OUT OF A HAT

Grinspoon

“I believe records are just about capturing a photograph of the time,” says  Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson. They’re wise words from a long-standing artist,  especially one who’s had to answer the same questions for so many years. After  nearly two decades on the Australian music scene, and in the public eye again  with a brand new album, Grinspoon are used to both sides of the media coin: one  of the nation’s longest-standing outfits, Phil, Pat, Joe and Kristian have stood  side by side while the bands of their peers have risen, fallen, and broken to  pieces around them.



From taking off in 1995 after winning the very first triple j Unearthed, to  receiving an ARIA Award; from getting a 1.5 star rating in Rolling  Stone, to going double Platinum – it will take a lot to break these lads.  Phil, sporting red chipped fingernails, a leather jacket and classy shades, and  Pat Davern (in his classic golf hat) spent time out on Sydney Harbour to chat.  “We’ve been lucky enough not to have fallen on our face too many times, and I  guess there’s not so much pressure on us being in a rock band,” Davern says, of   being back in the media hoopla again. As Jamieson runs in and out of the interview, Davern hangs tight to fill me in on the details; if Jamieson is the  creative force behind the band, Davern seems like the glue that holds it  together. “We have a bit of artistic license to pretty much do the fuck what we  want,” he says. “I guess if you do the crime you do the time; if you’re in the  public eye and you put yourself out there, sometimes you will have to explain  your actions – but only if you really feel like it.” Jamieson agrees: “I didn’t  start this band to be told what to do – that’s what rock’n’roll is all about,”  he laughs. “It’s all about freedom to me, having no rules, but as far as the  media goes it’s all a bit of bullshit really. I reckon if your tunes are okay,  then, well, you’re pretty okay!”



Recording their new album, Black Rabbits, in California, the boys  brought in producer Dave Schiffman, who’s worked with acts like Nine Inch Nails,  Dead Meadow and The Dandy Warhols. “We learnt a lot from Dave,” Davern says.  “Your approach to making a record in Los Angeles, it’s a different approach to  making a record here. There’s a lot of techie stuff [to learn], like Pro Tools  editing and also work ethics – he’s different to anyone we’ve worked with  before. He’s such a genuine guy, as well.”

 

“I sang into an SM7, which is the most unforgiving mic in the world,”  Jamieson says. “I mean, these things were born to record a bass guitar and I was  gripping to it with both hands and they’re like, ‘This is what Chris Cornell  uses,’ and I’m like, ‘WELL I’M NOT FUCKING CHRIS CORNELL!’. I learnt from Dave  about a good work ethic: no long lunches, no cocaine, no bullshit – just get in  and do it. And he had a real desire to do the record. Other producers were more  of a heavy metal kind, whereas [Black Rabbits] represents more of a  power pop record for us – this record has a whole heap of melody. Dave was  perfect. There’s a bunch of people we could have gone with that just wanted to  pay their mortgage, but he wanted to do it – there’s the difference.”



When it came to recording, the boys had a few friends drop in to help. You Am  I’s Tim Rogers had a stop-over in LA, so popped into the studio to visit the  band and lay down some guest vocals. The Living End’s Chris Cheney also came by  to get involved, and Grinspoon couldn’t have been more grateful. “Those guys  were brilliant: down-to-earth, lovely Australian men, peers of ours and people  we really look up to,” Davern says. “Super respect,” Jamieson nods. “I mean, Tim  and Chris have been friends of ours for years, and to have them even want to  come into the studio, let alone record, is a great honour.”

 

Scott Russo from Unwritten Law also came by, but his vocal cameo ended up  being a little problematic. Not only did he demand a $500 down payment in order  to be featured on the album, but there were a few hiccups along the way. “He did  a track, and then he went in and–” at this point in the narration, Jamieson runs  to a door to act out Russo walking through it and snorting cocaine. “He was  trying to record with Dave, and Dave was like ‘GET HIM OUT!’. You should have  seen it – he still had all this coke and shit on his nose!” he laughs.Pumped with interesting riffs, fantastic basslines and powerful, sing-along  choruses, Black Rabbits is vintage Grinspoon at their best. “[If] this  album gets smashed by whatever blog wants to rubbish it, they are  wrong!” Jamieson says. “Black Rabbits is a fucking good album,  and I wouldn’t put it up against Temper Trap if I didn’t think it was fucking  good. That’s a fact! I’m my own worst critic, for reals. If Black Rabbits  wasn’t worthy of a release, then you wouldn’t be hearing it. No one would.”



What: Black Rabbits is out now through Universal

With: Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers, YeahYeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Band Of Horses, Sleigh Bells, Foals, BloodyBeetroots (live), and loads more

Where: Big Day Out @ Sydney ShowgroundWhen: Friday January 18

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