Monday, June 4, 2012

Powderfinger With Dino Scatena - Footprints - The Inside Story Of Australia’s Best Loved Band

Powderfinger With Dino Scatena
Footprints - The Inside Story Of Australia’s Best Loved Band
Egg The Nest Songs/Hachette Australia

When Brisbane act Powderfinger held a press conference on 9th April 2010 at Sydney’s Annandale Hotel, many were expecting that the event was simply a way of announcing upcoming tour plans in a grand fashion. And sure enough, the press conference saw the band unveil their upcoming ‘Sunsets’ tour. But to everyone’s complete surprise was the announcement that the tour would signal the end of the road for Powderfinger as a band. The news sent shockwaves throughout the Australian music scene, and left many fans questioning the band’s decision to break-up at the height of their successful twenty-two years together.
In an effort to give fans an insight into the band’s formation, their building success throughout the years, the reasons for their eventual split and everything in-between, the band decided to team up with Sydney based music journalist Dino Scatena (Ex-Rolling Stone Australia/Daily Telegraph editor, and who co-authored the Billy Thorpe biography ‘Keep Rockin’ – Celebrating An Australian Music Legend’ in 2010) and present the official Powderfinger story. And what a story it is.
The book begins with a short introduction piece from Scatena (‘Sunsets’), who shares his memories of Powderfinger’s last stand together, which is both humorous and insightful. This is followed up by a chapter (‘The End’) detailing the events leading up to the band decision to split, and the many reasons for their decision to do so (Which surprising enough, was far from an agreed feeling amongst everyone within the band). The whole band is quite open and honest with their opinions and feelings about the monumental decision to bring things to a close, and at the end of the chapter, you can’t help but feel that even though Powderfinger’s music is now ingrained into Australian culture, the various aspects of the personalities that make up the band itself is a story that has until now never been told.
Over the course of the next three hundred plus pages, Powderfinger and Scatena leave no stone unturned with the telling of the complete Powderfinger history, with virtually every aspect of the band’s lengthy history recounted in-depth.
Like a lot of biographies, ‘Footprints - The Inside Story Of Australia’s Best Loved Band’ details the early life of the members within the band, starting from their early childhood right through to taking their place within the band. But unlike many stories of this kind, there’s room made for past members of the group, record producers, quotes from fellow Australian acts who played their part in Powderfinger’s history and talk of the music the band made in their time together (A total of three E.P.’s and seven studio albums). The mix of personal stories and the music has rarely been balanced this well, which makes the Powderfinger story all that more interesting and captivating.
The other interesting aspect of the book is the band’s openness to the tension and disagreements on a personal level, which helps to explain the reasons for their split. And when you add to that the band member’s differing opinions on their musical efforts (In particular 1994’s ‘Parables For Wooden Ears’ and 2007’s troubled ‘Dream Days At The Hotel Existence’), the book is hard to put down once started.
I always classed myself as a casual fan of Powderfinger rather than a diehard, and as a consequence, I wasn’t expecting much from ‘Footprints - The Inside Story Of Australia’s Best Loved Band’. But I have to admit that the book was compelling from start to finish, and gave me an insight and respect for the band that I never thought previously possible.
Lavishly presented (The rarely seen photos on offer throughout the book are priceless), detailed and incredibly well written (A real credit to Scatena), ‘Footprints - The Inside Story Of Australia’s Best Loved Band’ is a must for any fan of Powderfinger, and an impressionable final release from the sorely missed and iconic Brisbane outfit.

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© Justin Donnelly