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| 23 June 2016 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Screaming Jets Dave Gleeson 01

Singer Dave Gleeson can barely believe that The Screaming Jets’ seventh album Chrome (their first since 2008’s Do Ya) finally happened, but SHANE PINNEGAR discovers that he couldn’t be happier with the end result.

“You know what? We signed our record deal in 1990, our first ever one with rooArt Records. It was a 7 album deal,” Gleeson reflects, “26 years later, we’re bringing in a seventh album. Yeah, pretty amazing.”

The singer – also a three-album veteran of The Angels – thinks Chrome stacks up pretty well to their previous six records.

“Look, we’re really stoked with it… The last album Do Ya, which I think came out pretty good, took three years to do and cost God knows how much money. There was a little bit of disappointment when that came out, for us more than anyone.

“With this one, we’ve built it up from scratch. Paulie [Woseen] wrote a bunch of songs – maybe 20 songs, all on acoustic guitar, just his vocal on acoustic guitar. We picked the eyes out of them and came up with the ones that we wanted to work on, then we built it from the ground up, so it’s been unreal.

“If I was to try and stack [Chrome] up against [another of our] album[s], I’d say to me it sounds a lot like Tear Of Thought. Well, it doesn’t sound LIKE it, but it’s got as much depth, I think, as that album, which came out in ’92. We’re very excited to get out there and see what people think of it.”

Screaming Jets - Chrome

The Tear Of Thought connection is particularly apt, since the band employed producer Steve James – who also helmed that record and its predecessor All For One – for the task. Those are remembered as a couple of The Screaming Jets’ finest moments – was it easy to rekindle that winning team atmosphere in the studio?

“Yeah, I guess the thing about that is we’re friends,” says Gleeson. “We’ve become such great friends over the years. I remember many of the things that went into making songs bigger and better and more interesting and all that. A lot of that came from Steve. He’s got a great ear for picking up a melody and saying ‘let’s work more with that,’ or a drumbeat or stuff like that.

“He was, I always thought, integral to our sound. Because we’re such good mates, we just picked up where we left off. I spend most of my time in the studio with Steve trying to crack him up – I probably spent more time on that than deliberating over the vocals!”

It sounds like he really brings the best out in the band and knows how to bring the best out of the individual songs as well.

“Yeah, definitely,” Gleeson confirms. “He’s got a great ear for music. He goes back, too: he engineered on Golden Earring records, he was an engineer on a Sid Vicious recording session. He came from a great pedigree and he just knows music inside out. I’ll tell you one thing, he’ll never work with a crap drummer. He hates it!”

For Chrome Gleeson and Woseen went back to singing harmony together a little bit more, like they did on their first records. That was always a key factor in those early records which made them work so well, and Gleeson agrees that they should never have stopped doing so.

“Yeah, I think so too. We had a guy, Robbie Adams come over to produce the third album [self titled and released in 1995]. That was something that grated on him and I remember having big arguments [about it]. As you say, I thought that was an integral part of the Jets’ early sound, the way our voices fit together – I just really enjoy hearing that.

“Having come up [listening to] Cold Chisel, I remember saying to him, ‘mate, Cold Chisel has three different singers – they all sing at different times and they all harmonise together.’ [But those harmonies] were taken out and then Steve [James] brought it back a bit on the World Gone Crazy album [from 1997]. Yeah, I think it’s definitely an integral part of the sound.”

Screaming Jets 01

When I interviewed Paul Woseen in December for his solo album Bombido, he told me that Chrome was ready to go – did it need tweaking before they were ready to release it?

“No, that came about… I’ve got to tell you,” he laughs, “I reckon every time I’ve said to a crowd or the press or whatever, ‘the album’s coming out on this day,’ I’ve never got it right. It’s always fucked up. What happened was after we’d done it, we were just going to do it independently. There were a few record companies who wanted to hear it, which was astonishing to us because being in it this long, you realise that unless you’re 20 to 25 or a hot chick, the record companies lose interest.

“But we got a bit of interest and we wanted to pursue that and make sure that when we did bring the album out, it was to as many people as possible. Then we signed with Third Verse Records and Cable Publishing, a worldwide publishing company. To know that there’s still a bit of life in the old fellows and people still want to get involved with us is really gratifying for us, and we’ll get a bigger release now than we would have under our own steam, that’s for sure.”

We all know that the music industry ain’t what it used to be – touring is most band’s bread & butter nowadays. How important are record sales to The Screaming Jets? It’s obviously important you make the money back that you spent on making the thing.

“Yeah, that’s probably the main concern, making the money back,” he concurs. “It’s an expensive undertaking even with the new technology available. Scotty Kingman, our guitar player, he’s a gun with the ProTools and that, so that helps out a lot. You want to make sure that you get the money back, and basically, hopefully, then go to make another album or do some live video recordings and stuff like that. Apart from that, we just want to get out there and play live. As you say, that is where your bread and butter is. We realised in the mid-to-late ‘90s, that if you live and die by your record sales, you might be in a bit of trouble.

“Now things being what they are, everyone does one song and whacks it on iTunes, but we still want to do albums. We’re a classic rock band and classic rock bands do albums.”

Albums are where it’s at for 100% ROCK MAGAZINE: we like to hold the thing in our hands, old school as that is. We’ll leave streaming for kids who don’t know better.

“Hopefully there’s a bit of that coming back,” says Gleeson. “You’ve seen the vinyl sections in record stores are starting to fill up again, which is fantastic. I know it’s all hits driven, but in some ways I’m happy for that. I think the connection’s just stronger with the music if you have got that thing in your hand, if you can sit there listening to it and reading some stuff about it – even more so now.

“When [we were young and] heard bands and wanted to find out about them, it was a long and laborious process. Now you can sit there, listen to the album, read the liner notes, look up stuff on your Google machine, or whatever. Hopefully it’s re-inspiring people to connect with it. Some of your favourite music memories are listening side to side of [vinyl] albums and stuff like that – sit down in a beanbag with your headphones on.

“When I got into Guns ‘n Roses and they started saying, ‘listen to these Aerosmith albums,’ I was, ‘oh jeez,’ because I was maybe a bit young the first time around [for Aerosmith], but it’s such a great way to find out about music and to keep the thread going.”

Screaming Jets 02

Now that they’ve taken the album out for a spin at a series of gigs around the country, which songs from Chrome are shaping up to be bonafide Screaming Jets classics?

“There’s one that we’ve been starting the show with called Automatic Cowboy,” Gleeson says without hesitation. “I have visions of Pulp Fiction when I sing it just because it’s like, there are people living out on the edge and doing the wrong thing. Maybe it’s a little bit of a Breaking Bad song as well.

“There’s another song called No Place No Home which Paul wrote – I hope he doesn’t mind me telling – but wrote when he was living in his car. Every time for me singing it, it’d shake me up a little bit to know that a brother was living so tough. That’s another song that I think sits up well with probably Think or some of the older slower songs that Paul’s written over the years.

“As you say, it’s really hard to know what someone’s going to play on the radio. I guess the flip side of the streaming thing is that people can hear whatever song they want and choose their own play list. I think Automatic Cowboy is probably going to be the one that we go to radio with.”

Radio in this country, of course, are more likely to play their classic hit Better than they are to play anything off the new album. With Gleeson’s own history on radio, can he see an end in sight to that sort of narrow-mindedness?

“Look, it’s hard,” he confirms with generous equanimity. “I always equate it with the amount of interviews that we’ve done where it happens. It’s like going in saying, ‘here’s the new XZ Falcon,’ and they go, ‘tell us about it,’ you tell them about it, ‘it’s got 4 wheel steering, yada, yada, yada,’ and they go, ‘that’s great, thanks for coming in – here’s a picture of an XY GT, What do you think of that? It’s awesome, it’s always been awesome.’

“I think it depends where you are,” he continues. “Where I am in Adelaide, the radio is very safe and very classic rock oriented. What I’ve been trying to tell people lately is that classic rock doesn’t mean you’ve been around forever. Obviously there’s plenty of classic rock bands that have, but there’s young bands, 20 year old guys who identify as classic rock. That means two guitars, bass, drums, great words, good choruses, all that stuff. It’s hard, I think, because of the size of the country. I’ve been trying to hammer home, classic rock isn’t burnt out old rock stars. Classic rock is a genre. It’s something that comes out when you play that type of combination.”

I tell Dave I had the exact same reaction from Ian Gillan of Deep Purple: I mentioned the term ‘classic rock’ and he loathed it, thought it meant they were has-beens. I had to go to great lengths to explain that I meant it as a musical catch-all genre, not as an indication of the age of the musicians or their lack of relevance.

“There’s a band touring with us at the moment,” Gleeson continues, “Massive. Best bunch of blokes, great songs and they’re classic rock. They’re all mid-‘20s kids but they’re classic rock. Tracer and other bands are classic rock, Palace Of The King…

“That’s what we’re trying to champion. Look, it doesn’t mean you’re burnt out, doesn’t mean you’re old. It means that what you do is you get up there and play classic rock music!”

Going back to that December interview with Paul Woseen, I mention that he was pretty adamant that songs were just pouring out of him and he wanted to make another Jets album as soon as possible. Gleeson admits that it’s likely.

“Yeah, definitely. Now that we’ve got back and we’ve got this album out and we’re re-establishing ourselves on the touring circuit over the last few years as well, and the crowds and venues are going unreal… they’re doing it, they’re putting people in the rooms and that’s all they care about – they don’t care about nothing else.

“To have done that, and hopefully this album lets people know that we’re not a bunch of old has-beens. We’ve got stuff to say and do and anyone who sees our live show would know that we’re not just going through the motions. We’re energised and we believe we’re a current rock band. We’re not going in and doing the greatest hits. We’re doing that and then some.”

Screaming Jets Dave Gleeson 02

With side projects, non-musical jobs, families and all the rest that comes with middle age, is it difficult to block in dates which fit the band members’ schedules?

“Luckily for me, The Angels and The Screaming Jets have got the same agent,” laughs Gleeson. “I just have to make sure that I’m not paying too much attention to the mistress and leaving the wife at home alone. Paulie would prefer that I spend more time with the Jets, but as you say we all have other stuff going on. Jimmy Hocking’s constantly putting out solo blues records and stuff, Scotty does a bit of producing. If you want to see some amazing stuff, Scotty’s photos he’s been taking down at the place he lives at Lake Tyers in Victoria. He is a brilliant photographer, man, unbelievable.

“Mickl [Sayers – drums]’s just had a new baby, so I imagine he’s all hands on deck at the moment. Yeah, it’s just a matter of picking the right time. Now we’ve got this album to come out, we give ourselves the opportunity to tour later in the year as well. It’s keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’…”

Being drafted in as singer for The Angels was obviously a big boost to Gleeson personally, but The Screaming Jets was always his baby – he was there with Paul Woseen to form the band. He’s still calling The Angels his ‘mistress,’ but are they both as dear to him now? Is he as committed to both, and to running them side by side?

“Look, I definitely feel that what we’ve built with The Angels over the last five years is something that… obviously the songs and the legacy are the major part of it, but I definitely feel like the last five years we’ve rebuilt the band up to something that people are coming to see. We’ve done a couple of albums in that time. Obviously the Jets is always going to be the bastard son, but The Angels are fantastic guys. We get on great and the crowds, they just love it. I love singing the songs and the crowd loves hearing them live. Yeah, I definitely feel very strongly about being in The Angels, but obviously the Jets, as you say, is my baby.”

With two bands and a family, is there time for anything else – are there any other projects Gleeson is working on?

“I’ve just started doing a pub-cast actually,” he laughs, “where I go to different pubs around Adelaide and it goes by the same format as the radio show I was doing before on the Southern Cross Network. I can’t afford to play music in it, but I just bang on about music I love, and try to guide people, point people in the direction to look up songs or albums that I think are worthy and that. It’s getting a few downloads. I’m just finding me feet – I feel a bit funny just talking shit. It’s not music or anything like that.”

‘Just talking shit’? That doesn’t sound like you Dave, come on man.

“No!!” he laughs. “It’s good to get a few downloads and get it out and have a few frothies at some different pubs around the joint.”

Being a pretty gregarious and outspoken bloke, and one whom most rocking Aussies would know his face easily, is Dave Gleeson instantly recognised in public – can the family go to the movies or the shops without getting hassled?

“Since I moved to Adelaide – I moved here about 10 years ago,” he starts, “I definitely get more people coming up to me – I dunno why. I was doing the radio and stuff down here, so in Adelaide I pretty well generally get noticed every day.

“I’ve actually got Kate Ceberano staying here at the moment. She’s great friends with me wife. A bloke that came in to clean our chimney, he goes, ‘hey Dave how’s it going?’ walks in, and goes, ‘wow – hello Kate! I’m surrounded by musos!’, then he thought me and Kate were married! I said, ‘oh, I wish’ – nah, nah, [laughingly calls out to his wife] ‘sorry darl!’ He got a bit of a surprise I think.

That opens up another question. If you’re friends with people like Kate Ceberano and whatnot, obviously your social circle isn’t just classic rock guys. Have you thought to maybe sometime in the future doing a duets project or something that’s a little bit out of your comfort zone?

Dave Gleeson - Wanted Man

“I did a blues country album in 2002 [Wanted Man], and a duet actually with Jimi Hocking’s sister on that,” he reveals. “I loved it, I love that. I’ve done backing vocals on a couple of country artist’s albums and stuff like that. I’ve been on one of Troy Cassar-Daly’s albums and another young lady called Angela Hayden. I’m always open to that. Funny you should mention it, Kate just said she’s working with some stuff that a couple of friends of hers have done. She was wondering if I could sing on it with her…”

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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