The Null Device
Today I heard the sad news that Simon Holmes, frontman and songwriter of 1990s Australian alternative/indiepop band The Hummingbirds passed away over the weekend.
I met him once, about a decade ago, at his record shop in Sydney. There was a copy of The Hummingbirds' debut album loveBUZZ there, which the band had all autographed back in the day, and which I ended up buying. Simon demonstrated his signature on a piece of paper to show that it was genuine; with his characteristic humility, he didn't know how much to ask for it. I think I gave him $30. We also talked briefly about Sarah Records. I got the impression that, as well as being a fine songwriter and musician, he was also a genuine, decent fellow, of considerable thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
A few years earlier, not long after I had moved, on a whim, to the northern hemisphere, I was catching a sleeper train from Paris to Zurich. I remember listening to the Hummingbirds MP3s which I had on my MP3 player, sometime around midnight, somewhere near the French-Swiss border, and feeling a little less disconnected from the home I had left behind.
And some years later, I heard that The Hummingbirds were reuniting to play a one-off show at Big Day Out in Sydney. I had been thinking of visiting Australia again, and brought forward my visit, timing it to catch them. They were well worth the airfare and the jetlag.
And now Simon's suddenly gone, which sucks, and the only Hummingbirds that exist are some Mumford-alikes from Liverpool, which sucks even more.
Simon's friend and sometime collaborator Tim Byron has written a fine memorial to him.