ARIA's Best New Talent - Where Are They Now?

ARIA's Best New Talent - Where Are They Now?

the superjesus arias
The Superjesus, ARIA Awards 2001 (Photo by Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images)

The ARIA Awards Best New Talent Award is a representation each year of who we should all be keeping our eyes on as the "next big thing" in Australian music. Some bands and artists have gone on to become household names, others have faded into complete obscurity for various reasons. Let's take a look at some the winners from 1987, the year the ARIA Awards first began, and the ten years that followed, to see what fate they met. 

1987 - Crowded House

Not much else needs to be said. Crowded House, formed in 1985 in Melbourne and consisted of founding members, New Zealander Neil Finn (vocalist, guitarist, primary songwriter) and Australians Paul Hester (drums) and Nick Seymour(bass). Later band members included Neil Finn's brother, Tim Finn, and Americans Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod.

They achieved commercial and critical success in Australia and New Zealand and international chart success in two phases, beginning with their self-titled debut album, which reached #12 on the US Album Chart in 1987 and provided the Top Ten hits "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong". Further international success came in the UK, Europe, and South Africa with their third and fourth albums, Woodface and Together Alone and the compilation album Recurring Dream, which included the hits "Fall at Your Feet", "Weather with You", "Distant Sun", "Locked Out", "Instinct" and "Not the Girl You Think You Are". Neil and Tim Finn were each awarded an OBE in June 1993, for their contribution to the music of New Zealand.

1988 - Weddings, Parties, Anything

Weddings Parties Anything were an Australian folk rock band formed in 1984 in Melbourne and continuing until 1999. Their name came from The Clash song ("Revolution Rock") and musicologist Billy Pinnell once described their first album as the best Australian rock debut since Skyhooks' Living in the '70s.

The band was led by Mick Thomas, the only continual member throughout the group's history. The single "Father's Day" was later nominated for Single of the Year as well as winning Song of the Year at the 1993 ARIA awards. They were renowned for their energetic live performances and in particular their annual Christmas shows at the Central Club Hotel in Swan Street, Richmond held in the lead up to Christmas Eve every year from the late 1980s to 1998.

The band has reunited to play live on a number of occasions since their original break up. In November 2012 the band were inducted into the EG Hall of Fame, with Mick Thomas stating that the show would be the last time the band performs.

1989 - Johnny Diesel & The Injectors 

An exceptional multi-instrumentalist and producer, Diesel went on to have two #1 albums in Australia and won a further six ARIA Awards, and twelve nominations. Still a very active touring artist, Deisel has released fifteen studio albums, three greatest hits, and five video/DVD albums consistently from the late 80s to the present day. He is revered as an Aussie legend, deservedly so!

1990 - Gyan

She first got our attention as the runner-up on TV's talent quest, Star Search in 1986. Her 1989 debut self-titled album peaked in the #30 on the ARIA Albums Chart and provided, "Wait", which reached the top 20 on the ARIA Singles Chart.

Following her ARIA win in 1990, Gyan has released five more studio albums, the latest being This Girls In Love. Additionally, she has worked on numerous film soundtracks and co-wrote Paul Kelly's "Nobody She Knows" and provided vocals on the Hymn for Her album by James Cruickshank of The Cruel Sea. 2008 saw the publication of Gyan's children's book, How Weird Is That? 

1991 - Archie Roach

A national treasure and respected Aussie icon, Archie Roach has recorded three further albums, and toured around the globe, headlining and opening shows for Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega and Patti Smith to name a few. He has worked on soundtracks for several films, and his song "Took The Children Away" won a Human Rights Award, and was recently included on the NIMA presents: The Sound of Indigenous Australia compilation album, available here.

Since winning the Best New Talent award, Archie Roach has won a further five ARIA Awards and been nominated for nine between 1991 and 2015. 

1993 - Things Of Stone & Wood

You'll remember these guys from their hit single "Happy Birthday Helen" which was parodied on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's TV series, The Late Show, in 1992. "Happy Birthday Helen" was listed at #91 on the Triple J Hottest 100 in 1993. At the ARIA Music Awards of 1993 Things of Stone and Wood won 'Best New Talent' for "Share this Wine". During 1993 they supported national tours by Australian artists Midnight Oil, Paul Kelly, and by Irish folk-rocker, Luka Bloom, late that year they toured Europe. Greg Arnold won 'Songwriter of the Year' at the 1993 APRA Awards, and the following year The Yearning was nominated for 'Breakthrough Artist – Album'. They went on to release five albums up to 2002, followed by a greatest hits compliation. 

For their 25th Anniversary, ToSaW reunited again and played the Port Fairy Folk Festival. In May 2014 they toured Australia playing dates in Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart.

1994 - The Badloves

The Badloves formed in 1990, dissolved in 1997, reformed in 2008, dissolved in 2010, and reformed again in 2015!  The Badloves released just two studio albums before taking some time out in 1997 – Get On Board (which spent 69 weeks on the charts, peaked at number five, won three ARIA Awards and went double platinum) and 1995s Holy Roadside (which went gold and reached number 14).

1995 - Silverchair

A band that went on to global success and became a household name in Australia until they announced their indefinite hiatus in 2011. Silverchair has won a record number of 21 ARIA Music Awards from 49 nominations. The band has also received six APRA Awards with Daniel Johns winning three songwriting awards at the 2008 ceremony. All five of their studio albums have peaked at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart: Frogstomp (1995), Freak Show (1997), Neon Ballroom (1999), Diorama (2002) and Young Modern (2007). Three of the band's singles have reached #1 on the related ARIA Singles Chart: "Tomorrow" (1994), "Freak" (1997) and "Straight Lines" (2007).

1997 - The Superjesus 

Their debut album, Sumo (1998), peaked at #2 on the ARIA Albums Chart, their second album, Jet Age (2000) reached #5 and their third album, Rock Music (2003) got to #14. Their singles include "Shut My Eyes" (1996), "Down Again" (1997), "Gravity" (2000) and "Secret Agent Man" (2001). At the ARIA Music Awards of 1997, they won Best New Talent for Eight Step Rail (their debut extended play, and Breakthrough Artist – Single for "Shut My Eyes". 

The group disbanded in mid-2004 and reunited in 2013 with mainstay members Paul Berryman on drums, Sarah McLeod on lead vocals and guitar, and Stuart Rudd on bass guitar. In 2016 Berryman was replaced with Andy Strachan from The Living End on drums and the band continues to tour regularly. They released an EP Love & Violence in 2015 and have recently announced the 20th Anniversary Reissue and tour of their debut Sumo. 



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