By Chris Hawkins
THE FIRST Australian rock star was the world famous Johnny O’Keefe, inspired by Elvis Presley. The emergence of the Beatles led to countless imitation bands in Oz but none that made a significant mark elsewhere. There was a period of quiet through the early 70s which would eventually be shaken to the core by AC/DC. The metal band’s emergence saw the beginnings of real Australian talent finally establishing on the world stage. Midnight Oil, The Little River Band and The Birthday Party were among the bands successfully competing with those from the UK and USA. Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party are regularly cited as a hugely influential band and Cave remains a much revered talent and musical pioneer.
It would be remiss to leave out mention of INXS when plotting the history of Australian music. Every man, woman and child owned a copy of their 1987 album, Kick. Then what happened? Not to INXS, we all know how that story plays out but what happened to the Aussie music scene? Despite the ARIAs being set up in 1987, Triple J playing new bands on a daily basis and Big Day Out being responsible for a line-up that bands from all over the world want to play on, still Australian bands struggled to achieve worldwide notoriety. With the emergence of electronica in the 90s it seems all went very quiet, again. Yes, there were artists coming through but that steady flow into the international market had begun to dry up. Aside from Kylie, all was quiet on the Australian front.
However since BBC Radio 6 began in 2002, we have never played so much new Australian music. Never out of obligation, always by choice and I believe this demonstrates that Australian music is back in the groove or perhaps, in a better groove than ever before. Gotye is nothing short of a phenomenon. At the time of writing, the video for ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ had been viewed nearly 100 million times. Cut Copy, Temper Trap, Empire of the Sun, Gypsey and the Cat, Tame Impala, The Jezabels and Cloud Control are just a handful of acts who are not just rocking Oz but waking the rest of the world up to what’s coming out of Down Under. So to speak.
Chris Hawkins is a radio presenter at BBC Radio 6 where his colleagues include Jarvis Cocker, Steve Lamacq & Elbow’s Guy Garvey. 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the UK’s ‘Triple J’ style station and Chris says Radio 6 is “a radio station which brings together the cutting edge music of today and the iconic and groundbreaking music of the past 40 years”.
Our guest editors are brought to you by Backpack Sounds (Backpacksounds.com). Next week we get down to business with a piece from UK based APRA rep Cathi Ogden. Tune in then!