Interview with Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon)

Interview by Wezzy Crüze
Phil Jamieson - Rolling Stone Awards 2014

Friday mornings are always a great time of the day to hit the beach, at least that’s what Grinspoon’s very own Phil Jamieson believes. In the lead up to his acoustic solo tour around Australia, which sees the iconic front man team up with Unwritten Law’s Scott Russo, we managed to catch a moment to talk all things music, life and zucchini slice.

Hello Phil

Hello! Yes!

Hi mate, Wezzy Crüze from Life Music Media, how are you going?

Oh good, how are you?

Yeah, pretty good for a Friday morning!

Mate, isn’t it like 8:30 in the morning in Queensland?

Yeah it is mate, just got back from travelling to Brisbane.

That’s awesome, what were you doing down there?

Just thought I’d catch some bands while they’re touring through.

That sounds really cool man. That’s what I like to hear.

Yeah, so what about yourself? What’s on your plate for today?

I’m at the beach! *laughs* I’m at the beach with the dog, then I’m off to make some zucchini slice, I’m gonna put some feta and zucchini together, bit of flour, and then bake that for 35 minutes. I’ll probably make a cake as well, maybe some Mexican; some guacamole and salsa, maybe some chilli con carne. I’ll probably head out tonight and see a couple of bands too. I’m gonna see Waxhead, they’re a band from Byron Bay that are playing in the local area, and another band called Pelican Itch, so gonna go out and watch them tonight, so that’ll be fun. Then tomorrow night, my daughter is dancing in Swan Lake, so I’ll go watch her dance, which will be pretty amazing. And then on Tuesday, Scott Russo, ‘Hurricane Scott’ arrives in Australia, so I’ll be looking after him!

Wow, you certainly don’t mess around. And you and Scott certainly go back a long way now.

Yes, we’ve been friends now for 15 years or so.

That’s pretty damn awesome, what was it like when you first met him?

Oh, I thought he was a douchebag! *laughs* But yeah, I liked the band (Unwritten Law) a lot, he dug Grinspoon, and we ended up touring together, writing songs together, and his band were touring earlier this year, so we did some solo acoustic shows, sort of as a duo back in May, and they went really well and were really fun, the crowd certainly got a fair bit out of them. It’s from there that he decided to come back here in December to do it again.

So what can the fans and the crowd expect from the shows this time around? Any sort of plans in the works for it

Ah, geez, I don’t know. I know Scott’s got some plans, he keeps messaging me and asking about different stuff, but I guess the plans will fall into place once he arrives. It’s difficult to make these sort of plans from a northern hemisphere to a southern hemisphere situation. But, you know, I’ve learnt some different material for this tour, I’m adapting some different songs for my section of the night. I know he wants Christmas trees and fairy lights, and wants to dress up as Santa Clause. I don’t know if I want to do that, but I know he certainly has big plans for the shows.

I guess if you’re coming all this way to Australia, you might as well spice it up and dress up as Santa Clause.

Well according to him, it’s on! I know this time around, he wants to ramp up the production a bit with the shows. I guess we’ll wait and see; I’ll sit down face to face with him and see what’s on his mind.

Very true. So what’s it like to be taking on the acoustic guitar by yourself? By the sounds of it, the crowds are having a great time taking it in.

Yeah, it’s quite surprising to be honest… *starts laughing* sorry, my dog is chasing a bigger dog! *laughs*, yeah, it’s good, l’m kind of a pretty average guitarist at best, so playing to accompany myself wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but I’ve made it work over the duration of this year, I’ve toured a lot as a soloist and I’ve been around Australia once at least, so it’s been good, and yeah, people are reacting to it positively. I’m not doing a Grinspoon unplugged at all, so it’s kind of a bit different, but people are still responding in a positive manner to it.

So how has the year off from Grinspoon been?

Ah, the year off hasn’t been a year off. It’s been incredibly busy. Sure, it’s been a year off from Grinspoon, but I’ve been flat out. I honestly thought I’d just be laying around playing Xbox and smoking all day, but that didn’t happen at all. But everything else has been happening, I did the White album shows with the boys a few months back, that was big, and this tour will lead us up until Christmas Eve, so I’m honestly looking forward to January so I can spend some more time at the beach, and I’m already AT the beach! I can cook up more zucchini slice, so I’ll be in the kitchen all day!

I want to go back in time a bit now; when you first started out as a band in the Unearthed competition, did you ever imagine your life would be like this?

When we won the Unearthed competition, I was 17. We never bothered thinking about anything else, I know I wasn’t thinking about the future. The competition was the first one of its kind and nobody knew how big it would become. I know Pat (Davern) and Kris (Hopes) we’re probably thinking about it a bit harder than I was, they’re a bit older than I am. I was always in the moment and always writing new tunes and just enjoying playing music with the band, and I think that came through in our recordings and our lives show, and I think that’s what appealed to people, that sense of enjoyment. There wasn’t anything too contrived about Grinspoon, it simply was what it was, and I think in some ways that’s appealing. So yeah, looking back at that, I never really imagined where it would go. I know when I got off the dole, that was pretty exciting, and then it was like “wow, this might make money”, but I never thought of it in that way, it just kind of happened, and then I was like “shit, this is weird”, but it’s going to be 20 years next year, and I don’t think anyone back there could have predicted that at all.

So for the 20 year anniversary, are there any plans with Grinspoon at all?

We’re on a long term hiatus at this point in time, so I’m not really sure. I know I’ll probably put on a barbecue with them, I’ll cook up some zucchini slice, and reminisce, have a midstrength lager. But I know there’s no plans to play or tour, but we’ll just take it as it comes, at this point in time, next year is already shaping up to be pretty busy yet again.

Here’s another one, looking back at when you came into the music scene, you would have seen that if you wanted to find out about new local/regional bands, you had to go to a show and check it out for yourself, and now the new format involves simply going online with an app and finding new bands from the comfort of your own lounge chair. What do you think about the way people are using this new technology in relation to music, do you think it is affecting the music scene at all?

I guess it’s just the way people consume music, you know, for example in 1975 people would have been buying and listening to vinyls, then in “85, or even “95 when we hit the scene, we then had CDs and cassettes, and now 20 years later, we’re streaming music for an internet source. So I guess it’s always changed as it’s progressed, so maybe in another 20 years it’ll be different again. I guess now it’s just a matter of ease of use for some people. At the end of the day, I don’t really mind how they’re accessing it, I just hope they’re still listening to it and finding new bands and music. I know vinyls had a huge resurgence in the last 2 years, which is cool to see too.

So what are your thoughts on the ways bands, or even artists for that matter, using television shows with the talent quest format to get their name out there? What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it takes away from the live music scene where new artists are discovered?

There have always been talent quests, hell, the way we started out was a talent quest in many ways. So, whether it’s televised or it isn’t, it’s still a chance for artists to get their songs out there. It doesn’t really bother me, I just sit on the sidelines of it all. These shows have some great outcomes, Guy Sebastian and Matt Corby are two names that spring to mind, and those guys have gone on to have some great stuff come out of it, but on the other hand, there have been some pretty sad stories which we all end up hearing about. I guess if you want to get your music out, you’ll simply find a way to do it. But I think the ratings for these sorts of shows haven’t been overly great this year, people seem to be more into cooking shows or renovating shows over the singing competitions. It’s something that’s not really on my radar, but I wish anyone who takes it on their absolute best.

Sweet man, well that pretty much wraps up our time for this morning.

Thanks for your time this morning brother.

Cheers man, have a great time with the tour.

Cheers bro, see ya!

Interview by Wezzy Crüze – – for

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Phil Jamieson