‘I just assumed that as you get older, you keep your bullshit to yourself’: Mark Seymour on his new album The Boxer

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‘I just assumed that as you get older, you keep your bullshit to yourself’: Mark Seymour on his new album The Boxer

Hunters & Collectors
Words by Juliette Salom

The personal is universal on Mark Seymour’s upcoming album The Boxer, to be released April 19 and performed at the Brunswick Ballroom April 21.

When the ex-Hunters and Collectors musician was approached by his record company about making another solo album, Mark Seymour thought his hands were empty. “I didn’t have any songs,” Seymour says, reflecting on that period of time when the world had only just stopped reeling from the aftermath of the pandemic. That isn’t to say his hands weren’t busy, though. Whilst gyms were closed and neighbourhood radiuses policed, Seymour found a kind of solace in boxing. “I took up boxing as sort of my middle-aged sport,” he laughs.

With the privilege of hindsight comes with it, for Seymour, the realisation that maybe boxing and writing aren’t all that different. “When you’re trying to write or be creative, it’s pretty daunting to look too much at the big picture,” he says. “Because you’re really just dealing with very small increments of consciousness. You know, the little shifts in action.” It’s about building up the details, refining each angle of the craft, or, like Seymour compares the two pursuits, “like a dance”. And then suddenly you’re in the ring, or you’ve got a whole album on your hands. “I realized that I just had plenty of material.”

Mark Seymour and The Undertow

  • Sunday April 21
  • Brunswick Ballroom
  • Tickets are on sale now

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After separating from his wife of twenty-nine years and moving from tranquil Mornington to inner-city Fitzroy at the end of the pandemic, reflecting back on that time meant that when Seymour begun writing, it all came to him quite quickly. “The idea of going back to really looking at where I was in my life was something that I wasn’t expecting to do at the age that I’m at,” he says.

From the glory days of Australian rock legends Hunters and Collectors to this current chapter of Seymour’s music career with his band The Undertow, the musician says that he’s approached songs and albums from many different angles. The upcoming album in question, though, was one that took Seymour by surprise. “I just assumed that as you get older, you kind of keep your bullshit to yourself,” he laughs. But the bullshit was too strong, filled with too much meaning, had too loud of a voice to not be heard, and so the so-called bullshit made it to the album. “I ended up writing a lot of very personal songs.”


Of the singles so far released from The Boxer is the sentimental Stars of Fitzroy, a kind of tribute in which Seymour pays homage to the suburb that many generations of his family had lived before Seymour himself ended back up there after the pandemic. Paving the path of the upcoming album, as well, is the title track The Boxer – a tale of courage and resilience inspired by Seymour’s own boxing trainer.

Whilst this album might be the most personal the Aussie rock legend has made, it’s not a wholly unfamiliar idea within his discography. Hunters and Collectors – Seymour’s first major musical venture – despite being well known for their political proclivities, was also at their best when stories of personal magnitude made it to the music. “The sentiments that really galvanized the audiences most in that band were songs that I’d written about my life,” he says. “I’ve realized as time’s gone by that I’m actually at my best as a writer when I’m putting my own personal experience into a broader context.” In other words, making the personal universal, when the barrier between going through something alone and going through it as a collective disintegrates and the golden stuff of shared human experience appears in its place.

In one way, buying and listening to the album is one kind of a step toward this collective experience, however Seymour and his band The Undertow are taking it a step even further on April 21 at the Brunswick Ballroom when he takes The Boxer on the road. “It’s pretty much the album line-up,” Seymour says, pointing out that Cameron Bruce – who’s not formally in the band but is on the album – will be playing keyboards, organ and piano for the show. It’s an album Seymour beams proud of, and a show to celebrate it – the kind not to be missed. “I’m pretty excited about [it],” Seymour finishes up our conversation saying. Aren’t we all.

Tickets to the Brunswick Ballroom show on April 21 are on sale now.