Their first gigs, under the band name "Farm", were near the northern Australia beaches of Sydney in the surf crowd bars. They took up the name "Midnight Oil" sometime before their first album release in 1977 and have also played under such aliases as "Ebb Tide & The Shore Breakers" and "Jerry Falwell Society".
Today, they are still recording and touring together although not all of the original band members remain. In their 18 year existence, they have had a total of eight different members and several touring partners (most notably, Charlie McMahon on dijeridu). Since the release of Midnight Oil in 1977, they have released nine albums and numerous singles and videos.
The band remains strongly tied to their politically and socially conscious beginnings having taken part in at least two major protests (The Exxon Protest in 1990 and the Clayoquot Sound Protest in 1993), several Earth Day Concerts and they played a strong role in 1994's World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) Tour. They have contributed time and money to several aid compliations for such groups as Greenpeace, the East Timorese students, and the Australian Special Olympics and have supported several aboriginal causes.