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“Killer songs and an untouchable live reputation, fuck yeah! That’s how I want us to be remembered,” replied an impassioned Jake Stone when we asked about his band’s legacy. “I want people to look back and say, ‘Wow, they were heaps better than we give them credit for.’ Like all of those incredible Australian bands of the ’70s and ’80s that played pubs and clubs but never quite made it, over the next thirty years I want people to say, ‘Bluejuice? Yeah, they were an important band and always original,’ you know?’’
Since the announcement of the much-loved band’s decision to call it quits, it seems like everyone wants a piece of them. “Oh, I don’t know about that.” Jake continued in his self-deprecating manner, “but I hope they do. I want people to hear this stuff.
“I guess we’ve a bit of small man complex,” he said jokingly before his tone becomes serious. “No matter how well we’d done, we always felt like – and to some degree justifiably – like we never really got the attention that we deserved. Sure we were played on the radio and everybody knew us, but we’ve often felt dismissed in certain circles – lots of musicians I know would never admit to liking us.
“There’s a culture in this country of not being openly supportive of things that are successful. We were the ugly duckling of the industry for such a long time. For me, [Jake pauses to find the right words], it really does feel like the things that made us different are also the reasons we’ve lacked support. That thought has really stuck in my head, but I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider anyway so I don’t know if we brought that attitude on ourselves.”
As I take a minute to gather my thoughts, Jake breaks the silence with a laugh, adding, “We’re just a bunch of arseholes! We’re like that little guy who’s really psycho: if you pick a fight with the little guy, he cowers and then stabs you!”
Jake’s jocularity reminds me of what we will miss when Bluejuice call last drinks at their up-and-coming Retrospectable: The Farewell Tour. We all know they’re going out on a high, but I wanted to dig a little deeper into why they chose to hang up their yellow jumpsuits and yeti costumes sooner rather than later.
“It wasn’t a sudden thing. We didn’t have a massive fight and say ‘fuck it! we’re breaking up!’” Jake explained, in a way only he could. “If that was the case we wouldn’t be doing the tour. We knew that it was happening because Stav [Yiannoukas, vox] had decided that he didn’t really want to do it [Bluejuice] anymore about ten months ago.
“He’s just had another kid so he just doesn’t want to tour … I have to be okay with it at this point. Ahh… [Jake seems saddened by the circumstances] I mean, I’m not thrilled about it or anything. I’m not super-excited by the possibility of this occurring, but it is what it is – what can you do? So I’m just going to roll with it as much as possible.”
Suddenly the line goes quiet and a little time passes before I hear “My phone just died, that’s my fucking bad. I’m sorry about that.” With a quick reminder of my question, Jake is back to form.
“I think it’s just one of those things; there’s not much you can do if someone decides to leave. When Jerry [Craib – keys, bass, guitar and drums] left us we were like, ‘Oh shit!’ That was a big deal for us because he was such a big part of the band. However, we thought we could probably do what we needed to do anyway. It was at least possible to be a touring band if someone could play his parts – actually, we needed two people to do Jerry’s one job – and I was fairly confident that I could continue to write, but without Stav it’s just not feasible. He’s the singer, you know? The real voice of the band.
“I’m not really what you’d call a singer. I’m a songwriter – you wouldn’t want me to front the band, it just wouldn’t sound as good. We need him to get to that extra 30 per cent of good quality singing and if he’s not there it won’t happen so…
“I think what I’m most happy about is that we’re finishing in a good way. I love ‘I’ll Go Crazy’, and the other couple of songs that we’re putting out on Retrospectable [essentially a greatest hits album] is as good as anything we’ve ever done.”
Jake persisted to make light of the situation when I asked what we could expect to see and hear at their final shows. “A wheezier, fatter and older variety of our old shows! Just kidding, we’re rehearsing a lot and everybody’s in a good place. We’re playing so many places by the time you come to see a show, we should be alright,” he grinned.
So what’s next for the man who could consider a career in stand-up now that he’ll have some free time? Not surprisingly, he’s already got a few new projects under his belt.
“I’m going to be putting out some new music, but it might not be under my name … it’ll be a bit of a surprise. I’m not really sure if what I’m doing is relevant or not, I’m enjoying doing it so that’s all that matters. Also, I did a video for Kingswood on the weekend, and another one that features Phil Jamieson in a cameo.
“Right now I’m just enjoying being in a community of creative people, but I don’t know what I’ll do next. It’s quite possible people won’t find what I’m doing interesting and I’ll have to find another career path. I’ve had a child-like career for a long time and I’m not a kid anymore.”
When&Where: The Hi-Fi, Melbourne – October 2, 9, 10 & 11 and The Barwon Club, Geelong – October 12
By Natalie Rogers