Interview and photos by Dylan McArdle
In 2007 you (Red Jezebel) put out a new album and did some touring; by all means wouldn’t you say that it was a fairly successful year?
Yeah, it was quite a productive year by our usual standards. At least we’re getting our frequent flyer points up. This year should be much the same, y’know, because we’re a band and stuff.
You had a few difficulties along the way (change of record company etc), was it a relief to finally get the record out the door?
Yeah, it sure was. It’d been sleeping on my couch for months, eating all my food in the refrigerator and clogging up the drain in my shower. Son of a bitch avoided all rental payments as well. I had to start hiding my laptop for a while there while I was at work; it had a habit of chewing up my download quota with suspect movies.
Does the album title “How I Learnt to Stop Worrying” have any symbolic meaning?
I guess if it were written in Chinese it would be full of symbols… 我如何學會停止擔憂. Or even in sign language I suppose. I’d spell it out for you but I’m holding a burrito in one hand and finger typing with the other right at this very minute.
How would you compare it (the new album) with your last release – “Revelations”?
This one has more blue on the cover, different songs too. I guess its slicker than Revelations, but that said, I don’t think we lost any charm from the last one to this release. We’ve got the luxury now to stick our heads up our asses and do whatever we want with what resources we have, but still try to keep at the very least an ear & an eye out to make sure we don’t disappear up there completely. Plus there’s just no room up there now days. Most people don’t realise there’s only one giant ass that all musicians worldwide can disappear into. Mars Volta has bagsed most of the bedrooms in there already so there’s just not that much space left to set up shop.
I’ve noticed you’ve started using the acoustic guitar more of late, haven’t you?
Ah, I guess so. Is this a question or an observation?
Do you have a favourite song on the album?
Howl; It was the most fun to make. It took 3 people to make that weird guitar/tremolo/delay sound thingy. I sang through a toy megaphone which had police sirens on it. I think Parko was just trying to keep me entertained so I would cease to break everything in the immediate vicinity.
The band’s been together 10 years now, that’s some feat given the number of bands that were around when you started who are no longer together.
Shanks! Jebediah still have us beat though. I may soon have to stab Chris Daymond through the heart to put an end to that.
What’s kept you motivated all these year?
Prozac and gin, at the same time, as a suppository.
Do you ever feel jealous that you haven’t quite reached the heights of fellow Perth bands such as Jebediah or Eskimo Joe?
You’re just digging the knife in now. Why don’t you just give it a little turn while you’re at it? There’s an itch back there that I just can’t for the life of me scratch.
Speaking of Eskimo Joe, you won a competition which involved remixing their “New York” track. What made you decided to enter and how long did it take to put the remix together?
I actually did 2 remixes just for the hell of it. I gave the 1st one to Stu who described it as a beautiful red rose floating in a sea of shit (true quote), which led me to finish another one which I think confused everyone involved.
I remember a time back in 2002 or 2003 when the band appeared moody and uninterested on stage. Did you ever think of splitting up?
Every single day, in fact I’m thinking about it right now. I’m also thinking of a joke I someone told me today: Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine are in a bar. Augie tells Aquinas a blonde joke. Aquinas says “Yeah no shit Einstein, women don’t have souls”.
How did the loss of (guitarist) Chris Hayes (in 2004) affect the band?
Pretty badly until we found out 3 weeks later that he wasn’t actually dead, he was in fact sleeping off a nasty hangover. But by that time we’d already replaced him with Parko and had the funeral service, etc. He never quite forgave us for having to dig his way out of Karrakatta Cemetery.
And how did Dave Parkin come about as his replacement? Was he just the natural choice given he’d worked with you on the Revelations album?
Yeah, totally. Well, for that reason and also remember that Hayesy was 6 feet under at the time.
Does his work (as a record producer) ever get in the way of potential bands commitments?
All the time, but it’s okay because he’s not that good anyway so he goes by fairly unnoticed. For example, we took a flight from Melbourne to Brisbane last year on tour and it wasn’t until 20 minutes before landing that we realised we had left Parko back in Melbourne handcuffed to a shower rail.
If you were stuck on a desert island and only had three wishes – would one of them be Susannah Legge in a see-through dress?
It’d certainly be better than having a see through dress in Susannah Legge.
That’s just weird.
Back when the band started you played at the likes of the Grosvenor and Planet – do you miss those places?
Sure, they’ll always have their place in nostalgia. But at the same time, the current crop has vastly surpassed a lot of those jives.
How do the current crop of venues compare?
Hmmm, déjà Vu…
You played at the Railway Hotel before Christmas –it’s good to see some more venues hosting original live music, isn’t it?
At that gig you played “Itch” for the first time in five or six years – did that bring back some memories?
Painful memories. That song’s about the Holocaust, of which Cruigy is a survivor. Or so he tells everyone…
You rarely play any pre-Revelations tracks live now – is it just a case that you don’t feel that you need to anymore, that you’ve moved on from that era?
Moved on and in a different headspace altogether. All we want to do is make new songs all the time with the odd game of car park cricket with the locals. There’s always talk of re-hashing some of the old gems, so hopefully we’ll get around to it sooner rather than later
MySpace – Personal social networking site or invaluable band promotional tool?
Using up valuable server room for pornography. We all know what the real purpose of the Internet is for, there’s no point denying it.
Admit it – Josh Carr is a champion isn’t he?
A champion of questionable orientation. A friend of mine lives next door to him. He tells me constantly how Josh Carr cranks up the Grease sound track at home and sings “Totally Devoted to You” at the top of his lungs.
Very soon you play three shows in three nights followed by some country shows; it’s going to be a busy February by the sounds of it.
What are the country crowds like compared to those, say, in Perth?
QUESTION! Ah, much the same really. Mind you I’m not really the ‘paying attention to things’ kinda guy as our manager will confirm.
What’s on the horizon for the rest of 2008 yet? More touring? Plans for a third album?
All of the above. It’s a fire sale!!!
Finally – my first memories of the band (back in ’98 touring with Bodyjar) was seeing you come on stage with bright red hair. Will we ever see a red haired Woody again?
Only if I marry a ranga and have kids…
Red Jezebel play tomorrow night at The Bakery, Saturday night (6pm) at Langley Park and Sunday night at Mojo’s bar. See http://www.myspace.com/redjezebel for more details.
Red Jezebel’s latest full length album “How I Learnt to Stop Worrying” is out now on Sunday Ride Records thru MGM and is available in all good records stores.