After getting back together and celebrating 20 years of ‘Guide To Better Living’ with a fully sold out tour in 2017, Grinspoon continued hitting the road in 2018 performing on both the Hotter Than Hell and Groovin’ The Moo tours. That momentum hasn’t slowed down, as the foursome from Lismore are hitting the road in October/November, this time for the Chemical Hearts greatest hits tour. Not only that, they’re also bringing out a greatest hits vinyl. Getting to speak with front man Phil Jamieson is an opportunity no Australian music writer is going to turn down, but Jamieson was very humble as he also thanked the interviewer for taking time to speak to him.
First topic of the interview was about the excitement levels within the band about getting back on the road for the first time since the ‘Guide’ tour and Jamieson’s sense of humour instantly showed as he quips: “It is…well was a sense of excitement, but now it’s a palatable sense of fear of how much fun I may or may not have on this tour,” before going into further detail.
“The ‘Guide…’ tour was out of its brain; not just the reaction, but how much fun we were having as well. This tour is a little bit more of a party vibe, as ‘Guide…’ was about a specific record and a specific time; the set-list was already written for us as we played the album from start to finish. With this one, we’re able to manipulate the set-list to play what we want! There’s also some nuances I want to bring into production, plus cool costume changes and other fun things; I’m really getting involved in the party planning now, so we can work on making every show as memorable if not more, than 2017! There’s lots of fun ideas floating around, however I keep getting told I’m spending too much money on production… my response is usually, ‘But it will look really good’, so there’s a bit of back and forth arguing. Short answer – we’re all excited, but I think the band are a little concerned about how much extra stuff I want to do on the tour.”
Delving further into how the opportunity for the Chemical Hearts tour came about, Jamieson first explained, “Well we kind of packed everything away after the ‘Guide…’ tour, but because it was as successful as it was, we ended up latching onto Groovin’ The Moo! It kept snowballing on and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god, when are we packing everything away again?'” Jamieson then points out, “Our management came to us with the idea that as ‘Guide…’ celebrated one album of our career and some fans weren’t born when it came out, why not do something that more people might relate to? You know, give a little bit more of a broader spectrum. My first response was, ‘Okay…can we do some cute artwork and have some pink hearts?’ Management responded with, ‘Sure, do whatever you want’, so I got involved in that early with Lee (McConnell), got some artwork together and we were really happy about it. So it was basically a suggestion from our management pointing out whilst we had a successful tour, it was really about a certain era of the band. Plus we wanted to make sure all the people who have a broader love or came a little later weren’t left at the door whilst we’re playing all these songs from the fucking 90s!”
As mentioned in the intro, the ‘Guide…’ tour was 100 per cent sold out and since ‘Chemical Hearts’ tickets went on sale in early June, three shows have already sold out with another two being announced! When asked how he feels that tickets are flying out the door, Jamieson answered with a puzzled, “I don’t know…warm and fuzzy? Don’t get me wrong, it’s really nice and great that people want to come! We get an update every week, but I don’t read into it too much as it’s like tempting fate. Plus I perform the same show whether there’s 30 people or 3000 people. I think about my end, rather than who’s buying tickets; I guess there’s a monetary thing there, but it doesn’t really concern me. My focus is on being my best self, making sure the band’s the best we can be and making sure we just do our shit no matter what!”
After Jamieson had a little bit of time to talk about the professional aspect of being on the road, he did allow the walls to come down for a second: “To be honest though, it is really flattering and it feels like Australia is giving us a nice warm cuddle when a show sells out; it’s a nice affirmation to be honest and it’s cute. Whilst it’s not my main focus, it’s really reassuring and lovely, so thank you Australia.”
After a playful quip about the production cost thanks to Jamieson’s spending and more sold out shows meaning more can be purchased getting a good heart-felt laugh, Jamieson adds: “I didn’t even think about that, I’m just thinking about spending money; I’m fucking terrible! Maybe management are thinking that, but I just think, ‘Let’s do everything at every show…WHEEEEE!’ but someone’s always got to rein me in in some ways. I get what you’re saying, but I never think about that dude; I just think about the show.”
Taking time to talk about the greatest hits vinyl being released on October 11 (same day as the first show), Jamieson was asked whether selecting the fifteen songs was a difficult task; after instantly responding with an Aussie, “Yeah look, it wasn’t easy”, Jamieson elaborated on how the band approached the task at hand. “There were some songs that I wanted on there that got left off, so then it became a bit of a trade-off with, ‘If you get that one, then I get this one’. It was difficult and there are some songs on there that I’m happy about, but at the end of the day, it is what it is! We wanted to make it silkier and more direct, not bloated with thousands of songs; only the fifteen songs we’ll be playing at the shows, (plus more). It was a fun process with pretty heated emails being exchanged, but we got there in the end. I think it’s a lovely product with some great art and I’m really happy with it.”
After this interviewer jokingly had a small rant about having to wait until October for the vinyl to be shipped, Jamieson playfully stabbed at Universal Music, proclaiming, “I didn’t even realise that’s what they were doing…those record companies man, they’re sneaky bastards! See, I just worked together with Lee and can I say, he’s done a fantastic job and I’m really happy with it. I thought it’d be coming out now as well, but there’s this weird thing thanks to vinyl now being so popular; it takes like four months to print! It used to be you could get it done in three weeks, but now to get the parts and physical wax it takes four months minimum. That might have something to do with the delay of getting into the hands of our fans out there; I however, was just more focused on how it looked!”
When faced with the curiosity of new music being released, Jamieson points out, “As songwriters, I’m writing all the time and so is Pat (Davern), so there’s stuff happening; it’s just whether we can get all the goals to align. There’s definitely music, I’m just not sure whether we’re going to release it or what we’re going to do. Our focus right now is to make the party coming up the best party of life, for not only the people in the crowd but for ourselves. It would be disingenuous of us to get up there and ever go through the motions; besides, it’s not in our bloodstreams or DNA to do that! We’re going to focus on making sure those who come along have the best time of our lives.”
Jamieson was then quick to deliver a teasing jab, closing with, “There’s always songs floating around, but that’s probably a conversation for another day…” and a mischievous laugh.
Jamieson’s dark wit showed once again as the interview concluded, pointing out how “Final words…sounds so cyanide, doesn’t it!” before delivering his last message to fans:
“Please get there early, as not only are Bugs, Gooch Palms and The Hard Aches all incredible, they’ve been specifically chosen to curate this great night for you. Be there from the doors, enjoy all of the supports and treat them with respect, treat each other with respect as well and have the best time of your life. That’s all!”
Tickets for the Chemical Hearts tour are available here.