Hoodoo Gurus

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Hoodoo Gurus


It’s 6pm on a Monday evening and Hoodoo Gurus guitarist Brad Shepherd is relaxing in his Adelaide hotel room, mid-way through another Hoodoo Gurus national tour.

It’s 6pm on a Monday evening and Hoodoo Gurus guitarist Brad Shepherd is relaxing in his Adelaide hotel room, mid-way through another Hoodoo Gurus national tour.

Touring is a far different proposition for the Hoodoo Gurus these days – gone are the days of heavy alcohol consumption and wild youthful exuberance. Shepherd’s routine has changed so much that he’s even taken to physical exercise. “We played in Mildura last night, and we got to Adelaide today. I went for a run today along the Torrens River – I haven’t done that for a long time!” Shepherd laughs.

It’s been a busy year for the Hoodoo Gurus. In April the Gurus released their latest studio album, Purity of Essence, backed by a sold-out national tour. Almost thirty years after the band’s conception, the Hoodoo Gurus appear stronger than ever. “It’s all gone very well this year,” Shepherd reflects. “This time last year we were playing pre-Christmas shows. Then we played again in March, and then we did the album tour in April. We were in LA three and a half weeks ago – we’re definitely road-hard at the moment!” Shepherd says.

Embracing exercise on the road is one obvious difference in Shepherd’s touring routine; Shepherd says his attitude and psychological reaction to touring has also changed. “It used to be much more mentally and culturally satisfying, and physically exhausting,” Shepherd says. “But now it’s the opposite. When I was young we’d leave Sydney for six months. We’d tour around Australia, and then we’d head overseas. A year would pass before we’d get back home. These days it’s a lot tougher on me – I’ve got an eight year old daughter and I miss her terribly when I’m on the road,” Shepherd says.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the Hoodoo Gurus’ indulgence of suburban venues. Whereas the average touring band is content to play inner-city venues, the Gurus are more than happy to head out into the suburbs. “That’s a fundamental cornerstone of our approach,” Shepherd says. “We were embraced by the inner-city, but we’ve never been snobs. We’ve always played in the outer suburbs. Someone asked us recently if we’d ever played the Ferntree Gully Hotel, and I said ‘Of course we have!’”

Shepherd laments the reluctance of contemporary bands to ply their trade in outer suburban venues. “A lot of bands in the early 1990s didn’t nurture that classic Aussie pub scene,” he says. “And I reckon that was to the detriment of new music culture. Publicans have had to get other entertainment in to replace it. We’re the last bastions of the golden era of pub rock. We still love what we do, and anything can happen when we play. If someone yells for a request, if we can do it, then we’ll play it,” Shepherd says.

From its origins as an obscure bubblegum pop band in Sydney’s inner-city scene, the Hoodoo Gurus have gone onto become one of Australia’s most popular bands. Songs such as I Want You Back, My Girl, What’s My Scene? and Like Wow (Wipeout) are etched into the national psyche. Shepherd says the band isn’t resting on its laurels. “We’re always trying to reach a new audience – we’re trying to reach anyone!” Shepherd laughs. “We just try and make good music. And now we’re blessed to have a big record company behind us. We did the previous album, and that was just about invisible. Now you just hope and pray – you can’t force people to like your music. You can’t go out and try and write songs like Kings of Leon!” he laughs.

For its current tour the Gurus have teamed up again with The Break, featuring Martin Rotsey, Jim Moginie and Rob Hirst from fellow ‘80s pub rock icons Midnight Oil. “They’re all good friends of ours, and their kindred spirits because they’ve been playing for a long time, too,” Shepherd says. “And we love what they’re doing. I love the surf-instrumental thing – bands like The Atlantics, Shadows, Taman Shud. And I love Jim Moginie’s mad scientist approach to things. And let’s not discount the fact that they’re essentially Midnight Oil!” he chuckles.

With major label backing, strong audience support and a solid new album, the Gurus are feeling pretty good with the world. “I do feel that our public profile has been elevated this year, and I hope we can capitalise on that. We’ve had good sales, and lots of people are coming to our shows,” Shepherd says. And Shepherd has also found time to guest with the Hitmen, the legendary Australian band he was playing with immediately prior to joining the Hoodoo Gurus. “I did that last weekend – it was a bloody hoot!” Shepherd says. “I was absolutely terrified, playing songs that I hadn’t played for 30 years. I believe there’s now pictures of me all over the Internet in my tight red bell-bottoms!”

THE HOODOO GURUS will play all of their greatest hits and more at their sold-out show at The Corner Hotel on Friday December 17. They’re supported by The Break.