There is no exact formula for penning a musical hit, though that’s the big question dozens of people want answered from Rob Hirst and Jim Moginie.
The key songwriters for Midnight Oil are leading a series of events over the next week which set the backdrop for the opening of The Making of Midnight Oil Exhibition at Wollongong Art Gallery.
Free exhibition talks with the pair have already been booked out, as has the “Rocking the Songwriters” workshop.
“It’s the trickiest thing to teach ... I think it’s one of those gifts like rhythm or perfect pitch,” Hirst said.
“It can’t be formulaic. There’s magic and mystery going on there, otherwise everyone would have got the formula – like a cake mix – ages ago and they’d all be churning out identical cakes. And in fact ... many do, but that’s not the kind of songs we’ve written.”
“There’s also that thing,” Moginie added. “Where you don’t really know what you’re doing, it just kind of comes to you sometimes in the most random way.”
Both creative’s will also perform with their bands in the next week, which Hirst said will add to the experience of the exhibition.
He’ll join Dom Turner and Joe Glover, collectively known as blues trio the Backsliders, at Wollongong Town Hall on Saturday.
Their new album Heathen Songbook was engineered by Moginie, who will have his project the Electric Guitar Orchestra putting on a colourful multi-media performance with “gnarly little sounds” at the gallery on December 9.
Wollongong is the last point of call to pay homage to The Oils in this way, a group which many people have had a moment with.
“We’ve found everyone has a particular moment as they came across the band … everyone has their own take on it, like the first time they saw they band play,” Hirst said.
Moginie said Hirst was great at archiving the band’s memorabilia in his attic, the main gold mine for curator Ross Heathcote to rummage through.
“It never ceases to amaze me how many people … the music seems to have gone into their psyche a little bit, as part of the Australian culture. We’re just one of those bands that have been lucky to do that,” he said.
Midnight Oil will hit the road again in 2017, reforming for a number of shows still to be announced.
Songwriters Hirst and Moginie both laughed at the prospect of a new album to complement the tour, admitting the five-piece are yet to get some serious rehearsal time in.
“Once we all get in a room together and start making that noise I think it’s inevitable something’s going to come out of it,” Moginie said.
“But nothing’s really been initiated at this point by we’ll see. I’m really looking forward to hanging with the guys again.”