To mark the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Skunkhour have decided to take their seminal brand of mongrel funk rock back to the stage, featuring a horn section and special guests, playing their self titled debut album in full, followed by hits from their catalogue.
25 years have now passed since one band’s debut album was independently released, picked up on by an eclectic and loyal group of followers around Australia and beyond, coming to mark a small but important shift in the Australian musical landscape.
A true fusion of Aussie indie ethos with the relatively unknown and unheralded genres of hip-hop, funk, and soul.
Other bands and artists such as The Rockmelons, Sound Unlimited Posseand Renee Geyer, had made a mark commercially in these areas separately, but no one had fused all these elements together successfully into one sound.
A sound that was immediate, honest, raw, groove laden and yet still held a uniquely Australian perspective.
The band was Skunkhour and they are one of Oz music’s truly ground breaking musical groups.
Skunkhour originated in the early 90s when a golden age of Hip Hop was coinciding with an English led revival of classic soul, jazz and funk from the late 60s and 70s.
In Sydney, club nights, gigs and illegal warehouse parties like Funk Inc. began popping up around inner city where a small band of dedicated punters could be found getting down and sharing the love.
You could hear the likes of The JB’s, Roy Ayers, The Meters, Betty Davis and Stevie Wonder mixed up with the the new school funk and hip hop of De La Soul, The Brand New Heavies, The Young Disciples and The Jungle Bros.
This is the scene in which the soon to be members of Skunkhour found themselves in around 1992.
They began to search each other out to start something new.
The nucleus of the band formed in the Byron area and contained the brothers Mike (drums) and Dean Sutherland (bass), and Warwick Scott (guitar).
Dean, Michael and Warwick began jamming and writing the backing tracks for the first album over a period of a year in the brothers’ Kings Cross terrace house, which happened to be right next door to the infamous Iguana bar, enabling them to make as much noise as they wanted, day or night.
There were never any sound complaints. The three mates began gigging sporadically around inner city Sydney using a variety of guest vocalists and MCs.
They established hip hop as a part of the band’s sound, but they still needed a singer that could match and mix it with the more aggressive flavour that an MC brings.
They found it in Aya Larkin. Upon Aya’s recommendation they gave a tape of their material to Aya’ brother Del who had never performed with a band but had been writing and rapping away in his room and hanging around the gigs and clubs at the time.
The Skunk boys liked what they heard and he was in.
This make up left the band with the advantage of having two sets of brothers in the crucial roles of rhythm section and vocals, and left Warwick in the middle wondering when the hell they would shut up and start playing.
A huge buzz developed around the band and they recorded their first, self-titled, self-funded album over 10 short days in late 1992.
With no permanent keyboard player for the session they enlisted the help of the incomparable Chris Abrahams who nailed all his tracks in a single afternoon.
The album came rooted in straight up soul funk combining the sinuous laidback groove of tracks like “Back To Basics”, “Free Man” and “Pullatickin’” with the party starting “Bootyfull” and the instant underground classic and live favourite, “Do You Like It?”
It also contained some frenetic mongrel funk work outs such as “Horse”, “A Cow and a Pig” and the live monsters “Echidna” and “The Sheep of Sam Clam’s Disco”.
It was an audacious and confident debut and was picked up instantly by the recently nationalised JJJ which gave the band much needed national exposure and opened doors for the band to sign with Sony and become influential mainstays of the airwaves as well as constant national touring.
Now 25 years later the legendary alt-funk kings of Australia return to roll it out with an eight-piece band to play their eponymous release to be followed by a greatest hits set. Full of fervour, and the fine feel of funk.
This is an opportunity to see one of this country’s truly innovative and original acts celebrate a significant time and place in the Australian music story.
Tickets to Skunkhour at The Prince Bandroom, Melbourne on Friday, November 23 can be purchased here.