Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson talks us through their anticipated return to Sidney Myer Music Bowl for the festival.
The ’90s are coming to Melbourne. Spring Loaded announced today that Sidney Myer Music Bowl can look forward to welcoming back veteran alt-rock band, Grinspoon, for what will be their third time performing at the iconic venue in a 25-year career.
They’ll be joined by fellow Australian music legends Regurgitator, You Am I, Ratcat, Magic Dirt, Custard, The Fauves, and Screamfeeder.
After the success of the first post-COVID Spring Loaded event in Sydney, and with high demand for tickets to the Hastings edition of Spring Loaded, the Melbourne leg will take place on December 4, giving Melburnians yet another epic event to look forward to as they ease out of lockdown.
Punters are promised an opportunity to “relive [their] youth” at a festival “dripping in ’90s Aussie alt-rock nostalgia”.
Keep up with the latest festival news here.
The lineup is an homage to some of Australia’s most beloved festival bills – namely Big Day Out and Homebake.
Far from being a burden to bear, nostalgia is a word Grinspoon frontman Phil Jamieson wears happily – or at least, not unhappily.
“I don’t really think about it,” he says. “Being in a band for 26 years with the same lineup, that word’s gonna come up at some point.”
He adds that he has been a longtime fan of most of the bands on the bill.
“On a personal level, I love all these acts. I was a Tumbleweed fan… I bought You Am I and Magic Dirt’s EPs when I was in year nine by mail order. For me, just as a punter, this festival works.”
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Unlike a lot of veteran musicians, Jamieson still enjoys playing the classics, listing ‘Just Ace’, ‘Better Off Alone’, ‘Hard Act to Follow’ and ‘Chemical Heart’ among his favourite songs to perform live. And, of course, ‘More Than You Are’, which has been their closer since they wrote it in ’95.
“I still have a soft spot for it… It’s fairly simple, but there’s something cathartic about it for me singing it. I think people get a lot out of it.”
However, he points out it’s not all classics. Many of the bands are still creating new music and collaborating – and the sounds coming out are far from stagnant.
“You Am I have just released an incredible new record [The Lives of Others],” he raves. “The quality of the songs rolls really deep, I think, in all these bands’ sets.”
In addition to new songs, Jamieson cites several other changes which have taken place since the Homebake era.
“I don’t feel really that much older than I did [then], but I am,” he says.
“I think I probably take it maybe a little more seriously than I did in the ‘90s. I mean, I couldn’t have taken it less seriously in the ‘90s, so it’s a very low bar.”
At 44 years old, that extra level of commitment is necessary.
“My metabolism isn’t what it once was. It’s gotten physically a little more difficult to do. I wanna jump around and dance and sing and just have the best time ever.”
In preparation for Spring Loaded, he says, he wanted to “get back in shape in order to do the performance justice.”
“I just want people to enjoy it, really. I want people to come to Spring Loaded to, not be about nostalgia or how they’ve still got it [but] to have the best time, and maybe even be a better time than 2005 Big Day Out, if that’s possible.
“If that means me going for a run or doing whatever the fuck I [need] to do, then I’ll try and do that.”
And it’s not just the bands who have changed in the last 25 years.
“It’s funny now looking at the mosh, the first three songs everyone’s up dancing, and then by the eighth everyone’s just completely worn out, which is very cute. But they try.”
Luckily, for both Grinspoon and their fans, he comments wryly, the band’s Spring Loaded set is confined to 60 minutes, as opposed to the 90-minute headline gigs they were once smashing out.
“I can’t wait to get back down [to Victoria]”, says Jamieson, starting with Hastings Foreshore – a new arena for the band – and closing in Melbourne at the historic Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
While the band last played in Melbourne not too long ago for the 2020 Australian Open – which Jamieson recalls fondly as, “The weirdest gig. On a Venn diagram, you don’t see tennis fans and Grinspoon fans ever crossing.” – it’s been almost a decade since they last played the Bowl.
Prior to 2013, when they supported Aerosmith (“You don’t say no to supporting Aerosmith. It’s just a golden rule, you just do it”), the only other time they have played at the popular Melbourne venue was in 1996 for Homebake.
“I was terrified of Melbourne,” remembers Jamieson. “Melbourne had Triple R and we were a triple j band. You guys were so cool.
“We had to go on after the Cosmic Psychos and they scared the shit out of me. I was watching side of stage thinking, ‘Oh my god, we can’t go on after this’.”
Still, while he’s thrilled to be returning to the Bowl after all these years, Jamieson feels immensely privileged to be playing anywhere in the current “topsy turvy” COVID landscape.
“If I’m walking onto stage, I’m happy. I really did not know how much I’d missed it.”
Far from worrying about the future of Australian music, however, Jamieson believes we’re in the midst of a golden age.
As well as frequently touring with contemporary and emerging Aussie artists like Angie McMahon, Kota Banks, Baker Boy, Alex Lahey, and Confidence Man, Jamieson is an industry judge for the Australian Music Prize, recognizing the best of contemporary Australian music. And there is a lot to choose from.
Asked what artists of the 2020s we might expect to see on a similarly nostalgia-curated line-up 20 years from now, Jamieson is audibly excited.
“That’s a really good question. Teenage Joans, Genesis Owusu, The Chats, come to mind. We’re gonna go with Hiatus Kaiyote, Alice Skye… Laura Jean, Ryan Downey…”
He could go on.
“[The Australian Music Prize] has been such a wonderful gig for me… Just being able to listen to that amount of music, it’s been unreal.”
Safe to say, if there’s a Spring Loaded equivalent in 2041, Jamieson will be first in line for tickets.
Spring Loaded is taking over Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Saturday December 4. Tickets are on sale from 10am AEST Wednesday June 30 via Ticketek.