Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Monday, May 28, 2007 

Not too many people have had 35 years in the heady world of rock and roll and survived with as many brain cells intact as Todd Hunter. Founding member of Dragon (these days made up of singer Mark Williams, guitarist Bruce Reid, drummer Pete Drummond and Todd back on bass and vocals), he's a man who's done everything from write the soundtrack to Heartbreak High, 1990's APRA Song Of The Year Age Of Reason as well as AM radio staples. Hunter is a remarkably warm-hearted gent who has outlasted more than his fair share of untimely deaths and label changes. This week also sees him playing Melbourne for the first time in a decade.

"We've been getting such a great reaction from the crowds so far on this tour, we've just finished a theatre tour of New Zealand and people were just so into it, it was wonderful" he says of this new acoustic approach; another incarnation of Dragon and one that certainly isn't out to replace his vocalist brother Marc who died in 1998. Supporting the album Sunshine To Rain which reinterprets classic Dragon songs, Hunter clearly doesn't see this as an excuse to relive old memories. "We came to these songs as if we'd never heard them before. We've worked hard to avoid the whole nostalgia thing so we wouldn't end up hating ourselves. If you want a life in music in Australia you have to reinvent every five years. If you can keep a beginners mind, you never lose that spark." I suggest it's this attitude that has allowed Hunter's career to be something that could be likened to a constant comeback given the trials he's faced, "I guess you're right," he laughs, "it does seem like that. There were just so many deaths and tragedies, it kept me on the straight and in a way I'm back where I started now, it's all about the music once again. No one gives a fuck about Dragon and that brings complete freedom." Does this make him miss Marc more, I wonder, "I left the band in the mid nineties. If Marc hadn't become ill the band would have kept going and by now I would have re-joined. So here I am. Instead of Marc being in the car or on stage, somehow he's everywhere now."

Hunter left Dragon in 1995 to work on soundtracks, during which time he thought "to hell with Dragon, it's all meaningless crap" in a healthy, cleansing way it seems. It was after this he was able to see the band and the songs afresh. "A lot of the earlier more melodic songs were written by Paul (Hewson, ex-keyboard player), so it was nice to strip them back, and being a producer means that I have to be so analytical about music, so it's great to be just playing the bass and singing again."

Consistent evolution. Sounds tricky. "I never had a 'music should be...' attitude, so I've been able to weather a lot of changes, even during the crazy times," like the time in 1978 they were supporting Johnny Winters in Austin, Texas and Marc shouted "all Texans are faggots" say? He laughs"yeah that was crazy, we were terrified at the time," the Johnny Winters Band were taking bets as to who in the audience was going to shoot Marc first, "It was all a bit intense." How does that compare to now? "I'm loving playing these little venues and hearing new stuff along the way. There are so many great bands and projects around now - my son is a DJ and I'm hearing the greatest stuff through him. I'm loving The Ghosts and Howling Bells at the moment." Maybe he'd be up for someone remixing the new Dragon song Find My Way Home? "Sure! I'd be up for that. I love the thing of recording new songs and sticking them on our website." Start taking notes would-be's, this is longevity in action.

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