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DAVE FAULKNER The X-Press Interview

Dave Faulkner may have been making music and playing live for over 40 years, but his passion and instinct for music is as strong as ever. He spoke to LARA FOX ahead of the Hoodoo Gurus’ national tour with You Am I hitting the Astor Theatre on Friday, August 4 and Saturday, August 5, as well as legendary Perth band The Victims reforming once more as The Television Addicts and playing the Rosemount on Friday, August 11, to talk about the band’s longevity, the Australian music scene, the current state of journalism and guest appearances by former members.

You’re teaming up with You Am I to do a national tour of Australia, you guys have toured together quite a lot, what is your attraction to one another?

Hoodoo Guru’s are a rock and roll band and so are You Am I, so that is the first thing we have in common. We also have a large amount of shared love for certain heritage acts, like The Stones and The Kinks, which press both our buttons. That doesn’t mean that we play the same kind of music, but it does mean we have a lot in common, we are turned on by the same things.

Also, we just have a love for each other and a shared history. We bonded very early when they asked us to tour with them on their first album tour and we were doing our album Crank in 94 and we had Redd Kross came out from America and the three of us just had a great time in our little caravan travelling the country. We really bonded.

What can audiences expect from your shows?

A fucking amazing live performance (laughs). No, seriously. That’s what we give.

Are all the usual Gurus going on tour? Any surprises in store?

Yeah – it’s the exact same line up that has been playing together since 1988, which is still intact. You also might get a guest appearance form our previous line up somewhere along the line or from other bands around the traps – you never know!

You are adding a few regional shows to the tour this time, what was behind that decision?

I love the regional shows. We feel that no matter where you live, you should get the opportunity to see some live music. We are obviously restricted by economics, but if it were up to me I would visit as many regional places as possible.

Hoodoo Guru’s have stood the test of time, what is the secret to your longevity?

I honestly think it is because we are really road hard. Also, it helps that we put on a really good show – we entertain people. That’s the number one reason people are still interested. They know that when they come to our shows that they will feel something, they will get something that is real and honest.

I saw you guys play at Splendour in The Grass about ten years ago now; it has stayed with me as one of my favourite live shows, which is saying a lot as you were up against the Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party and The Shins at that show…

Oh yeah, that show! The funny thing about that show is that the crowd right in front of us and anywhere near the stage were all British people because Arctic Monkeys were playing after us so they were all up the front getting a good spot, and they were all just looking at us like “who the fuck are these guys?”. They were completely disinterested in us, they didn’t care, they didn’t like us or the whole idea of us because we weren’t someone who was cool. They gave us the most frosty reaction – they were talking amongst themselves, had their backs to us, there were union jack flags everywhere, just really cold – it was like a rising chill. And in a way that kind of made us really angry and made us want to play harder. We were like “fuck you – we’ll show you”. And it’s funny because after that show, so many people told us that that was one of our best shows we had played. So yeah – it’s funny what can inspire you sometimes.

What keeps you hungry to tour and play live?

Music is our life. We love to play live and get a reaction. And yeah, it can be exhausting and hard sometimes if the sound isn’t right or whatever. But that is our life, it’s what we live for. We have so much fun playing still, which is what it is all about. It’s also nice because we are not touring to convince people anymore, we have already done that. So we literally can just go out and tour and have fun and do things that make sense.

You are doing a side show in Perth with your former band The Victims, now going by The Television Addicts – how did that come about?

Well actually Ray Ahn, who played bass, hit me up and said it was our 40 year reunion this year, and said we need to get together and do a reunion gig. So when we realised that I would be in Perth for the You Am I tour, we had a chat and from there it was just all go go go. I’m actually coming over in a few weeks to Perth to rehearse with James Baker and Ray will fly over before the gig and we will have some proper rehearsals all together, and in the meantime we will all brush up on our parts separately. I am really excited – it will be a good show.

You’re heavily involved in the Australian music scene being the director of the Live Music Office and as such I am wondering, for you, what does a group need to do to stand out nowadays?

For me, it needs to be honest. It needs to be felt. It doesn’t matter if it is punk or gentle or electronic or guitar. I like the feeling of reality – you obviously want to go beyond reality to the world of imagination and emotion, but ultimately – it just needs to feel real. It needs to be genuine, and that isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are lots of talented musicians out there, but for some reason or another, you just don’t feel what they are doing.

You do a bit of music journalism and critiquing these days, how do you find that?

Yeah, it is really challenging for me. It is a completely different part of my brain in a way. Obviously my love for music is still there, so that part of it is fine, and I probably do approach it differently to some people because I have that technical knowledge. But being a musician makes me a little scared sometimes about my descriptions, I don’t listen to music and think of words, I listen to music and think of sounds. So it is quite unnatural. But all that aside, the big thing for me is the technical writing skills, which have been completely dormant since I was in high school. I have been writing a lot of songs, but they are very short and completely different.

It is hard to write categorically in a very clear and concise way, but not so much that it is boring and won’t interest people. In terms of being a critic, I have to work in the opposite way. When I am making something creative I have to turn off the critic in my head otherwise you will completely inhibit yourself. You have to leave the critic to very late in the process. In the beginning, you just want it to be purely creative and expression – like a kid you know? You can’t worry about whether anybody else will ever hear it let alone like it; you just have to do it, do what comes out of you naturally. But as a critic you have to do it the opposite, you have to digest and analyse every little part.

Speaking of writing and journalism – there is a plethora and ease of access to information and platform these days – what do you make of journalism’s future?

I think especially now, journalism is important, more important than ever. Now more than ever, people are diverting the notion of reality and truth, this notion of fake news – it is a completely ridiculous concept. The worst thing is that we are receiving all this propaganda and everywhere is telling us that everywhere else is fake news. No one knows who to believe. It’s bizarre.

When it comes to real journalism, like investigative and political journalism, it has never been more important because we are constantly being lied to and manipulated. People owe it to themselves to be educated on the way they are being influenced by the online world. There are machines and trolls that feed you what they want and they are influencing people, they make it appear like there are millions of them, when it is just one or two people – this is really frightening, because it is brainwashing people. What it means for the future of society and democracy is frightening, I am really very afraid. We need to educate people. The world isn’t just what you see and read. That is why good journalism is more important than ever.

In terms of music journalism, it’s getting really hard. Sydney Morning Herald have extremely trimmed back their culture coverage, people have been made redundant. It’s really worrying. If we are not careful all we will have left is sport and TAB.

What does the future hold for Dave Faulkner?

I am going to keep myself involved in Australian music, and I’ll keep writing. And in terms of my own music, I have been writing songs lately, I was actually writing some music when you called today. I have some projects in the pipeline so I’m getting stuff together to put towards them. I intend to get my act together and knuckle down and get some things happening.

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