For Grinspoon fans, there’s good news on the horizon! With the band calling an indefinite hiatus, front man Phil Jamieson is back with mate Scott Russo (Unwritten Law) in a sensational acoustic performance that fans can consider as their ultimate Christmas present. Already successful in his post Grinspoon solo career, Jamieson called upon Russo to form a stripped back live show that promises raw chemistry between the two, along with quality on-stage banter!
Meeting during the Vans Warped tour in 1999, the pair hit it off and have been jamming in hotel rooms and tour buses in the years since. Jamieson says that their friendship is ‘one of competitive admiration and also jealousy. “As soloists and front men we’ve taken a bit out of each other’s books over the years. Scott’s incredibly charismatic and he can write a tune. I had some guitar skills he didn’t have, and he had chorus skills that I didn’t have. We wrote some tunes, hung out & jammed in hotel rooms over the years and really hit it off. Now we’re basically charging people to come to our hotel room jams (laughs).” Jamieson and Russo will be performing acoustic versions of their songs from their respective bands, and given that they’ve written songs for each’s bands it’s clear of the level of respect both have for each other personally and professionally. The dialogue in between songs will tell the stories of how these songs came to be in a candid, intimate experience.
One could get the impression that two rock icons have set aside on stage ego’s to play along side each other rather than to be competitive but Jamieson whips back humourously and says this of his mate Russo. “Scott’s got a massive ego, f#@*ng hell he’s so vain- he spends so much time combing his hair that guy….but then again so have I. Nah look, that’s just a part of who Scott Russo is, it’s not derogatory at all. It’s made him the success that he is today. The healthy competitiveness between us has driven us to write better songs on the way. There’s always someone ahead of you so you want to catch them and (for me) Scott’s that guy. ”
For Jamieson, Grinspoon are, in his own words, taking a ‘long term indefinite hiatus’. Disappointing for die-hard fans of course, but at least it’s not an outright disbanding. “Take of that what you will, but that’s how it is. At this point in time we’re all enjoying doing different things. Pat (Davern) has something pretty exciting in the pipeline that we’ll find out about pretty soon, Kris (Hopes) and Joe (Hansen) are doing their respective things as well, so it’s good to take a breather and just reflect a little.”
With 7 albums under their belt over eighteen years, and numerous ARIA nominations including a win, it’s fair enough that the band are taking a spot of ‘long service leave’ from their musical roles for a while and are putting their feet up. “It’s a time for reflection for us, and to take stock of where we’re all at,” he calmly says. “I expected it to be a lot less busy (laughs) but it’s been great so far.”
For family man Jamieson (he has 2 children to wife Julie), he has mellowed from a self-admitted drug addict (which he courageously shared on the Andrew Denton show in 2007) into a dedicated father to Lyla (9) and Evita (7), who he ‘jams’ with at home. He’s never seen that Denton interview since filming it and can’t really comment on it, nor did he intend it to serve as a help to others at the time, but remains open to the reaction it generated. “ I’m really glad that people are positive about it.”
Asked if he’s in a good place overall at present, his reply is one of positive, yet meek wisdom. “Things are good, the peanut butter which I made myself today was absolutely delicious (laughs)…small things are kind of cool and enjoyable for me at the moment.” We exchange tips on using peanuts and almonds in recipes, as I myself live on an almond farm and we agree on several applications for both nuts. We’ve connected spiritually through food! Since taking a break from the rigors of touring, he’s been dabbling in cooking a lot more and has become quite a househusband who is enjoying the opportunity to appreciate family life. “I’m terrible at cooking but it’s kind of interesting me at the moment, and I have a huge love for motorcycles- that’s another passion. Gosh I’m becoming normal and boring.”
If you’ve ever seen Grinspoon live, you’ll quickly understand that Phil Jamieson is anything but normal and boring. To see him playing with Scott Russo is a remarkable opportunity to see two great rock front men strut their acoustic stuff and tell you the what, how, and why of their songs.
The show kicks off in Adelaide at The Gov on Wednesday Dec 17 and will travel throughout the country until December 23.
Get in quick, as the Sydney and Melbourne shows earlier this year Sold Out quickly!
Interviewed by Darren Hassan