Vigour For Life

Not being from Sydney or Melbourne gave us a kind of advantage because we weren't following any trend.

Phil Jamieson of Grinspoon

Hi Phil and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us at Musicology.

20 years has elapsed since the release of Guide To Better Living and over those two decades is your view of the album the same now as it was then?

Yes and no. I haven’t listened to it in 20 years. I recorded it and we immediately went on tour and I didn’t really think much about it. I thought about it when I was making and the art work but I didn’t really think about how I viewed it. I have had a difficult relationship with our records, all seven of them. There was certain things I disliked about them but listening back to it, I was struck by how fun it was. It is a fun thing to listen to with lots of energy, there is some funny singing, some funny lines in the songs because there was no Pro Tools, and it was all to take. No metronome, no BPM’s sorted out, we just went in there and did it. There is a vibe to it that I really like. Usually if it is your own music you are like oh god get this off but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself listening to it.

With 20/20 hindsight do you feel that with Guide To Better Living you crystallised a time and a sound in the Australian musical landscape?

I think being from Lismore and the band being isolated in some ways, the tyranny of distance and not being from Sydney or Melbourne for example gave us a certain advantage in the fact that we weren’t following any trend or what was considered to be cool in the metropolitan areas of Australia, we were just doing what we did. Whether that crystallised something or not I am not particularly sure, we just did our own kind of thing. There was a lot of great music coming out at that time in the mid to late 90’s period. We were inspired and pushed a bit by our contemporaries because we felt that they were the competition and you always want to be the best. I feel honoured to be a part of the Australian musical landscape during the 90’s as there was a lot of good fruit getting around.

How do you see your sphere of influence as a band knowing that countless people not only grew up listening to Grinspoon but so many bands were also inspired by the music you created?

The mind boggles for me on that and I find it difficult to answer because if I was to think about it I would feel to self-reflective so it’s nice but I don’t ever want to be aware of it. It’s there and I’m really proud of it but I don’t get on my dick about it to be honest.

Meeting so many different musicians and interesting characters throughout the years, were there any words of wisdom spoken to you that really resonated with you and altered the way you approach your music?

I had some good advice. Bernard Fanning from Powderfinger once told me to roll your clothes, not fold them. As far as music and writing goes, Tim Rodgers (You Am I) said to me, “always finish a song, even if you know it is a load of garbage….just finish it ” and finishing songs is something I have always struggled with. I will get half way through and go, nah not good enough but as Tim said “if you finish a song you can move onto the next one”. Out of the 100 songs or more that we have written, 70 of them are terrible. People don’t realise that so much stuff ends up on the cutting room floor before it get to the final thing.

The 90's had a great live music scene with plenty of venues around all the capital cities but they have dwindled over the years. Have you found this to really hurt attendance levels when performing?

Well I haven’t performed in Grinspoon for a number of years. I do get around do solo shows here and there occasionally and they are always smaller rooms but I think it has a little. Grinspoon have always gone to the far reaches of Australia anyway so you can tell with this tour…except for Mt Isa…sorry Mt Isa!

It’s hard to say but the Newtown Social Club in Newtown has closed down but now the Lansdowne is going to reopen. I still go to gigs all the time, I mean I’m going to Groove In The Moo, I went and saw Dune Rats and The Living End recently so I’m still there!

With yourself and the band playing in other projects throughout the years, does this provide a renewed sense of vigour when returning to Grinspoon or perhaps provide a clearer definition of what makes Grinspoon, Grinspoon?

Wow..a clearer definition of what makes Grinspoon, Grinspoon would be wonderful but I don’t know what that means with the exception of the attention that the re-release and the tour has attracted has definitely made me feel loved to say the least and also that it has renewed by vigour and passion for the band. We were flattered and surprised and a little bit bewildered by the amount of attention we got when we announced this. It has taken everyone by surprise.

You are about to embark on a national tour, will you be supported by any bands that you played with back in the day?

No, we are supported by Hockey Dad who weren’t born when Grinspoon first toured! A lovely duo from the South Coast. Really compact songs and a lovely bunch of guys.

With such an epic tour schedule ahead of you, you will be returning to some places that presumably you haven't been to in some time. How does the memory of these places and times reconcile with you returning as older, wiser individuals?

As I do a lot of solo stuff I have been to these places a fair bit but some I haven’t been to in a number of years so that will be great to get back to where the band gave birth. Older and wiser…am I wiser?...I’m just older.

Lastly, what does music give you that nothing else does?

It gives me many things but motivation is one of them. I get a huge amount of vigour for life. It gives me happiness but many other gives give me happiness as well. Sometimes when I get up in the morning I think what am I going to do today and I put on some music and I either don’t feel anything or I immediately feel the urge to write something or just go and play something or just go outside and enjoy life.

Thanks for your time and all the best with the tour