AU ABROAD

the AU interview: Brett Mitchell of Jebediah (Perth) talks 20th Anniversary Tour, and new album 'Twenty'

Jebediah have 20 years of service to the Australian music scene up their sleeve and they are here to celebrate it. In true Jebediah style, this involves a host of gigs and the release the aptly titled TWENTY. TWENTY consists of 20 classic Jebediah tracks hand chosen by the band. the AU review caught up with Brett Mitchell of Jebediah to relive the glory days of the parachute suit, chat about the release of album TWENTY and their forthcoming tour.

It's your 20th anniversary! Congratulations! Why has the band decided to celebrate with such a big tour?

Yep! Thanks! I have to say it’s not a very big tour by nineties standards – which I remember being a lot longer, a lot more shows. Of course, we were a lot younger too! Not sure how well we’d cope with a late nineties tour schedule these days... We had always planned to do something to mark the milestone, and we don’t play often lately so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something a little bit different and hopefully a bit special to mark the occasion.

Jebediah have so many party hits, how did you go about selecting the tracks for 20? Was it a hard process?

If we’d released a “greatest hits” compilation at the bands objective peak, it would have been the singles from the first two albums – easy! But maybe a little pointless, too. I think even if whittling down the list becomes more difficult over time, it certainly feels more justifiable to release a compilation like this after twenty years – and especially since we’re still able to celebrate it properly, with a tour and whatnot. Once all the songs which “sort of have to be on there” are added, there actually is surprisingly little room for many personal selections. Our democratic approach and even temperaments prevent a lot of the bloodshed that might otherwise accompany such decisions

From what I've see of this tour, tickets are selling fast with many gigs now sold out, did you anticipate that you would receive such a strong response to this tour? What's the reaction from hardcore Jebediah fans been like?

You never really know what to expect to be honest, you just have to go in hopeful that you’ll be able to string something good together. The response in terms of shows selling out and being added has been pretty unexpected though, it’s extremely gratifying and humbling... one thing that’s definitely changed for me since we started out is that I take a lot less for granted now! I’m grateful that we have the chance to do something like this, and the people coming to these shows are the reason that we still can!

You've got some great bands supporting you on this tour, including Beaverloop who are reforming for the Perth show. Who are you most excited about playing with and why?

I’m excited about seeing all of them! We have been lucky enough to share tours and stages with a lot of people that we’ve loved spending time with and bands we enjoy and admire. The fact that these guys think enough of us to help us out with these shows, even virtually “re-forming” to do so in some cases, is really sort of an honor. We’re going to have to play really well to justify going on stage after them – so there is a downside to this.

My most vivid memory of Jebediah was at the Big Day out. The whole band was wearing 80's parachute jackets and pants, and mid set the power cut out. From where I was standing in the crowd, I could hear singing. After a while I realised that Kevin was singing in a frenzy, leading the crowd in the most enthusiastic and earnest rendition of the Australian Anthem I have ever witnessed. It's always stood out in my mind as one of my best experiences at a gig. What's been your most memorable Jebediah moment?

Wow – it’s a little funny you should say that... I distinctly remember it being quite a perception-changing moment for me seeing some Channel V footage from that summer’s BDO, and thinking – wow, we’re a proper band, that looks like a pretty big deal there! It was kind of surreal, but that sort of perception jolt must happen to people all the time I suppose. Just a few weeks ago I was at our mum’s house and she gave me that very tracksuit you speak of, labelled, in little freezer bags. It still fits! Those elastic waists are very forgiving. Maybe rather than a single moment, one of the best parts for me has been a dawning realisation that we’ve shared so many of these experiences with people just like you. I have come to feel that is quite a profound thing, and often think about it when I’m reminiscing about Jebs stuff.

I recently saw Jebediah play at Moomba, and it was as fresh and as energetic as the first gig I ever saw. How have you maintained such a great energy and stage presence over the years?

It’s great to hear that, even if you’re being a little generous. Hard to know what to say, some aspects have become easier with experience and others more challenging with age! I feel like the way it comes across must have changed quite a bit since the beginning – but basically we started playing music because we enjoyed it, and that really hasn’t changed much so hopefully that is part of what you saw. Or maybe you’d just had a few drinks... either way we’ll take the compliment!!

Has your love of music ever waned? if so, how did you get it back?

I think my appreciation of how important it is to me has not always been consistent, but the way it makes me feel, the things I love about it, haven’t fundamentally changed much at all. That’s one of the great things about music, its timeless qualities. I suppose there might not be too many things in life that can retain so much of their excitement for twenty years, still “push those same buttons” – possibly in a slightly less frenetic way, but that’s just fine with me!

What's your favourite Jebediah song and why?

That’s an understandable question to ask, but for me personally an impossible one to answer! There have been a few that I admittedly haven’t cared much for, and several that have had a special place in my heart for one reason or another over the years. But no unequivocal all-time favourite as such.

Do you find you still have the same fan base from the 90's, or are new fans constantly discovering your music?

It’s hard to know for sure but I am often surprised to see such a mix of ages at our shows. It does seem as though there is some trickle down to people who couldn’t possibly have been going out to shows when we started playing. I guess some have come across us through older siblings or even their parents music collections maybe? Which is kinda weird. And really cool, of course! There are certainly plenty of benefits in hanging around for this long, I would say.

What's the weirdest experience you've had with a fan?

I can’t give a proper answer to that on the grounds that it is likely to be either disrespectful to said fan or, equally likely, to myself. I did once get recognized on tour by a pharmacist while handing over my driver’s license to purchase some pseudoephedrine tablets. For a cold. She saw my name and said “Oh, I thought it was you!” which I wasn’t really prepared for under the circumstances. Anyway, we had a very pleasant exchange and I returned to the van with my pills. There’s nothing weird at all about any of that, apart from someone knowing the drummer’s name I guess. It’s funny the things that stick in your head isn’t it?

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TWENTY the album is released on May 29th through Sony Music Australia.

Find Jebediah's tour info at their official page here: https://www.facebook.com/Jebediahmusic