It’s been a huge year for Adelaide punk rock band Grenadiers, with the independent release of their second album Summer earlier this year that landed them triple j’s feature record and an exclusive premiere on theMusic.com.au. Vivaciously described as “3 dudes in a rehearsal room, a van or a pub, banging things and yelling stuff”, Grenadiers are Jesse (voice and guitar), Phil (bass and voice) and Jimmy (drums). With a rap sheet that includes playing at the Big Day Out, supporting Cold Chisel, and opening this year’s BIGSOUND with a massive set, it’s rather fitting that the guys have just picked up “Best Group” at the South Australian Music Awards. We caught up with frontman Jesse for a chat about their latest album and tour.
Hi Grenadiers, it’s been a huge year since the independent release of Summer. How did you think the album was received?
A hell of a lot better than we thought it would be. When you’re a totally independent band- no label, no management, no distribution – you have a certain expectation of how your record will go. We ended up selling out our whole vinyl pressing pretty quickly, plus very healthy sales online and on CD, which exceeded that expectation hugely. But you can’t measure success by album sales alone- we’ve been getting better shows, more people are coming- it’s coming along nicely.
Where did you record Summer? What was the recording process like?
We recorded Summer at our drummer Jimmy’s studio, with him behind the desk. It’s a place called Capitalsound here in Adelaide, it’s a great studio and the spiritual home of the band. We did it in bits and pieces over a long period of time, with our bass player Phil snowboarding in Canada for the bulk of it. We took our time and are happy with the result. There are always things you’d do differently if you had your time again though, so we’ll see what happens on the next record.
We read in an interview that this was your first headline tour. How did the tour go? Any stories from the road?
If you’re talking about the recent Grenabeers tour, it was the first time we’ve headlined a series of dates across the country and really put a lot of effort into it. It went great, there were lots of enthusiastic people at all the shows. Bunbury was a bit of a personal fave – along with the awesome locals they have there, there were quite a few random drunks, one of whom took my mic from in front of me and started yelling gibberish into it before I’d even sung a note. I knew we were in for a good show at that point. The home town show at Jive in Adelaide was also a highlight – it’s very gratifying to get your local audience pumping, prove yourself in a way.
Did you manage to catch any other acts at BIGSOUND while you were there?
A few – Cosmic Psychos were awesome of course. Tired Lion are good mates of ours but killed it particularly hard at their show, Mojo Juju was news to me and she was great.
Looking back over the last few years between this release and your debut album Songs The Devil Taught Us in 2010, how has your sound and writing evolved?
It’s basically a more refined, better version of the same thing on the last record. Shorter songs, less fat, better hooks. Having said that, our writing has evolved significantly since we released Summer and the next record is going to be better still. I used to write all the lyrics and the vast bulk of the music myself but on the new stuff we’re collaborating a lot more. What we find ourselves settling into between the three of us is a much more energetic sound than before – we all like different stuff so the main thing we can agree on is bombast. So there’s a lot of that in the new songs – dynamic, life, energy. I’m looking forward to people hearing some of it soon.
What’s the local music scene like in Adelaide?
At the moment I’d have to say it’s pretty healthy. There are always ups and downs but a few bands are working hard at the moment and making great strides on the national stage. On the more radio-oriented end of the spectrum you’ve got Tkay Maidza and Bad Dreems doing great things, but there are also more DIY bands like The Hard Aches and Horror My Friend. There’s a great spread of extremely talented local bands like Hydromedusa, Sparkspitter, Sincerely Grizzly and heaps of others.
Who’s been your favourite artist to share the stage with so far?
We did 20+ shows around the country with British India earlier in the year and that was pretty great. Although we’re not the sort of band they’d normally have along, and there were a few shows where we left some punters covering their ears and scratching their heads, the dudes themselves were great to hang out with, very cool and generous people.
When you’re not playing shows or making new music, what are you doing and listening to?
Personally I’ve been listening to a lot of older music lately – rock from the 60’s, and a lot of Australian garage punk from the 80’s, as well as the latest Battles album and the last album by The Night Marchers. I know Phil loves Deafheaven and a lot of heavier new stuff. Jimmy doesn’t listen to a lot of music because he spends his days producing it with other bands so his ears are usually fried by the end of the day. So that covers tunes, as for what we get up to – well, I don’t want the cops after us.
What’s the most profound thing you’ve learned over the past few years?
That no matter how much you’ve done, there’s always more to do. Satisfaction is death.
Is there any advice you can share with young bands trying to crack the music industry?
Never expect anyone to do anything for you. Write constantly, tour as much as you can afford, always talk to people from other places that are into the same stuff as you and build relationships. But the main thing is, don’t rely on managers/agents/labels or whatever to come to you. It’s all on you, and the second you start thinking you’re owed anything, it’s over.
What’s in the works for the rest for 2016? Any tour plans or new releases?
We have a few shows in Adelaide, Newcastle and Sydney, then we’re doing a national tour supporting Unwritten Law in December. We’re also currently recording a few new songs, one of which we’ll pick to be a single that we’ll release early in the new year. We’ll tour the country again on the back of that, and then it’s time for some serious writing for album number 3, which we hope to have out early-ish in the second half of 2016.
Stay up to date with the latest news from Grenadiers at www.facebook.com/grenadiersmusic