Request for Hank
Powderfinger was formed in 1989 by vocalist and guitarist Ian Haug, bassist John Collins and drummer Steven Bishop, who took their name from the title of a Neil Young song. Before the band's formation, the members had all played in other Brisbane-based outfits. The band later sought an extra guitarist, Bernard Fanning, who Haug had met in a university class. Fanning took over the role of lead vocals from Haug, before Bishop officially left the band and was replaced by Jon Coghill. Powderfinger's final lineup change to date came with the addition of guitarist Darren Middleton into the band. The lineup consisting of Fanning, Collins, Haug, Middleton and Coghill has remained the lineup since 1992. Powderfinger initially performed cover versions of other artists' songs, but gradually developed into writing their own material.
In September 1998, Powderfinger released Internationalist, their third studio album. It propelled Powderfinger to a prominent position on the Australian music scene, reaching #1 and later spending 100 weeks on the ARIA Albums Chart. The album, which sold over 280,000 copies and went over five times platinum domestically, reached European audiences for the first time. Internationalist was the first Powderfinger album to win ARIA Music Awards from the Australian Recording Industry Association. In 1999, it won "Album of the Year", "Best Rock Album", and "Best Cover Art", and "The Day You Come" won "Single of the Year". "Passenger", which was among the singles released from Internationalist, was also nominated for three other ARIA Awards in 2000.
The band received much praise and criticism for the political views in several tracks on Internationalist. In an interview with Benedict Watts, guitarist Ian Haug said that the political messages in "The Day You Come" were not something preached about, but were something they saw as a responsibility.