WAY OUT OF KIL­TER

In the lead up to their Bris­bane show this week­end, Perth alt-rock­ers Jebe­diah have dug up all their wacky out­fits in the hope of find­ing the old stage magic that made them so popular in the late ‘90s

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY | LIVE & LOUD - KATHY MCCABE

It has been at least 16 years since Kevin Mitchell last lis­tened to Jebe­diah’s de­but al­bum Slightly Od­way. That al­bum, re­leased in Septem­ber 1997 on the Sony indie imprint Mur­mur (a la­bel whose ros­ter also fea­tured Sil­ver­chair and Some­thing For Kate) be­came a clas­sic of Australia’s hal­cyon alt-rock era.

It pro­pelled the Perth teenagers onto the bur­geon­ing fes­ti­val scene, where punk pop an­thems in­clud­ing Jerks of At­ten­tion, Leav­ing Home, Har­poon and An­i­mal went down a treat. Jebe­diah stayed buoy­ant in the charts and reg­u­lars on the al­ter­na­tive air­waves for the next five years.

Then came a cou­ple of long breaks for the band, fol­lowed by an “in­def­i­nite break” in 2005. Now they back to­gether, prep­ping for the Twenty tour, which will cel­e­brate 20th an­niver­sary of their for­ma­tion.

Mitchell and his band mates – drum­mer brother Brett, gui­tarist Chris Day­mond and bassist Vanessa Thorn­ton – re­vis­ited their back cat­a­logue for the ac­com­pa­ny­ing Twenty com­pi­la­tion, out last month.

Hear­ing those early songs for the first time in years while driv­ing into Mel­bourne from his Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula home was right up there with schoolphoto flash­backs for Mitchell.

“In a way, I have kind of avoided it,” he says.

“It was hard to lis­ten to. I loved play­ing the songs live and living with them in that way, but lis­ten­ing to the record ... I was in such a hurry to leave it be­hind.”

In the be­gin­ning, the Jebs, as they be­came af­fec­tion­ately known, were sub­ject to an in­tense bid­ding war – in­volv­ing some flash lunches and din­ners – be­tween a ma­jor­ity of lo­cal record la­bels as word spread be­yond Perth.

The hype hit the east coast when they signed to Mur­mur.

“Re­mem­ber, this was well be­fore the in­ter­net or so­cial me­dia. Living in Perth re­ally was iso­la­tion,” Mitchell says.

While Mitchell and Co. took their mu­sic se­ri­ously, one of their last­ing lega­cies is their hu­mor­ous, ir­rev­er­ent videos. Just don’t men­tion the kilts.

Given their 2001 sin­gle Fall Down fea­tured bag­pipes, the kilts seemed log­i­cal when sug­gested by video direc­tor mate. Yet Mitchell re­mains un­con­vinced it was ever a good idea.

“Ev­ery­one thought it would be funny, but once the video came out, it got a bit out of con­trol. When we were play­ing Fall Down on Rove they wanted us to wear the kilts,” he says.

“Then ev­ery time we did a press shoot, the record la­bel would ask us if we would ... we al­ways re­fused.”

Still, they weren’t shy about cos­tumes on stage. Mitchell jokes that if all four mem­bers could find their ar­ray of out­fits from across the years, Jebe­diah could do enough cos­tume changes on the Twenty tour to ri­val Bey­once.

Find­ing those old sar­to­rial state­ments would be easy for the Mitchell broth­ers, cour­tesy of their ar­chiv­ing mother.

But Thorn­ton and Day­mond ap­pear to have lost some of the stage and video out­fits to the mists of rock past.

One of Mitchell’s favourites was the baggy, colour­ful track­suits Jebe­diah wore dur­ing their tri­umphant main­stage sets dur­ing the 2000 Big Day Out tour.

“I was around at Mum’s house last year in Perth be­cause we were col­lect­ing images and stuff for the an­niver­sary and, lo and be­hold, she had the track­suits wrapped up in Zi­ploc bags,” Mitchell re­veals.

“I was so ex­cited. If Ness and Chris find theirs by some mir­a­cle, then this could hap­pen again.” But, he adds, “some­how I don’t think they were into it as much as I was ...”

What hap­pens next for Jebe­diah re­mains un­cer­tain.

Mitchell says there are two pos­si­bil­i­ties: “Nei­ther would sur­prise me.”

For starters: “This could be the last sig­nif­i­cant chap­ter of the band, the last time we do a big tour.”

But: “We may also kick­start a new phase of writ­ing and work­ing to­wards some­thing.

“It’s one of those things where you need mo­men­tum. It can be very dif­fi­cult when you haven’t been see­ing each other for a while to make the magic hap­pen.”

Pic­ture: BRADLEY HUNTER

Jebe­diah have got the band back to­gether for their 20th an­niver­sary tour and al­bum re­lease.

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