triple j Unearthed winners are the recipients of a hell of a lot of attention all at once, thrusting formerly-emerging acts into the national spotlight at breakneck speed.
Some acts flourish under this pressure and have gone on to become successful not only in Australia, but internationally. Others have strained under the sudden pressure, and have decided to take a step back from the spotlight.
We’ve had a hunt around for 12 acts who set the world on fire during their triple j success, to see where they’ve ended up years down the track.
Hungry Kids Of Hungary
From their humble beginnings in 2007, Brisbane’s Hungry Kids Of Hungary had an impressive rise to fame after capturing the attention of triple j’s Richard Kingsmill and winning the chance to play the Gold Coast Big Day Out in 2009. With tracks like ‘Scattered Diamonds’ and ‘Wristwatch’ under the belt, the group seemed unstoppable.
Sadly, November 2013 saw the group pull out of their Falls and Southbound appearances in order to announce they’d broken up. However, you can these days find members of the band doing great work in other groups such as Sans Parents and Born Joy Dead.
The John Steel Singers
Formed as a six-piece group in 2007, Brisbane’s The John Steel Singers didn’t muck around. Within months of getting together, they’d organised enough songs for their Beagle And The Dove mini-album including their song ‘Strawberry Wine’, which achieved the highly coveted Richard Kingsmill thumbs up, and won the group a spot on the 2008 Big Day Out festival. They kept up this output, releasing a few more EPs before they got the masses on their side with the catchy ‘Overpass’ from their debut LP Tangalooma.
After their second album Everything’s A Thread was released in 2013, the group decided to lay low for a while, touring sporadically. In July of 2016, the band released their third album Midnight At The Plutonium before following it up with a tour and the announcement that they were going on hiatus for a while.
Lanier Stefanie Myra Johnston, the nom de plume of Lanie Lane, burst onto the scene in 2010 after releasing the tune ‘What Do I Do’, which became the theme tune to ABC’s successful ‘Crownies’. Lane further cemented her success by releasing the track ‘Oh Well That’s What You Get Falling In Love With A Cowboy’ and her debut album To The Horses. The album’s bluesy-rock sound captured the attention of Jack White, who took her on as his Australian tour support act, and recorded and performed on her 2011 song ‘Ain’t Hungry’.
In 2015 however, soon after the release of her second album Night Shade, Lane announced her departure from the music industry. Citing the stress and pressure involved in forging a career in music as her decision, many viewed her departure as untimely. These days, Lanie Lane can be found in the coastal Queenland town of Yeppoon, where visual art and painting are her new passions.
Unearthed in 2005, Little Red soon became one of Australia’s favourite indie groups. Shooting to fame with the triple j favourite ‘Coca Cola’, the group released their debut album, Listen To Little Red, which lead to them becoming a favourite on the Aussie festival circuit.
2010’s Midnight Remember saw the quintet almost beat Angus & Julia Stone in the Hottest 100 with ‘Rock It’. Sadly, a third album never materialised due to the band breaking up in 2012. However, you can find members of the group playing in bands such as The Hondas, The Greasers, Dominic Byrne’s New Gods, Major Tom & The Atoms, and, until they too broke up, Naked Bodies.
Benjamin Plant formed Miami Horror as a solo project in 2007. Starting by releasing remixes of bands like The Presets, Bloc Party, and Tegan And Sara, he was soon gaining attention worldwide thanks to the Internet. Soon after, he signed with Virgin Records and released his debut EP Bravado. In 2010, he released his debut Illumination, which featured the hits ‘Sometimes’, ‘Holidays’, and ‘I Look To You’, the latter of which featured Kimbra a year before Gotye bought her to the attention of the masses.
The next few years were a bit quiet though. Live shows saw Miami Horror expand to a now permanent five-piece, but recorded music was relatively sparse until last year, when Miami Horror’s second LP All Possible Futures was released. These days, the group can be found living it up in the US and frequenting the festival circuit worldwide, with their music being featured in commercials and video games everywhere.
The Middle East
The haunting tenderness that The Middle East displayed had already been mesmerising audiences in Townsville for 4 years when they were Unearthed in 2009. After releasing 2 independent recordings, and breaking up between 2008 and 2009, the band’s biggest hits ‘Blood’ and ‘The Darkest Side’ hit triple j’s airwaves and enthralled audiences, both here and abroad.
The band followed up with their debut album I Want That You Are Always Happy in 2011 and their popularity continued to grow. Sadly, during their Splendour In The Grass performance in 2011, the band announced they were breaking up, leading to triple j’s Dom Alessio lamenting that they were “an amazing band cutting it short before their time.”
Members of the band are still active though, with vocalist Jordan Ireland performing as Stolen Violin, Bree Tranter & Rohin Jones both performing solo, Mark Myer performing as The Starry Field, and other members performing together under the name Skeleton Jack.
When triple j launched their Unearthed High program back in 2008, the lucky winner was a Sydney trio by the name of [is]. Realising how hard the name was to Google, they adopted the moniker Tom Ugly. After releasing a self-titled EP and the track ‘Cult Romance’ as a single, the group supported the likes of Sia, & Groove Armada, and the Sydney Morning Herald even considered the band to be the ‘next Silverchair’.
Since 2008, the group has been suspiciously quiet. New music is promised, and news of a planned, but unreleased, EP have surfaced, with a single being released in 2011 and 2014. Apparently now a solo project for frontman Tom, time can only tell whether we’ll rekindle the romance with Tom Ugly.
The winners of 2009‘s Unearthed High program, and the second band to change their name soon after winning. Following the release of their winning track ‘Blackout’ and a self-titled EP, Howl soon renamed themselves to Hunting Grounds. The Ballarat sextet followed up with their second EP Brothers In Violence, and a debut album Hindsight in 2012.
After a 10 year career which saw the band support bands like Yacht Club DJ’s and DZ Deathrays, they played a farewell show in December of 2014, with frontman Michael Belsar carrying the torch forward with Twinsy.
Forming in 2010 while the group was still in high school, the Melbourne ensemble made the smart move of entering Unearthed High in 2011, especially since they ended up winning it. After releasing a self-titled EP which featured songs like ‘Air’ and ‘Chimera’, and releasing the highly-popular ‘Dance Bear’ as a single, the group released their debut album ‘Sleep In The Water’.
The group celebrated the release of their debut by playing to crowds all over the country, and then in March 2014, announced their sudden split. Going out with a bang by releasing a compilation of demos (and re-releasing their debut on vinyl, which is now highly sought after), the group show no intention of reforming as yet. However, if you miss the band too much, fear not, as members of the band are still active. Frontman Sean Heathcliff performs under the name Kagu, and Phoebe Lou & Joey Clough have recently music under the name Two People.
Lunatics On Pogosticks
After their track ‘Picasso’s Saddest Love’ won them the 2013 Unearthed High competition, Sydney’s Lunatics On Pogosticks buckled down to finish their studies. Taking their name from the Red Hot Chili Peppers track ‘Apache Rose Peacock’, the indie-rock three piece have supported bands such as Dune Rats, British India, and the very first Unearthed band, Grinspoon.
Having released their debut album Sniffing Lavender in June of 2016, the group dropped their second record, Leave Your Worries At Home, They’ll Be There When You Get Back, only a little while ago, proving that they plan to pretty prolific.
Loon Lake first attracted attention in 2011 with the release of their debut EP Not Just Friends, containing the triple j hit ‘In The Summer’. Following it up with ‘Bad To Me’, which was 2 spots away from cracking the 2011 Hottest 100, the Melbourne five-piece were just getting started. Supporting bands like Bluejuice, Kaiser Chiefs, and Ball Park Music, the group was getting all the right attention. Then in 2013, they released their debut album Gloamer, which continued to win them fans all over with tracks like ‘Cherry Lips’.
In early 2015 though, the group announced they almost broke up due to frontman Sam Nolan having vocal chord surgery. Thankfully, they released a new single, a new tour, and then six months later, announced they were really breaking up this time. For good. Not to go quietly though, the band bought their ‘Final Wave’ tour to their fans, along with with their second and final album, Low Res.
‘My Heart Is On Fire’ was how audiences around Australia were introduced to Hobart’s Asta Binnie. Winning the 2012 Unearthed High competition, Asta became immensely popular on triple j, following up with ‘Escape’.
Asta’s kept up appearances with a steady stream of singles, including 2015’s ‘Dynamite’ which featured Allday and saw Asta’s popularity continue to skyrocket. Asta most recently released the EP Shine in February, but we’re still hoping for that debut record.Write a Letter to the Editor