It is a year of milestones for iconic Aus rockers Grinspoon. 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of their debut studio album, Guide to Better Living, the 20th anniversary of New Detention, and the 15th anniversary of Alibis & Other Lies. This week, however, marks a massive milestone for frontman Phil Jamieson – the release of his debut solo album, Somebody Else.

Of course, Jamieson isn’t the first of his contemporaries to release a body of solo work this year: Silverchair’s Daniel Johns, The Living End’s Chris Cheney and the Sleepy Jackson’s Luke Steele have all done the same. But while some have discussed the “daunting” nature of a solo debut, Jamieson is philosophical about it.

“I’m intensely proud of this music, and I don’t care if no one likes it,” Jamieson says. “It is relatively daunting but I wouldn’t put it out and put my name on it if I didn’t think it had some sort of merit, and I hope people trust me on that.”

Before the pandemic, Jamieson had joined his bandmates in a studio in Adelaide, recording demos for a potential new Grinspoon record.

“We recorded some stuff after we played the Adelaide 500 in… I’m going to say it was March 2020? Just as the pandemic was starting to bubble,” he says. “But I’m not sure how that’s all going to end up at the end of it, because I’m in the middle of this project right now.”

“This project” is something Jamieson has been working towards for the better part of a decade, but it was the pandemic that really pushed him to get it finished.

“Because of the tyranny of distance – Kris (Hopes) lives in Queensland, Pat (Davern) lives in Byron, Joe (Hansen) in Coffs Harbour – I just kind of whittled away at this project that I’ve kind of been working on for 10 years now, really,” he explains. “Also during the pandemic I couldn’t tour with the band, it was just impossible due to borders and venues and whatnot. But I managed to tour solo, whether it be with 50 people in the room or 100 or whatever, or doing three shows a day – so I was able to, for want of a better term, do what I do.”

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Jamieson had presented something to management pre-pandemic, after a writing retreat with producer and engineer Jordan Power, who has worked with the likes of Kasey Chambers, Xavier Rudd and Ben Gillies.

“We just did like seven tracks together – I had a whole concept record which is actually like a theatre play whodunnit mystery murder set in the 1800s and it was like, yeah, we’re going to do this musical… it was very ambitious, let’s put it that way,” Jamieson laughs. “And I presented it to management and management was like, look, these are close but they’re not quite there yet.”

From those seven songs, Jamieson took ‘Kapow!’ to You Am I’s Davey Lane.

“Davey Lane and I worked on ‘Kapow!’ Fleshing it out a bit more, which is the single I released last March,” Jamieson says. “And then the other six songs are currently on the scrapheap until I polish them up.”

Jamieson admits it would be “disingenuous” to say the bulk of the album came from any one writing session, collating tracks written around Grinspoon commitments and his musical theatre jaunt as American Idiot’s St. Jimmy.

“For example, ‘Trouble’ was written in 2019, which was post-Idiot; ‘Somebody Else’ was written pre-Idiot… and ‘Rubberband’ has been floating around forever,” Jamieson says. “And the songs also have different life forms, like ‘Somebody Else’ was originally written as kind of like a Rolling Stones ‘70s or maybe early ‘80s bassline swagger song.”

Watch Phil Jamieson ‘Somebody Else’:

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Hailed as the sequel to ‘More Than You Are’ by Ben Rosen, who recorded the original demo of the song, ‘Somebody Else’ went through several iterations before it became the single Jamieson released in March this year.

Holy Holy’s Oscar Dawson worked with him on the track – Jamieson describes Dawson as an “incredibly humble” and generous human, whose “monolithic” talent added an element of magic to the track.

“I think the songs are good, so I think that helps, if you’ve got a good base,” Jamieson explains. “Oscar came along and sprinkled fairy dust and did what he did, but if you don’t have the basic foundations I think it’s going to be a little more difficult.”

Somebody Else has been released through Cheersquad, an indie label owned by The Meanies’ Wally Kempton. As an independent solo artist, Jamieson has learned to trust his gut making decisions on everything from artwork and aesthetic to track listings and thank yous. It’s a lot more work than making a Grinspoon record.

“If you think about it, Grinspoon is three other workers – you’ve got Joe playing bass and Kris playing drums and Pat telling me what to do,” Jamieson laughs. “I did it kind of before with The Lost Gospel in ’05, which for all intents and purposes was essentially a solo project as well, but even in that group I had other players.”

For Jamieson, the “fear and loathing” of listening to himself ad infinitum makes things harder.

“Often with a Grinspoon album I can do the vocal and just go, ‘Is it okay? Do I have to listen to it any more?’,” he laughs. “Not in a bad way or a dismissive way, it’s just that sometimes you get sick of listening to yourself.”

Jamieson says he listened to New Detention when it turned 20 this year, skipping ‘Chemical Heart,’ ‘Lost Control,’ ‘No Reason’ and ‘1000 Miles’ in favour of tracks like ‘Killswitch,’ ‘Boltcutter,’ ‘Gone Tomorrow,’ and ‘Make It Happen’.

“When I first heard the opening track ‘Anyday, Anyhow’ I thought, ‘Wow, I sound like a 24-year-old!’,” he laughs. “And I was – it was a long time ago.”

Back on the road, Jamieson’s solo show now features all of his solo tracks, as well as other songs.

“I’m going to call it my ‘cover band’ set, where I do greatest hits of the ‘90s – I might do some Jebediah, maybe some Powderfinger, maybe some Grinners… be rude not to, wouldn’t it?” he laughs. “I’m trying to make it as fun as possible. I love doing this and I love playing, it’s what I live and breathe for.”

Phil Jamieson ‘Somebody Else’ Tour Dates

Friday 29th July – Solbar, Sunshine Coast QLD
Saturday 30th July – The Zoo, Brisbane QLD
Thursday 4th August – John Curtin Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Friday 5th August – UC Hub, Canberra ACT
Saturday 6th August – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney NSW
Sunday 7th August – Shady Palms, Central Coast NSW
Friday 12th August – Lions Art Factory, Adelaide SA
Saturday 20th August – SS&A, Albury NSW

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