Interview by Shannon-Lee Sloane – The Colourful Writer.
There is no one who can “Bam-Ba-Lam” quite like Kram. A talented and passionate musician who has been bringing us his music for three decades with his band, Spiderbait as well as collaborating with other musicians and releasing his own solo music. Spiderbait are celebrating all their best singles from over the years with a very special one-off show at the Forum in Melbourne on November 9. Tickets sold out fast as the love for the band is stronger than ever! I got to chat to the super talented and equally lovely, Kram recently about the show, the vinyl they are releasing along with it and more…
There are so many things I would love to talk to you about but today we are here to focus on your upcoming one-off gig at the Forum in Melbourne, so let’s talk about that first. The gig is in celebration of all your best singles that you’ve released over the years, how did this show come about, what made you decide to do it?
“It was Whitt’s idea actually. He came up with the idea. We were doing the Hotter Than Hell tour recently and I think the show we played was in Adelaide when we were first talking about doing this gig. Whitt just sort of came up with this idea and we were like ‘that’s a really great idea, we would love to do that!’ So we sort of got things in motion and before we knew it, we had the concept. We have wanted to do a show at the Forum for some time, we haven’t played there for a while. It is probably one of our favourite venues in the country. So, it all fell into place, it was kind of weird. It was one of those moments where someone has a great idea and then everyone else just goes ‘yeah let’s do it!’”
In addition to the show, you are releasing a limited-edition vinyl box set, which is awesome! But I hear it will only be available at the show, is that right?
“I think so. A lot of the idea behind this was to do it as a one-off gig and if that was a success and a fun thing, we will see what happens after that. I guess because Melbourne is where we first recorded a lot of these songs and I think a lot of these stories and these tracks remind us of our time in that city, so we thought we would do it there. But I don’t know, I keep getting asked if we are going to do (the show) in other places and I think it might be a possibility for sure, but let’s just get this first one done and we will work it out after that.”
Well that would be great! I know you’d have a lot of Brisbane fans keen to see a show like this. I know I have been listening to Spiderbait since I was about 15. I remember seeing you guys at a few Livid’s and Big Day Out’s back in the mid 90’s, you played a few of those right?
“Yeah we did a lot of those shows. Livid’s were our first big festivals before we started the Big Day Out’s. I guess you guys would know being from Brissy, but maybe a lot of people around the county don’t realise that Livid predates the Big Day Out by a few years so it was like the first festival of its kind. I live in Byron, I live in a little village really close to Splendour and we have played Splendour In The Grass so many times and a lot of those festivals like Splendour In the Grass, you know, remind me of that, I guess cos they are so big, but it all started with festivals like Livid in Brisbane and Meredith in Melbourne so it is really good to see festivals still really strong. But it was a big thing for a lot of bands from our era, that helped to sort of create them in a lot of ways and they were great times!”
It’s great seeing so many awesome bands that played those festivals together back in the day playing gigs together now and some bands from the 90’s era coming back and playing again, have you had a good response from fans from all your recent gigs with those bands?
“It has been weird, I know for a lot of those bands that you mentioned, it has been fantastic seeing them again and we have played a lot of shows with groups coming back, but for us, we never really stopped playing, we did Splendours and kept playing festivals and bands like us and You Am I and Living End sort of still were lucky enough to maintain our success and keep going for all the years in between. A lot of other bands sort of took a break or disbanded. It is really great and I think it is a testament to how much that sort of music is loved by a lot of people with the fact that a lot of bands like us can sort of maintain a success for a long time and be a successful group in the scene and the business. But also, other bands can come back after not playing for 20 years and people really want to see them again so that is always a good sign that the music is quality, and also not just the music, but the era. A lot of people and even a lot of younger fans, really love music from that era.”
Spiderbait have been making music for three decades! That is such an amazing and super cool accomplishment, how does it feel to be doing something that you love for so long?
“It is beautiful. I think, for me personally I made a choice a long time ago to live an artistic life. And you know however that panned out, I would still be the same. The other great beautiful thing is to play this music with my dear friends. Two dear friends that I have known for more than half my life I guess and be in a rock and roll band with them. There is a thing about bands that they are real collectives, and everybody has a role to play and very much is an equal part of the collective. Very much like a group of friends is, you know, there are all different characters and different types of personalities involved and when you put all that together in a musical context it is quite an interesting space. But also, the thing I like for us is that it has never really felt like a job for me. I don’t play music as a job, even though it is my livelihood and all that. For me it is a passionate experience. We did a show, the Springloaded Festival in Bribie Island about 2 weeks ago, I think there was about 10,000 people at this show and it was just so euphoric and exciting. Every time I play, for me, it’s that feeling, it is so amazing, I wouldn’t really trade it for anything. So, it’s just part of who I am and my whole existence as a person.”
I am so glad you chose to live an artistic life and go down the creative, musical path, I have been very fortunate to speak with some musicians and artists I hold in such high regard, including yourself and it is such an honour to speak with you. I love and appreciate what you do and what you give to the world as a musician!
“Thank you so much for saying that, that is so beautiful! For me it is also this feeling of like, I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, I was compelled to do it. I just can’t help it. This is what I was meant to do. It is a weird existence, like the recent show in Bribie Island, you are only on the stage for one hour but that can resonate for such a long time and there are not that many things you get to do in life that are like that.”
Something a bit off topic that I just have to touch on is the kid’s albums you did with Rhys Muldoon. I have kids of my own and we loved the I’m Not Singing song you guys did together. That must have been a fun experience, what was it like collaborating with Rhys and writing kids music?
“Well Rhys is one of my closest friends and he basically asked me if I wanted to produce these records and I was like ‘absolutely!’ The ABC was right behind it and it was a classic really, it was a great time. We did it in a way that was actually pretty productive, it was all pretty much written in the studio, but he had so many lyrics sheets and if someone’s got lyrics then songs can be really quick to write. Me, musically and melodically I am quite a prolific writer. So the songs came together really quick, we did both records pretty much the same way and we had such a great time. He is so full of energy, he is such a great person. I have talked about those records quite a few times over the years. They were great records, some quite amazing music in there too, I think we were just given free reign by the ABC to do whatever we wanted. We both tried to use the studio as much as we could and have no boundaries, tried to get as far away from The Wiggles as possible. *laughs* you know we tried to make it as interesting as possible and we thought kids would like it. With some kids music it is a bit dumbed down, like a three year old will like it but no one else will, but this was really music for everyone.”
Speaking of albums, the vinyl that you’re releasing, it must have been hard to choose which singles you would include on it? You’ve got so many amazing albums and songs!
“It was a little tricky yeah. It was one of those times where the songs kind of choose themselves. We obviously chose songs like Buy Me A Pony and Calypso and Black Betty and also out first single. It was tricky but also pretty logical in the end with the ones we would choose and we thought we would do it over a period of time to show the whole, I guess, era of what the band has done. In a way it is like a little bit of a diary when you go through it and there will be a few little anomalies. I think to start with, we thought we would do a gig and see what the response was, and we are doing it for ourselves as much as everyone else. The show sold out in one day, so it has been amazing. So we are doing an interview to promote a show that has already sold out *laughs* It’s weird because we have been around so long but I think we are bigger now than we have ever been and I think the longer we go the bigger we seem to get. So it is just one of those really nice stories. We feel really comfortable with who we are now and we are not sort of worried about what people say or if radios are playing us. We very much embrace compassion and we really care about the scene and other bands and you know, it is a community. Everyone’s sort of trying to express themselves whether they are making music or going to see it, they all care about the art form and that is what we are all here to do. I think in Australia we are in a really good space with a lot of great artists, I mean continuing on, for us to feel like we are part of this great linear journey of music from this great music country. We had a real spin out last year where a whole bunch of our stuff was chosen to put into the Australian Music Archives Exhibition in the art centre in Melbourne and there’s our stuff right there with Paul Kelly, Nick Cave, AC/DC. For us to be in that mix and for us to be bigger than ever and in a happy place, it sort of says it all really, it is a big beautiful surprise for us!”
If you were lucky enough to score tickets to Spiderbait‘s sold out one-off Melbourne show at the Forum, you are in for an absolute treat! Fingers crossed they decide to take the show further. In the meantime, I am off to listen to some of my favourite Spiderbait tracks, let’s start with Fucken Awesome, because really. That’s what they are.