EG catches up with Jebediah guitarist Chris Daymond
Jebediah – or `the Jebs’ as they're affectionately known by their fans – have been a band for over 16 years. Just think about that for a minute. The quartet from Perth started making music together at a time when people would trade mixed tapes amongst one another and cruise down streets listening to their Walkman. We’re talking about a time before iPods, myspace and Facebook. When grunge was king and electro was unheard of. A lot has changed since then – but not for Jebediah.
The four members of the band - Kevin Mitchell (vocals/guitar), his brother Brett Mitchell (drums), Chris Daymond (guitar) and Vanessa Thornton (bass) – have stuck together since day one. Unlike many other bands that bicker, fight and undergo the odd line-up change over the course of their career, the Jebs' tight-knit bond has allowed them to produce five albums together, the most recent being Kosciuszko, released earlier this year.
We caught up with guitarist Chris Daymond for a brief chat ahead of the band’s Battle For November Tour. With Kosciuszko soaring to indie rock success (their single ‘She’s Like A Comet’ was recently certified GOLD on the Aria charts) Chris was happy to disclose the journey the band undertook to create the new album.
Jack Pilven: You guys went on hiatus for a long time, beginning around ’05, but were still playing and recording together during this period. At what point did you decide it was time for Jebediah to re-enter the public spotlight?
Chris Daymond: That’s a good question. We decided to make another record, which was the first step I guess. Basically, the reason we had a hiatus was to take a break from doing Jebediah and to get out of each other’s space for a little bit. You know, Kev (Mitchell) wanted to do a Bob Evans record and that was going really well. So we decided that we’d have a hiatus. We originally planned to have six months off for the band and that blew into twelve months pretty quickly. We always knew we would make another record and it was just circumstantial how we went about doing it. We didn’t have a plan as such, it was just go with the flow and we’d see how long it would take to make a record. It probably took us a little longer than we had imaged to begin with. When you’re involved in a project and you’re not under any pressure, it’s a good way to be. We didn’t realise it would take so long to make the record, but the factors were circumstantial. It was the fact that Kev had moved away from Perth and we could only work with him when he was back in town and wasn’t on tour. We started putting together Kosciuszko in about 2008, with its initial sessions, and it came out this year, so it was about three years in the making.
JP: Do you think recording the album in dribs and drabs over three years affected the sound of the final product?
CD: I think because we had planned to make the record in dribs and drabs, we didn’t deviate too far away from the initial game plan when it came down to it. We knew at the start it would be like that, so we knew we’d have time to record a session or two, reflect on it, makes the changes and then come back in later and either push it in the same direction or try a different path. But it certainly gave us more time to experiment I think and to hone what sort of album it was going to be. It started to take shape quite early as being an eclectic kind of record and we thought that would be a good strength to have. I think we’ve always tried to make the same sort of record each time, which is a varied musical statement to reflect all the stuff that we want to put out. But in doing so, we just had a bit more time and freedom this time around. I don’t think that we actually approached the recording too differently to how we have in the past - we are still fairly under the pump when we get into the studio to try and lay down tracks. It was more a case of keeping the good stuff and throwing the shit out.
JP: You mentioned that Kevin did the whole Bob Evans thing, so did you play in any other bands aside from Jebediah during your hiatus?
CD: Mate, I wish I had have come up with a good story, I can tell you that right now (laughs). But no, I’m a lucky musician because I get a lot of satisfaction out of playing with the Jebs even though we’ve been having a bit of down time. I wouldn’t say it’s fulfilment enough but I get a huge buzz out of being in the Jebs and I’m not really looking for anything else on either side of that to do with music. I think I was busier pursuing my other pursuits to tell the truth. I really enjoy art and painting and that kind of stuff, so I immerse myself in doing a bit of that and holding down a full-time job as well, and a relationship and everything that goes with that. I haven’t been sitting around on the Dole (laughs). The Jebs is my main musical pursuit, and I like to be committed to that, but outside of that I find other things to get involved in.
JP: While you’ve always had triple j’s support, commercial radio has only really got behind you with the release of your single `She’s Like A Comet’. Is it weird knowing there’s people out there who are just starting to get to know Jebediah for the first time in 2011?
CD: Do I think it’s weird? Well, not so much. I think `Comet’, as a single, delivered what a few more of the radio formats were looking for in terms of a rock song for radio. And in that sense, I look at the timing more than anything as being integral to that. I think releasing `Comet’ at the beginning of this year… it came out at an ideal time. We did get a lot of support across the board and we’re getting it onto a lot of stations. I can only image that it’s a lot to do with trends and that sort of stuff. Maybe these radio stations were looking for more rock music. I work in a record store as my full-time job, so I get to see what’s coming and going in the music scene. I think we’ve had a lot of dance music and a lot of electro in the last few years, and maybe, you know, programmers at radio stations are looking for a bit more guitar music and we just managed to hit the timing fairly well with that. We haven’t really changed much as a band since we first came out, so whether or not the stations have changed their format a bit so they can afford to play more alternative music, I’m not too sure. Or maybe we just delivered something that was more their cup of tea? You know, it’s still a very Jebediah song but it probably has a few of the key things that radio want, which is catchiness, a bit of a hook and all that kind of stuff (laughs).
Be sure to catch the Jebs when they hit the road for their national Battle for November Tour.
WORDS: Jack Pilven
Battle for November Tour Dates
Thursday 10 November - Metropolis, Fremantle
Thursday 17 November - Billboard, Melbourne
Friday 18 November - Fowlers Live, Adelaide
Saturday 19 November - Metro Theatre, Sydney