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DAVE GLEESON – The Screaming Jets

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Singer Dave Gleeson can barely believe that The Screaming Jets’ seventh album Chrome (their first since 2008’s Do Ya) finally happened, but SHANE PINNEGAR discovers that he couldn’t be happier with the end result.

“You know what? We signed our record deal in 1990, our first ever one with RooArt Records. It was a 7 album deal,” Gleeson reflects, “26 years later, we’re bringing in a seventh album. Yeah, pretty amazing.”

The singer – also a three-album veteran of The Angels – thinks Chrome stacks up pretty well to their previous six records.

“Look, we’re really stoked with it… The last album Do Ya, which I think came out pretty good, took three years to do and cost God knows how much money. With this one, we’ve built it up from scratch. Paulie [Woseen] wrote a bunch of songs – maybe 20 songs, all on acoustic guitar, just his vocal on acoustic guitar. We picked the eyes out of them and came up with the ones that we wanted to work on, then we built it from the ground up, so it’s been unreal.

“If I was to try and stack [Chrome] up against [another of our] album[s], I’d say to me it sounds a lot like Tear Of Thought. Well, it doesn’t sound LIKE it, but it’s got as much depth, I think, as that album, which came out in ’92. We’re very excited to get out there and see what people think of it.”

The Tear Of Thought connection is particularly apt, since the band employed producer Steve James – who also helmed that record and its predecessor All For One – for the task. Those are remembered as a couple of The Screaming Jets’ finest moments – was it easy to rekindle that winning team atmosphere in the studio?

“Yeah, I guess the thing about that is we’re friends,” says Gleeson. “We’ve become such great friends over the years. I remember many of the things that went into making songs bigger and better and more interesting and all that. A lot of that came from Steve. He’s got a great ear for picking up a melody and saying ‘let’s work more with that,’ or a drumbeat or stuff like that.

“He was, I always thought, integral to our sound. Because we’re such good mates, we just picked up where we left off. I spend most of my time in the studio with Steve trying to crack him up – I probably spent more time on that than deliberating over the vocals!”

For Chrome Gleeson and Woseen went back to singing harmony together a little bit more, like they did on their first records. That was always a key factor in those early records which made them work so well, and Gleeson agrees that they should never have stopped doing so.

“Yeah, I think so too. We had a guy, Robbie Adams come over to produce the third album [self titled and released in 1995]. That was something that grated on him and I remember having big arguments [about it]. As you say, I thought that was an integral part of the Jets’ early sound, the way our voices fit together – I just really enjoy hearing that.

“Having come up [listening to] Cold Chisel, I remember saying to him, ‘mate, Cold Chisel has three different singers – they all sing at different times and they all harmonise together.’ [But those harmonies] were taken out and then Steve [James] brought it back a bit on the World Gone Crazy album [from 1997]. Yeah, I think it’s definitely an integral part of the sound.”

We all know that the music industry ain’t what it used to be – touring is most band’s bread & butter nowadays. How important are record sales to The Screaming Jets? It’s obviously important you make the money back that you spent on making the thing.

“Yeah, that’s probably the main concern, making the money back,” he concurs. “It’s an expensive undertaking even with the new technology available. Scotty Kingman, our guitar player, he’s a gun with the ProTools and that, so that helps out a lot. You want to make sure that you get the money back, and basically, hopefully, then go to make another album or do some live video recordings and stuff like that. Apart from that, we just want to get out there and play live. As you say, that is where your bread and butter is. We realised in the mid-to-late ‘90s, that if you live and die by your record sales, you might be in a bit of trouble.

“Now things being what they are, everyone does one song and whacks it on iTunes, but we still want to do albums. We’re a classic rock band and classic rock bands do albums.”

Now that they’ve taken the album out for a spin at a series of gigs around the country, which songs from Chrome are shaping up to be bonafide Screaming Jets classics?

“There’s one that we’ve been starting the show with called Automatic Cowboy,” Gleeson says without hesitation. “I have visions of Pulp Fiction when I sing it just because it’s like, there are people living out on the edge and doing the wrong thing. Maybe it’s a little bit of a Breaking Bad song as well.

“There’s another song called No Place No Home which Paul wrote – I hope he doesn’t mind me telling – but wrote when he was living in his car. Every time for me singing it, it’d shake me up a little bit to know that a brother was living so tough. That’s another song that I think sits up well with probably Think or some of the older slower songs that Paul’s written over the years.”

With both The Angels and The Screaming Jets recording and touring, and a family, is there time for any other projects for Gleeson to work on?

“I’ve just started doing a pub-cast actually,” he laughs, “where I go to different pubs around Adelaide and it goes by the same format as the radio show I was doing before on the Southern Cross Network. I can’t afford to play music in it, but I just bang on about music I love, and try to guide people, point people in the direction to look up songs or albums that I think are worthy and that..

“I did a blues country album in 2002 [Wanted Man], and a duet actually with Jimi Hocking’s sister on that,” he reveals. “I loved it, I love that. I’ve done backing vocals on a couple of country artist’s albums and stuff like that. I’ve been on one of Troy Cassar-Daly’s albums and another young lady called Angela Hayden. I’m always open to that.

“I’ve actually got Kate Ceberano staying here at the moment. She’s great friends with me wife. Funny you should mention it, Kate just said she’s working with some stuff that a couple of friends of hers have done. She was wondering if I could sing on it with her…”

Originally published on 100% ROCK MAGAZINE.

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