Australian rock legends, The Screaming Jets are gearing up to embark on a huge national album tour, which gets underway this weekend in Brisbane. The commencement of the string of shows follows the chart-topping debut of their tenth studio album Professional Misconduct. In a testament to the band’s longevity and mirroring the top 5 album chart for their debut release in 1991, this new record landed at #1 on the ARIA Australian album chart, #1 on the ARIA Vinyl album chart and #3 on the main ARIA album chart. It also debuted in the #1 spot on iTunes and the AIR Album charts respectively.
Filling in on bass across the tour will be Dario Bortolin (Baby Animals, Rose Tattoo) and Adam Ventoura (Midnight Oil) after the recent passing of co-founder, chief songwriter and bass player, Paul Woseen. The band are looking forward to celebrating Paul’s life with his thousands of friends and fans on the road. Jimi Hocking talks to Hi Fi Way about the passing of Paul, his influence of the new album and their upcoming tour.
To start off with, sorry to hear about Paul. I think we’re all really saddened by that one, and it must be a bit of a bittersweet moment with the new album out at the moment.
Yeah, certainly. You’re right on the money there. It’s been a really sad and very strange couple of weeks that we’ve just been living through because of our initial reaction was just shock and heartbreak. Having said that, after several days of sort of like thinking we didn’t want to do anything, to be honest, we realised that we’ve got this great record that Paul has been one of the main contributor’s songwriting wise, he always has been like the main artistic font in the band for many, many years. It just seems like it doesn’t make any sense for people not to hear his good works, so we kind of like gathered ourselves and got ourselves doing these promotional gigs, and we’re going to continue with the tour as it is. But you’re right, we’ve had a lot of conflicting emotions. It’s been a very strange time for us, but people’s support has been really amazing. Honestly, it has.
My first reaction to the album is that this is going to be huge, almost a relaunch for the band in a really big way.
Glad to hear that.
It’s just sad that Paul won’t be able to see the fruits of all the hard work that’s clearly gone into the album.
Yeah, that’s right. It’s very bittersweet.
During the recording sessions, was that some of the most sort of exciting times for you musically? I think listening to the album you get the sense of togetherness within the band.
It’s great to hear you say that because we love being in the studio. We love being creative. We love the whole process, all of us. The way this album started was after an experiment during lock down, we re-recorded effectively an EP and we re-recorded the All for One album from thirty years ago. We kind of did it to see if it was possible to work remotely on a recording and it worked out fine. Then we thought while we’re on a roll, we thought it would be good to amuse ourselves so we started the process of getting this album up and running. We didn’t really know it was going to be an album.
Scotty Kingman, our guitar player who was very close to Paul in his last seventeen years of Scotty being in the band. They grew very, very tight. They kicked off the process and had some great guitar riffs, so he was just sending them the Paul for lyrical ideas and for arrangement ideas. The two of them really came up with the body of what became the album. It was a fragmented start. Normally we would start with Paul sending us acoustic demos and then all standing around playing them through in a room. Unfortunately because of the circumstances of the lock down at the time, we just didn’t have the opportunity to do that. The start was a very fragmented thing and then when we came out of lock down, we were very busy, so we really just chipped away at these ideas over a long period of extra three years.
When it come to do the album, we had two main sessions. One was in Melbourne at Sing Sing Studios, and then the second one was in Brisbane on a studio called Red Engine Studios. We had to go in with whatever we had got up to so far, as far as arrangements, as far as ideas went. With our producer Steve James, who was really like the additional member of the band we always had, we set about crafting those ideas into complete songs. It was a very different way to make a record. Is it my favourite way to make a record? I’m not really sure if it is, but the result has been so great. It’s been really interesting to do it in such a different way.
Did the energy and the excitement really start to pick up as the songs started to take shape and that you could see that that you’ve really got something really cool here?
Yeah, those moments happened quite a lot in the confines of the studio where things that were just like an idea suddenly came to fruition and in the final stages, Dave, Paul and Steve were working on how the lyrics would go and how the melodies would be finalised. I can remember going out and getting everyone a coffee and leaving the studio, and coming back forty minutes later and a song that really hadn’t got across the line in my mind suddenly was working like a treat. I couldn’t tell you what it was now, it was like a moment of metamorphosis where this song has now grown into itself. We had many of those overnight moments in those sessions. It was really a thing.
It almost seems like you need to bottle up that energy and bring it out for the next album?
We actually recorded about eighteen songs, I believe. So, we actually have a lot of stuff that Paul is still playing on that’s still in the can that isn’t quite finished yet, lyrically and stuff. Hopefully the future is that we work out a way to muddle on, we might even have another recording that might be worthy as well.
What do you think when you listen to the album start to end now?
Only recently have I been able to do that. It takes me the longest time to separate myself from the process. I had a really good listen in the car the other day, rather than sitting my studio with like a great system, I just drove along and listened to it almost like a passive listener and was really happy with what we’ve done. I think everybody’s put in a great performance. I think that the foundation of the ideas that Scotty and Paul came up with are just fantastic. So, I’m really happy and relieved that in this staggered process we’ve come up with such a great record.
Is it too early to have favourite songs, or are they all your favourites in some way?
It probably is because what’s happening is now we’re going out and starting to play them, and once I hear them in the live setting, it’s takes it to another level. It’s what we’ve come up with in the studio, we have to choose which parts we think are the most apparent and how play them in a way that makes sense in a live setting. We’ve been playing Shadows, which I think is a great song. I’ve always liked that one. There’s a song on the record, which is one of the older ones as far as writing goes Throwing Shade. I like that right from the outset. I have a couple of favourites, but I think that’ll change as we play them more.
Going into this tour will it be a lot of mixed emotions?
Oh, a hundred percent. We’re feeling things that we didn’t even expect. It’s so weird to be on the stage without Paul because he’s just been there, he is an original member of the band, I joined the band thirty years ago and I’ve never done a Screaming Jets gig without Paul on the stage. It’s really hard to be there and just look over. We’ve got Dario Bortolin from The Baby Animals, a great mate of ours for many years. He’s been playing bass and helping us out as a mate, as a mate of Paul’s, even though Dario’s doing a great job every now and then we’ve had some really shaky moments just looking around the stage and seeing that a great friend, our beloved Paul is not there. It’s a very tricky time for us personally.
There’s plenty of support of fans and hopefully this tour is a big celebration of Paul’s contribution to The Screaming Jets?
Thank you. That’s the attitude we’re adopting as well, which we’re looking at like a celebration of Paul’s great work. He was obsessed with writing, he was relentless with his songwriting. He wanted to get better at it. It was his real thing. Creatively it’s left a big hole in our midst, but on the positive, he’s left us with the gift of so much great music, so many great songs and that’s a real blessing for us as musicians.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch The Screaming Jets on tour on the following dates, tickets HERE…