GONE in 60 seconds.

That’s the time it took for tickets to the final Powderfinger concert to sell out.

When the Brisbane mega band announced they were splitting earlier this year after a 20-year career, rumours were rampant around the corridors of the Australian music industry.

Why would a band call it quits at the height of their fame? Especially a group that has enjoyed album sales in excess of 2.5 million; won 16 ARIA Awards with an unprecedented three successive ARIA Awards for Album of the Year; achieved six No. 1 ARIA Album Chart debuts and two entries in the Triple J Hottest 100 of all time.

Any fear of not having what it takes to follow up on the heels of their achievements seems redundant in the face of their seventh (and now final) studio album, Golden Rule, debuting on the charts at No. 1. last year.

Speculation on the split ranged from bad blood between members, to marriage problems, to the fear of no longer being relevant.

Rumours were further complicated when news hit the wires that Powderfinger lead guitarist Ian Haug was campaigning heavily within the group to keep it together.

So what was it?

The Northern Star caught up with Powderfinger bass player John Collins (JC) recently to get to the bottom of the story.

We also wanted to announce fans have the chance to say goodbye to Powderfinger at one of their Sunsets tour concerts, with one of three double passes up for grabs.

“We were really proud of the last record but we felt like we would probably have a hard time getting back together in two or three years’ time and topping it,” JC says when asked what was behind the split.

“That’s not to say we couldn’t. It felt like the last bit of all our collective energy was put into that record. I know it sounds like a league term, but we dug pretty deep to make it work.”

Going out with the proverbial bang would seem to be an essential element of the break-up of one of Australia’s most successful recording bands. The idea of fading away playing the RSL circuit was not a palatable option to the majority of members.

However, not all of Powderfinger, including JC, were so concerned with being remembered at the height of their career. Ian Haug publicly admitted he didn’t want the band to split.

“Ian was pretty keen to just have a break ... and I could see his point,” JC says. “I was thinking we could do just low fi (profile) releases and do it really casually and not have the big pressure but I could see the advantages of saying; you know what, let’s just go out on a high – really strongly, so the Powderfinger name sticks in people’s minds. That’s what we had to work through; we had to take everyone’s vibes into account.”

But was there any truth in the rumours that bad blood was the real reason?

“Like any band we have had struggles,” he says. “It’s like a family. When you’re touring and you’re homesick and really tired you are bound to have little bickers. Have you seen Some Kind of Monster (Metallica documentary)? I watched it when we were in the studio, it was really funny. It’s quite a spin-out how dysfunctional a band can be.”

And how did Powderfinger deal with their issues?

“The answer to a happy band is lots of meetings,” he laughs.

It must be comforting that the meeting that led to their decision to disband proved, in less than 60 seconds, how popular they truly are. 

The Northern Star is giving readers the chance to say goodbye to Powderfinger on their Sunsets farewell tour. We have one double pass up for grabs to catch them in Brisbane on November 10 and two double passes to catch them in Tamworth on September 7.

To win, tell us in 25 words or less why you should win. Then write your name, address and phone number on the back of an envelope, making sure to include this issue’s masthead and send it to Pulse Powderfinger giveaway, The Northern Star, PO Box 423, Lismore, NSW, 2480. Entries close on August 31 and will be judged by Northern Star staff.

Read more:

Powderfinger breaking up

Powderfinger announces extra dates

Powderfinger plays guerilla gig

Powderfinger forced to change last tour



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