Interview: GRINSPOON Frontman Phil Jamieson Talks Going Solo, His New Album + Upcoming Tour

Photo Credit: Ian Laidlaw

Words by Brett Ensbey {Brett Bites + Freakshow Nightmare}


Aussie rock royal Phil Jamieson has temporarily stepped away from his Grinspoon frontman duties to expand his creative calling releasing his first ever solo album ‘Somebody Else’ due out Friday 29th July. Good Call Live‘s Brett Ensbey sat down for a chat with Jamieson on Friday afternoon and what a chat it was.


Many years ago, I was a 13-year-old kid working his first job at a fish and chip shop. The manager I worked with was the son-in-law of the owner and he knew absolutely everything there was to know about music. (Well, that’s what he would have you believe anyway). Whenever he was there, you could guarantee that Triple J would be playing in the back of the shop.

One particular night, I was washing dishes out the back and listening to the radio, when said manager walked in and heard me singing along to Grinspoon’s Just Ace.  As he walked past, he said to me “I didn’t know you liked Green Spoon,” a simple mistake, but one I corrected immediately. That night I found out that my manager did not like being told he was wrong…..about anything…..ever. We spent the rest of the night arguing about the name of the band. Since this was so long ago, neither of us even owned a mobile phone, let alone one that was capable of letting us google the answer. So we had to wait until the next shift we had, and listen intently to the radio, hoping that the presenters would play the song and say the name of the band.

Finally, they did, and I stood victorious, much to the chagrin of my manager, who said “Whatever. You don’t know shit about music,” before making me clean out the grease traps on the deep fryer that night as punishment for being correct. As I cleaned the disgusting old oil from the bottom of the fryer, I swore that he may have won the battle that night, but I would win the war. Well this weekend, more than 20 years after that night, I got the chance to sit and chat with Phil Jamieson of Grinspoon about his upcoming solo album ‘Somebody Else’. So ultimately, I feel like I finally won the war.


So we’re talking about your new album ‘Somebody Else’ which is set to be released on the 29th of July. When you wrote the songs for this album did you go into it with a solo project in mind or was it more that you were writing new stuff and suddenly you had a new album written?

Look, I’m terrible at big picture stuff, I just write songs and then they kind of sit for ages. Some of the songs were probably written a bit more specifically for the project, but to be honest it’s a little all over the shop. I wrote some of them for just me, to keep my wheels spinning, for want of a better term. Originally this record was going to be released just as a seven inch with two songs on it, Somebody Else and Lights On and then I was like “Hang on, I’ve got a few more songs,” and the record company, Cheersquad, was like “Well let’s put them out,” and I said “Yeah, let’s do that.” So then it became a process of, I guess, re recording some of the demos and making sure stuff fit. But that’s a long answer, so to answer your question, no they weren’t all written for the project they kind of came from all different areas and squares of the mind.

You just mentioned the song Lights On, the third single released from the album. people can check it out on Spotify and YouTube. Would you say it’s a pretty good representation of the style of music that fans can expect from the rest of ‘Somebody Else’?

Oh, goodness gracious. That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think that Lights On has its own little thing happening. All the songs on the record are kind of separate vignettes in some ways. There’s no real over arcing genre theme to this record. Essentially they’re pop songs written on the guitar, but some of them are framed a little bit differently. I think they’re all sort of their own little individual puppies in some ways. So I would hesitate to say that it’s a good indication or a broad indication of what people can expect, but also, don’t have expectations is my trick. Just listen to it. It’s better not expect much. Don’t expect much and your expectations will be met.



Well that brings us nicely into the next question. Obviously Grinspoon has quite a large fan base and a huge following so did that make the process of recording a solo album more difficult? Were you’re concerned about it constantly being compared to your other work or do you try not to think about that sort of thing as you’re going into the process of writing and recording an album?

I’m very grateful for Grinspoon’s broad fanbase, and you know, that’s unreal. But I don’t think about it. I’m just focused on writing songs and recording them. If they get compared that’s fine, if they don’t that’s fine, if people think it sucks that’s OK. I generally have a pretty broad distaste for all of the things I do, but I like these songs and I think that’s important. If people feel the need to compare that’s OK and if they don’t feel the need that’s OK as well. I don’t really think about it. It wasn’t difficult at all, I just did what I do and had a lot of fun recording and writing it and I’m really grateful to Cheersquad but putting it out. But I can’t worry about that shit. If people are gonna do that’s OK, it doesn’t really bother me either way. I like it, so that’s all that matters *laughs*.

Well, you’ve gotta be happy with your work right?

I think so. It would be disingenuous of me to put out something that I wasn’t 100% happy with, especially with my own name to it, In the past with Grinspoon and the seven studio albums we’ve released obviously there’s a bit of compromise and collaboration there and there’s stuff on there that I don’t always love, but I love this record, I’m really proud of it and I’m happy to put it out.

I believe you have a show coming up at Vinnie’s Dive in Southport on the 28th of July?

Yes, next Thursday which is actually the album release eve. I don’t know whether you can have a party for album release eve, but geez I’m gonna fuckin try Brett, I’m gonna try. So yes I’m really excited I’m bringing a band with me to Vinnie’s, which is really exciting, to flesh out these. We’re playing the whole record live which is really exciting as well, some of these songs have never been performed live so that’s gonna be challenging but also exciting. I’ve never been to Vinnie’s either so I can’t wait to get in there, feel the vibes and experience the dive-ness of Vinnies.

Vinnie’s is a relatively new venue, it opened in 2018. Being that you’re pretty much part of the landscape of Australian music you must have seen a lot of venues come and go. Are there any you really miss playing that aren’t around anymore or a particular favourite that you’re always excited to go and play again?

You know, I’ve had a great relationship with the Gold Coast, with heaps of great venues over the years, Broadbeach Tavern, and The Playroom back in the day, and then Mo’s Desert Clubhouse and Miami Marketta are two venues that come to mind that I’ve really enjoyed playing more recently especially solo. But, you know, venues have come and gone, it’s kind of a bit sad, like the Yard House in Melbourne that sadly is no longer there. But I’m always excited to play new venues, it’s really kind of like “Oh, this is new”. But I’ve been playing and going to shows on the Goldie for so long that I’ve seen venues come and go here and there, like the Coolangatta Hotel was a venue I used to frequent a little bit. But obviously Mo’s Desert Clubhouse and Miami Marketta are two venues that are doing really great work on the GC as well as Vinnie’s. Which is great because I think it shows a great hunger for live music there. Because they’re smaller venues, they’re able to service solo artists like myself who can come through just on my own and play to people so I think that’s great.



Just off topic from the album and touring for a second, you played St Jimmy in the ‘American Idiot’ musical when it came to Australia. Was stage acting something you always wanted to do or was it more of an opportunity that presented itself and you thought why not?

Yeah, I think the email came across, and I was like this sounds too weird to say no to, you know. Having that opportunity to be in theatre I was like “Man, I’m gonna say yes to this”. It sounded like something that would be fun and challenging and it definitely was all of those things. But I really enjoyed that record by Green Day, I think it’s a really great record, and the musical is fantastic and it was fantastic to do. I think I did over 100 shows of that musical, and doing eight shows a week it’s sort of a different style of discipline to what it is in rock and roll, but ultimately, I made lifelong friends and I learned a lot about stagecraft, show business and theatrics. I was always learning new things and I think after touring for so many years that’s always beneficial.

So you’re playing Splendour in the Grass with Grinspoon this weekend. Have you found much difference between touring with the band and with the solo stuff or at this point in your career is it all much of a muchness?

Oh, it’s apples and oranges solo to the band. The band is a big wheel, yeah you know the band has tour managers, lighting guys, guitar techs, stage techs, merchandise people management, riders, towels, and multiple vehicles, but when I do a solo tour manage, I stage tech, I drive, I book the venues, I book the hotels and flights. So it’s very very different touring, like the logistical back end of it. Ultimately, you’re still on stage singing songs, which that part of it is very similar, but I think a lot of the logistical back end and the DIY-ness of my solo stuff is very different.

Over your career you’ve accomplished a lot. You’ve won ARIA awards, toured the world, done the musical we spoke about earlier, you DJ, you’ve written songs with other artists, and now your solo album ‘Somebody Else’ is so close to being released, so is there anything left on the Phil Jamieson bucket list, or have you pretty much ticked it all off?

I love writing songs, and I love performing them so basically if I can continue to do that in some sort of capacity then I’ll be really, really happy and it doesn’t have to be a widescreen stadiums or arenas. To me it’s just the creative side that makes my heart full, which may sound a bit cheesy, but that’s what’s exciting for me.  I’m thinking about writing a play at some point which has music in it, but isn’t a musical, it’s more of a play about a murder set in the late 1800s. That’s a way off, but I’ve got that kind of bubbling in the back of my head and that would be something really fun that I’d like to experience, getting back into theatre and writing this play that is kind of playing on my mind, please pardon the pun. But that’s kind of it. As long as I get to sing some songs, play some guitar, make some people laugh, create, and maybe make people think as well, that’s kind of the ultimate goal. But I’m very grateful for the last 20 years or so and looking forward to the next 20.



If you have the chance to do so, definitely get along to Vinnie’s Dive on this Thursday (album launch eve) or to his other dates around the country and check out Phil and his band performing the album live. Until then, enjoy the music video for the title track from the album.


PHIL JAMIESON & BAND
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS THE PICTURES
 
WEDNESDAY 27 JULY • ELTHAM HOTEL, ELTHAM (NSW) – TIX
THURSDAY 28 JULY • VINNIE’S DIVE, GOLD COAST – TIX
FRIDAY 29 JULY • SOL BAR, SUNSHINE COAST – TIX
SATURDAY 30 JULY • THE ZOO, BRISBANE – TIX
THURSDAY 4 AUGUST • THE CURTIN, MELBOURNE – TIX
FRIDAY 5 AUGUST • TRANSIT BAR, CANBERRA – TIX
SATURDAY 6 AUGUST • OXFORD ART FACTORY, SYDNEY – TIX
SUNDAY 7 AUGUST • SHADY PALMS, AVOCA BEACH (NSW) – TIX
FRIDAY 12 AUGUST • LION ARTS FACTORY, ADELAIDE – TIX


‘Somebody Else’ is out on Friday July 29 via Cheersquad Records & TapesPRE-SAVE HERE


Connect with Phil Jamieson


With thanks to On The Map PR

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