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From the biggest army, to marching as one

Mark Seymour makes strides as solo artist after career as front man for longtime band, Hunters & Collectors



Who: Mark Seymour

When: Friday, July 10, 8 p.m.

Where: Crystal Lounge

Cost: $5

Any Aussie worth his or her salt can sing along with the "Holy Grail," a tune that's been adopted by the Australian Football League. Well, the man behind that anthem, Mark Seymour, is coming to Whistler this week to play an intimate gig at the Crystal Lounge.

These days, Seymour is touring solo with some fresh, new material, trading on his solid rep as front man for the iconic Australian group, Hunters & Collectors. He's currently touring Canada to promote his fifth solo album, Westgate , and has plans in the works to release the record in Canada.

Though Seymour may be something of a legend today, unlike many musicians, he never dreamed of living the glamorous life of a rock star. He went to school to become a teacher, and actually still spends some time substituting in classrooms back home, along the Australian coast.

"I had a pretty intense musical background; my family was very musical," he said. "And I finished uni and just became more and more interested in it, really... I just remember there was one point when I just thought I really had to try and write songs. I was going to see a lot of bands in Melbourne back in the late '70s and early '80s, and it was a... very creative time, sort of the punk rock era."

In 1980, he founded the group Hunters & Collectors as an informal jam band with friends. Their early performances started as serious parties, with audience members jumping onstage to join in on the fun.

"There was a certain amount of mythology associated with that," Seymour said with a laugh. "We actually didn't do that for very long because it got to a point where we started losing instruments, so we decided it wasn't such a great idea... People were wandering off discreetly into the crowd with guitars, trumpets, et cetera."

They assembled a large group of musicians, an eight-piece funk ensemble, featuring industrial percussion and the infamous "Horns of Contempt" section, and began building songs out of the jam sessions.

"That was very much an experimental approach, and it proved very successful, very quickly."

The group soon evolved into something much more than a casual jam session. Hunters & Collectors released six albums and developed a healthy following of fans before finally disbanding in 1998, almost 18 years after inception. The band had become renowned for their live gigs, while the members managed to maintain their independence with solo projects, which meant that they weren't focusing their energies on the commercial success of their records.

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