For the record, Midnight Oil did not break up — they just took a long hiatus.
“I went off and did something else for 10 years,” lead singer Peter Garrett says.
He can laugh now, but that was some 10 years. Garrett walked away from the band to enter politics. He served as a Labor government minister during the tumultuous Kevin Rudd-Julia Gillard years.
“I had a really different experience being a politician. It’s one I value greatly for all its ups and downs,” he says.
His former band mates watched on at times with some concern.
“I guess we were worried how he’d get through it really because I don’t know you’d think that rock ‘n’ roll would prepare you for anything,” drummer Rob Hirst says.
“Not for Kevin Rudd!” Garrett laughs.
A lot has happened during those lost political years.
The politics today is the politics of Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson. The band railed against the One Nation leader, inspiring the song Redneck Wonderland.
“I haven’t thought about Pauline Hanson for a really long time,” bass player ‘Bones’ Hillman says.
“There’s a challenge there for all of us to not only speak out about it but also talk about what we’d like to see happen.”
Garrett says: “I mean, healthy democracies only work well when there’s a heap of participation by everybody, and work poorly when you operate out of the ring and elect clowns, and that’s what we’ve done with her.”
Midnight Oil was always a mix of pile-driving music and politics. They campaigned for the environment and Indigenous rights.
These issues sit at the heart of the band’s recently announced world tour. They are calling it The Great Circle and will start in Brazil in April, and take them all the way back home at the end of the year.
‘People fall asleep, things creep in’
The band says the political climate is right for their message.
“We’re part of the pushback and we are not alone. There’s a whole bunch of people here, and throughout Europe and other places that we’re touring, who feel the same way,” Hirst says.
“This is one of those tiny moments in history that will disappear as quickly as it came, and we will just be out there singing the same songs which perhaps have a new relevance.”
Midnight Oil nominates songs like Short Memory — a warning of the dangers of historical complacency — or Read About It, a lament for the freedom of the press as especially salient now in the era of Mr Trump.
“What we’re talking about with the Trump thing, well it’s a whole other world. Something like Short Memory is a classic,” guitarist Jim Moginie says.
“It could have been the rise of Hitler in the 1930s in Germany, it’s the same thing now. People just fall asleep and these things creep in.”
America is a different place to when they last toured. Then, the Oils stopped New York traffic in a protest against oil company Exxon Mobil.
The CEO was Rex Tillerson. Today he is the Secretary of State in the Trump administration.
If the rage had dimmed, that alone is enough to fire these rabble rousers one more time.
Midnight Oil tour dates
|October 2||ANZAC Oval, Alice Springs||NT|
|October 4||Darwin Amphitheatre, Darwin||NT|
|October 7||Kurana Amphitheatre, Cairns||QLD|
|October 10||Townsville Entertainment Centre||QLD|
|October 12||Great Western Hotel, Rockhampton||QLD|
|October 14||Big Pineapple Fields, Sunshine Coast||QLD|
|October 15||Riverstage, Brisbane||QLD|
|October 19||Hockey Fields, Coffs Harbour||NSW|
|October 21||Hope Estate Winery, Hunter Valley||NSW|
|October 24||AIS Arena, Canberra||ACT|
|October 26||The Village Green Adelaide Oval||SA|
|October 28||Perth Arena||WA|
|November 1||Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart||TAS|
|November 3||Gateway Lakes, Wodonga||VIC|
|November 4||Hanging Rock, Mt Macedon||VIC|
|November 6||Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne||VIC|
|November 8||WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong||NSW|
|November 11||The Domain, Sydney||NSW|