Live ’n’ loud: Grinspoon back in the no-frills rock business....
Grown-up Grinspoon are back in the no-frills rock business after putting family first, writes Kathy McCabe
SOMETIMES life gets in the way of the rock’n’roll life. When Grinspoon sat down to plan a national tour in support of their seventh studio record, Black Rabbits, Phil Jamieson and guitarist Pat Davern had to schedule in home duties, with the frontman caring for his daughters while his wife travelled Italy for five weeks.
Guitarist Davern recently celebrated the birth of his baby girl, Frankie, with partner Katya Shiel.
Jamieson jokes that his waking hours have been consumed by making spaghetti bolognese and washing school uniforms since the band took a break from the tour, which began in March.
‘‘Yes, I’ve been devoting myself to being father of the year,’’ he says in his typically understated fashion.
‘‘I would like to know who sits at home with the kids while their wife goes to Italy for five weeks?
‘‘And Pat was having his baby so it all worked out for us to take a break.’’
Grinspoon, like most of their Australian rock contemporaries, deliver the kind of no-frills rock that relies on great songs played with gusto. The band introduced Black Rabbits with sold-out ‘‘intimate’’ club shows in March after tearing up the main stage of the Big Day Out in January. They finish up their current national run at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre next weekend before they return to the Gold Coast in October as one of the star acts on the entertainment lineup for the Gold Coast 600 V8s event.
Playing the bigger stage could suggest the Grinners might be employing some of the tried and true trickery to impress the fans. Not so, says Jamieson.
‘‘Ah no, no dancing girls or pyro, no hydraulic platforms rising from the floor. Just quote a large collection of songs which hopefully we will play to the best of our ability. They should be pyro-worthy,’’ he says.
Jamieson is the kind of Australian artist who both cares and doesn’t care about what people think of his band.
Seven albums in 18 years – Black Rabbits debuted in the Top 10 when it came out last September – suggests Grinspoon are doing enough to keep their oar in the water.
Jamieson professes not to monitor the conventional measurements of success in music – the charts, radio countdowns, playlists. When Triple J was counting down its recent Hottest 100 songs of the past two decades, Jamieson claims not to have been listening until Davern called him.
‘‘Pat nervously rang me when they were counting down, asking if I thought we would get a song on there,’’ he says.
‘‘I didn’t think we would because I didn’t push it or anything on social media – I wanted to leave it to the fans rather than beg for votes.’’
Grinspoon got there in the end, with Chemical Heart landing at number 63. Jamieson says he may forever adopt the silent treatment as spruiking for votes for their single Passerby to make the list in January didn’t work.
‘‘You know me, I’ve always been cynical,’’ he says.
After almost 20 years on the road, you would think Grinspoon would be experts at the science of the set list.
Jamieson jokes that drummer Kristian Hopes is the main driver of what songs are played when because ‘‘he has to hit something hard for 90 minutes’’.
‘‘Pat wrote the last set list, which will probably change for this run. We like cherry-picking songs and putting them back in the mix,’’ Jamieson says.
‘‘And we get nervous playing new songs which aren’t well-oiled yet because when we write them, we write them to challenge us. It’s a good challenge to have because a lot of the older songs we could play in our sleep.’’
But one concession Jamieson makes to the modern concert aesthetic is costume: he likes to dress up these days.
‘‘Oh, I definitely have to think about that – but I’m not Luke Steele yet.’’
The Gold Coast 600 runs from October 25-27. Gym Class Heroes, Spiderbait, Havana Brown and Bombs Away play the October 25 concert; The Presets, Grinspoon, The Stafford Brothers and DJ Brooke Evers play the October 26 concert. Visit v8supercars.com.au for details.
Grinspoon head to the Gold Coast in October to perform as part of the Gold Coast 600 concert series.