Cast your mind back twenty odd years ago, and try to remember what you were doing. Aside from working a bunch of shitty part-time jobs to get through University and living in share houses that gave your mother mild palpitations every time she visited, most of us were listening to music that influenced not only how we viewed society and where we fit in, but also who we are today. Undoubtedly, Grinspoon was one of these bands. Fast-forward two decades later, they are continuing to make their mark on the Australian music scene.
Pat Davern, Grinspoon’s guitarist, can’t believe that it has been 25 years since they won Triple J’s Unearthed competition for their track, ‘Sickfest.’
“Over the last couple of decades we’ve released seven albums and been nominated for 13 ARIA Awards, with ‘New Detention’ reaching number two on the ARIA Album Charts,” he said.
“However, given the fact we’ve actually never won an ARIA Award, we feel a little ripped off and think we should definitely poach Tom Gleeson so he can start a campaign to get us to number one next time,” he laughed.
Thankfully, regardless of the ARIAs (or lack thereof), Grinspoon are back with their nation-wide Chemical Hearts tour, as well as a release of the tour vinyl later this year, and as Pat explained, will be paying homage to all their music since the release of ‘Guide to Better Living’.
“After our last major tour in 2017, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of ‘Guide to Better Living’, we kind of decided to stop going down the ‘anniversary’ route and instead, decided to put together a retrospective album made up of songs we like the most, as well as some of our biggest singles- a best of album and tour I guess.
“Do people actually still like best-of’s?”
My assurance that they still do was probably unnecessary, given that almost every show on the tour has already sold out. In addition to their swathe of cracking singles, Grinspoon are renowned for their live shows, which have always had an infectious energy that is impossible to ignore, an energy that Pat believes they still deliver.
“We used to be one of those two-in-one bands in the nineties and early 2000’s; two good shows, one bloody horrible one. You rolled up and either saw an on stage disaster, fight or out of control mosh pit, or you caught a great rock and roll show. Our average is definitely much better now though! I can’t remember the last time we put on a disaster, we just don’t take it as far as we used to.
“But in saying that, we just want to have fun, you know coming to see us always has that element of unpredictability and danger, we’re playing better together every day too and we want to give the crowd all of that and more,” Pat said.
‘This tour is really the chance for us to do the kind of shows we want to do in retrospect of our own musical career. You know, despite the fracas at times, we’ve always prided ourselves for being a good live band, this is the opportunity for us to get out there and say, this is what we want to do, this is what we want to play and we want to make it as entertaining as possible for our fans, who unbelievably, still see us as somewhat relevant in 2019.”
When asked if there were any songs Pat particularly liked playing, especially given their upcoming tour will showcase hits from their entire back catalogue, he told me that it was all about that opening song.
“To be honest, I love playing all of them…I used to look at our shows as having ‘peaks and valleys’, but for me, when we play now, there actually aren’t many valleys because we’ve got such a big back catalogue of stuff, so keeping the momentum going is pretty easy,” he said.
“I always like to say, if we get our first song right, then it is going to be a great show. That’s how I like to build a show, from the very beginning.”
In addition to the tour, the band will release a ‘Chemical Hearts’ vinyl and more than likely, a digital release as well. Given the fact it was a song that Pat says turned their career around, it was a fitting name for the tour.
“I think it is a song that even people who aren’t Grinspoon fans, know of. It’s a song that, in a nutshell, brings an awareness to who we are,” Pat said.
‘We also got Lee McConnell to do the artwork for the album and we just love it. I guess it all just tied in together – the name, the colours, the way we are going to design the show, Chemical Hearts just made sense.’
The tour is a nostalgic head bang to a band, that without a doubt, had some sort of impact on who we were 25 years ago and continues to do so today. It kicks off in October, and (if you can still get tickets for your local show) is one not to be missed.
Grinspoon will play at The Star, Gold Coast on 7 November and The Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane, 8 November. Tickets available from https://www.grinspoon.com.au/
IMAGE (c) Dan Maynard Photography