hunters and collectors 24

When the River Runs Dry (J Smith/M Seymour) – Hunters and Collectors 1989

In 1988 Barry Palmer joined the band as lead guitarist, the group’s new manager Michael Roberts, was working hard to break through the deafening silence coming from radio stations about playing the band’s music on almost any kind of rotation. After nine years and little to show in the way of hit records, the group had to find a way to connect – to produce records that were more radio-friendly, the answer was to unplug, bring acoustic guitars into the mix.hunters and collectors 26The group went into the Platinum Studio (Melb) with producer Clive Martin (The Cure, Queen, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Talking Heads) to record their next album Ghost Nation, it would be the band’s most commercially successful release and charted #7 locally as well as top 30 in NZ and Sweden, the first single, co written by Mark Seymour and Jeremy Smith, was When the River Runs Dry, which climbed to #22 locally.clive martinThe song, like several others on this album, featured acoustic guitar prominently, lyrically it was a stark warning about losing one’s perspective in life and it taunts those who covet material possessions, having “…turned their back on Mother Nature …  Good news for the beautiful people/ Watching the world go by/ Make love in the middle of a war zone/ Hey – ya never gonna die.” Seymour was now expressing his social and environmental concerns in his songs, infusing them with a social conscience and a working-class sensibility, embracing a blue-collar, tradesman-like brand of pub rock, and the band had never sounded better

Hunters supported Midnight Oil’s World Tour of 1990 which ran for three months and took in many of the major urban centres in Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Britain, the US and Canada, Ghost Nation won the ARIA Award for Cover Art and Rolling Stone magazine named Hunters and Collectors the Australian Band of the Year, after their support gig on the Oil ‘s  1990 Diesel and Dust tour.midnight oils6Despite the apparent upward trajectory of the band at this time, Mark Seymour had returned from the Oil’s World tour lacking confidence and pessimistic about the future. He did not feel that the band had won many fans while playing second banana to the Oils, and as they had gracefully agreed to allow their brass section to play onstage with the Oils, a big chunk of their unique sound had been appropriated by the main act, the “Horns off Contempt” were essentially moonlighting with the Oils, after the Hunters had completed their act.hnters an collectors2The band signed with Atlantic Records for world distribution outside Australia, When the River Runs Dry was to be the first release, Atlantic informed the band that the record would stiff in the US, and it did, a self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps, but Atlantic assured them that they regarded the band as a long-term investment, they did have a five album deal, but it was unclear what this all really meant.


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