The band is from Sydney, Australia. Garrett ran for the Australian senate in 1984, and eventually became a Labour Party member of the Australian Federal Parliament representing the seat of Kingsford Smith. He, as a member of the opposition, is spokesman for the arts and several other matters.
Mike - Melbourne, Australia
The band supports environmental issues. They have protested mining efforts, oil spills, and whaling. Garrett was president of the Australian Conservation Foundation from 1989-1993 and was on the international board of Greenpeace.
Garrett has a law degree, but has never practiced.
They often stage, or join, protests to raise awareness on important issues. In 1988, the band turned down an invitation to the Grammys so Garrett could participate in a protest regarding Bicentennial celebrations of the 1788 European invasion of Australia. Two years later, they played from the back of a flatbed truck
outside the Exxon building in Manhattan in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
In 1997, they set up furniture on a busy street in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to protest air pollution in the city. They blocked traffic for about an hour.
In 2000, they performed their hit "Beds Are Burning"
at the Sydney Olympics, wearing black clothes printed with the word "Sorry," in response to Prime Minister John Howard's refusal to apologize on behalf on Australia to the long-mistreated Aboriginal community.
Rob Hirst played a 20-minute drum solo at the Stompem Ground concert in 1997 when the power went out for all the electric instruments. Garrett walked off stage. Rob Hirst received a standing ovation after the power came back on and the rest of the group resumed the song where they had left off before the blackout!
In 1977, 23-year-old Garrett was struck by tragedy when his mother died in a house fire. Garrett attempted to reach the second floor to save her, but was forced back by intense flames and smoke. When asked about the incident years later, he replied: "You've got to value your family and your friends and really just make the most of each day."
Midnight Oil evolved from an earlier band called The Farm, founded by Hirst, James, and Moginie. They mostly played covers of Led Zeppelin, Cream, and CCR tunes.
Before joining the Oils, Hillman (real name: Wayne Stevens) was a member of the New Zealand band The Swingers, who had a #1 hit in Australia with "Counting The Beat" in 1981.
With a bald-headed frontman singing about social issues, Midnight Oil stood apart from the popular hair bands of the '80s who sang about sex, love, and rock 'n roll. "We don't visualize being poster pinups. We've got a different set of ambitions from most people," Garrett told the Boston Globe in 1988. "We haven't a great deal of concern for material gain. It's certainly great to get out of debt and be making a good living, but we didn't get into it for cars, drugs, money and the glamour life. We're not absorbed by whether we have charted or haven't charted. Finally, we're not a 'hairdresser' band – we're not faddish."
After leaving the band, Gifford started Wicked Weasel, a swimsuit and lingerie company that specializes in micro bikinis. The Oils credited Gifford for bringing a "no-fuss quality" to the band, with Hirst saying, "He had an amazingly tough sound, and a down-beat with his right hand – exactly where my kick drum was – and we locked in immediately."
In 2010, Hirst, Moginie, and Rotsey started a new surf rock band, The Break, with Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie.
In 2012, Hirst wrote a memoir about his experiences on the road in North America after 9/11 called Willie's Bar and Grill. Three years later, Garrett also published a memoir called Big Blue Sky.