Having toured relentlessly for a decade with no new music in sight, 2022 is shining a spotlight on one of Australia’s most esteemed frontmen, with the legendary Grinspoon vocalist and guitarist Phil Jamieson releasing his first-ever solo full-length album Somebody Else, which is out now via Cheersquad Records & Tapes, loaded with gems that’ll certainly shake the crowds into a shimmering frenzy when Phil and his band hit the road this July and August.
With a horde of 2022 appearances onstage at various Aussie festivals helming Grinspoon, including Spring Loaded, Wallapalooza and, imminently, Splendour In The Grass, Phil’s upcoming solo album celebratory launch tour will see Phil, along with band mates Davey Lane on guitar, Sam Raines on drums and Rob Muiños on bass, which includes a stop in Adelaide at Lion Arts Factory on Friday 12 August. Phil talks to Hi Fi Way about his new album.
How was the build up to the release of your debut solo album?
Mate, I’ve been so overwhelmed by the amount of people that want to talk to me. I haven’t done this wheel for a while but it is quite a relief for it to come out.
Was this something you have always wanted to do but needed to find the right time to do it?
I put out something in 2005, an album called the Lost Gospel, for intensive purposes it was a solo project anyway. When Grinspoon went on hiatus in 2013 I found myself at a bit of a loss in some ways, I had been in that band since I was seventeen and we had released seven albums. It was like what am I going to do? I started touring solo not really having any material released. I’m asking people to come to these gigs and they don’t know what they are going to hear. More than anything this is a bit of a gift to those who have been coming to my shows, and there have been so many that I have done solo, and I have been playing these songs but they can’t go home and figure what the hell I am talking about. Maybe it provides a bit of context but the short answer is I don’t think there was ever a plan.
That’s probably the best way to see where life takes you…
Yeah, exactly, see where life ends up. After the last two and a half years, been a very interesting time to be creative and get around the swings and round-a-bouts of what we currently find ourselves in.
Everyone knows and loves you as the front man for Grinspoon but did it take you time to work out the sort of solo artist you wanted to be?
I think it does, I didn’t consciously think about the Grinspoon or Phil Jamieson sound as much. The songs dictated that for me and where the songs fit. I wasn’t trying to think about my sound as much because for me personally I didn’t want to get bored listening to my record… and I’m a fairly hard marker! If I can get over that then it is a win for me. It did take a little while to figure out which songs, originally this was going to be a seven inch release through Cheersquad. I then thought I had a few more songs, so I sent through Trouble, Rebecca and stuff. This was good so I kept adding on and here we are.
Did these songs come easily and quickly once you started?
Um, no! They didn’t, some of them went through many iterations and around the street and back again, up and down and back here. Some of them were moments that came relatively easily, I think some of the stuff with production and sonics was a bit more challenging. Lyrically, there was a fair amount of thought, energy and melody put in to it.
Do you draw your influences from anywhere particular?
Some of the co-writing stuff, I collaborated with Cameron Bruce on Rebecca and he was incredibly helpful in guiding that to its natural conclusion. Essentially, the other day I wrote a song about making toast. I think I’m always writing stuff it’s just whether it is worthy of release. I think you have to write one hundred songs to get that one good one! There is a fair amount of stuff that goes on behind the scenes, but for want of a better term cathartism or just spinning your wheels to get to the place you want to be.
Now, do you write for Phil Jamieson or for Grinspoon?
I don’t think about it and I am terrible at wearing the hats. Other artists from my generation such as Bob Evans is great at doing the Bob Evans hat then the Jebediah hat and has done successfully. For me, I write them, where they end up is their own street in some ways. I could never write jingles! Imagine if Coca-Cola asked me to write something that sounded like Arcade Fire! No way! I don’t have that ability to consciously put them in to certain segments. To be blunt about it if we were trying to write a Grinspoon song we might go to drop D tuning perhaps!
Did this also help you get through this Covid period having something to focus on?
During Covid I still toured weirdly on my own. I would go to the Lansdowne and play three shows in one day to twenty people. Luckily enough there are some great venues, the Triffid came to mind, we did shows at the Cambridge with Covid safe seating and there was still genuine hunger to come and see live music. I was able to do it without catching Covid and that kind of stuff. Creatively, yeah, was great to do and having Cheersquad come on board was monumental because it helped so much in the heavy lifting of manufacturing a record and putting it out.
The Phil Jamieson socks would be a nice pick up as part of the bundle.
You can also get the Philly J air freshener, who doesn’t need that in their life?
What did you think when you played back the album start to end for the first time?
I’ve had to listen to these songs sooo much! God! By the time you get to the sequencing part and listen to the mixes up and down… they are all songs I really love and I’m glad I get to share them with people as well as tour around the country with this great band. That will be amazingly fun.
Having Davey Lane in the band and playing on drums, is there anything he can’t do?
There is nothing that Davey can’t do, he is a great friend and touring buddy, a real lucky get for me for this tour to have him with me on this tour. He is an incredible singer as well, we’ll do some five part harmonies on this run! It is unreal that he has been able to join us.
Also, having The Pictures supporting is an awesome score as well.
Top secretly The Pictures are about to put a new single, really exciting news from Wally. Cheersquad are releasing a seven inch to coincide with the tour.
Getting the thumbs up from Russell Crowe for Lights On must be cool?
Yeah, Gladiator look at him go! Russell is a big fan and listener of music, you know he would have given it a listen and wouldn’t of just said it. He has a massive reach on social media so it was really nice of him to have a listen to the song and tell people about it.
Do you play the album start to end on tour?
We’ll be doing them in a different order, I’ve been working out all the nuances for pre-production and what we want to achieve. I’m really excited to play it so we will play everything off the record with a few surprises thrown in.
Has it been great playing all these reunion shows with Spring Loaded playing with all these awesome Aussie bands?
Spring Loaded has been an amazing time and Splendour was fun as well. Seeing The Gurge, Jebs and You Am I, Magic Dirt and all those great bands from growing up, kicking around with those bands at Big Day Outs it has been such a treat seeing everyone.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Phil Jamieson on the following tour dates. Tickets here..