Skunkhour 2024 2

Skunkhour – Pioneers of Aussie funk.

I recently had a chat with Del from Aussie funk / rock /jazz Hip Hop infused outfit, “Skunkhour” 

The band consists ofWarwick Scott on guitar, Dean Southerland on Bass, Michael Southerland on drums, Paul Searles on keys, with brothers Aya and Del Larkin sharing vocal duties.

Skunkhour floated on to the Australian airwaves in early 1995 with their debut work, “Acid Jazz”. They attribute no small part of their success to Triple J. 

“We were just kicking off a couple of years after JJJ went national. Back Then, particularly with a band like ours, where we were fusing so many different elements, including Indy, New Wave, Funk Rock, and Hip Hop style, we weren’t really very palatable to mainstream commercial radio, There was still the hangover from the late 80’s rock format, and the Grunge thing just coming through. Without Triple J, we would have had a harder time. They got us out of the city and helped us tour regional centres so much more easily. That was huge for us.”

“We cut our teeth with live performances, because a lot of people probably hadn’t heard us on radio early on, but we prided ourselves on putting on a good show, taking our cue from bands from the golden era of Aussie Pub rock, and doing big energetic, engaging live shows. We were doing Aussie rap, and we were one of the first groups to do that on radio. 

There was still a lot of push back against that, but we would win them over at the live shows.”  

It was interesting to discuss with Del how the live scene has changed.

“People were still going out a lot then. The internet hadn’t taken over, gaming wasn’t such a big thing. It was still part of the culture: going out to pubs and seeing bands that you may not know.

By 2010 and around that time, you started to see a change . Once the whole online revolution kicked in, everything splintered from there. Everything was so centralised. Everyone was listening to the same radio station.  There was street press that everyone read. Then you just put up some flyers and away you go.

Now, with social media like Facebook and Instagram and every other social platform, there’s ten times the content out there now, and you’re competing with streaming. Nobody’s listening to the same thing any more. Its a lot tougher now to get a strong following, with 300 bands a day uploading content”

The creative process within the group has always been a collaborative effort, with all members contributing to the finished product. 

“We tend to build from the groove first, and then figure out structure for the song, and brainstorm ideas for the end result. It’s nice to keep it all kind of democratic.”

The melody and groove of much of the band’s material is driven by the bass.

“The bass  is definitely the engine room of the outfit. With the last E.P., Dean came with a lot of ideas, and with his big thumping sound, he brings the funk”

“Sometimes I feel like people don’t realise how much ground we covered as a 90’s band in terms of the doors we kicked open for funk groove style music in Australia. Rapping in an Aussie accent about Australian themes, without trying to be or imitate other, more traditional rap artists, …well, it had been done before, but we were one of the first to really get that out there commercially

We made room for bands like Cat Empire and Blue King Brown, who did that style of funk music”

“To me, when I started  out, the only way I could see to remain credible was to just be myself . That’s what Hip hop is. You can’t rap anyone else’s rhymes, you can’t cover..You’ve got to tell your own story.”

If you want to experience the musical alchemy of Skunkhour first hand, they are returning to Cairns for the first time since 2000 on Friday Feb 9th. Tickets are available through Ticketlink.

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