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After an extended break from the live circuit, beloved Perth outfit Jebediah now pop up whenever they please. One those special occasions where the stars have aligned is this weekend’s Blueprint Festival in Ararat, Victoria. WAMI-hogging bassist Vanessa Thornton got chatty with FasterLouder.

You’re about to play the Blueprint Festival in Victoria. You haven’t been in the public eye for a couple of years. What have you been up to?
Lots of things actually; I’ve been quite flat out. I went back to uni a couple of years ago. I was on the road with Tame Impala for a couple of tours during my break from uni; that was the first proper tour I’d done in a couple of years. Jebediah did a few shows in September last year. We did a quick run of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and all those shows sold out. We didn’t need to advertise anything because there was no point and quite a few people were surprised because they didn’t hear about them.

You guys are like Spiderbait – one of those bands that people will always want to go and see. I don’t think you’ll ever have problems selling tickets.
I think that combined with us playing relatively small venues helped!

I heard you were living in the bush for a while?
I did, yeah. I think I just needed to get away. After 12 years of doing the same thing, it was absolutely fantastic and I had great fun doing it but I think the industry side of it was getting to me more than anything else. I think if you do anything full on for that long without doing anything else, I think you’d probably wanna try something else. I’ve been on the road since 19 or 20 and that’s all I knew. It [the bush] was awesome. I lived in a cottage in the forest, with no TV, I worked in an orchard and got quite fit. I had quit smoking; I didn’t have a drink for the first five weeks I think, so I spent five hours a day in the fresh air and weather.

Did your body go in to shock when you came back to society?
It is a weird thing living in the middle of nowhere, but I had friends living in Margaret River and sometimes on the weekend I would drive there for an hour and a half. Driving there on a Friday afternoon after work was like driving into the ‘big smoke’ – the pub was packed, people were brawling out in the street and it was quite strange coming from a town of no people to all of a sudden on a Friday night being in the middle of people is quite overwhelming.

Are you happy being back?
Well, the bush is quite old news actually, but I suppose it’s an indication of how long people haven’t heard from us. I’ve been back for two years now. I came back for Kev’s [Mitchell] wedding – that was the last time I came home and decided to come back for good.

Have you been playing in other bands?
I played in a band with Jules from The Panics and I just realised they’re on this Blueprint line-up.

Will we get a little performance with them?
We might try to drag our band over and see what happens.

You are recording again aren’t you?
We just jumped in the studio last night. We started this record about a year ago, and I think we got down maybe four or five songs in various stages of completion and it’s just taken us this long to get back in there. Brett plays with another band as well and Chris mostly keeps to himself and does his crazy paintings.

How does it feel recording as Jebediah again?
I don’t think it’s ever going to be any different when us four get together. We knew each other long before the band started and we spent so much time together in a really intense touring situation so I don’t think any amount of time will ever change how we are together.

Will you be playing new songs at the Blueprint Festival?
I’m sure we will. We have done a few shows over the last year and have been playing a few new songs.

How do people react?
I think they’ve been going down alright, but it’s hard to tell when you’re having so much fun yourself, you seem to project that on to the audience and think ‘how can they not be enjoying this as much as we are?’

Does it surprise you that your old songs like Leaving Home still resonate so much with audiences?
I play in a band with Felicity Groom – she did that solo tour with Bob Evans. We rehearsed in an underground basement of a pub and quite often we’d be having a beer and that pub had just recently put Harpoon on their playlist. When I first hung out there years ago when the album came out, it was like the new album and they quite often played Jebediah, but they haven’t played it for years. The last few times I’d been in there they would play it and it was this big funny thing that every time those dudes that work there would see me, someone would put that song on to have a laugh and see my reaction.

Did you ever get into some air-bass?
If they feed me a few more beers I’m sure I’d get into something like that.

Because you’re not associated with a record label anymore, do you feel less pressure as a band?
The way we’re doing things at the moment, there is no pressure. We’re sort of not doing anything. When odd things like this festival come up, if we are all around and want to do it, we’ll do it; but if we don’t, we won’t. Recording this album the way we are, whenever everyone’s got a week or two at the same time we’ll go in to the studio and record some songs. We never had the luxury of doing this before. We’ve always booked studio time for five weeks or however long it is, we all go there and spend every day and night there for that time and at the end of it the album’s finished. We have no idea when this album’s gonna be ready – this could go on forever.

You could make it your 20th anniversary album.
It’s our Chinese Democracy – I can understand how they [Guns ‘n’ Roses] did it, but I heard one of the songs on the airplane – Oh my goodness! Aww, it’s ridiculous. I don’t think we could ever get ‘that out there’.

Was it interesting touring with Tame Impala? Have you been guiding them with your years of wisdom?
I don’t think they need guiding; they’re on their own trip. It was funny at the Laneway Festival in Brisbane, their drummer was on a dunking machine and while he was up there people were yelling at him saying, “Hey Gumby, look over here,” so he would look at them and they would take photos of him. He looked over at me as if to say, “This is crazy!” and when he looked over, he saw me surrounded by people with their arms around me trying to take photos! But that doesn’t happen too often anymore.

There was a movie made called Something In The Water about the Perth music scene; how did you feel about that?
Isn’t that like everywhere? You grow up in a scene, no matter what town you’re in and if you’re into bands you go out on the weekend to see bands and surely there are gonna be awesome bands everywhere. People are going to find bands they like, so doesn’t everyone feel like that about their own scene?

Are you going to be back at the WAMIs next year to win best bass player?
We did win a WAMI this year in Felicity Groom’s band, which was the first time in quite a few years that I’d won a WAMI.

I noticed you took out ‘best bass player’ for like a decade.
I think once that started to happen every year, I drunkenly told someone at WAMI that I don’t need to be nominated again – you know, give someone else ago. But Jebediah didn’t really do much after that and no one really bothered about me anyway. I did win a lot of cakes though and that’s great – but I don’t really eat cake anymore. I think the last cake I did win, I traded it with one of the people from the pub for their staff drinks, but don’t tell anyone from WAMI about that.

Jebediah headline Blueprint Festival in Ararat, Victoria, from 18-21 September.

Comments arrow left
Dexter Ramone

Dexter Ramone said on the 14th Sep, 2009

Jebs, Spiderbait and Frenzal should do a week long residency at the Annandale


Muppethead said on the 15th Sep, 2009

that would be sweeeeeeeeeeeeeettttt