Later this year, Aussie rockers Spiderbait are set to head into Melbourne’s Forum Theatre and throw down a set full of nothing but singles.
After 30 years together, Spiderbait will be taking a look back at their iconic catalogue, starting with their very first single, and giving fans a musical history lesson as they work their way through all of their classic hits.
For even the most casual of fans, this is the sort of thing that dreams are made of.
After all, Spiderbait are one of those rare bands to have topped the triple j Hottest 100, had a #1 single on the ARIA charts, sold out shows all over the country, and manage to back it up with one of the most riotous live performances you could ever dream of.
Add in the fact that they write stunning songs and are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and you’ve got the recipe for one of the most celebrated rock acts in Aussie music history.
With the band’s exclusive singles show already sold out, and a box set of their classic vinyl singles on the way, we sat down with Spiderbait drummer and vocalist Kram to chat about the upcoming show, what it means to take a look back, and what fans can expect in the future.
Check out ‘Circle K’ by Spiderbait:
First thing’s first, why has Spiderbait decided to take a look back, put out a box set, and perform a show of nothing but singles?
Well, it was basically Whitt’s [bassist, Damian Whitty] idea, it was just one of those things where we’re sitting in the band room.
We were doing the Hotter Than Hell Tour, so we were playing with Magic Dirt and Jebediah in the summer, and at the show in Adelaide it was this massive show and they had about 10,000 people at this gig, so it was a bit like playing with the old Adelaide Big Day Out.
And just before we were going on stage we had a bit of time and, I think the manager was like, “look we’ve been thinking of… we’d like to do a show at The Forum this year”, wondering if we wanted to play ‘cause we hadn’t played there for a few years.
When we did our, Ivy And The Big Apples 20th Anniversary Tour, we ended up playing six nights at The Corner Hotel, and we didn’t play at The Forum, and Whitt just said, “hey we should do it, I’ve been thinking about this, why don’t we do a retrospective of our singles,” and we’re just like, all looked at each other, and we’re like, “fuck, that’s a great idea.”
It was one of those, kind of, like, off-the-cuff ideas that just, you know, here we are and we’re doing it, so it basically all spawned from that idea.
We loved the idea of seven inches. I’ll always remember when we got our very first seven inch, which was ‘Circle K’, and we all lived in a share house in Camberwell in Melbourne, and it was just one of the most exciting things I’ve ever felt, you know, up there with winning the Hottest 100, and having a number one single.
But really it’s playing to thousands of people at festivals and all this shit, but the first time you get your seven inch, from your first band, is really exciting. So, I guess we’re kind of looking back at this crazy journey we’ve been lucky enough to go on.
Check out ‘Buy Me A Pony’ by Spiderbait:
At this stage it’s only a one-off, but is there a chance of the show hitting the road at some point and heading to other cities?
I think so, I mean everyone’s asking me about that. I mean, the show, it sold out in less than one day, so we kind of like, I think there’s a good chance that we’ll do more shows, yeah, in the near future. ‘Cause it seems like everyone’s really into the idea, and I think it’d be a great show, and it’s going to be an interesting set list, too.
Playing some of these songs we haven’t played for twenty years, so it’ll be really crazy, but yeah, I would expect at some point soon we’ll post some more shows if it’s a good gig.
Obviously not every single could get a look-in when it comes to the box set. What was the selection process like? Was there a reason 2001’s The Flight Of Wally Funk got overlooked?
It’s a tricky one, I mean, realistically you’ve love it if you could put every single single on, and I was saying this week that you could do five different versions of it and it would be good.
But realistically, it was a little tricky but, lot of song just choose themselves. I mean, it’s just so many of these songs that have, just so much meaning to us and to a lot of people.
And then it was just down to a few personal favourites too, so trying to sort of show the whole length of the band’s career, and just to see how that journey has transpired. I keep saying that it was a bit of a diary of our whole lives, looking at all these songs, and different ones give you different feelings and different memories.
So in the end I think that out of the pretty small amount of seven inches, I think it sort of tells the story we want.
Check out ‘Old Man Sam’ by Spiderbait:
Looking at the singles themselves, do you have any personal favourites?
It’s funny because, I like all of them, they’re all like our babies at this stage, but I always get a bit of a laugh when I hear ‘Old Man Sam’. It’s just such a bizarre song, such a weird song – ridiculous is what I always call it.
Very much like what happened with us with songs like ‘Buy Me A Pony’ and ‘Black Betty’, when you have really big songs there’s always a really big reaction and I think ‘Old Man Sam’ was kind of the first song to do that, and it was doing it for audiences like long before anyone had heard of us outside of Melbourne.
Whenever we played that song at little punk rock shows in Melbourne, everyone would go nuts, and be going off and having a laugh at the same time, and it’s just kind of an ethos of what we’re about.
And then, we did it at the Big Day Out, one of the early Big Day Outs in Sydney, and – I’ve told this story a few times – it’s like our band changed in the course of that one song.
Because there was 30,000 people singing the song back to us, and when you have that moment when the entire crowd is with you in this one, sort of crazy song that you’ve written and they’re all kind of getting it, and that means they understand where you’re coming from and you understand where they are as well.
And when we walked off stage, we were very much a different band. So, I think that song – as silly as it is – has been a very powerful thing for us in a strange way.
Are there any tracks on the list that you’re especially excited to revisit?
There’s heaps, I mean, one of my favourite songs of ours of all time is ‘Glockenpop’. One of the things that I love about it is, is that it’s very different to our lives, you know, sort of fucked up punk rock, stadium rock sort of personas, it’s very much more about the song itself, and production, and Janet’s incredible singing and lyrics.
It’s really about the power of song and I’m looking forward to playing that one because it’s not a song we’ve played a lot over time, but it’s still one of my favourite songs, and I think that has a lot of meaning in regards to what this show, and what this release is all about.
It’s just that the power of songs and anybody could write one and anyone can sing one, but pop music is really about… It’s one of the most accessible art forms, I guess, and you don’t have to be a musical genius just to play it, and try it, and it has the ability to bring thousands, millions of people together, singing together, which is always a beautiful thing.
Check out ‘Glockenpop’ by Spiderbait:
Spiderbait are one of those groups that managed to have numerous singles per album, with every one of them being exceptional. What do you think it is that makes a song by the band so popular and beloved?
I don’t know, we’ve always worked on the principle that if all three us love the song, then other people will love it, or there’s a good chance that they will like it as well, because all three of us have very different personalities, we have different energy.
I guess in a way, the three of us are an example of three different sides of humanity in some ways. Even though we all come from the same small town, our tastes are quite different in some ways, so I think it’s one of the good things about being in a band as a collective; if it’s a tick from everyone in the collective, generally it’s a winner.
I’ve aways felt that the energy you guys put into the songs is one of your biggest drawcards. How do you think the vibe of the upcoming show will compare to others you’ve done?
I think it’ll be a great show. I’m looking forward to the fact that it’s a chronological set list, so as the songs go on, you’re basically starting from the start and you’re ending at the present.
In some ways, it’ll be interesting to see how it has an effect on us, because our set lists are usually pretty varied and this one is as well. But it’s varied in a way where everything’s coming from a particular time, starting in 1990 and ending up in basically now, so you kind of going on a thirty year journey.
And I think inevitably, for me personally, it’s always playing songs with Janet and Whitt going fucking crazy, so that’s what I’ll be doing [laughs].
Check out ‘Fucken Awesome’ by Spiderbait:
What are you hoping that fans will take out of this gig? Are you wanting it to be a real nostalgia fest, or just a showcase of all the top-shelf content you’ve made over the years?
We don’t really have an agenda; never have, never will. We just turn up, and are there in that moment with everyone together, so that’s us and the audience, and each other, and the songs.
And what transpires, we like to leave as very spontaneous. I think one of the reasons we’re still such a big band is that we don’t pre-empt anything too much, we just let it happen. But, you know, 99 times out of 100 it’s always a beautiful thing, and I think this show will be beautiful.
You guys are considered one of the most iconic Aussie rock acts of the last few decades, is there any ever pressure associated with such a title? Or is it more just a humbling feeling?
I think if you’d asked me that question years and years ago, I would have been kind of weird about it, but now we’re so comfortable and the answer is the latter part of the questions. We feel very humbled.
I mean, we had a whole bunch of our archival material put in an exhibition at the Melbourne. It’s at the Arts Centre in the National Performing Archives, which is right next door to some lyric sheets by Paul Kelly, and a diary by Nick Cave, and there’s us.
And that’s, we just feel really proud of that, you know? That we have reached this point in Australian culture where we’re kind of, as you say, an iconic part of the music culture now.
It’s just a beautiful thing, and I think once we would have felt uncomfortable about it, but now we’re just really proud of it, really happy, and really grateful.
Obviously this box set and show is a bit of a look back, but is there any new material in the works?
I’ve been working on a new record for us for a little while now, and it seems like, in a strange way, that the cards have all fallen in the place that they should.
It seems like this show is a way almost of looking into the past and just, you know, taking the time to check out all the things that we’ve done before we move on to the future and do a new record, which is in the works and something that we’re really keen to do.
So I think in the next few years Spiderbait will have new material, for sure.
Check out ‘It’s Beautiful’ by Spiderbait:
Spiderbait Australian Tour Dates 2019
Saturday, November 9th (Sold Out) The Forum, Melbourne, VIC (18+)
Also performing in December
Friday, December 27th
Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff, NSW (18+)
Saturday, December 28th
Torquay Hotel, Torquay, VIC (18+)
Sunday, December 29th
Grand Hotel, Mornington, VIC (18+)