamic again.’’
The performance will mark the latest chapter in the life of one of the country’s most enduring and inventive bands, who have created a legacy across three decades based on Faulkner’s distinctive voice and whippet smart sardonic lyrics over a progression of garage punk, rockabilly, power pop, psychedelic kitsch and hard-driving rock, earning them a spot in the ARIA Hall of Fame and continuing to garner invitations to headlining gigs.
But the fable could have had an early ending, when the band announced in 1997 it was breaking up.
‘‘We’re still going and so it was a necessary thing,’’ says Faulkner, who went on to release an album with his shortlived side project Antenna, which also featured Kim Salmon, Justin Frew and Stuart McCarthy.
‘‘When I started working with other musicians there was a lack of unity and binding and vision – the bond wasn’t there. But halfway through the recording and writing process with Antenna there was a strong chemical reaction where it wasn’t just the four of us as individuals in the room, it was like there was an overarching band identity that we were part of but at the same time was controlling us, we all seemed to know instinctively what was right, what was wrong without having to really discuss it.
‘‘I’d never seen that displayed so concretely because I’d been in the Hoodoo Gurus all those years and never realised it had happened in that band and it wasn’t until we played Homebake nearly four years after we broke up when I saw the Gurus through those eyes.’’
The festival will also host the Persian Rugs – comprising all four members of the Gurus – that also contributed the song Be My Guru to the Hoodoo Gurus’ tribute album Stoneage Cameos.
The jig was up.
‘‘I promised myself and everyone else that the band wouldn’t reform and I was trying to hold true to that, but I still had this feeling that there were these songs that I was writing that belonged to the Hoodoo Gurus, but I didn’t have the Hoodoo Gurus to play [the songs],’’ Faulkner says.
‘‘I finally had to get off my horse – the band was still alive, I just wasn’t letting it out of the house.’’
The band would go on to release two new albums, Mach Schau in 2004 and Purity of Essence in 2010, and continue to write and record for what Faulkner said was more likely to be an EP than an album in the near future.
They organised a series of concerts called Dig it Up! in April 2012 to celebrate 30 years since the release of their debut single.
They held a second and final round of Dig It Up! invitational concerts last year.
‘‘We’re just doing things that amuse us, it’s the same with gigs,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got some strange options at the table that are things we’ve never done before that are little wrinkles in the fabric of our existence – just things that excite us and reward us.’’
One such venture is Faulkner’s upcoming one-off performances at Lizotte’s, where he will be joined by Gurus guitarist Brad Shepherd not only to perform, but to share stories behind the songs spanning his career, talk about the music that has shaped his life and ‘‘pull a few rabbits out of the hat’’.
‘‘They’re all part of me, they’re splinters of my personality and my thoughts at the time that reflect me and how I approach things,’’ he says when asked about a love-hate relationship with songs including the best known What’s My Scene.
Others take on lives of their own, including 1000 Miles Away that has been touted as one of the great travelling songs but that Faulkner said is more about emotional distance.
It was adopted by the crew of Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Canberra II – and since then, the navy as a whole – after Faulkner mentioned in an interview that his father, Martin Faulkner, was a World War II veteran who had survived the sinking of HMAS Canberra I during the Battle of Savo Island.
The Gurus played the song in front of Faulkner’s father and on board the Canberra II during its last voyage out of Fremantle, prior to its decommissioning in 2005.
‘‘To see all these people who he understood from his experiences as a sailor himself relating to the music his son wrote was quite moving for him and for me, in converse, seeing my father’s world coming into my world was amazing too.’’
But for all his work with different bands – The Victims, The Manikins, The Gurus, Antenna and The Moops who later became Persian Rugs – the modest Faulkner says he is much less prolific a songwriter than widely assumed and often turns his sketches, riffs and ‘‘embryos’’ into songs only when there is an impending deadline.
‘‘Number one with any song you write is you want it to connect to people emotionally and also to have some sort of juice in it, to have flavour that people can enjoy and savour, not just take up space in their brain,’’ he says.
Dave Faulkner and Brad Shepherd perform at Lizotte’s on May 31.