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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Interview with Jim Moginie

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Jim Moginie and The Family Dog play Byron Centre on Sunday.

Summer of the Dog

Back in 2006 Jim Moginie (founding member of Midnight Oil) founded The Family Dog to promote his first solo album Alas Folkloric. They went on to perform and tour together. The Family Dog is: guitarist Kent Steedman and drummer Paul Loughhead from Northern Beaches legends and punk rockers The Celibate Rifles, plus multi-instrumentalist Tim Kevin from La Huva, Exiles and Youth Group. Live, this lineup is all about dynamics, travelling from a whisper to a scream, from a blitzkrieg to the odd Oils classic in a moment!

Jim, you’re credited with being the lead songwriter of Midnight Oil. What an honour it must be to have written some of the most iconic Aussie rock songs ever.

How did the writing in Midnight Oil work? Was it a collective effort? Who were the other songwriter collaborators in the band?

Thanks for that compliment. The Oils was a very collaborative unit. Rob, Peter, and I wrote a lot of it, usually initiated by one of us and finished with contributions from all. There were great contributions from Martin (Wedding Cake Island), the band’s honest broker who would push for things without any self-interest at all, and all three bass players. When I say self-interest I say it disingenuously as we would always bow to the best idea for a song that would suit the band at that particular time. But the whole became a lot bigger than the sum of the parts, that’s for sure.

Is there one Midnight Oil song that sums up the band, those times, the political movement, and the passion that Midnight Oil embodied? Which song and why is it so poignant to you?

Things changed as we went along, and the creativity was constantly evolving. But in terms of world appreciation, I’d have to say Beds are Burning sums up a lot about our country, and is as relevant now as it was when it came out 30 years ago. It means a lot that people here, and all over the world, were becoming more aware and educated about the issues relating to indigenous people everywhere, and it’s great that we were part of that conversation.

Following the separation of The Oils you began working on some solo projects. Your live band, The Family Dog, and Shameless Seamus. Can you tell us a little more about these two projects?

The Family Dog is a supergroup in the true sense of the word. Paul also plays with The Celibate Rifles, Ed Kuepper and The Aints and The New Christs, Tim with Knievel, Youth Group, La Huva and Houlihan, and Kent with The Celibate Rifles and Modern Gong Ritual. I, Midnight Oil and The Break, Australian Chamber Orchestra and my Electric Guitar Orchestra. We played a lot back around 2006–8 and then it petered out, but a friend asked us to play at his 50th a few years ago and it reminded me of how incredible we were! So we’ve been playing on and off since and Kent and I put together the album Bark Overtures from recordings we’ve done over the last 12 years in some downtime earlier this year.

The Irish band Shameless Seamus and The Tinkers is me delving into my Irish ancestry with some great musicians who have taught me so much. We do St Patrick’s Day events, and for anyone who is after rousing Irish songs and the tunes, jigs, reels, hornpipes, polkas etc it’s seriously great fun.

You’re playing at the Byron Community Centre on Sunday. What can your fans up this way expect from the show?

The amazing Ben Ely from Regurgitator is supporting us solo, and local light Kellie Knight is playing with her band. I’m really looking forward to hearing them both. The Dog is a freewheeling unit; we rock pretty hard but because we like to extemporise it gets into Sun Ra territory sometimes – you don’t really know what’s going to happen next. We essentially use the songs as launching pads. We play our new album Bark Overtures, things from our back pages, and a few Oils chestnuts that I feel really connected to as a singer. It’s also a great dance band.

Jim Moginie & The Family Dog play the Byron Theatre at the Community Centre on Sunday. Tix at byroncentre.com.au.

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