21.09.2012 | ChrisN | 0 CommentsOne of Australia's most loved and longest running rock bands Grinspoon, are back with their seventh studio album. Recorded in LA with Dave Schiffman and featuring a stack of cameos from Chris Cheney and Tim Rogers to name a few, the new album 'Black Rabbits' marks a change in direction for the band into more melodic territory. We spoke with guitarist Pat Davern about the benefits of recording in LA and the some of the bad habits that have made the band's history so interesting.
It’s been going pretty good to be honest with you, it comes out tomorrow week, so we’re just in the depths of selling it, all the promotion and you know TV and radio and all that kind of stuff leading up to the release of the album, which is good. We’re just excited about it coming out, it feels like a long time ago since we actually made the record now and it’s just good that it’s actually finally coming out.
What sort of response do you expect for the new stuff?
You never know really, I’ve been in this long enough to know that you can’t assume or predict anything. We really like the record, hopefully other people will give it a chance, the first single has been received pretty well it’s past the bar and it’s been played a lot on Triple J. It’s been played a lot on commercial radio and it was just one of those songs that once again we didn’t know how it was going to go, it was kind of a different sound for us, I guess that’s why we put it forward as the first one to kind of put it out there. We’re just really trying to promote the album but it’s kind of different to anything we’ve done before we kind of like the sound of the single and it represented the album in the fact that it’s quite hooky, it’s quite melodic and I guess it’s different for us because it’s not that kind of hard rock that you might expect from the first single off a Grinspoon album but we thought we’d make the point a bit different and say, "hey we haven’t been around for a while it’s our first album for three years and we spent a lot of time making this record and we really like the record, we hope you like it too."
The title of the album is cockney slang for bad habits, does that relate to some of the issues that you’ve had in the band over the years?
Definitely, I think it’s kind of appropriate. In the fifteen or so years we’ve been together we’ve gone through a lot of different stages in our life, I mean you’ve got to remember that when we first started this band most of us were 17 years old, we were all young and we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into all we knew was we wanted to tour and we wanted to play music. We’ve done a lot of crazy stuff, especially in our earlier days we were kind of well known for having some bad habits, things have kind of calmed down a little bit these days but I think it’s a reflection on the past and with the album name not everyone will know that it’s cockney slang for bad habits and if they do, they do if they don’t, they don’t.
Your singer Phil was on Enough Rope at one stage talking about drug problems is that still an issue or a thing of the past?
That’s definitely in the past man, that was just a point in time where he got caught out by something you know, it happens to people and it just happened to him, we’ve never shied away from anything and I think him coming out an saying that was probably more to say "I’m having this problem in my life and I’m doing something about it" and he did do something about it. He spent a lot of time in rehab and probably is still in and out of treatment now but I noticed that’s he’s well, you know he’s working hard and has a new life.
That’s good to hear. So what would you say separates the new album from some of the stuff that you’ve done in the past?
I think we made a concerted effort to make an album that sounded like the one band from beginning to end. We wanted it to be succinct and to flow a lot better than maybe some of our albums have in the past. What I think is that some of albums you’ve got these songs and then you’ve got these jagged edges that make you go "oh, what’s that", but when I was writing tunes for the record with Phil I was trying to bring out a little bit more joy and maybe a little bit less anger and with our emotions just broaden ourselves I think just a little bit and our music too, just broaden ourselves and try and make our melodies more melodic and maybe make our rock’n’roll a little bit more rock’n’roll. It’s crammed with good ideas and the stuff that we don’t so much like we don’t even worry about it anymore so approaching melodic ideas I guess we worked a lot harder trying to conceive the album, we wanted to make it enjoyable from beginning to end and make it enjoyable not just for us but for everyone else to listen to. Everyone talks about how bands say "we did this record for ourselves we didn’t really care about the fans", well I care if someone likes our record, if I like it and I’ve put all this hard work into it then I want other people to like it too. Not to say that that was the whole point of making the record, that people would buy it, it was more that we wanted to make something that was palatable to us, that we really enjoyed listening to and that everyone else would enjoy listening to as well.
So what made you guys decide to record in LA?
We wanted to work with Dave Schiffman. We’d worked with a lot of people here and we’ve worked with a lot of people overseas as well but there’s something about going to LA to make a record where you get a particular kind of sound, whether it’s a little bit quicker or a little bit more radio whatever it is. That’s not detracting from people making records in Australia because there’s great records getting made here all the time but for us, we wanted to work with Dave Schiffman, we were a fan of his work, we we’re a fan of him as a person because of conversations that we’d had and obviously it was more than just him that was in the mix to make the record but from conversations that we’d had he "got it", he got the demos and he just had a really good eye, we gave him some songs and within in an hour he was going "you should do this", "this song would be good", he was immediately active and wanting to be involved in doing the record. Sometimes you can do records and you’ll get a producer who’s just waiting for the check, they’ll tell you that it’s great but at the end of the day they kind of don’t give a fuck, he really cared about what we we’re doing we really cared about the songs, he really liked it and he would bring stuff to the table that would make it better. It was his choice to work in LA, he wanted to work in his studio that he felt comfortable in, he wanted his gear around him, he wanted to be close to his family all that kind of stuff, and to be honest with you even from a purely financial sense with the dollar the way it is. Some of the LA guys they’re just not asking for the same money that they were, the last time we did a record in LA was in 2004 and I think it cost us a quarter of what that did, it was comparable to recording in Australia. Apart from him being into it, having the access to these studios it also financially made sense and also took us out of our comfort zone.
You guys had some cameos from big artists, Chris Cheney, Tim Rogers?
Yeah it was just handy you know I was just at Chris’s house with his boys and I had this song in mind, it was almost country tinged and it had quite a thick guitar solo on it and I didn’t really want to do it and I thought it would be perfect for him so I said to Chris "we’d love to have you on the record, no pressure, understand if you don’t want to do it" and he was like "give me a copy of the song" so I sent him the song and being him he was completely fastidious about it, he learnt it, wrote a real good part and came back into the studio the next day and laid it down which was awesome. It was awesome to have him playing on our record, we don’t really do special guests so we were just really lucky that he was there and he was keen to do it. As far as Tim goes, Tim was on tour there at the time, he was coming to LA and Phil invited him to come into the studio and to sing and it was just a great vibe to have him around, he did lots of handclaps lots of choruses and lots of advice it was really cool.
How about Scott Russo, how did that come about?
He did lots of Hey’s and Ho’s, he kind of put his thing on to the record that was cool. They do one of our songs in their live set so went and saw them play at The Viper Room because they were playing there while we were in LA and Phil got up and we knew that they’d done one of our songs so, they do ‘More Than You Are’ and Phil got up and sang with them and then the next day Scott came in to the studio and did some singing on the record. That’s another thing about being in the US and being in LA, that kind of stuff just happens.
So what’s the future hold for you guys?
We’ve got this summer tour and we’re doing Big Day Out we’ve got a lot of promo between now and then so selling the record and getting ourselves out there and after Big Day Out we’ve got a month just getting prepared for our own tour around Australia, see how the album has gone. I think by the time the album tour rolls around we’ll be up to our third single, hopefully people will be aware of the band and aware of the album. I think after that we’ll probably head over to the UK and do a bit more touring of the UK and Europe. Who knows after that, maybe we’ll have another crack at the states with this record and you know see how we go.
Well thanks so much for your time, hope everything goes well with the new album.
Thanks man, no worries, thanks for your time.