Grinspoon Chats Spring Loaded And Live Gigs
The Ultimate Aussie Alternative Rock Festival, Spring Loaded, is officially back and set for eight epic shows in 2021. With the perfect line up to satisfy your 90’s rock nostalgia, it’s bound to be a festival you’re not going to want to miss.
Kicking off in Sydney on the 8th of May, the festival will also be heading to Cairns, Bribie Island, Adelaide, Darwin, Gosford, Wollongong, Perth, and Victoria over the span of a few months. Legends in the game, Grinspoon, are headlining this massive event, with Regurgitator, Jebediah, Frenzal Rhomb, Tumbleweed, The Fauves, and many more iconic Aussie bands to accompany the set list.
TCI had the chance to chat with Pat Davern from Grinspoon to find out what the band has been up to since live gigs have been on pause. Pat and the band are absolutely stoked to be getting back on stage together for the festival and are bound to bring some insane energy to the upcoming shows.
The Creative Issue: What have you and Grinspoon been up to lately, what’s been going on?
Pat Davern: It’s funny when people ask you what you’ve been doing, because with COVID, it doesn’t feel like much. Over the COVID period, we were like everyone else in the entertainment industry where we had to find something else to do. I helped my wife with her business, and all the guy’s kind of just went off on their own way and did their different things. We did a bit of writing, a bit of regrouping, and mainly did a lot of worrying about what the future was going to look like post-pandemic, which I guess we’re not even there yet.
We’ve already had a lot of shows cancelled at the beginning of this year when there was an a few COVID outbreaks around Australia. So obviously there’s still a lot of unknowns for our band moving forward, but we’ve got a lot of shows booked. Hopefully they’re all going to happen, but I guess we’re still at the mercy of the pandemic unfortunately. But at least we’re in the position where we’re actually going to be able to start doing some more shows soon.
TCI: The Spring Loaded Festival is coming up quickly, and it sounds so exciting. Are you guys keen for that?
PD: We’re very excited to be doing that. I mean, we’re just really excited to be playing shows in general, but to be playing shows with all those bands is amazing.
This festival is nostalgia in a lot of ways, and I know that there’ll be a good mix of older people and younger people at those shows because it’s such a great line-up, and there’s a lot of iconic Australian bands there. We’re kind of honoured to be headlining, as every band on that line-up could be headlining those shows, we just drew the long straw and we’re the guys who are going to finish it out.
I’m just really excited just to be playing and getting back with our crew. Over the past year we’ve been okay as a band, as we’ve been around a long time and we’ve kind of had a long career. But people from our crew and people who have been working for us for twenty years have just kind of been thrown into the deep end and are living on job keeper. So, it’s great to be able to see all those people again, and to get them working again, and do our part to try and get those people back out on the road.
TCI: Grinspoon recently played their first show since pre-COVID times, how did it go?
PD: So a couple of weeks ago we did our first show in 400 days in Tasmania at the Royal Hobart Botanic Gardens, with Ocean Alley and a bunch of other bands. It was amazing to actually do a show again.
It was a sit-down event which meant no chair, no entry. The first night we performed everyone in the crowd stood up, because who wants to sit while listening to Grinspoon. We requested everyone to sit back down, to ensure it remained a COVID safe event, and we still had a great time playing. It felt like we were officially back again and that things were returning to some sort of new normal, it really was a great show.
TCI: What is it about performing live that you and the band love so much?
PD: It’s kind of what we cut our teeth on. As an old school pub band who started in the 90s in an era where it was still very much pay to play, get out there, do a lot of shows, tour a lot, and build up your audience, performing live is everything. There was no Spotify, but there was Triple J which obviously supported us in a huge way, but access to music wasn’t as easy as it is now. So, the whole thing about playing live is really ingrained in our psyche.
It’s the camaraderie of being in a band, it’s kind of been like being in a club, lots of in jokes, lots of memories, lots of things that we’ve experienced that we’ve done together, and we kind of get to relive those moments. Not as much as what we used to, which is a good thing, but we still get to relive them. It’s like being able to live like an eighteen-year-old for a few months a year for the rest of your life, we’re so lucky.
TCI: Grinspoon has come such a long way since being the winners of the first Triple J Unearthed competition. Did you ever expect you would become as big as you guys have?
PD: Obviously we had ambitions for greatness. We spent a lot of time living in the US in the late 90s, early 2000s, and we had a lot of ambition to write good songs and to be heard as a band. It’s funny because I was talking to our manager the other day about Triple J, and we were talking about the rise of the band. He was saying, it was really an album like New Detention, which is actually turning twenty next year, that kind of moved us away from being that Triple J band into more of the mainstream where people really knew who we were. So, I think that era of the band was a real turning point for us. Obviously, we’re grateful for every success we get in the music industry, because it’s one of the toughest industries to succeed at going around. So, we’re really grateful, and we think about that a lot.
TCI: What are the main changes you’ve noticed in the industry since you first started?
PD: Good things, and the good things are that it’s not such a male dominated executive culture anymore. When we were first coming through, the heads of the record companies were all men. Although there are still a few of those guys still hiding out in record companies, a lot of that culture has gone, and we’ve moved into a much more independent industry with more diverse people working in it.
There’s now a lot of great new Australian acts around, and a lot of bands with girls in them which is great to see. There wasn’t a lot when we were coming through, but people have embraced all these new styles of music and incorporated them and made them something that’s sounding Australian, which is really good. There is a new diversity in music and sound.
Also, obviously the rise of streaming is a massive change. We lived through the record company wars, and we used to sell CDs and we’d go and do signings at CD stores, but there is that void that a lot of people don’t remember in between when people were burning CDs and stuff like that. Basically Spotify won those wars, and yes, Spotify has its faults, but it’s at least a system where the artist does get some renumeration for their hard work. Spotify was never a huge thing for us, because we were a little bit too late.
TCI: Even though the music industry has changed so much, Grinspoon are still ever so relevant today. What do you think the secret is to endurance in this ever changing music world?
PD: As a band, I’d say good management. We’ve always had good management, and I think that they’ve looked after us and made sure that we didn’t make too many mistakes. From a band standpoint, we’re in a band with people that we can stand being in a band with. We’ve had our fights and stuff, but we’ve always managed to sort it out and stay strong through adversity, because we’ve had our fair share of adversity over the years. I think it’s a lot of planning, a lot of luck, and good timing as well.
TCI: Grinspoon has seven albums now, and if you had to pick, what would be your favourite?
PD: Oh, wow, that’s crazy. Well, I liked the process of making Thrills Kills and Sunday Pills, which is our fourth record. We made that in Los Angeles, and it was just a great time. We had worked with some really incredible people on that album, and it was an amazing experience for us. We had just come off New Detention which was a really massive record for us that kind of pushed us into the mainstream, so there was a bit of pressure on us. Overall, I think it’s a great album. It’s a great set and probably the greatest sounding album that we’ve ever done purely from a sonic kind of standpoint, and I think most of the songs stand the test of time.
I love our first album as well, and I love New Detention, and I love Black Rabbits, and I love Easy. The last album we made, we also made in LA in a great studio with another great producer. So, I mean, how lucky am I that I can pick from seven album and struggle to find the one that I love the most. But I think I’ll go with Thrills Kills and Sunday Pills.
TCI: Did the band ever struggle coming up with fresh and new music that both you and the audience would love? Was there ever a rut?
PD: Yeah, for sure. There are some albums there that I didn’t mention that would fall into that category. I don’t know, it ebbs and flows. That’s what happens, sometimes there’s no pressure, and sometimes there’s a lot of pressure. It’s funny because they’re all your babies, but sometimes you don’t always get it right. Sometimes you kind of strive for something that you don’t actually reach. Sometimes it happens across an entire album, for lots of different reasons, but I think in the end it’s all hits and misses really. It’s subjective too, as some people will love the songs that I don’t like, and vice versa. It’s a learning process, and it’s a constant learning process.
TCI: Speaking of new music, when do you guys decide that it’s time for a new Grinspoon record? And can we expect to see another one out anytime soon?
PD: We’ve got some songs that we’ve written, definitely. We’ve got lots of songs and we might even get from the archives. We’ve been doing that kind of stuff and trying to figure out when we’ll release the music. There’s no pressure, which is good, and at the end of the day we’re not going to release anything that we’re not all going to love.
Sometimes it’s hard to get all four guys in the band to settle on releasing a song, and it’s probably becoming harder as we get older because our tastes change. Because our band has gone through so many years of music that we’ve listened to, it is becoming harder for us to park on a place. We’re not one of those bands where it’s just one guy that writes all the songs, then the rest of the band play them, we’re very much a democracy. So it’s hard to all get on the same page, but we’re getting there, so never say never.
TCI: What is a particular show or performance that stands out to you, and is such a good memory for you and the band?
PD: I think I’ll go with one in Australia, and the best Australian show was definitely Livid in 1998. We just released our debut album Guide to Better Living, and we had still been slumming it playing a lot of supports. We had just done our first headline tour where we were starting to sell out some small sized venues like the Annandale Hotel in Sydney and The Zoo in Brisbane. Then we did Livid at the Brisbane Showgrounds. We played the Loudmouth stage where you can fit about 6,000 people in there, but there were probably 15,000 people in there almost hanging off the roof. It was a massive moment for the band, and I think for the crowd as well, and it’s something that I’ll never forget. I always think of that whenever people ask me what my favourite show was, so today that’s my number one. It was really was awesome.
After speaking to Pat about his and the bands excitement to get back playing some live gigs, there is no doubt their performance at Spring Loaded will be one to remember.
SPRING LOADED DETAILS:
Where: Sydney, Cairns, Bribie Island, Adelaide, Darwin, Gosford, Wollongong, Perth, and Victoria
When: 8th May 2021 – 27th November 2021
Website: link to website