Johnny Hunter. It’s a name that seems like it’s been around for a while. Perhaps a lone enigma, scraped off the floor of Australian pub rock’s hazy past? Someone your parents used to see in the 80s, supporting The Birthday Party at venues where apartment blocks now stand. But Johnny Hunter is a product of the present. The performative identity of five Sydney friends, the band emerges as a reactive response to a time where closing and empty venues signify a city in the midst of a creative cultural crisis.
“Johnny Hunter is about filling a gap for us, as much as for our scene, – the goal has always been to give people a reason to come out to these venues and actually get involved…for it to be a performance, not just a set” says guitarist & songwriter Ben Wilson, “We’ve all played in other bands in the past – but Johnny Hunter is us aiming to be the kind of band that we’d want to see on stage.”
Johnny Hunter are Nick Hutt (vocals), Ben Wilson (guitar), Xander Burgess (guitar), Nick Cerone (bass) and Gerry Thompson (drums). As offspring of the baby-boomer generation – it’s only natural that the grit & bravado of a golden era settles into the band’s foundations.Yet make no mistake, Johnny Hunter are no revival band. Glam-pop theatrics are delivered with a metallic, post-punk sheen and an unwavering gaze – taking the all-consuming, rock n roll charm of The New York Dolls, Siouxsie And The Banshees and Iggy Pop, and meshing them with The Church and Wire‘s songwriting grace. Unapologetically, the band casts one eye firmly toward luminaries of pop’s past and present for inspiration – citing pivotal influences from Bowie to Lorde. The other looks toward contemporaries fighting to bring life to local stages – Body Type, Shining Bird, DEN and good mates Triple One.
Debuting with single ‘One of a Kind’, which saw airplay across triple j, FBi and more, the band now reveals their aptly-titled new single ‘1995’. Produced by Dylan Adams, who has previously worked with the likes of West Thebarton, DMAs & Skegss, the track serves as Johnny Hunter’s open letter to both the critics and counterparts of their generation.
“‘1995’ Is a grandiose anthem of pub-born irony and double-thought observations on the millennial condition. Narcissism and self loathing, abundance of knowledge and a lack of concern, the desire to be something great and a disdain for trying too hard.” the band explain, “Fast, fun, but ultimately bleak in its appraisal of the confusion and simulacrum-oriented living in which we find ourselves, the songs as much of an excuse to kick it out and jump around as it is a raised eyebrow to where we will all end up when the dust settles.”
This kind of duality also extends to their live performance. Expertly, they manifest their unhinged and youthful energy, and channel it through frontman Nick Hutt, a mayhem managed in the shadow of a greater self-awareness. To them, it’s essential that the stage isn’t just a place to stand, nor one to be taken for granted. Johnny Hunter can turn a daylight-soaked room of mid-afternoon into an unexpectedly cathartic affair. In their short-time, this has allowed them to share stages alongside Woodes, Joyride, The Orwells, City Calm Down and Polish Club, as well as recently selling out a headline show at The Lansdowne, and an upcoming slot at Yours & Owls Festival this September.
United in the collective realisation that the world owes them nothing, and thriving in the face of ingrained apathy, Johnny Hunter are a band unafraid to be witnessed. “Father god fearing, end my self-loathing, isn’t that what we are here for?”
Johnny Hunter has proudly teamed up with Sydney’s Break Even Recordings for the release of ‘1995’.