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50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #37: Hunters And Collectors

Something For Kate frontman Paul Dempsey reminisces on the impact that Hunters & Collectors had upon him as a young music fan.

50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time - Hunters And Collectors

Ash Mar; Cybele Malinowski*

In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.

In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.

50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #37: Hunters And Collectors (by Paul Dempsey of Something For Kate)

I have my three older sisters to thank for introducing me to Hunters and Collectors. They were out every weekend in the Eighties going to see live music in Melbourne, while I was at home sitting on the end of my bed trying to strum along on my guitar as the American Top 40 Countdown beamed out of my little clock radio. 

But I’ll never forget the first time I heard this sound come blasting through my bedroom wall. It was from a precariously-placed boombox in the bathroom on the other side, where my elder siblings were getting ready for another night out. It was a pounding, intense rhythm accompanied by a wonderfully jarring and menacing bassline. 

I put my guitar down and wandered down the hallway to the bathroom where I found the door swung open wide, and my sisters in there dancing and jostling in front of the mirror in various stages of makeup application and hair-tousling. I arrived just in time to hear the music come to a grinding halt and then all four of them (Gill, Louise, Moira, and Mark Seymour) screaming out, “YOU DON’T MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I’M A WOMAN ANYMOOOOOORE”.

Everything changed for me then. This was quite different to anything I’d heard coming out of my little clock radio, and I began further investigations immediately.

What I discovered was music that was expressive, raw, honest, emotive and more real than anything I had heard before. There was such an intensity to the track “Say Goodbye”.

The band sounded like they were attacking their instruments on an industrial factory floor and there was an urgency and a desperation in Mark Seymour’s vocal delivery that I’d simply never heard before. It sounded like he was absolutely at his wits’ end and had more than a few things to get off his chest. 

“Everything changed for me then.”

This didn’t sound like music for escapism, this sounded like people playing music because there is no escape. And I just didn’t know you could do that. (I also didn’t know that a trombone, a trumpet and french horn could rock so hard).

So I have Hunters and Collectors to thank for showing me that music can be cathartic. And also cleansing. Pretty much the bookends of songwriting. Thanks guys.

There just isn’t the space here to talk about the sheer quality and diversity of the songwriting, the scope of subject matter, the spectrum of musical styles, and the energy and conviction that they bring to the stage with them at every single show. 

So I’ll just finish by saying that they remain a huge inspiration to me, their contribution to Australian music is simply immense. May their songs be shouted to the blue summer sky for generations to come.