One of the best bands our little town has ever produced, beloved and iconic like their namesake Jebediah Springfield from The Simpsons, Jebediah are also one of Australia’s most successful indie bands. With their announcement as headliners for In the Pines, we thought we’d revisit our interview from two weeks ago that took place just days before their massive City Limits festival headline. ALFRED GORMAN spoke to bassist Vanessa Thornton about the old days, and the prospect of new material. In The Pines hits Somerville Auditorium, UWA on April 30.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since Jebediah’s debut slice of bouncy indie pop, Slightly Odway, burst into the charts. A recent tour where they played the album in full proved they’ve still got plenty of fans all around the country, and they’ve still got that special magic onstage that’s always made them such a fun and infectious live act.
I’ve been fan for a long time, since seeing you guys play at The UWA Tavern and The Somerville in the 90s. In fact I still have a CD of your Twitch EP and one of the first reviews I ever wrote was for UWA’s Pelican Magazine, when Jebediah played in the ’95 Campus Band Comp at Planet Nightclub, and of course went on to win!
Yeah, wow! That is going back a way. Everything was so different back then… before we had mobile phones and stuff. They didn’t make that many of those EPs. I don’t even think I have a copy!
So, did you ever think back then, when you made Slightly Odway, you’d be touring it in 20 years’ time?
No. I don’t think we were even looking that far ahead. Everything was just so exciting, we were just living in the moment, and enjoying every new thing as it happened. I think it was only after about 10 years, when we did a 10 year anniversary tour, that we went ‘Wow! We’ve been going for 10 years!’ and now we’ve been going for 22 years. It’s crazy.
Yeah. Those glorious days and music of the 90s seems to be in vogue again. Music and fashion is always so cyclic… Have you been seeing a new generation of fans coming through at your gigs now?
Yeah. Surprisingly. And I sort of thought that anyone who ever was going to see Jebs, would’ve seen us already, but turns out no! There’s still people that come and see us and say that’s the first time they’ve seen us. Even at that A Day On A Green thing we did.
That was an awesome gig! Was such an amazing mega 90s-fest, with you guys and You Am I, Spiderbait and Something For Kate…
That was so much fun. We had an absolute blast. And so easy – I think we only played for about 40 minutes – after playing that 20 year anniversary tour where we played for like, two and half hours. Oh my goodness. It hardly seems like work when you’re doing something like that. And we were first too, so we could just go out there, rip it out and then carry on drinking for the rest of the day. It was mostly The Meanies that we were hanging around with, ‘cause they were on before us. Though they didn’t play Perth.
The other awesome gig I saw you guys play in recent times, was a couple years back where you layed New Year’s Eve at The Rosemount and you totally rocked the main room at midnight.
That was such a good show. I had so much fun. It was such a good night. Just like… surprisingly great.
The reason we’re talking, of course, is because of the inaugural City Limits festival on Sunday, which has got a great line up. It’s kind of another bit of an old school legends show, along with a bunch of great new local bands.
We just got offered the chance to play it really and we were like “Sure! Sounds good!”. It’s always a good chance for us to hang out and catch up with each other, now that that we all live on different sides of the country, because Chris and I are still in Perth, and Brett and Kev are in Melbourne – I mean he’s been in Melbourne for so long now, though he’s recently moved down the coast to Ocean Grove. I guess we’ve been doing stuff semi-regularly over the last few years, but it’s not like we can get together and jam every week anymore.
You guys don’t seem to have lost anything as a live band. You still seem to have that great chemistry that doesn’t seem to have faded. You’ve played in several other bands of course, but does Jebs always feel like home?
It’s like your oldest, most comfortable pair of shoes. You just slip back into them and they just dance you around without you having to do anything. And yeah, our relationship with each other and that personal chemistry is just the same as it always has been. We’ve all grown up a fair bit since we started, but the friendship has just always been the same.
So with you guys catching up and playing a fair bit in recent times, has there been any talk of working on any new stuff at all?
Yeah, that’s the talk at the moment. But I think everyone’s keen to get some new material happening. We just have to take our opportunities when we’re together, to try and find time to all jump in a room together and make some noise and see what happens. So yeah, it’s definitely in our minds at the moment, and I’m feeling quite excited about the prospect of getting some new tunes happening.
Cool. Good to hear! Maybe you’ll get some time to work on some stuff while everyone’s together this week.
Kev will probably fly straight home after the gig, ‘cause him and Chris both have kids now. But we will be jamming before the gig, and how many times do you have to go through Leaving Home or Jerks Of Attention before the show, y’know? So there’ll definitely be some time there, if we’re feeling creative.
Another pretty amazing thing I saw announced about you guys, is that you’re supporting Midnight Oil on their upcoming reformation tour…
Oh my goodness, it’s so amazing. We were in the studio next to them when we were recording Slightly Odway, so we met them back in ’97 and I remember we went to the café down the road one time for lunch and Rob Hirst was in there, and I remember him seeing us and greeting us, by our names, and I was just like, “Fuck, Rob Hirst from Midnight Oil has remembered our names! And is now talking to us in a café.” He’s an awesome dude. And then like years later we played with one of his other bands in St. Kilda and he still remembered my name. It just goes to show you what sort of people they are. And what a fucking incredible live band. I can’t wait to see them again.
It’s great to see what they’ve done with Badlands, and putting on a great local festival like this is really great to see. What do you think of the current local band scene in Perth?
Yeah I think it’s rad. I reckon it’s killer. Though I’ve always thought that, over the last 20 years or so. If anyone’s asked me in that time what I think of the Perth band scene, I could easily pick out five bands that I think are amazing. There’s always bands here that I love, that I love playing gigs with, that I love going out to see. Like Love Junkies are one of my favourite bands, ever. I love them to death. And Rag n’ Bone are fucking amazing. Verge Collection – they’re really cool. There was a Hen House Rehearsal Room party a month or two ago, and all the bands that rehearse there all played a gig at Badlands and they put one of the bands in a hat, and it was The Belts that got picked, and they get to open the show, so I’m looking forward to seeing them again. And Boat Show – how cool are they?!
Yeah they’re great. The scene does seem to be really strong at the moment, as opposed to a few years ago where there seemed to be a spate of venues closing down, like The Bakery and The Fly and of course Deville’s which has now become Badlands.
Yeah it’s great. And of course Mojo’s, The Norfolk and The Rosemount – they’re all still there, and there’s a lot of new places too. And there’s places like The Basso that are a bit more out in the suburbs. I’m actually at The Carine right now, about to play at an Open Mic night, because The Tommyhawks [one of Thorton’s other bands] couldn’t find a night that we could all get together to rehearse, and Axe [vocalist] runs a night here. In fact I think we’re up in about five minutes!