Australian rock legends Midnight Oil on plans to Donald Trump's America: 'There's no way we won't say what we think'
17 February 2017 • 4:54am
Australian rock band Midnight Oil, known for their intense live performances and political activism, announced they are returning to the world stage after 15 years and promised they'll try and "not to get deported" from Donald Trump's America. The Oils, who had worldwide hits in the late Eighties and early Nineties with Beds are Burning and Blue Sky Mine, will embark on six-month world tour, called The Great Circle 2017, which includes 11 dates in the US. The band, who had split up in 2002, confirmed politics will be part of the menu when they hit the US and that they have plenty to say about the new American order from the concert stage.
"We are going to try not to get deported," joked Lead singer Peter Garrett. "The effect of Trump’s America will be to bring community together through music, organisations, unions, academics, school kids or eventually farmers, whoever, it will bring those people out. "Healthy democracies sometimes need to react against craziness and ugliness and selfishness and stupidity and grotesquerie and you have got that in ample abundance in President Trump.
"He’s not a figure who is engendering a great deal of respect for his own people and you can be sure they are going to respond. “And there’s no way we’re not going to say what we think about it either.”
Rob Hirst, the band's drummer, added that Europe would be "even more interesting". "Europe has got its own fixation with putting up walls and barriers," said Hirst, claiming the issue of "migrants, refugees and people trying to escape horrible circumstances" is what's really important in 2017, not Donald Trump.
The band was asked whether the timing of the comeback tour had anything to do with the appointment of former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to the post of US secretary of state. Hirst joked that when the band played a traffic-stopping gig outside the headquarters of oil company Exxon in Manhattan in 1990 after the grounding of the Exxon Valdez tanker, "we are sure that we recognised his face pressed against that smokey glass" looking down on the band. "The likelihood of us getting in and out of the United States this year is extremely slim."
In a statement, the band went further into addressing its "renewed relevance": In a dangerously warming world of Hanson, Trump, Petry and Le Pen the voice of Midnight Oil clearly takes on renewed relevance; they have always been a band that both reflects and shapes “the temper of the times”. So while clarion calls like “it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees” may have been intended for earlier eras they resonate more than ever in these days of ‘alternative facts’. The Oils disbanded in 2002 when Garrett sought to further his political career although they have gigged since then. They have not performed together since 2010.
Garret, known as much for his bald head and lanky frame as his distinctive vocals, became environment minister in the then Labour government before quitting in 2013. Garrett promised that the band’s alchemy is still there. "It’s never felt better, fresher, nastier, sweeter and more energetic. "And really what a gift it is to have this opportunity to come together as musicians, brothers in music and in agitation again. "It’s feeling really good, it sounds amazing."