The Dead Heart
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MTV Online Chat - 3/12/97

MTVRock: The boys in Midnight Oil grew up in Australia during the fat times and were educated during the open and optimistic years, only to come of age and bear witness to the era of lost opportunities, broken promises, and shrinkage of the spirit that the '80s and '90s became. As a band, they made it their mission to rage against corporate greed and environmental vandalism. They've consistently put their money where their collective mouth is too: in 1985, lead singer Peter Garret ran for election on a Nuclear Disarmament ticket in Australia, and in 1990 Midnight Oil performed a hit and run concert outside the Exxon Building in New York City, a display of anger at the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

To commemorate their 20th anniversary, Midnight Oil has released their first-ever greatest hits collection, entitled 20, 000 Watt RSL -- The Midnight Oil Collection. The CD includes such hits as "Beds Are Burning," "Power and the Passion," and "Blue Sky Mine," in addition to two cool new tracks, "What Goes On" and "White Skin Black Heart." These two new songs will also eventually be showing up on their forthcoming album, Redneck Wonderland.

Welcome to the MTV Arena, drummer Rob Hirst and bassist "Bones" Hillman of Midnight Oil! Welcome guys!

Rob Hirst:: G'day Mate!

Bones Hillman: Cyber greetings!

MTVRock: Okay...let's get into those questions!
Question: Will you be planning a US tour for 'Redneck Wonderland' next year (in our summer)?
Bones Hillman: possibly possible.

Question: How did you guys come up with the name midnight oil?
Rob Hirst:: Too long ago... we've forgotten.

Question: Hey Oils, great to have you here!! When are you going to be coming back to the States for a more widespread tour?
Rob Hirst:: Current plans are... Three shows... Mercury Lounge this week... Go to Orlando for the Big Bang Radio special ... Home to Sydney for Christmas, and summer holidays (riding some big waves at Byron Bay...) Then late January tour in Australia... Finish Red Neck Wonderland album... then hire winniebago and hit the road once again!

Question: Hey Oils: I've heard that Redneck Wonderland fulfills your contractual obligations with Sony. What are your plans after that? Will you re-sign with Sony?
Bones Hillman: pending future marital plans of Mariah Carey... but have offer from small fast food company.

Question: How long have you guys been friends for?
Bones Hillman: 3 Hansons and one Silverchair.

Question: Hey Pete & fellas, why don't you play more older songs here in the States like you do in Australia? We know that stuff too! We'd love to hear Lucky Country, Stand in Line, US Forces, etc. more often!! The newer stuff is great but we like the oldies too!
Rob Hirst:: In Australia, we have had a stage set design consisting of slot machines (poker machines in Australian) plus a 'wheel of fortune' with sixty three songs from the Midnight Oil catalog. So every night we have been spinning the wheel and playing whatever song comes up including the ones you have mentioned. This idea have been very popular and consequently we will probably use the idea in America next year. It makes the shows very spontaneous-we don't know what the hell is going on.

Question: When is your new album coming out
Rob Hirst:: The collection record, 20 000 watt RSL is available now. The new studio record Redneck Wonderland should be available by March.

Question: At the Metro, in Chicago, you mentioned that Midnight Oil wasn't very digital yet; That it was still flesh and blood. How digital is the new album going to be, and if more digital, how do you feel about digital in light of Peter's comment?
Rob Hirst:: There are lots of flesh, blood and guts on the new record. Most of the songs are band takes... and very up in tempo. Lotsa modern rhythms... Jim Moginie big riffs... angry lyrics-sounds like a bloody Midnight Oil record to me!

Question: Do you have a video planned for either of the original songs on "20,000 Watt"?
Bones Hillman: have made video for White Skin. but, I guess no one's showing it...
Rob Hirst:: Refer Hanson...

Question: In the US there are now laws which enable native people to reclaim artifacts and treasures that had been taken from then in the past. Do you know if there is such a law or act in Australia or if one is in the works?
Rob Hirst:: Recently the remains of one of the early aboriginal warriors which had been sent to a museum in London in the mid 19th century was returned to their ancestors in Australia and buried on their sacred ground. This may set a precedent for other remains and artifacts which currently reside in museums in Australia and the UK to be returned to their original owners.

Question: Mr. Hirst, among my Midnight Oil video collection is your appearance on MTV unplugged, how did you feel about your performance unplugged?
Rob Hirst:: The Unplugged sessions were a lot easier than we expected ...the standard of recording expertise and professionalism was an inspiration We were lucky enough to meet an Australian dijeridu player walking the streets of New York a couple of days before the Unplugged show (Adam Plank) who, combined with Bashari (from the Whitney Houston band-percussionist) added a lot to the result. Also we were lucky enough to get Nick Launay who has produced three Midnight Oil records in conjunction with the Band to mix the songs. We were very happy with it- what do you reckon?

Question: What early influences did the band have?
Bones Hillman: Breast feeding, and a stable diet of canned food... and good music provided a healthy upbringing... Rob Hirst:: Bloody Kiwi!

Question: How does Austrailia effect your music?
Rob Hirst:: The Desert Tour in 1986 with the Warumpi band to the Aboriginal communities of central and northern Australia (black fella white fella tour) was a strong inspiration for the "camp fire songs" such as Beds are Burning, Bull Roarer and Wuarakurna. Plus the Australian surf culture and political climate has always found its way into Midnight Oil's songs.

Question: Do you feel that your efforts to inform the world about the way Aboriginal people have been treated have made an impact and are helping to change things for the better for them?
Rob Hirst:: As we speak, Aboriginal people in Australia are fighting their toughest battle yet. The MABO decision which gave Aboriginal people native title over parts of Australia, which were traditional and sacred sites for them is under threat. The conservative government under John Howard in coalition with the large mining companies and pastoralists plus some right wing and ignorant political mavericks (Pauline Hanson) appear to be determined to wind back the clock to the Menzies years (1950s) that is ie. the time of (Terra Nullius) when native people in Australia were neither citizens but wards of the state, and their long association with land in Australia was not recognized by the European invaders.

Question: Hey Rob, what's the latest with the Ghostwriters, new album coming out soon? P.S. - As we speak, Krusty Fries is trying to get AOL and log on for this chat, but I don't think she's going to make it! I'm e-mailing back and forth with her.
Rob Hirst:: My partner in Ghostwriters, Rick Grossman, is finishing up with his own band the Hoodoo Gurus. He's been ringing me up every other day asking about the next Ghostwriters record. (I think he will have a lot of time on his hands shortly.) So any spare time in 1998 that we jointly have in the same city will be devoted to Ghosties Mark 3.
Bones Hillman: Greetings, Krusty!.. sorry to hear your efforts to log on are becoming soggy. Greetings... Bonesy.

Question: explain the title of your greatest hits package
Rob Hirst:: The title was one by Jim Moginie. I think it refers to all the time the band has spent (in fact every Australian band from AC-DC onwards.) in the clubs, pubs and RSLs (Returned Servicemen's League-Clubs for war veterans.) of Australia, and the size of the PAs! And general blood sweat and tears of these Aussie icons.

Question: Could you also talk a bit about your presence on the Web, and your awareness of your fans on the internet?
Rob Hirst:: We've come up with an idea for 1998 which is basically to "feed" the great Midnight Oil fan sites rather than continue to develop our own. (You guys do a much better job than us!) By this I mean, we'll provide the facts mam and leave all the critical assessments to you mob.
Bones Hillman: Refer "Midnight Fries Krusty Oil" site.

Question: Oils: Regarding the "Redneck Wonderland" title, have you received any flak about that due to possible offense taken by American southerners? What are your thoughts on this?
Rob Hirst:: It's curious to ponder the perceived offence of people south of the Mason Dixon line in the United States to a title which was conceived about a state of mind, not a point of location.

Question: Is the hard rocking, straightfoward intensity as seen on What Goes On and White Skin Black Heart here to stay?
Rob Hirst:: You ain't seen nothin. yet mate!

Question: Hey Oils, is the 20,000 Watt RSL video going to be released in the States commercially? What about the CD-ROM, is that still in the works?
Bones Hillman: Depending on Mariah Carey's marital status...

Question: In the song "Bedlam Bridge" there is a verse that starts off "How sstands this city on this winter's night? The city on the hill or so they said." Is this city are real place, and if so , which city?
Rob Hirst:: Good question... I wrote the lyrics for this... during 1988 American tour. It was presumptuous of me to write about a place about which I have only fleeting impressions, but it occurred to me that at the end of the Reagan/Bush years, the number of homeless people in cities like New York was out of all proportion to the available resources from the government which could solve the injustices in America (as indeed we could in Australia) with the stroke of a benevolent pen, and fail to do so. So I used the Hell Gate railway bridge (which is like a miniature version of our own Sydney Harbour bridge) as a convenient metaphor for injustice.

Question: When did you guys decide that music was gonna be your profession?and why?
Bones Hillman: I came from a large family of semi-professional whistlers... who toured the north island of New Zealand performing at weddings... and birthdays... but unfortunately after losing both front teeth... in a nasty harmony part... I was forced to find another outlet for myself... and collective friends.

MTVRock: We have time for one last question... Question: Hey Oils, will you be selling the "MIDNIGHT OIL GOES OFF" caps in New York this weekend? Will you have your chocolate wheel on hand too?
Bones Hillman: No caps... but oils will go on... and then go off, pending singers bagel infection.

MTVRock: Thanks to the guys from Midnight Oil for stopping by.

Rob Hirst:: My own bagel is feeling a little strange...

Bones Hillman: festive greetings... love thy neighbor. Thanks.

Rob Hirst:: Bye.

MTVRock: And thanks to our audience for their participation.

From MTV Online, by MTV Online

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