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Howzat! Archive - September 29th 2010

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HOWZAT! HEARTS UNDERMINERS
"You're only young once," Justin "Hap" Hayward declares on the new Underminers album, Heart Part Of Your Mind (out now on Popboomerang Records). It's a "grown-up" record, which had Howzat! thinking of that line from The Breakfast Club: "When you grow up, your heart dies." But as the title suggests, there's plenty of heart in the Underminers' third album, even if it is a record of reflection. Does Hap - who previously fronted The Dead Salesmen - have any regrets from his youth? "I drank too much," he admits. "I polished the drummer from the Screaming Jets' cymbals because their roadies told me to. Too many junkies from Queensland came down to Ballarat and nearly ruined everything in the mid-90s. I didn't write a hit single. I was betrayed by lovers and I betrayed friends. My cat left me the night I went to see Radiohead at Festival Hall. I got crabs from the Port Fairy Folk Festival. I met Paul Kelly and was so nervous I spoke to him like I was mentally impaired. Did I say I drank too much? Apart from that, I'm cool."

Hap should have been a contender. He's a wonderful, melancholic songwriter, with a knack for crafting songs that seep into your subconscious and haunt you for days. A line leaps out of the new album: I'm not jealous of your talent, just your success, I guess. Who inspired Nothing Guy? "Being an APRA member for many years, I would receive their magazine in the mail a few times a year," Hap explains. "I would be sitting on the dunny after a bad day at work, staring at a person who is all dressed up, standing between Michael Gudinski and some dude from Mondo Rock, holding an award. I wouldn't even know who they were or what the award was for, but I would be sick with envy. Of course, these people probably worked their arses off and deserved whatever great night they were having, but when I would look at photo after photo well, there's some misguided bitterness there on my part. It's an ugly sentiment, but I had to keep it in there to show the ugly bits of my personality."

Essentially, Heart Part Of Your Mind - which is being launched at the Grace Darling on Saturday - is a love album. As Hap explains the first single, Audacious: "You want to give the world to the one you love, but that feeling can also leave you feeling futile at times." The cover is a tribute to The Smiths' Hatful of Hollow, with a striking picture of a woman, "Angela", credited to the exotically-named photographer Lexton Gregory. "Angela is my wife," Hap reveals. "If I told her that the photo was potentially for my album, she wouldn't have let me do it. She looks strong and beautiful. There's a lot of her in my lyrics, so it makes sense to me now. I took the pic and called myself Lexton Gregory because it was taken in the backyard of our last house, right on the corners of Lexton and Gregory Streets."

Hap was 16 when his cousin played Hatful of Hollow for him. "It was a celebration of being awkward and lost and an outsider. I was clumsy and shy - it was love at first listen." Hap remains inspired by new music (including his new hometown heroes, Matheson: "the spirit of Americana but made in Ballarat, that band should be travelling the world"). "But I still listen to The Smiths in the car on the way to work."

Is music more or less important to Hap now that he's "grown up"? "When you're young, your music is like the clothes you wear - it's just there as part of you, without thinking about it too much. Now it's more precious to me because the grown up world seems to just use music as background. I've been in houses where they have three CDs - the best of Bon Jovi, the best of the Eagles and something from Dido. I want to start a charity for these people."


OFFSPRING FOR KATE MILLER-HEIDKE
Every artist loves a side project. Is Kate Miller-Heidke part of her husband's Keir Nuttall's mysterious new electro-pop outfit Fatty Gets A Stylist? They have a song, Let Me Fade, on the Offspring soundtrack.


A MODEL HALL OF FAME
Unbelievably, another year passes without Stephen Cummings in the ARIA Hall of Fame. But despite that omission (and the lack of female inductees), it's hard to argue with this year's list - The Church, The Loved Ones, Models, John Williamson and Johnny Young.


CHART WATCH
The Potbelleez leap from 42 to 26.

Plans BIRDS OF TOKYO (number 14)
Choose You STAN WALKER (23)
Hello THE POTBELLEEZ (26)
Freefallin' ZOE BADWI (29)
Rock It LITTLE RED (30)
Love The Fall MICHAEL PAYNTER (37)

Kasey Chambers' new album arrives at number three.

Little Bird KASEY CHAMBERS (number three, debut)
Birds Of Tokyo BIRDS OF TOKYO (10)
Midnight Remember LITTLE RED (11)
Down The Way ANGUS & JULIA STONE (13)
Running On Air BLISS N ESO (14)
I Believe You Liar WASHINGTON (16)
Rage And Ruin JIMMY BARNES (23)
Grinderman 2 GRINDERMAN (24)
April Uprising THE JOHN BUTLER TRIO (27)
From The Inside Out STAN WALKER (32)
Golden Rule POWDERFINGER (36)
Immersion PENDULUM (40)


HOWZAT! PLAYLIST
Nothing Guy UNDERMINERS
Sun On My Face AMAYA LAUCIRICA
Everything You Need NICK BATTERHAM
Mascara THE WEEKEND PEOPLE
Save! CHARLES JENKINS

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