Midnight Oil was an Australian hard rock-punk band who were active from the early 1970s until 2002. The band was known for its driving hard rock sound, intense live performances, and its political activism, particularly in aid of environmentalist and indigenous causes. The lineup included Rob Hirst on drums, Peter Garrett on vocals, Jim Moginie on keyboard/guitar, and Martin Rotsey on guitar. Andrew James was the band's first bass player, followed by Peter Gifford from 1980 to 1987, and replaced by Bones Hillman.
The Oils, as they are known to their fans, began as a progressive rock band called Farm in the early 1970s. After changing their name to Midnight Oil, their style also quickly changed, the group developing an aggressive, punk - hard rock sound associated with the Sydney surfer community. Two of their early fan bases were the Sydney northern beaches pub The Royal Antler at Narrabeen and the Bondi Lifesaver club near Sydney's Bondi Beach.
Although consistently championed by Sydney alternative rock station Double Jay and its FM band successor Triple J they, like many independent bands of the period, were almost totally ignored by Australia's mainstream commercial radio stations. As a result of this, the band developed a strong "street cred" and a reputation for making no compromises with the music industry. The band built an intensely dedicated fan base through constant touring, and blistering full-tilt live performances, featuring the twin-guitar attack of Moginie and Rotsey, the drumming and vocals of drummer Rob Hirst and the manic, whirling-dervish presence of their towering, bald lead singer Peter Garrett, who quickly earned a reputation as one of the most charismatic and outspoken musicians on the Australian music scene. Their first two albums, 'Midnight Oil' and 'Head Injuries' are now regarded as classics of Australian independent rock, mixing solid guitar rock with progressive flourishes; both were released independently through the M7 label (a subsidiary of the Seven TV Network) and both were produced by Triple J live concert sound producer Keith Walker.