BAND SPOTLIGHT: MIDNIGHT OIL [ROB HIRST]

We catch up with Midnight Oil's drummer Rob Hirst as he prepares to reunite with the Aussie Legends for another assault in the UK this month.

We catch up with Midnight Oil’s drummer Rob Hirst as he prepares to reunite with the Aussie Legends for another assault in the UK this month.

Rob Hirst [Midnight Oil]

They may have taken a 15 year break but getting back together in 2017 to play their big albums of the eighties has become something of a reawakening for Midnight Oil.

Lead vocalist Peter Garrett went into politics, others formed new collaborations, even shamanic conversions during their absence, but having now played all over the world again on the Great Circle Tour (which included 2 dates in London) this has fired them up to record some new music and to get back out on the road again this month. John Hayhurst pinned down Rob Hirst to ask him how things were getting on?

What was the mood like in the band during your recent reformation and at the UK gigs in London on the Great Circle tour? 

‘Fresh’ I’d say is the right word. It was like Rip Van Winkle had a bucket of cold water poured over him while sleeping in the sauna.

Was it easy to get back into it, considering the lengthy gap when you all went your separate ways for about 15 years? What have you all brought back to the band after that time?

Surpisingly easy. Rob, Martin and I had been playing together a lot in our surf band The Break with Brian Ritchie from Violent Femmes so we had been hanging out, writing and performing a lot. We rehearsed for 4 months to go deep into the Midnight Oil catalogue but the sound was there right from the first note. That sound is simply made by the people in the room and you’re right, a lot had happened in the 15 or so years. Pete in politics: divorces, shamanic conversions and lots of music and collaborations for the rest of us.

Were you surprised how well you were received on the UK dates?

Yes we were surprised by it everywhere, it was much the same though the mood in the US was a bit subdued in the south due to the rise of the right and Trump. We played the legendary Hammersmith Odeon twice and sold it out (we’d played there before supporting Stiff Little Fingers in 1982). I think we played to about a million people during that 2017 tour.

The gig in Manchester UK – what can we expect? a different show compared to the previous London gigs, or perhaps a run through of ‘Diesel and Dust’? 

We have played Diesel back to back at a few gigs as we have with 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and even our second album Head Injuries. It’s quite a ride doing whole albums, but fun. I think our shows are always different, playing a lot of songs from the back pages every night, but still with the hits to keep the punters happy. Crusty Australian guitar rock with a twist and lyrics to make you think about the world I’d call it.

How much of this is a desire just to play your extensive back catalogue live together again, compared to producing some new music? 

A box set had come out, inevitably as they do, and it was interesting to put that together and hear all the rare songs too and live versions, it was a dose. But I think it was more about hanging out together again, making the noise, seeing if we could do it, wading into the music again, and to our delight we could with ease, and so new music will come from that.

Assuming you will be recording a new album soon, can you tell us anything about it, and will you maybe play some of it live here in June 2019? 

Well, there are still plenty of things to write about in this world, it all gone pretty mad/Looney Tunes as far as I can see so subject matter is not a problem. A few tunes have been run up the flagpole and are going well so I hope we can air some of them, though these days if you play a new one it’s immediately streamed and is as good as released at that moment. 

Your records have clearly stood the test of time and still remain relevant to today’s political and climate/environmental challenges, how do you feel about that? 

Thanks for that, I think we always have written what meant something to us, and that coincided with our audience too. So I agree with that. The same things in the world are still going on since the 70’s; wars, environmental vandalism by governments and corporations, nuclearism and the rights of indigenous people being trampled on, those are in a lot of our songs so there’s still that relevance there. Everything changes but nothing much does.

When is the new record likely to be released?

Hmm good question, I’ll ask the lads.

Can we expect a bigger UK tour to coincide with its release? 

Bigger I don’t know, but as long as we can connect with the people who like us and what we’re on about that could even happen in your local town hall.

Surprised you are not playing Glastonbury in June as you are in France around that time, do you like the festival environment or prefer to have the control over your own show? 

We are doing a few festivals and yes I’m surprised and disappointed we’re not doing Glastionbury. We’ve done it a couple of times before and its always fun. I remember seeing Paul Weller being carried over the mud from his dressing room to the stage so his winkle pickers wouldn’t get dirty, the whole thing was a blast. So we like festivals where we can hang out and see other bands and our own shows where we can stretch out and play longer sets, it’s all part of life on the road for this bunch of Aussies.

Rob Hirst [Midnight Oil]

Soundsphere Mag will be there when Midnight Oil open their 2019 account in Europe at Manchester Apollo on Sunday 9th June. Their full Euro tour schedule and ticket details:-

SUN 9 JUNE O2 Apollo | Manchester, UK

with special guest Bad//Dreems
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://myticket.co.uk/artists/midnight-oil

TUE 11 JUNE Olympia | Dublin, Ireland

with special guest Declan O’Rourke
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.ticketmaster.ie/venueartist/198239/735651

THU 13 JUNE O2 Brixton Academy | London, UK

with special guest Bad//Dreems
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://myticket.co.uk/artists/midnight-oil

SAT 15 JUNE Festi’neuch Openair Festival | Neuchatel, Switzerland

All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.starticket.ch/fr/tickets/festineuch-2019-20190613-1700-20190617-0000-les-jeunes-rives-neuchatel

MON 17 JUNE Stadtpark | Hamburg, Germany

with special guest Wolf Maahn
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

WED 19 JUNE Porta Nigra | Trier, Germany

with special guest Wolf Maahn
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

FRI 21 JUNE Zeltfestival | Mannheim, Germany

with special guest Wolf Maahn
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

SAT 22 JUNE Rock the Ring | Hinwil, Switzerland

All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.ticketcorner.ch/tickets.html?affiliate=TCS&doc=artistPages%2Ftickets&fun=artist&action=tickets&erid=2313787&includeOnlybookable=false&xtmc=rock_the_ring&xtnp=1&xtcr=1

THU 27 JUNE Grand Rex | Paris, France

All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.ticketmaster.fr/fr/manifestation/midnight-billet/idmanif/451162/idtier/4827637

SAT 29 JUNE Festival Retro C Trop | Tilloloy, France

All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://retroctrop.fr/

MON 1 JULY Tollwood Festival | Munich, Germany

with special guest Wolf Maahn
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

WED 3 JULY Killesberg | Stuttgart, Germany

with special guest Wolf Maahn
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

FRI 5 JULY Rock Zottegem | Zottegem, Belgium

All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://rock-zottegem.be/tickets/

SAT 6 JULY Zitadelle | Mainz, Germany

with special guest Wolf Maahn
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

TUE 9 JULY Les Nuits De Fourviere Festival | Lyon, France

All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.nuitsdefourviere.com/programme/midnight-oil

THU 11 JULY Guitare en Scene Festival | Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, France

All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

SAT 13 JULY Amphitheatre | Gelsenkirchen, Germany

with special guest Wolf Maahn
All tickets on-sale now.
Tickets: https://www.myticket.de/midnight-oil-tickets-429.html

John Hayhurst

About John Hayhurst

John has been to gigs for over 30 years and he travels all over for festivals. Genres range from folky female singers to bloodbath metal whores - Live for the Music!