Ahead of the Mundi Mundi festival, Hoodoo Gurus singer Dave Faulkner chats about their 40 year music career

Having previously played the Birdsville Big Red Bash, this year the Hoodoo Gurus will also be playing at the Mundi Mundi Bash. The three-day camping festival is held at Belmont Station, on the Mundi Mundi Plains 9km north of Silverton – 35km north of Broken Hill from the 17th to 19th August. Joining them on stage will be a plethora of Australian classic acts such as ICEHOUSE, Human Nature, Pete Murray and The Angels. Check out last year’s day one photos, day two (including the Undie Run) and day three photos here.

We had a chat to lead singer Dave Faulkner about the almost 40-year longevity of Stoneage Romeos and the challenges of releasing their latest album Chariot of the Gods.

How did you enjoy your Big Red Bash Experience?

We had a ball, it’s quite a bizarre experience, as you can imagine. It’s a little bit Priscilla, on the top of the bus in the middle of the desert.

How does it influence your performance, playing in the Outback like that?

When we get on-stage we do what we do, it doesn’t matter what part of the planet we’re in; even if it’s a small club or a giant stadium. Obviously the circumstances do affect it in some ways and can make it more exciting for you. That gives it a certain edge. The other thing that has the most impact, is how the crowd’s feeling. That’s something that you can’t really tell until you get there and are on-stage.  When we did the Big Red Bash, it was extraordinary. Everyone really wanted to be there. They’ve planned it, they’re quite adventurous people, they like to go off the beaten track. That’s a certain type of spirit as well. You can sense it among the whole site. There’s a shared feeling of something kind of unique happening.

What amazed me is how many families were at last year’s Mundi Mundi Bash. It’s really inclusive. 

When I was a kid I loved camping. That feeling of discovering the world in way I’d never imagined. I guess that it forms a bond for life. You really form an attachment to the landscape of this country. That’s something that they’ll always take with them. I guess if you add Rock ‘n’ Roll to the mix it doesn’t hurt either.

Your debut album Stoneage Romeos is forty years old next year. How does it feel having created something so enduring?

It’s weird. Obviously everything that you do is how you’re feeling at that moment. You’re interpreting your life and explaining it to other people through music. The fact that it’s still relevant to people. There are elements about music that transcend eras; you respond to the melody no matter what era it’s from. Everyone is still digging Beethoven, but we don’t have to be sitting in a musty Viennese concert hall in hat and tails to understand it. It speaks directly.

It’s like with our music, it’s not like the songs have fallen off the face of the earth and been rediscovered. They’ve always been a part of the mix. The songs get played on radio, they get performed by cover bands, so we’re in the DNA of the culture.

Interestingly I saw Hoodoo Gurus on Rage last weekend. 

They showed an old Countdown that Brad and I hosted in 1985. I didn’t stay up to watch it. I got home from our gig at Yarra Valley, and started watching Rage and saw some old Countdown episodes. It was so funny.

How was the influence of a show like Countdown in the day versus releasing music today?

It was good and bad, because it meant what wasn’t on Countdown was really battling. Even though it’s funny that we were hosting Countdown that year, I think it was just them taking out a bit of an insurance policy.  We were not their cup of tea at all. We were playing guitars and they were right into the synth pop sound. With good-looking pop star puppets. We were just a hairy rock ‘n roll band and we were making a noise. After our second album came out, they were worried that we’d be big, so they wanted to be our friends. Do you remember when AC/DC went on? They were very much not a Countdown band. Apparently they got banned because Bon wore a schoolgirl outfit. Cold Chisel – these were bands that were on Countdown but were not part of Countdown.

As far as differences go, it was well known at the time that if you went on Countdown, your record would rise in the charts next week. The only band that didn’t was a band called The Expression. They had a hit blowing up the charts, then they went on Countdown. They were a bit like hippies that had latched onto the New Romantic electro-pop thing. They looked like hippies on stage and all the kids went “oh, no”. But generally speaking it seemed to work in people’s favour.

The Countdown of today is kinda like Triple J. Everyone knows that Triple J has its own programming foibles. If you’re in or out depends on if you love them or hate them. The good thing now is the Internet. People can get themselves seen around the world. Obviously that’s not easy. It’s like standing in the middle of Martin Place in Sydney and handing out cassettes. Then it gets dropped in the bin. It’s the same thing digitally. There’s so much going on, but it is possible. Someone like Tones and I did a little record and suddenly it gets a billion streams or something.

Your latest album, Chariot of the Gods, was possibly released at the worst time in 2022?

It was a hard time to make an album over COVID, but at the same time it was good for us mentally. Even though we had months were we couldn’t meet in person, it gave us something to be creatively engaged in. We started it as a series of singles and we released the album later, rather than do a big production and get it all done at once. We decided to take our time and be a bit more artisanal about it. We released a single in 2019, just before COVID hit. So we started the record but it went very slowly for a while.

It definitely has the hallmarks of the classic Gurus guitar sound. I can imagine it would slot well into the live sets. 

It does. The songs have been going over great in that they don’t slow the tempo, which is a worry with new songs. A lot of people have commented that it sounds like classic Gurus, but we had no concept of that when we were making it. We had no thought of it as anything but a brand new record. We play the same instruments that we’ve always played and I’m the same songwriter, so there’s that same sense of melody and my sense of humour. The way I express myself is not going to change that much. It’s a question of if people are resonating with it. You can’t guess that. All you can do is what feels right to you.

My favourite song from the album would be “Hang with the Girls”. 

It doesn’t sit on the fence. I love it because it’s our attempt to bring back the spirit of the New York Dolls. It’s a hard thing to do, that classic rock and roll. Everything thinks just do a stomping riff and that will be fine. It doesn’t work that way; it can easily fall flat and sound like a bit of tired old nothing. We had a song on our first album, “Kamikaze Pilot”, which is similar, very Dolls inspired. The song “What’s In It for Me?” from Purity of Essence is kinda like that. You always try to pull one out of the hat because they’re hard to do. Like the perfect joke. A rock ‘n roll song has to jump out at you.

Another song that jumped out to me was “Equinox”. 

That’s Brad’s song. That’s a very heartfelt song about his recent marriage. He’s found love again late in life and it’s a big revelation to him that it was possible. It’s a very beautiful tribute to their relationship. Brad always likes to bring a bit of sunshine pop, a genre of music from the late sixties and early seventies. He had a song “You Open My Eyes” many years ago with a similar sunshine pop influence.

Reading through some of the song titles; “My Imaginary Friend”, “Was I Supposed to Care?”, “Got To Get You Out of My Life” – is there something going on? 

You’re right… there was some shit going on in my life so naturally I try to figure out how to explain it to myself as much as to everyone else. Sometimes they’re specifically narratively focussed, but sometimes they merge ideas. But overall, you can tell that it hasn’t been all beer and skittles to me for the last few years and that certainly shows. It wasn’t a COVID album in the sense of being locked in a room and writing a song. That’s never worked for me anyway. When I’m motivated to do a project it’s usually out of frustration.

Often I’ll record ideas on my phone. I’ll sing little melodies that occur to me into the phone and save it for later. At the time I just store them away on a hard drive and when I want to make a record I’ll go back through them and see which ones still speak to me. The songs were all written very much around the time of recording.

I did have one song that came from twenty years ago, called “Settle Down”. It’s a song from the view of being an old person and how life passes you by. Of course I wrote it twenty years ago, when I was a lot younger.

I think you get to a point where you just accept growing old. 

For me, turning forty was the best birthday ever. I knew all that bullshit was suddenly finished. I felt literally that day, thank God that’s over. I know a lot of people who love their thirties. But for me touring is a very isolating lifestyle. So turning forty was not caring anymore. I just much calmer about things. You don’t have to conform to other people’s expectations.

On the flip-side, what kept you going in the music industry for forty years?

That’s a story that’s still revealing itself to me. As a group, we’ve done so much together that we’re proud of. We have an unshakable bond that’s about music, which is endlessly rewarding. That’s a fresh thing that we get to tap into. We love music so much. Living in that mindset of performing, you yourself become an instrument. You get to switch off the mundane and enter this weird world that doesn’t exist anywhere else, except when you do it. That’s an incredible gift. That’s the hard thing about COVID. We weren’t performing. I’ve played music professionally since I was eighteen and it’s always been a constant. As much as I think I might retire one day, it’s not really logical, because theres no way I’m gonna stop loving music. There’s no substitute to that psychic connection between the artist and the audience. It’s magical.


The all-ages, dog-friendly camping events will also feature comedy, outdoor film screenings, helicopter flights, camel rides and the Nutbush dance off world record attempt, ‘Bashville Drag’ Charity Fun Run (Big Red Bash), Mad Max best dressed competition (Mundi Mundi Bash) and the Mundi Undie Run’ (Mundi Mundi Bash) helping to raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctors.



More information and tickets here.