The last time we saw Hilltop Hoods performing live, the Adelaide hip hop group were bringing the house down at the Fire Fight Australia concert at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. The trio of Suffa, Pressure and DJ Debris were given the near impossible task of following Queen + Adam Lambert, but with help from guests such as Illy, Ecca Vandal and Montaigne, the Hoods didn’t let the momentum slip.
This was back in February 2020, and we all know what happened next. Hilltop Hoods will make their long-awaited return to the stage for a run of festival dates over the next couple of months, starting with a headline slot at Wollongong’s Yours and Owls on the first weekend of April. The ten-time ARIA honourees’ live set-up will be much the same as it was on their 2019 arena tour.
“Plutonic Lab on the drumkit again and some horns,” says Pressure. “And Nyassa doing some back-up vocals for us.”
After a quiet 2021, Hilltop Hoods resurfaced in March with the single “Show Business”, the group’s first new music since the pandemic angst track, “I’m Good?”. “Show Business” comes with a music video directed by Nash Edgerton, who previously directed 2012’s “I Love It” (featuring Sia).
The clip stars Suffa, Pressure and Debris as bargain basement party clowns. The trio shows up to a children’s birthday party in a 1980s Mitsubishi Sigma, and it’s all downhill from there. Their clown tricks are ungainly and the kids aren’t in the mood to be polite—many pies, and children, have been thrown into the air by the clip’s end.
“We were coming back with [‘Show Business’] and we wanted to do a big clip and Nash was the one that gave us our most cinematic clip in the past,” says Suffa. “We’re really happy with it, super fun clip.”
Along with intermittent acting work, Edgerton has directed the feature films, The Square (2008) and Gringo (2018), and music videos for Brandon Flowers, Shihad and most notably, Bob Dylan.
“He was telling us a story about [Dylan],” says Suffa. “When they shot one of [the music videos], the label guys wanted Bob to sing along and Bob was like, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ And they’re like, ‘Could you strum the guitar?’ and he’s like, ‘I’m not going to do that either.’ And they’re like, ‘All right, thanks Bob.’”
The “Show Business” video also features American contemporary R&B singer Eamon, who performs the song’s pop- and soul-influenced chorus. Eamon is best-known for his 2003 single, “Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)”, which hit the top of the charts around the world at the time of its release.
Eamon’s commercial fortunes dipped after “Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)” and the artist disappeared from the limelight for more than a decade. He’s currently undergoing a creative resurgence, which began with 2017’s Golden Rail Motel.
“Suffa came to me with [Golden Rail Motel], which he’d been putting on heavy rotation, and was like, ‘I really want to do a collab with Eamon,’” says Pressure. “I did know him from [‘Fuck It’], but it took a while to click because he took a pretty big hiatus—I think he had some health issues and some other things go on in his life.”
The lead single from Golden Rail Motel, “I Got Soul”, recaps Eamon’s journey from superstardom to financial destitution. The track’s lyrics matched up with Suffa’s ideas for “Show Business”.
“The lyrics in [‘I Got Soul’] were like, ‘I haven’t got a fancy car I own, ’cause I done put millions up my nose,’” says Suffa. “So apart from that his cadence and his timbre really suited the track, his story really suited the feel and the idea [for ‘Show Business’].”
“Show Business” cruises along a peppy beat provided by producer One Above, over which Pressure and Suffa air grievances regarding the less-than-glamorous aspects of being in show biz. “A lot of it for me reminds of the meme, ‘How they think this is going; how this is actually going,’” says Pressure of the song’s lyrical tenor.
“There is this perception that show business can be, you know, glitz, glitz, glamour, it’s fun and no hard work. And then the reality of it is you have to dress as a clown for three days,” he laughs. “There’s hard work and there’s rock bottom times as well.”
But despite the song’s tongue in cheek complaints, Debris can’t remember the Hoods ever seriously considering throwing in the towel. “We don’t know anything else,” he says. And why would they? The Australian tour behind the group’s 2019 LP, The Great Expanse, was the biggest of their career. They sold more than 15,000 tickets to Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena, breaking the venue record for ticket sales.
The Great Expanse was the Hoods’ fifth consecutive ARIA #1 album and helped them eclipse one million records sold in Australia. “I’m Good?”, recorded and released in the early days of the 2020 Covid lockdowns, came in at #9 in triple j’s Hottest 100 of 2020—not bad for an act who first made the countdown in 2003.
However, the members of Hilltop Hoods are still frequently humbled by events in their professional lives. For instance, after finishing The Great Expanse Australian tour, the group travelled to Europe. Suffa remembers a show at the Viennese club venue Flex.
“We played the show and then had to shower after the show in a night club bathroom,” he says. “This place had a toilet with an ashtray next to it and I had a shower and my bag was sitting under this ashtray and I knocked the ashtray—and it was one of those spinning ones so they could empty it—and this pile of cigarette butts went into my bag from the toilet ashtray.”
“Yeah, we’re not playing arenas in Europe,” laughs Pressure. “We did two-and-a-half-thousand [capacity venues] in Munich and London, but there’s obviously much smaller nightclub shows like Vienna where you’re forced to shower with the toilet ashtray.”
The group will be back in their element on day one of Your and Owls, heading up a lineup that also features Peking Duk, Violent Soho, Jack River, King Stingray and stacks more.
Hilltop Hoods have been festival headliners for close to two decades, and they’re not ready to give up the title just yet.
“In some ways it’s more remarkable that we’re still able to do it after 20 odd years,” says Pressure. “After doing it for so long, the magic of that doesn’t go away for me.”
Yours & Owls 2022
Bliss n Eso
The Jungle Giants
(The Return Of) Faker
Late Nite Tuff Guy
Big Twisty & The Funknasty
Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys
Death By Denim
Rest For The Wicked
Lizzie Jack & The Beanstalks
The Morning Mood
Nothing Rhymes With David
Plus DJ’s at Das Schmelthaus
L N T G
Barney In The Tunnel
Cover Sound System
Wilder & Pryor
Saturday, April 2nd – Sunday, April 3rd, 2022
Stuart Park, Wollongong, NSW
More Info: Yours & Owls