INTERVIEW: Hunting Grounds

‘Hunting Grounds’ might not be a name you recognise instantly, but you’ve probably heard the name they went by previously; ‘Howl.’ After winning Triple J’s Unearthed High competition in 2009, the Ballarat garage-punk band picked up rave reviews for two brilliant 2010 EPs, and toured with a swag of artists from Children Collide and Grinspoon to Philadelphia Grand Jury and DZ (now DZ Deathrays). However, the band decided to change their name to Hunting Grounds earlier this year. Now heading back out on the road with Grinspoon over the Easter long weekend, Hunting Grounds will be heading our way to play Waves Nightclub at Towradgi on Sunday 24th April. Guitarist Michael Belsar took a little time to (sort of… kind of… not really) answer a couple of questions for us.

Tell us how Hunting Grounds came together
We all were in the same line at Centrelink.

Why did you decide on ‘Hunting Grounds’?
A thesaurus told us to do it. We searched the word paradise and it came up with ‘Happy Hunting Grounds’ which is Native American heaven, however it was too long, so we settled on Hunting Grounds.

After changing their name, DZ Deathrays they said it was important for them to get a new release out quickly after their name-change, to get the new name out in the public. Is that a priority for Hunting Grounds too?
Not really, we’re working on our debut album, which should hopefully be out some time this year or early next year. Go buy DZ Deathray’s new EP ‘Brutal Tapes’ in the mean time, it’s incredible!

You released two EPs in 2010. How would you compare the two?
They’re exactly the same, ‘Brothers In Violence’ is just in reverse.

Bands like yourselves, DZ Deathrays, Bleeding Knees Club and Chicks Who Love Guns are really bringing that punk/garage style of music back to the fore. Why do you think this style has picked up momentum again in recent years?
Cause we all suck at music.

How do you think the band has matured or grown in the time since coming to prominence through Unearthed?
Looking back at the way I’ve answered the questions in this interview, not much. But I guess just playing constant shows and putting our lives into our work. It became a reality after winning unearthed that we could actually do something other than be a high school so we are taking it as far as we possibly can.

You’ve racked up some serious touring experience in the last few years, alongside DZ, Grinspoon, and that massive tour with Philadelphia Grand Jury. How important is touring, and playing live shows, to a modern band like yourselves?
No one sells records anymore so you’ve gotta tour, tour, tour. Lucky it’s incredibly fun so we’re all more than happy to do it.

On those big tours, especially ones that go through a lot of smaller regional towns, surely you can’t be making a lot of money. Do you justify those initial losses, because they’re something of an investment in the future of the band?
Yeah what you said.

Speaking of Grinspoon, you’ve toured together a few times now. Why is that?
They’re all just great guys and for some reason liked us enough to have us support again. It’s really amazing to see such a successful band still be so down to earth and care so much. I’m actually packing for that tour right now.

So what’s next for Hunting Grounds? What does the rest of 2011, and beyond, have in store?
I guess to release the album and hopefully keep doing what we’re doing for a long, long time!

Hunting Grounds play Waves Nightclub on Sunday 24th April, supporting Grinspoon. For more info, see the gig guide.

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