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ROCKWiRED iNTERViEWS THE SCREAMiNG JETS

SHiNE ON
DAVE GLEESON OF THE SREAMiNG JETS
TALKS TO ROCKWiRED
ABOUT THEiR COMEBACK CD 'DO YA'
MAiNTAiNiNG THEiR iNTENSiTY ON STAGE
AND HOW AN iMPROMPTU RENDiTiON OF
'PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON'
GOT 'EM BOOTED OFF A PLANE
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iNTERViEWED BY BRiAN LUSH
There is a moment in DARREN ARONOFSKY's latest film 'THE WRESTLER' where MICKEY ROURKE and MARISSA TOMEI are in a bar when all of a sudden, 'ROUND AND ROUND' by RATT starts playing. The characters - a crumbling wrestler and an aging stripper - start banging their heads and singing along. It is one of the very few moments in an otherwise heavy film where both characters actually smile. The two begin to reminisce about that often mocked era of rock n roll - the hair band years. GUNS AND ROSES and MOTLEY CRUE are just a couple of the bands being named off but the good times come to a halt when ROURKE's RANDY 'THE RAM' ROBINSON shouts "...then that pussy KURT COBAIN had to ruin it!"

Singer DAVE GLEESON of the legendary Aussie band THE SCREAMING JETS may be issuing similar sentiments these days. His band's balls-to-the-walls approach was at odds with the grunge that had permeated American rock radio in the early to mid nineties. It was more than likely the reason for the band's lack of exposure in the States while their signature rock sound was more enthusiastically received in their native Australia and Europe. "When we got over there [to the U.S.] the shoe-gazing movement had begun when everyone was just looking at the floor while they played their instruments." says GEESON "I was out of my element. I was still in the mold of your classic loud-mouthed big-haired front man."

There was another reason I brought up 'THE WRESTLER'. Much like RANDY 'THE RAM' ROBINSON, THE SCREAMING JETS are also on the comeback trail with the release of their first LP in eight years, 'DO YA'. With a series of shows in Australia behind them, the band is gearing up for a performance at THE KEY CLUB in Hollywood - the band's first Stateside show in many moons. "I think that having the songs that we have and the confidence that we have in them, it just relies on us getting out there and selling it to the crowds." says GLEESON  "That is my motivation speech that I give to the guys in the band. You're going to get tired when we're doing a two hour show but those are the moments that you've got to mentally lift yourself and raise the intensity. I almost feel like a football coach."

ROCKWIRED spoke with DAVE GLEESON a day before his flight to the U.S. Here is how it went.

You guys haven't played the States in a while. Excited much?
Yeah, we're jumping out of our skin. We just finished some gigs this weekend so we had big send off before going over to the States. It feels like there are some good things in the air. Right now we're working on a distribution deal in the States and then hopefully start working on a tour there for the Summer.

What are your thoughts on the reaction to 'DO YA'?
The response has been completely fantastic in Australia. We've been off of the radar since we released our last record ('SCAM' 2000) which was eight years ago. Between 2001 and 2004 we had a little extended break because a few of the boys needed to have a lie down and ever since we've been through a re-building phase where we've been doing gigs to pay for the record and for the production and recording. After a while, you start to get a stigma attached to you that you are just out there playing your greatest hits and stuff like that so we had to fight to keep people from perceiving us as just a band going around playing the same old crap. Now we've moved into this phase where we've got the album and we're ready to open the door and say lets do it again, you know? It's actually a really great time for us and in the last six weeks of touring and stuff over here, the crowds have started to sing along to the lyrics to some of the bigger or more anthemic songs on the album. That is kind of a great indication for us, being that we are a live band. The people are buying the record and learning the songs.

You guys really are road dogs, looking back at everything. You really are a live rock roll band. How easy is it to harness that energy and capture it in a studio?
That is the hardest thing for me. I kind of think that most singers would say that about the recording experience because as you are tracking the album, I might have to sing a song like fifty times. So by the time you get the recording you can be quite stale on it so I actually took a leaf out of NEIL FINN's book from CROWDED HOUSE where he says he doesn't do anymore than three vocal takes on a song when he's recording and that is for the sake of keeping the freshness and spontaneity of the vocal. So on this album I said I would be doing five vocal takes and that was it, but obviously there are a couple of songs on the album where the whip had to be cracked on me in order to get the note right. So I'd have to say that being in a live band and being on stage is where I'm in my element.

'DO YA' , was pretty much produced by the band. Is this  first?
This is the first time where we've had the freedom to do that. The last album was produced by a guy named ROSS WILSON. When we produced this album, it was partly out of necessity. We didn't have a huge budget to be throwing around. We ended up producing this album in conjunction with the engineers and SCOTTY KINGMAN and at the eleventh hour as we were just about to release it. The record company guy played the CD for STEVIE SALAS who has produced DAUGHTRY and JORDIN SPARKS and some MICK JAGGER stuff  and he said that he really wanted to get on board. That actually blew us away that someone without a vested interest just wanted to be involved with the record and had such a history. We were kind of on the verge of releasing what in hindsight would've been a so-so kind of album and when he came on board with BRANDON FRIESEN (NICKELBACK) who mixed it ,then the album sounded so much bigger and better and more accessible internationally. We were stoked that we were able to start the fire and then get someone with so much clout involved at the end.

SCOTTY KINGMAN is the new guitarist and he is also the most recent addition to THE SCREAMING JETS. Talk about what it's like to work with him.
He's really great to work with. He was in a band that we were touring with in the early nineties quite extensively and we didn't really have much contact with him at that time until we started doing the album at around 2005. He's one of those guys that is a great musician but he is also a whiz with the PRO-TOOLS. He was a real asset to have in the studio and when GRANT WALMSLEY (founding guitarist) left the band, SCOTTY just stepped right into the breach. There is something about getting a new member in a band. It's always very painful to lose a member, especially one that has been there for twenty years but there is also something very refreshing and invigorating about having a new creative person in the band. I think the band is more inspired now to get this album working and when we're in LA we'll be working on some demos to show that we're still working at it.

Talk about the other members of the current line-up and what you think each of them brings to the table.
PAUL WOSEEN is our bass player. He and I have been with the band since the start. He's just an awesome songwriter. A very introspective guy but the top of the rock dog tree would actually be PAULY. He actually lives it. He stays up late and sleeps all day and does all that kind of stuff. He definitely flies the rock flag for us. IZMET 'IZZY' OSMANOVICH is our other guitarist who has been with us since '96. He's one of those guys that is an absolute guitar god but he has no idea that people see him that way so he's every down-to-earth and very self-deprecating. MICKL SAYERS is the youngest member of the band. He is the drummer and he has been playing with us since 2004. He brings metal to the band. He loves all of the hardcore stuff. We'll be driving around in a van and he'll be like 'put this on!' and you put it on and some drummer is playing a thousand beats a minute. There are some bands that he's brought to us that we don't mind listening to so he's the young buck.

How does this line up compare with line-ups from the past. Is it easier to work with or is harder? Describe that?
I find that it's definitely easier to work with due to the fact that there was a bit of warring going on between the two guitarists at one stage. I feel that when you're in a band, you play as a team and you play for each other. You know you are playing well when you can hear the guitarist on the other side of the stage, but these two guitarists hated each other so much that if one could hear the other on the other side of the stage, then he'd turn his guitar up so he couldn't hear it. From there it would descend into guitar wars and everyone loses. The great part about having SCOTTY in the band now is that the guys really listen out for one another's playing and it definitely makes it easier for me to sing if I'm not trying to scream over two MARSHALL stacks well past eleven.

In the years since the band released 'SCAM' back in 2000, how do you feel the industry has changed?
Definitely the digital download side of the music industry is something that we are desperately trying to grab on to. We're trying to utilize it so that we can compete on the same play field as all of these kid s out there are doing. You've got stuff being uploaded by all of these teenagers onto things like YOUTUBE on a daily basis and we've got to catch up with the technology so that we can use it to our best advantage. The other thing is that record companies don't really exist anymore except to pump their back catalog. We had a bit of fun with record companies, especially touring around the world when you thought that they laying everything down until you learned that you were paying for it. Now, there is enough warning for record companies to sort of get their act together and to stop being so dismissive of th technology because they are really paying for it now. Right now, we as a band are in much more control of our destiny than we ever were before.

Just from a distance, Australia seems like its this last refuge for rock n roll. Is that the case or am I wrong.
For the last year or so, I've been pretty excited about how the bands are going about getting their music out. It kind of reminds me of the subpop explosion in '92 or '93 whenever NIRVANA came out in that bands were signing themselves to smaller labels and working together and putting on shows and the labels were putting compilations of the bands that they've got on their label. Instead of going just willy nilly onto the internet, the bands are getting a bit of structure and getting a bit of a foundation to garner the support that they need. Now you're starting to find a lot of these younger labels that are starting to get hits and things are working working for them whereas fifteen years ago, there would've been no chance of that happening because there was too much control around the releasing of music. It's a very exciting time. There are a lot of young Australian bands that are doing well.

Talk about what drew you to music in the beginning?
Well I went to a Catholic school and the first thing I ever did was sing in the choir. Then that went on to doing concerts and stuff to raise money for famine in Africa and stuff like that and then there was I was with me heart set on being a police man like me big brother and then GRANT the former guitarist of THE SCREAMING JETS asked me to sing in a band with him back in 1985 and that was the end of life as I knew it.

And that was the band ASPECT?
Yes.

So how did the SCREAMING JEST get started? What got everyone on the same page to want to do it?
GRANT and I had played in ASPECT for four years and that had kind of run it's course. After that I wasn't mercenarily looking for acts to play in. I was just sort of hanging around and playing at jam nights and stuff like that. then PAUL, who had been in ASPECT for the last six months, GRANT and myself decided to start looking for some other people sand had picked up another could of recruits. Within six months, we had entered this national battle of the bands at one of the radio stations here and it kicked off from there.

'ALL FOR ONE' was first LP of THE SCREAMING JETS. What kind of place does it hold in your heart so many years after it was released?
I listen to that album and I remember moving from Newcastle which is a small industrial town on the east coast down to Sydney as a bunch twenty year olds and ran amuck. So when I listen to that album, I think of long nights in King's Cross and how we were playing so many gigs at that stage. Sometimes I will listen to the album and hear where I was made to sing with a sore throat. It's obviously a very important album and every time I put it on to refreshen up on some songs, it kind of gives you those flashbacks to days of yore.

At one point, the band relocated from Australia to the U.K. Talk about that time period.
That was with our first two albums. We were spending a lot of time in the U.K. and Europe so the first three years after the first album, we spent summers in Australia and then we'd do Spring in the U.K.  and then summer into autumn in the U.S. We obviously had no ties, and everyone was out there going for it. Obviously things are different now with the marriages and the children and stuff, but it was just a great time. It's one of those things where you look back and say 'We should've videotaped that stuff!' And the you think 'No, we shouldn't have!'. There are just too many skeletons to be uncovered.

All of the success that had happened with the band seemed to coincide with the grunge movement that was popular in the U.S. Do you think this might've had something to do with a a lack of promotion in the U.S.?
Yeah, I think so. We got over there and I'm a fan of bands with front men and that exuberance and that joy that comes from raw, unabashed rock with people like DAVID LEE ROTH, AXL ROSE and all of that stuff so when we went over there and the shoe-gazing movement had begun when everyone was just looking at the floor while they played their instruments. I was out of my element. I was still in the mold of your classic loud-mouthed, big-haired front man.

Throughout the band's history, there have been a number of line up changes. What do you attribute your longevity too?
I attribute it to the fact that I just love playing gigs live. I love touring and I love getting in front of crowds and connecting with them.. I think that is my biggest motivation and I think that as a band, we do love making music and we love the songs that we write and we're proud of the fact that we right all of our own songs. We love it and that's what keeps us strong and motivated. I always equate this band with a football team.

Talk about this IMPULSE AIRLINES incident.
Okay. You've just asked that question as I looked at this big banner headline from a newspaper that says 'ROCK BAND'S AIRPORT FRACCOUS!!!' We had been on tour for quite a while and we were finishing up in Queensland. Our flight was at 7:30 and we got back to the hotel at 3:30 and being the responsible members of the public that we are, we decided that we didn't want to miss the plane so we decided we were going to stay up instead of go to bed and obviously all of the problems that come along with staying up late. We go to the airport and we all had too much to drink and we had no idea that it was IMPULSE AIRLINES' first flight and there was a huge PR plug going on there. In the end we got kicked off the plane for singing 'PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON' for some reason. If you've had too many beers on board you'll sing anything. The only reason it became such big news was that the T.V. crews were all there waiting for the plane to leave and when they saw that the plane was coming back, they figured 'There has got to be a story here!' When we got off the plane there were like four different news crews from four different television stations. It was a very slow news day in Australia that day so we got plenty of news coverage out of it.

Earlier, you talked about the band being pretty much self contained in terms of songwriting. Describe the songwriting process as it pertained to this latest album.
For this latest release we kind of made a conscious effort to get in a rehearsal room and write an album which we had never done before. In the past, PAUL would come in with five or six songs, GRANT would come in with five or six and we would collaborate on probably three or four or five others. For this album we wanted everything to be a collaborative effort. PAUL's got about three on this album that he wrote and IZZY'S got a couple where he was the chief songwriter. Most of the rest of the album came as a result of us being in a rehearsal room where either I had some words or someone had a riff. It was an organic process to make a really cohesive album. The last song we had actually recorded was 'DO YA' because IZZY came in with this idea. He played it for us and we were like 'Great! Now we're going to have to book some more time in the studio!' Once that song came together, we knew that that had to be the first track on the album.

What songs off of 'DO YA' stand out for you the most at the moment and why?
Of course I love the title track just because it's flat out balls-to-the-wall rock n roll. There is another song on the album called 'MARY JANE' which is a folky kind of number about the crisis that faces homeless people and how it could be anyone. It's not just old crusty people that end up on the streets. It's also young beautiful people with their whole lives ahead of them that end up there as well. There must be some solution to that. There is another song called 'INSIDE OUT' which is quite a departure for THE SCREAMING JETS. There is kind of a HALL AND OATES kind of feel about it. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Most of the songs I'm proud of because we produced it ourselves and oversaw the whole procedure. Everything that we wanted done is all there. I think that having the songs that we have and the confidence that we have in them it just relies on us getting out there and selling it to the crowds. That is my motivation speech that I give to the guys in the band. You're going to get tired when we're doing a two hour show but those are the moments that you've got to mentally lift yourself and raise the intensity. I almost feel like a football coach.

You do sound like a footballer!
Yes.

What would you like a person to come away with once they've heard DO YA?
There are a few different genres represented on the album and I'd like them to come away knowing that a rock band can play anything. LED ZEPPELIN for instance would go ahead and do a break down in the middle of the show where they pick up a couple of acoustics and BONHAM would down with a tambourine and kick drum or whatever and I think that sort of thing is lost now. I think bands have become rather one dimensional where they have one of two songs of note on their album and the rest is all filler. I'd like them to savor every track on this record.