Words by Richard Gifford - Published on March 8, 2013
After the release of their latest record, Black Rabbits last September, Grinspoon have planned an epic national tour to celebrate the release and the fact that 18 years on, they’ve still got the magic to walk hhaaaarrrddd.
We chatted to Joe last week and he had plenty to say on Grinspoon gigs, their upcoming nationwide tour and why he loves playing the hits.
SCENEWAVE: If fashion wasn’t a concern, would you wear velcro or lace-up shoes?
JOE: Probably Velcro, let’s face it you can’t beat the convenience.
SW: What’s the craziest thing a fan’s ever done to you?
J: In the states, I had these vans shoes on, and a fan reached across the fence yelling at me to hand over my shoes. I said no, so she got down on her knees and barked like a dog until I gave them to her.
SW: If you could have a song as the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
J: “Killing In The Name Of” – Rage Against The Machine. I’m a very angry man haha.
SW: Your go to album to rock out to and crank as loud as you can before you party?
J: Yeah probably RATM or any Bronx record.
SW: Which artist would you bring back from the dead?
J: Jimi Hendrix for a cheeky solo on one of our records.
SW: If you could play a song from the Moon looking back at Earth what would it be?
J: Dark Side Of The Moon? You know what that doesn’t even make sense, I wouldn’t even be able to see earth from the dark side of the moon. Whatever, I’ll stick with that one.
SW: Favourite road trip song?
J: Any of the old classics. Eagles, something corny like that… “Take it Easy” maybe.
SW: How do you test the ‘releasability’ of an album?
J: Maybe that’s the problem, we don’t do that haha. We go back to the hotel and crank it loud and say if we’ve recorded about 15 songs, we’ll all argue at full volume, about which 12-13 songs we choose for the record. All talking over each other at once.
SW: Thoughts on Spotify?
J: I just don’t understand how it works. I mean it’s legal, but how do bands make money from it? Maybe if you’re Lady Gaga you’ll be ok. It bamboozles me.
SW: How has Black Rabbits been received?
J: Yeah really well. The feedback for the album’s been really good and it’s been getting lots of radio play, but we just have to get out there and start touring. We haven’t actually done our own tour for it yet. We really wanna get out there and play the bulk of the album live. Hopefully it’ll be received well on tour.
SW: What can we expect from your live show in Brisbane at the Tiv on the 15th March?
J: Gonna do a bunch of new stuff with a mix of old stuff. I think Pat and Phil are going to do a few acoustic tracks as well in the encore. We’re going to do an extra long set because normally the blokes are pretty keen to get off and have a beer, but I’ve encouraged them to stay on and do a few more songs.
SW: I know and have seen bands like Bob Dylan, Radiohead, etc who don’t like to play their old tunes. Do you ever get sick of playing the hits?
J: Nup. Never. It’s a two way street: you’re there playing the songs, and you’re getting the feedback and energy from the crowd. If you go out there and play all this stuff that no one’s ever heard, they sort of just stand there, and I mean what’s the point. It’s an exchange between the audience and the band, and if you’re going to be up yourself and not play the songs that they’ve come to see, you’re just not going to have as good a time. I love playing the old songs that people like, it’s awesome seeing everyone go mental.
SW: Favourite song to play live?
J: “Champion”, because we’ve played it every time since we’ve written it. It’s one of those songs that really gets the crowd going.
SW: This is the 15th year you guys have been together right?
J: Coming up to the 18th year actually. We’re legal to drink! On our first tour where we’ve been able to legally drink, promises to be mental.
SW: God I hate to know what you did when you turned 16.
J: Yeah, haha.
SW: What’s been your favourite gig that you’ve played in that time?
J: There was one gig that was so full on; like a crazy, breakout gig. It was when we played at Livid in 97/98 and we went on stage, on the Blunt Stage, and people were climbing everywhere, it was insane. We really weren’t expecting that, because we’d only really just taken off, and to have that many people going that crazy was amazing.
SW: Do you guys find it intimidating, when writing a new record, to live up to the amazing tracks that you’ve produced in the past?
J: You don’t really think about the past that much. It is difficult because there is a level of expectation there. I know everyone likes and is familiar with the old stuff, but you also want to get people into the new stuff and have that as cool as the old stuff. No pressure I don’t think, but def expectation that new stuff has to live up to the same standard.
SW: After eighteen years, what keeps you guys together?
J: Well, probably the distance we live apart from each other actually keeps us together haha. Being able to get away from each other after touring is the key. We live in each other’s pockets on tor and have done for a long time. Then, when the tour finishes, we go our separate ways and take a break. When it comes back to touring everyone’s fresh and keen to hang out. Being apart has kept us together.
SW: Is it still party party party on tour or is it more chilled out than it used to be?
J: It’s a bit of both. We’d like to think we were getting older and wiser, but we still like to have fun and when you’re on tour there’s so much adrenaline after the shows. It’s really hard to finish your gig and go to bed. It can get pretty out of hand, but we try and be a bit reasonable about it.
SW: What’s been the toughest moment during your time in Grinspoon?
J: Um, I think when Phil did his rehab stuff. I mean that was obviously tougher for him than me, but yeah that was hard for everyone in the band. We just didn’t know what was going on, we were worried for him. There was also an element of uncertainty, where we didn’t know if he was going to come out of rehab, questions over the band’s future, etc. It was definitely a tough time. There are certainly times we get on each others nerves, creatively we sometimes argue, but at the end of the day, we’re in a rock n roll band… #rocknrollbandproblems.
SW: Phil recently participated in 2013 Rock n Ride, where he rode from the Gold Coast to Adelaide, is there a personal connection with Headspace for the group?
J: One of my mates works for Headspace up here and I’ve been aware of it for a long time. No close or personal connections apart from being aware of it and the issues, etc. it’s a great cause to get behind.
SW: You weren’t tempted to hop on the bike?
J: I was just keen to get on the plane after the gig to be honest. Riding from Gold Coast to Adelaide doesn’t really appeal to me ha.
SW: Do you think there’ll be a time when you stop making music?
J: I don’t really think about it in those terms. I mean Grinspoon’s still alive and kicking, so who knows what will happen there. And then if we ever broke up, ill probably still make music in some kind of way. I guess I see it like, why wouldn’t I keep playing music; even if it were in the local pub on a Sunday afternoon, its just good fun. I’ll continue til I drop dead haha.
SW: If you’d never made it with Grinspoon, and at age 18 you were offered a position in One Direction, would you have taken it?
J: Haha. Ummm. Fuck yeah, mate. 100%.
Grinspoon are playing a nationwide tour starting at the Tiv in mid March. Get involved!
15 – Tivoli, Brisbane QLD
16- Metro, Sydney NSW
21 – The Gov, Adelaide SA
22 – The HiFi, Melbourne VIC
5 – Prince of Wales, Bunbury WA
6 – Capitol, Perth WA
11 – Waves, Wollongong NSW
12 – Capital, Wagga Wagga NSW
13 – ANU Bar, Canberra ACT
14 – New Albury Hotel, Albury NSW
17 – Entrance Leagues, Entrance NSW
18 – Panthers, Newcastle NSW
19 – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour NSW
20 – The Big Pineapple Music Festival, Woombye (Sunshine Coast) QLD
21 – Cooly, Gold Coast QLD
24 – Bended Elbow, Geelong VIC
25 – Pier Live, Frankston VIC
26 – Inferno, Traralgon VIC
27 – Ferntree Gully Hotel, Ferntree Gully VIC