DRIVEN TO KEEP ROCK­ING

New­cas­tle hard-rock band Scream­ing Jets head back on the road for a na­tional tour to cel­e­brate 25 years of per­form­ing live shows

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE & LOUD - SI­MON COLLINS

Whether hear­ing 1991 hit Bet­ter on the ra­dio or play­ing in chock-a-block pubs around the na­tion, the Scream­ing Jets singer Dave Glee­son feels lucky that the New­cas­tle band have rocked for 25 years.

“There’s a lot of bands who have had greater suc­cess than us but have never and will never reach a mile­stone like that,” Glee­son says from Ade­laide, where he has lived for the past 10 years with his wife and two chil­dren.

Luck and “blindly rock­ing on, es­pe­cially for the first 10 years of the band” are two rea­sons why the Scream­ing Jets are on tour cel­e­brat­ing their quar­ter cen­tury.

Glee­son formed the bluecol­lar hard-rock group with his high school mates, gui­tarist Grant Walm­s­ley and bassist Paul Woosen.

They cut their teeth play­ing pubs around the Hunter Val­ley and work­ing as road­ies on nights off. Glee­son re­calls the band get­ting $60 for load­ing up Leo Sayer’s gear at New­cas­tle’s Civic The­atre.

After try­ing on sev­eral names, in­clud­ing Sud­den Im­pact, As­pect and the Love Bomb, they set­tled on the Scream­ing Jets and won Triple J’s in­au­gu­ral Na­tional Band Com­pe­ti­tion in Novem­ber 1989.

Early the fol­low­ing year, the lads re­lo­cated to Syd­ney, soon land­ing reg­u­lar gigs at no­to­ri­ous Kings Cross nightspot Spring­fields.

“(New­cas­tle) was our ap­pren­tice­ship and Syd­ney was our trainee­ship,” Glee­son says. “We learnt within about two weeks of liv­ing in Kings Cross that you take your sunglasses to Spring­fields be­cause you’re leav­ing in the morn­ing.”

The Kings Cross venue hosted all the big bands of the era – Glee­son re­calls see­ing An­gus and Mal­colm Young jam with Dar­win-spawned con­tem­po­raries the Poor.

“It was re­ally just a huge eye-opener for us young blokes but we took it all in our stride,” he chuck­les. “We were am­bas­sadors for New­cas­tle.”

The Scream­ing Jets are ar­guably the sec­ond-most­fa­mous band, after Sil­ver­chair, to come out of New­cas­tle but more than any other act epit­o­mise a sound forged in the pubs and clubs of the coal­ex­port­ing city.

“The bands that were al­ways loved and adored in New­cas­tle were Chisel, the An­gels, AC/DC and Rose Tat­too,” Glee­son says. “That work­ing-class mu­sic al­ways ap­pealed to Novo­cas­tri­ans.”

The Scream­ing Jets be­came stan­dard-bear­ers of a new wave of no-non­sense Oz rock. They toured with the An­gels and signed to in­de­pen­dent la­bel rooArt, stand­ing out among more arty types such as Rat­cat and the Hum­ming­birds.

“We signed to rooArt records for a seven-al­bum deal,” Glee­son ex­plains. “The sev­enth al­bum was go­ing to get a $1 mil­lion ad­vance or 75 per cent of pre­vi­ous al­bum sales, which­ever was greater.”

The Jets re­leased four al­bums with rooArt and six in to­tal. The first al­bum after leav­ing the la­bel is called Scam.

Glee­son and Woosen are the only found­ing mem­bers still tour­ing and he rarely speaks to Walm­s­ley. “We had some ne­go­ti­a­tions … but were just go­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions and that’s that,” he says.

The Scream­ing Jets plough on, record­ing new four-track EP Ra­zor in gui­tarist Scott King­mans “bril­liant” stu­dio on Vic­to­rias Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula.

Glee­son has also been fronting one of his favourite Oz rock bands for the past three and a half years. “I've been off hav­ing an af­fair with the An­gels,” he jokes.

When asked about his high­lights of the past 25 years, Glee­son says singing with INXS in front of 60,000 peo­ple at Ger­man fes­ti­val Rock am Ring in 1992. Michael Hutchence in­tro­duced him as “Dave Glee­son from the Scream­ing Jets – Aus­tralias great­est rock band”.

“Mu­si­cally speak­ing, I’d have to say putting out mul­ti­ple al­bums, get­ting gold and plat­inum records,” Glee­son says. “But I guess the best achieve­ment or high­light of the whole thing is that we can still go around 25 years later and draw crowds. We’re all fired up again.”

Pic­ture: LISA BUSI­NOVSKI

The Scream­ing Jets hit Twin Towns as part of the band’s 25th an­niver­sary na­tional tour.

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