From Nick Cave to Magic Dirt, explore the best talent to come from country Victoria
When it comes to musicians coming out of regional Victoria, we’re spoilt for choice. Maybe it’s something about that fresh air that fuels creative masterminds, but we can’t complain.
We’re checking out some of the greatest musicians to have hailed from regional Victoria, celebrating the work of those who’ve done the region proud through their music.
Read all the latest features, columns and more here.
Chrissy Amphlett – Geelong
Recognised as one of the most formidable singers the Australian music industry has ever seen for her chart-conquering contributions to Divinyls, the late, great Chrissy Amphlett is considered one of the most prominent musicians to have ever come from Geelong.
Born in the regional city on October 21 1959, Amphlett attended Belmont High School before moving to Sydney to form Divinyls with Mark McEntee in 1980, where her inimitable stage presence and vocal range asserted her as one of the best singers of her era.
Nick Cave – Wangaratta
One of the most compelling Australian artists of all time, Nick Cave was originally born in the small wheatbelt town of Warracknabeal before his family moved to the rural city of Wangaratta near the NSW border. Cave would later move to Melbourne with his family in 1970 after he was expelled from high school as a 13 year old, and later described his experiences growing up in the rural city as ‘horrible’.
Throughout his youth, Cave was enamoured by the region’s history with bushrangers, sparking a longstanding fascination with outlaw crime that would seep into his songwriting and help establish him as the gothic overlord we know him to be today.
Warren Ellis – Ballarat
Funnily enough, one of Nick Cave’s closest musical collaborators, Warren Ellis, also hails from regional Victoria himself, having been born in the historical gold mining settlement of Ballarat.
Ellis, who rose to prominence as a member of Cave’s Grinderman and The Bad Seeds projects as well as his own instrumental trio The Dirty Three, stumbled upon his future profession as a musician as a child on a trip to the Ballarat tip, where he found an old piano and convinced his parents to take it home so he could take lessons – and, as they say, the rest is history.
Killing Heidi – Violet Town
Best known for their ARIA chart dominating singles ‘Mascara’ and ‘Weir’ in the early 2000s, Killing Heidi’s origins can be traced back to the small North-Eastern hub of Violet Town in the Strathbogie Shire, where siblings Jesse and Ella Hooper grew up and started performing as a folk duo in their teens.
After picking up traction in the local region with a run of acoustic shows, Jesse and Ella later submitted their single ‘Kettle’ to Triple J Unearthed and ending up winning the competition in the Goulburn region before going on to achieve huge chart success with the release of their debut album Reflector, well and truly putting them on the map as some of the region’s most triumphant talents.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Geelong
The globetrotting, unstoppable psych-rock force that is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard might be most closely associated with the psych scene of Melbourne’s inner-north, but a grand majority of the group actually grew up closer down south to the thriving hub that is Geetroit.
The group’s enigmatic frontman Stu Mckenzie, bassist Lucas Skinner, guitarist Stu Cook and harmonica extraordinaire Ambrose Kenny Smith all hail from Victoria’s surf coast, with guitarist Joey Walker being the only Melbourne native of the group. Drummers Michael Cavanagh and Eric Moore, meanwhile, both grew up in Deniliquin on the NSW/VIC border, a town best known for hosting the world-renowned Deni Ute Muster.
Augie March – Shepparton
As one of the most loved indie groups of their era, Augie March were unstoppable in their heyday, being nominated for a multitude of ARIA Awards and even snagging a Triple J Hottest 100 #1 single in the form of 2006’s ‘One Crowded Hour’.
Several of the band’s members, including frontman Glenn Richards, guitarist Adam Donovan and drummer David Wilson, were born and raised in the North Eastern regional town of Shepparton, attending school in the region before moving down to Melbourne to form the seminal indie group we know today.
Magic Dirt – Geelong
Recognised as one of the most important Australian grunge groups of the ‘90s, Magic Dirt are one of Geelong’s best exports, with each member knowing one another from the city’s skating scene before forming the band together.
Upon going through a series of different band names in the formative stages, Adalita and the gang settled upon Magic Dirt prior to recording their breakout success Signs Of Satanic Youth in 1993, with the EP attracting massive critical acclaim and establishing them as one of the region’s best musical entities.
Xavier Rudd – Torquay
It really should come to no surprise that Xavier Rudd should hail from Torquay – the dude is possibly the best example of the Aussie surfer stereotype we have to offer, and is notorious for performing barefoot onstage.
Stereotypes aside, however, Rudd is a supremely talented and compassionate roots artist, and boasts a mean set of pipes to boot, with his songs being best known for their socially conscious lyrics and rootsy leanings.
Briggs – Shepparton
Aussie hip-hop heavyweight, Bad Apples label owner and comedy writer Briggs is considered by many to be one of the country’s most important wordsmiths ever, with his work as a solo artist and his AB Original project with Trials attaining mass critical acclaim and establishing him as a creative powerhouse.
An Indigenous Australian from the Yorta Yorta people, Briggs was born and raised in the rural city of Shepparton, with early projects such as Sheplife detailing his upbringing in the city and the socioeconomic struggles faced by many living in country Victoria.
Airbourne – Warrnambool
A hugely successful group at home and abroad, Airbourne are known as one of the hardest rocking Aussie groups to have emerged in recent memory, with their heavy rhythms and ridiculous onstage antics making them a mainstay on the international festival circuit.
While they might be best known for playing at festivals alongside the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Iron Maiden, Airbourne’s origins can be traced back to the South Western coastal city of Warnambool, where they cut their teeth as teenagers on the city’s underage gig circuit before becoming the trailblazers of hard rock we know today.
This article was originally published August 11, 2020.
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