Mon 15th Mar, 2010 in Features
It is safe to say that the Australian music landscape would be a decidedly duller place without Phil Jamieson. A staple of the industry for over fifteen years now, the Grinspoon frontman has enjoyed a successful run in one of this country’s biggest rock bands and in recent years has overcome the kind of criticism and controversy usually reserved for UK music royalty.
Despite having so often incurred the wrath of the media in this country, as an interviewee Jamieson remains refreshingly candid about life, love and music. Amidst a sea of excruciatingly media savvy musical personalities in Australia, Phil is a breath of fresh air – as long as you can decipher the rare moments when his tongue isn’t in his cheek.
On the eve of Grinspoon’s Six To Midnight national tour I dial in to chat to Jamieson about the upcoming shows. However, as usual, the interview quickly sprawls into a discussion on every topic imaginable, from Eskimo Joe taking Grinspoon’s place on the Big Day Out bill to the pitfalls of twitter.
Hey Phil, how are you going?
Good, good. I went to Faith No More on Monday.
So did I.
I know I read your fucking twitters dude.
Did it change your life?
Well, I saw them at Alternative Nation when I was 16 or something. I saw L7 and Lou Reed, Faith No More and Nine Inch Nails and THAT is when they changed my life. So it didn’t change my life this time around.
Why, were they just too old for you now?
No, no! I thought they were excellent. I wasn’t that familiar with Angel Dust unfortunately – cast me off and call me whatever – so there was a lot of stuff I wasn’t familiar with. But when they played The Gentle Art of Making Enemies I was absolutely stoked and that made my night. I had never heard that song played live and was really over the moon. I thought Evidence sounded a bit clunky, just sounded like it wasn’t working. But fuck they were great; he [Mike Patton] is amazing.
And also I was just by myself as well, so you know. I flew down and caught the train from the airport.
You commoner. Anyway tell me about Groovin’ The Moo, you must be excited to play that bill.
I’m really excited! It’s so great to be there and you’ve got to remember that three 90’s boys – Daniel Johns, Luke Steele and myself – are three of the biggest egos this planet has ever seen so it’s just going to be fantastic.
I can imagine there is going to be some crazy back-stage clash of the egos going on there?
I can’t believe the demands I’ll be making just to try and keep up with those two, it’s going to be awesome. And the make-up rider, can you imagine the make-up rider. OMG!
You are going to have to bring out the eyeliner and the pig-tails again I think.
I’m not doing any dye-liner; I did that in the 90’s baby. But it is going to be great. I love Vampire Weekend and I love Spoon, they are like two of my favourite indie bands.
Have you played with either of them before?
Yeah, we did a tour with Spoon for Big Day Out 2008…
Did you buddy up to them?
No, no. I don’t want to get in trouble here but they were fairly, how should I put this – ‘elite indie’ styles.
They do give of that vibe so I don’t think you’ll get in trouble for confirming people’s suspicions there.
[Laughs.] Yeah, it was all like “You guys are in that bogan rock band aren’t you, ewww!”
Actually, this is a funny story! One of the chicks from [insert name of popular Australian pop band], was trying to fuck the keyboard player of Spoon the whole tour. The keyboard player was like one of those multi-instrumentalist guys who introduce himself like, “I’m not JUST a keyboard player” kind of thing. It was kind of funny, but she got kicked out the band I think.
Can you talk to me about the Big Day Out experience for you guys this year – you were playing the smaller stage?
Yeah, we were playing on the Green Stage. Eskimo Joe took our spot, somewhat controversially.
Look Eskimo Joe, since 2005 when we were massive, has become extremely huge and sold a lot and lot of records. Regardless of that I just don’t think in my small headed opinion that Eskimo Joe have actually translated to a Big Day Out crowd, I just don’t think they are Big Day Out-ish. But regardless of that we were on the Green Stage and we just wanted to play it anyway. The first time that I played BDO was in 2000 and I was 22 and in 2010 I’m 32 and by the end of Perth I believe every bone in my body ached.
Anyway, I got to Perth at 11am saw Miami Horror, I saw Lisa Mitchell, I saw Mastodon, I saw Karnivool. You know you can’t dance to Karnivool. You can’t it is impossible, I tried.
I think there are a few kids who would disagree with you.
Well my kind of dancing, like Ke$ha kick top dancing; you can’t dance like that to Karnivool. Mastodon isn’t very heavy at all as well, sorry.
No they SING! That’s not heaviness; there was lots of melody and stuff I thought it was pretty light on.
Anyway, Bluejuice I can’t say anything about because I’ll get in trouble. I saw Kisschasy, I saw The Novocains, this Perth band that were really good. Also, Abbe May and the Rockin’ Pneumonia, they were excellent, I saw Passion Pit, I saw Devendra whatever his name is and I saw lots of Mars Volta. So basically it was an awesome festival. I think it was one of the best Big Day Outs we have ever been involved in.
But you guys played on a bill with Rage Against The Machine – how does it compare with that year?
2008 was a bit of a strange year for me with personal stuff. I didn’t really enjoy that festival much, for other reasons outside of music. I never even watched RATM. I know that is sacrilege but I had other stuff going on, working my own health out and other priorities I had to work out.
I think the last time we spoke it was prior to the release of Six To Midnight. How have felt about the response to it so far, from both critics and fans?
Well your review didn’t say anything at all, it was just this mush of nothing.
It was a bit different to the Mess and Noise one.
The Mess and Noise review was unintentionally hilarious, as Mess and Noise always is. They somehow assume I write the lyrics, which was funny too. Critically I think Alibis was received better, but sold less and I think Six To Midnight sold more, but I’m not sure.
In general I really like it. I mean I don’t really sit around listening Six To Midnight or any of our records to be perfectly honest but I’m pretty happy with the record. And also we played about four songs of it at the Big Day Out and they went down well. We are just working out at the moment what the set-lists are going to be for the tour we are doing in March. I’m writing them all in Portuguese.
I just feel like it.
I’ve noticed that you keep twittering stuff in Portuguese or Spanish?
I just hate twitter so much I think it is the biggest waste of time, so I am just writing things in Spanish like “the lady had a very hard tooth-ache” or something. Anyway when Ruby Rose said that twitter was for old people, I was like, well I’m old! And then I was like fine if she is giving up, I’m giving up.
Lily Allen gave up too I hear.
No no, she is back on I think. Anyway Lisa and Jess from the Veronicas told me, that Ruby Rose is also back on there so I was like OK well I better get back on. So anyway we are working out the set list in Portuguese at the moment so everyone is going to have to translate it.
Do you feel much pressure just to play the old songs?
I don’t think it is pressure because I like playing the old songs. I think it wouldn’t really be our gig if you didn’t hear More Than You Are or Champion, or both of them. I’m sure Pennywise play that stupid Bro Hymn song every time they play.
I’m not comparing myself to any others classics, but we have kind of grown up on festivals or whatever and especially at festivals we feel obliged to play songs that people have grown up with in a way. But in the club shows we’ll probably play a bit more of the new record which I think people like so we’ll see how it goes. Daresay it will just be a longer set, bigger we’ll play for like three hours.
And you are playing the Enmore that’s quite cool?
Yeah, I don’t know if anyone will come, I hope they do. We’ve played it before and I think the last thing I saw there was Shane Warne: The Musical. But it is going to be great.
And what is next for Grinspoon?
Well we are going to the UK in May to play in Edinburgh, Manchester and somewhere called London.
For your own tour?
Yeah, when we played with Cold Chisel last year I said to Greg [Grinspoon’s Manager] I’m sick of all these other shit bands playing overseas, can you get is overseas. So I’m really excited about that.
Then we come back and play an amazing Ripe festival in Noosa supporting Cat Empire. Can’t wait to fucking play with Cat Empire because Beverly Hills Chihuahua is my daughter’s favourite film and all their stupid songs are on it. I’m like you guys rule Beverly Hills Chihuahua!
I had no idea their music was in that movie.
Oh yeah! So I can’t wait to finally meet them and find out how you get a single in a talking dog movie. That is one thing I want to achieve before I die – win a Grammy and get a song in a talking dog move – got to be done.
Indeed. Well we may see you in Sydney soon.
I know that Lady Gaga is on the same night that so we may be doing a pastiche of a Lady Gaga song – hint to Sydney Grinspoon fans..
I actually like a bit of Bad Romance after watching the first couple of episodes of American idol – but because of the Whitney Houston thing that just happened, I’m thinking of doing a Whitney Houston song too and doing a “leave Whitney alone” crying bit for the camera. Cause everyone’s had a crack problem, haven’t we.
You can catch Grinspoon on their Six To Midnight Tour now:
Fri March 12 – Kalgoorlie Hotel, Kalgoorlie
Sat March 13 – Northam Wild Oats Festival, WA
Sun March 14 – Capitol, Perth
Tues March 16 – HQ, Adelaide
Wed March 17 – The Hi-Fi, Melbourne
Thurs March 18 – Hellenic Club, Canberra
Fri March 19 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Sat March 20 – Alex Hills Hotel, Brisbane