Australian music in the early 90’s was having an identity crisis. The golden days of Aussie pub rock were over, pokies were moving in, and clubbing /rave culture was taking hold. While the alternative music scene was dominated by grunge and indie rock, some were looking elsewhere to get their kicks. Hip Hop was on the rise, and from its melting pot of influences new genres were starting to take shape.
One group that emerged from this landscape, and forged a path through the Oz music landscape all of their own were SKUNKHOUR.
A group that fused eclectic musical influences to form their own unique brand of Mongrel Funk. A sound that combined Funk, Rock and Hip Hop with elements of New Wave Pop.
With the funky powerhouse rhythm section of Mike and Dean Sutherland and the melodic blues funk stylings of Warwick Scott on guitar, combined with Aya Larkin’s ethereal and powerful lead vocals. Their unique sound was cemented by brother Del rapping in Australian accent which was unheard of on Australian airwaves at the time.
They released the independent debut album “Skunkhour” in 1993.
Pat Davern from Grinspoon recalls, “The summer of 1993/94 in Lismore was hot. The summers were always hot, but this was a heat to remember. It was in this atmosphere that I first heard Skunkhour’s record, “Skunkhour”. The music exploded out of the stereo. Even though we were a long way from the city that inspired the funk/soul/rock/hip hop fusion that was Skunkhour, the music put me right there amongst the concrete and the traffic.
I spent the rest of the summer immersed in the music and the words, learning the lyrics and singing along at parties. Everyone in that town felt a connection and an ownership of the band, like we were the only people who really understood”.
The group toured relentlessly during the 1990’s earning them a reputation as one of Australia’s hardest working must see live acts and festival mainstays.
Their debut was soon followed by the Gold selling album FEED in ’94 and went on to land a UK and European deal with the UK based label Acid Jazz.
Touring Europe & the UK in ’95 with Mother Earth and again in ’96 playing the Galway Groove Festival in Ireland and sold out gigs all over France , Switzerland and Italy.
The band achieved further success with the albums, Chin Chin in ’97 and the critically acclaimed the Go in 2001, and were voted into Triple J’s Hottest 100 on four occasions across three albums.
From conjuring up grooves in a dingy rehearsal room in Ultimo, to performing in front of thousands, SKUNKHOUR left an enduring legacy in the Australian music landscape and kicked down the door for acts such as the Hilltop Hoods, the Cat Empire, the Herd, and the Avalanches that followed.
“Before White Men Could Jump, Del and Aya Larkin were proving that they could do everything else but...one of my favourite Australian bands ever, Skunkhour, were before and after their time, existing in the nexus of things known and unknown in a time when grunge excused every shit guitarist and forced every cardigan clad under- graduate into a sneaker gazing depression. Skunkhour were bright, bold, and fucking beautiful!”
Adam Zammit – former CEO Big Day Out, Parker and Mister French Artist Management, Publisher- The Music Network, Brag Magazine