By 1997 Grinspoon were the hottest up and coming band in Australia. After winning the inaugural triple j Unearthed Competition in 1995 for their track ‘Sickfest’, the group of 19 year olds from Lismore were about to drop their highly anticipated debut album, A Guide To Better Living – the album that sky-rocketed Grinspoon from local legends to national icons.
Now 20 years since the albums release they are back from their hiatus to tour the album in its entirety for the first time ever as well as bringing out a jam-packed special edition re-release on both CD and Vinyl featuring live sets from CBGB’s and Falls Festival in 1997.
As Phil Jamieson, the bands eccentric front man looks back at the albums release, he fondly remembers the recording process and how he approached writing at such an early age.
“Your debut album is every song that you’ve ever written, you just spew it out there. The thought process behind a lot of writing back then was to not over think it. I was just writing what I saw in front of me. So in ‘DCX3’ when I say ‘Dead Cat’, I had seen a dead cat and I was writing exactly what I saw. If it were physically in front of me I would write about it,” laughs Jamieson while explaining their 1997 hit track ‘DCX3’.
“It’s a sad ode to a poor cat that I saw on the side of the road; I was pretty upset that I couldn’t help it. Everyone thinks I was some sort of horrific cat hater but it was actually the opposite, I was in such a rush that I couldn’t help the cat. It was pretty hectic, but maybe the weed amplified it all – who knows.”
With A Guide To Better Living been recorded when Jamieson was at the tender age of 19, it heavily incorporates a unique style of vocals ruled by snarly teen angst and screaming – a vocal style not as prevalent in the bands later albums. With the album tour looming, Jamieson is excited to perform this style of vocals again due to his new found appreciation and knowledge discovered during his time as the lead in the ‘American Idiot’ Musical.
“I learnt a lot from the kids in that production about how to project your voice a bit more, but also how to look after yourself a bit more because you are singing a lot in those kind of shows,” Jamieson says.
“I think I’ll take in some of my musical theatre knowledge. I won’t be tap dancing, but I’m hoping I’ll bring in a little bit of what I learnt in that little world over to the Grinspoon tour and just have fun with it… but also make sure I can sing it every night because there are some pretty gnarly songs on that album.”
It’s a known fact that fans are excited about the 20th Anniversary Tour and album re-release tour, especially with Hockey Dad as support but probably not as excited as Jamieson himself about getting back on the road.
“Yewww – that’s how I’m feeling! Hockey Dad is rad, it’s just going to be rad and a rad show and I can’t wait.”
When & Where: The Wool Exchange, Geelong – August 3
Written by Alex Callan
Image by Hugo Sharp