Marc Mittag and the Headhunters tour Australia

Published 29 September 2008

The godfathers of funk and fusion, the Headhunters, whose hits continue to be played the world over, have been enticed to play at Southern Cross University as part of their upcoming Australian tour.

The person to thank for this coup is former Southern Cross University music student, Marc Mittag, who will be performing with the cult band.

In fact, in a bold move, Mittag invited the legendary band to tour with him, so the tour is being called the ‘Marc Mittag and the Headhunters’ tour!

The Headhunters’ music is a complex blend of many styles and genres, including jazz, funk, African and Afro-Caribbean. The group is also notable for its pioneering use of electronic instruments and effects.

Bold-as-brass Mittag has always dreamed big and believes you create your own reality by the strength of your dreams and ambitions.

He came to Southern Cross University to do his Bachelor of Contemporary Music degree in 1991, straight out of Bonalbo High School in rural north-western NSW, and thanks Dave Tucker, an enthusiastic music teacher (and a gifted musician in his own right), for developing his early musical ability.

“Dave would take us students to the Lismore Eisteddfod even when we hadn’t done any rehearsals and put us on stage and say ‘just do something’. He was a great inspiration and taught us to be fearless performers and master improvisers,” Mittag said.

Mittag scored 100 percent in his Higher School Certificate Music exam, making him the number one music student in the state.

“I knew SCU was the place to study music and I was pretty hungry to learn as much as I could during my three years here,” he said.

“The resources were simply fantastic and the lecturers awesome as most were polished musicians in their own right.

“When I left I looked at myself as a professional musician and I had the foundations to develop my music as both an art and a business. I still had a lot of real life skills to learn, and still do, but I had a great start to my journey.”

Since then Mittag has done almost every kind of gig imaginable, from playing with a Tom Jones cover band, to being the resident musician on Great Keppel Island with his wife, singer, Megan Albany.

He has toured Europe, produced music for film and television for companies in the US, Ireland, Australia and France and was the guitarist with indie band Standing on Shoulders (formerly Skinful), with his wife as lead vocalist, when their single ‘Finding Myself’ reached number 26 in the Irish charts in 2007.

To get into the Irish charts the enterprising musician decided that he needed to ‘do something big’ and so rented out the front window display of a major record store in a Dublin main street.

Mittag and his wife lived in the front window for a week, arriving in their PJs in the early morning, breakfasting while passers-by gawked or stopped to watch them eat vegemite on toast and play songs from the album. They spent the day in the window space and developed quite a cult following which helped put their album on the charts.

That success inspired Mittag to go for broke. He wanted to make a solo album and he wanted the people he believed to be the best musicians in the world to play on it with him.

So he did some headhunting of his own and eventually flew to New York to meet with Headhunters band leader and drummer extraordinaire Mike Clark - and that was the beginning of a great friendship and musical collaboration.

Mittag recorded his all-original debut album ‘The Interview’ with Mike Clark, Charles Fambrough (McCoy Tyner, Art Blakey) and Eric Udel (Ray Charles, The Blues Brothers) in New York and now has coordinated the Headhunters Australian tour.

“I just wanted to bring the tour to SCU to give something back to the Contemporary Music program that helped me launch my career. It was such a wonderful place to study and I wanted to come back and say ‘thank you’ to all the awesome lecturers and general staff who make SCU the place to study.”

Marc Mittag and the Headhunters will play in Sydney at The Basement on October 7 and 8; in the Blue Mountains at Triselies on October 9; The Brass Monkey in Cronulla on October 10; The Heritage in Bulli on October 11; at Southern Cross University, Lismore campus, on October 15; the Blue Birdy in Byron on October 15; Brisbane on October 16; in Adelaide at The Gov on October 19 and 20; at Canberra’s Southern Cross Club on October 23 and 24; and in Melbourne at Manchester Lane on October 26 and 27.

Photo: Marc Mittag and The Headhunters who will soon tour Australia, playing at SCU’s Lismore campus on October 15.

Media contact: Zoe Satherley Southern Cross University media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.