Hunting Grounds hit the road

THEY always dreamed of getting played on Triple J - just once.

So when one morning, before school, the radio announcer named Hunting Grounds as Triple J's Unearthed High band of 2009, guitarist Michael Belsar was floored.

"It was ridiculous, so exciting," he laughed from his home in Ballarat.

For Hunting Grounds' six Ballarat boys - Daniel Mari on drums, Galen Strachan on keys, Michael Belsar on vocals and guitar, Jon Crawford on bass, Tim Street on guitar  and Lachlan Morrish on guitar and vocals - this is the stuff dreams are made of.  

With first album In Hindsight just released, and single Flaws already clocking up 20,000 online views, Hunting Grounds are more than ready to take their show on the road - via the Plantation Hotel, August 8.

"It's way more fun jumping in the crowd," Michael said of the band's live gigs.

"From the beginning we've always enjoyed touring. Occasionally we have these moments when we're pissed and there's six of us in a hotel room we get into a massive argument about stupid shit, but that's about it. We were friends before we were a band."

This is all said without even a breath, and with lots of laughing. It's pretty clear that this is one guitarist that loves his job - even if there's a day job behind it.

"Daniel's mum owns a mixed business, so a few of the guys work there. And I used to work at Maccas - it sucks but it's so convenient being in a band, you get so much time off."

And Hunting Grounds need all the time off they can get, with a hectic touring schedule and increasing interest in their new album.

"We pretty much financed our own album," Michael said.

"It's been a long time coming, we've been trying to get it out for so long. Recording was so much fun."

Since hooking up with Crucial Music at the end of 2010, it's been only up, up and more up for the band - a rapid learning curve, including tours with Children Collide and - Michael's higlight - the Living End.

"It was unbelievable, they were cool," Michael said.

"They're just the most professional people, they taught us so much, we're so shitty as a band and they showed us where we want to be."

Presumably where their fans want them to be is playing increasingly larger venues - they've been selected for the Big Day Out in 2013.

So how do they keep it real, in increasingly unreal circumstances?

"It's like a long-term relationship - you've got to think about how your actions affect things, sometimes you get shitty but you have to stick around," Michael said of the six-way band vibe.

And maybe, with all the sticking around, collect some new friends.

"Once we played in Coolangatta and I jumped in the crowd and I was swinging my bass around, and I hit Jordan from Bleeding Knees Club really hard. Blood everywhere. He came up to me afterwards and said 'great show man', so it was a good result."

And as for the upcoming East Coast tour, Michael reckons their main aim is still what it's always been - to show people the music of Hunting Grounds.

"Although I guess I could do some inspirational life quotes," he added.

Somehow we don't think they're gonna have the time.

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