2020, Features, Interviews — November 6, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Dave Gleeson of The Screaming Jets


“2020 can go and get stuffed as far as I’m concerned *laughs* the fact that on March the 14th every bit of work that I had or that we had lined up for the year got called off, that was pretty devastating for every band in the country really, every act, every performer.”

Faced with an uncertain future and cancelled tour dates, and a very slim chance of getting together as a band in the short term, The Jets set to work earlier this year to reflect on the band’s past and carve a way forward.

In Sydney for the first time in seven months we gave our old mate Dave Gleeson a call to talk about 2020, The Screaming Jets new EP ‘Bitter Pill’, the future, his love of facebook, and more…

How’s 2020 been treating you?
2020 can go and get stuffed as far as I’m concerned *laughs* the fact that on March the 14th every bit of work that I had or that we had lined up for the year got called off, that was pretty devastating for every band in the country really, every act, every performer. So, it took probably about four or five weeks before The Jets decided we should do something here instead of just sitting around with our thumbs up.

Well for starters it’s been eighteen months since we last chatted, and forgetting the last seven of those how were things leading up to before this all happened?
Oh killer, it was unreal, we were on The Red Hot Summer tour with The Angels, once that finished around April I was going into the studio with The Jets to record a new album, so yeah everything was set up and ready to go. All through summer we played The Red Hot Summer tour and it was fantastic, with James Reyne, and The Living End, and The Hunters and that, we were having a blast and the rug got pulled.

Then what about all the international acts that were going to tour, now everything’s closed!
Well see here’s the silver lining for all us Aussie bands, we are gonna have the run of the place for I reckon the next two years at least, once everything opens up, and I’ve been saying this to people and I’ll put this scenario to you. I’m a multi multi millionaire recording artist from overseas right? Am I really gonna get on a plane for twenty seven hours and go to the other side of the world and cross my fingers that nothing like this happens again? I’m pretty sure I’m not *laughs*.

I was saying that to someone too that a lot of the older acts I don’t think we’ll ever see them here again…
Yeah, they’re gone. I know that the post Covid wrap up is going to happen over the next twelve to eighteen months but absolutely, anyone who’s over seventy or in their seventies or whatever they’re not coming here, no way. There’s no way they’re getting on an aeroplane and going round the other side of the world again.

A lot of bands have either held back albums or delayed releases but you guys recorded and released a new EP. Tell us how the idea for ‘Bitter Pill’ came about?
Well band meeting used to be the bane of my existence, I used to glaze over in about five minutes, you’d be going I want a smoke or I want a drink, but then they became our lifeline, our Zoom meetings once a week we were having became really important to us all and it was during that obviously lamenting the fact that we weren’t going to get to record a new album we kinda between us all came up with the idea that we could record something in isolating. We were working out how long is this going to go on for, maybe we will have to record our album like this, so we thought we’d give it a try with the songs we already knew and loved.

So what was the process like picking the songs to re-record?
The thing is that those songs, we decided we’d give ‘Better’ a wide birth, we’ve probably got enough versions of ‘Better’ *laughs* recorded over the years, but the good thing about songs like ‘Sad Song’, it’s a different song to the one we released, it’s got a lead break in it now, ‘Shivers’ goes for longer it’s kinda got an extra lead part in it, but the songs weren’t kind of exactly like they were on the records that we released them on, so that kind of gave us the inspiration that we weren’t just going to be going over old ground, people would be hearing how the songs have grown live over thirty years or so since they’ve been recorded. So we just picked ones that we knew intimately but ones through the live process had become a little bit different to play.

Who does vocals on ‘Friend of Mine’?
That’s Paul Woseen, he wrote the song, that once again that’s something that’s grown live, I reckon about four or five years ago we were going “what do you want to do for an encore? I’m gonna go have a smoke Paulie why don’t you go and do something?” *laughs* So Paulie went out there and did ‘Friend of Mine’ and the crowd absolutely loved it, and to me when I hear Paulie sing, because Paulie brings in songs whole he doesn’t bring it in and say “here’s a bit of a song let’s work on it” he walks in and says “here’s a song, it starts like this, ends like this, and goes like that” so when I first heard ‘Friend of Mine’ it’s exactly like you heard it on the EP, and so yeah it was a really great refreshing thing to say to Paulie, well you go and sing it, it’ll give us something new but it’ll also be the way you envisioned the song being recorded in the first place. Paulie’s got one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard, I still remember the first time we went into a studio and the engineer said “sing something into the mic, Paul” and the engineer was madly grabbing at the sliders thinking what have a I got turned up so loud, what’s up so loud? It was just Paul’s voice smashing through the microphone.

I’ve heard him sing and it sounded so different and when he does his harmonies it’s a different voice again, I honestly had no idea it was him, that’s amazing…
Yeah he has a really versatile voice and I think he’s hid his light under a bushel for far too long and we might even get him to do some more lead vocals on this next album.

Talking about process, obviously this was a much different way to record but what did this EP allow you to do that you haven’t done before?
Well for a start I’ve never recorded a song in one take out in the beauty of nature, which is what we did with ‘Helping Hand’ because that was the first track that we did, and so I had all the backing tracks and I’ve been doing this streaming thing from my backyard and so we had all the stuff set up outside and the guy that I did the stream with said “we may as well just do it out here” so we set up the camera, set up the microphone, played it back, I sang it once, and bang there it is. I think you can even hear birds tweeting in the background at some stage but that was a bit of fun, I’d never recorded outside before.

Working again with Steve James who worked on these songs before, what did his previous knowledge of the songs allow him to bring to the new versions?
I think that was kind of the magic link in the whole thing, we all knew our parts but it was a matter of being able to get a producer who knew the songs intimately enough that he could put them together and make it sound like we were in the same room, and that was the amazing thing, hearing it back I thought it was going to be a bit scattergun you know, but it just sounded like were in a studio. His knowledge of the songs, I think the only song he hadn’t worked on out of the bunch was ‘Sad Song’ and he often said to me in years gone by “I really wish I’d worked on that album” because he didn’t work on The Gorilla album, so it was great to give him a chance to do that. Yeah, he was the lynchpin in the whole thing, we all sent our stuff to him and he kind of made us sound like a band which is what he’s been fantastic at for the whole thirty years we’ve known him.

I’m pretty sure you guys know how to sound like a band *laughs*
*laughs* You know what I’ve missed but? There’s certainly not as many shenanigans going on in my living room when I’m recording a vocal than there is in a studio when I’m recoding a vocal you know *laughs*. I look out the window into the main control room and think what are they doing out there? I want to do that too. Whereas in your living room you just kind of get it done and send it off.

Are you 100% zoomed out?
I am just about Zoomed out, I’ve missed the last couple of Zoom’s and I think we’ve got one this afternoon that I might miss as well, yeah this whole new string to your bow that I probably would’ve preferred not to have.

Although looking at this year and the changes every artist has had to adapt to. Has there been anything to come from it that you would continue with?
Definitely I think the streaming is a great idea, as we were saying about not being able to go overseas or people come from overseas I think streaming is going to be something that’s really going to bed in, we’ve used it, I’ve done thirty streams from South Australia on my facebook page over the last six or seven months, and I think there’s some value in it. I think just the ability to stream yourself live into any situation I think that’s not a bad thing at all. It must be going to work because I don’t know if you’ve heard about Mark Fuckerberg he’s just decided and come out in the last little while and said, look all you people live streaming content, that’s not what it was for, facebook’s for friends and family to keep in touch with so what we’re going to do is start charging a premium fuckin’ price for you guys to use the streaming fucking thing. So you know, what a cunt, he should just come out and say look I’m a cunt and now that I’ve seen everyone is using it I’m gonna jam you up the ass what do you think of that. He comes out and says facebook is for more altruistic purposes for friends and family, lying prick, I would like to punch him in the face. Anyway, that’s my bit on Mark Zuckerberg.

*laughs* Can I put that in?
Sure! I’ll probably get banned from streaming again but that’s what we were looking for anyway *laughs*

It’s hard to make plans this year but have you guys chatted about upcoming things?
Yeah our next thing we’re looking forward to is November 27 and 28 in NSW we’re doing a Southern Nights promotion where they’re trying to re-open venues, it’s a government initiative, so that’s our first tentative gigs locked in, and that’s obviously if the boys from Victoria are gonna be allowed into NSW, so we’ve all got our fingers crossed about that. Obviously next year, we postponed this years tour until February March next year and that all looks like it’s going to go ahead, and that’s gonna be the 30th anniversary celebration of the ‘All For One’ album, which we’re also going to re-record in its entirety, just to have this group of boys that are playing it currently put it down, it’ll be a fairly painless process in that we don’t have to go through different arrangements and anything like that, just thought it would be a fun project to do.

As long as you put the ‘tink’ in ‘Better’ then we’ll be right…
*laughs* Of course there’ll be a ‘tink’, Paulie actually said and I don’t know how well you know the ‘All For One’ album but there’s a song called ‘The Only One’ on it, and it’s kinda the last song and it’s just one of those songs and Paulie goes can we not do that? I go no, we can’t not do it, if we’re gonna redo it we have to redo it warts and fuckin’ all.

You know what you do now, say Paulie because you don’t want it, you’re singing it!
*laughs* Absolutely that would be brilliant *laughs*.

Other than the new EP and now re-recording ‘All For One’ has there been any thought of new material?
Yeah well we have got a new song that we’ve recorded that’s going to be part of the vinyl EP that comes out in December, December 6 I think that’s slated for, so that will be a vinyl version of ‘The Bitter Pill’ EP that includes a new track that Paulie wrote called ‘Throwing Shade’, and I love it, after doing the songs that we all knew then for Paulie to be able to send around a song that no one had ever heard before and for us to be able to record that, that gave us a lot of hope for recording in that way because that song is killer, I want to release it now but management goes no, something something something, we’ve got other plans… so we’ll be holding off on that until December 6 and then people can hear a brand new Jets track.

Let’s look ahead to the future as we like to do. So forgetting the rest of this year, finish this sentence for me. In 2021 The Screaming Jets will…
Become the biggest band in Australia. Might as well have some type of fuckin’ hope.

Always a pleasure Dave, we’re long overdue for a catch up and about forty beers, and also welcome to Sydney.
Indeed, indeed and you too, man. Cheers, Rock on!


Essential Information

From: Newcastle, Australia

Band Members: Dave Gleeson [vocals], Paul Woseen [bass], Scott Kingman [guitars], Jimi Hocking [guitars] and Cameron McGlinchey [drums]

Website: http://www.screamingjets.com.au

Forthcoming Release: ‘Bitter Pill’

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