BY anyone's definition Eskimo Joe could never be described as a political band.
While you couldn't dismiss the intensity of their tracks Black Fingertails, Red Wine and Foreign Land, they were never a Midnight Oil, overtly raging against injustice and the establishment.
But 18 months ago when the Fremantle rock band reconvened to discuss a return to large-scale touring, Stuart McLeod (lead guitar), Joel Quartermain (drums, guitar) and Kav Temperley (vocals, bass) agreed they needed new music.
Eskimo Joe's last release was their sixth album Wastelands in 2013. It had been a commercial flop. After four straight top-three albums - A Song Is A City (2004), Black Fingernails, Red Wine (2006), Inshalla (2009) and Ghosts Of The Past (2011) - Wastelands failed to even crack the ARIA top-10.
A comeback single had to make a statement.
"We all agreed let's have a crack at a new song," MacLeod says. "If it wasn't up to scratch we weren't going to release it, because after seven years you want to come out guns blazing.
"It needs to be a statement that we're back. We got to the end of the recording process and that was the song. It ticked all the right boxes for us."
That song is the pop anthem, Say Something, released on Friday. It was originally written to encapsulate the band's feelings on the climate change debate.
However, given the global health and economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, the track's chorus of "Say something/ The only thing to fear is silence" has become more poignant.
"On a global level there seems to be more awareness raised on inequalities across our culture, society and environment in general," MacLeod says.
"In turns out to be more of a larger message that there is a lot of conversations that need to be had right now."
The coronavirus has halted Eskimo Joe's plans to release Say Something on a best of compilation, which was going to be accompanied by a national tour through spring.
Since returning to the live circuit in 2018, Eskimo Joe have delivered some of the most electrifying performances of their career. Last year's set at Newcastle's Scene & Heard Festival was described by the Herald as the event's "dark horse" moment.
"In terms of live performance, and we had a conversation about it the other day, it's the best it's ever been on stage for us," MacLeod says. "We feel like everyone is really relaxed into it and we're there to enjoy ourselves now.
"We're not trying to prove anything or take the world over, it's just we're playing the music we love to play and enjoy playing the music with each other."
MacLeod says that relaxed feeling is a result of age - they range from 41 to 43 - and a confidence in their back catalogue which contains two of Australia's finest albums from the 2000s in A Song Is A City and Black Fingernails, Red Wine.
"We took everything a lot more serious back then," he says. "Given our longevity in the industry and what we've built up and our position now, plus the fact that we've been on relative hiatus for the last few years, it meant coming back to it felt like a break from real life.
"So we can actually enjoy it."
Eskimo Joe's Say Something is out now.