INTERVIEW: Spiderbait 

Spiderbait have had a very long and impressive career in the music industry. From being the first Australian band to hit the number one spot on Triple J’s Hottest 100 to topping the charts with ‘Black Betty’, having songs featured in Hollywood movies and touring the world continuously. They’ve really done it all. 

Its been 26 years since they released their debut album ‘Shashavaglava’ and the band feels like it’s the perfect time to walk down memory lane. Performing an exclusive Melbourne show at The Forum on November 6, the three piece will bring their hard hitting rock-n-roll to the stage for one night only. Performing all of their singles as well as a few favourites they want to treat this show as a celebration for the fans. 

I recently chatted to lead singer and drummer Kram from Spiderbait about the greatest hits format of their upcoming Melbourne show, his favourite touring experiences that have included him going swimming in the ocean mid set and inviting twenty kids on stage to have a dance as well as reflect on the bass cherished memories with vinyl. Check out the chat HERE;

TB: Spiderbait are going to be performing an exclusive show in Melbourne at The Forum titled ‘Spiderbait – The Singles’. So with the night going to have a very nostalgic feel to it, how else do you want the show to feel and how you want the crowd to walk away feeling from it?

K: I don’t know, I never really plan those sort of things. What we cant wait to do with this show is to play all of the singles and go down an retrospective journey which is like a diary of our lives.  Starting with our first single ‘Circle K’ right through to our last song.

When I look at the setlist of all of the songs, every track triggers a different memory or makes me think about when we recorded it or played it live. There are some songs we’ve never played live before, there are some songs that we’ve played to death, and we love them. 

We just want everyone to come and enjoy that ride with us. 

TB: Well you’re right, playing these songs live must trigger so many different memories or feelings. Some probably more so  than others? 

K: Yeah, ’Buy Me A Pony’ was the first Australian song to win the Hottest 100, ‘Black Betty’ was a massive number one that sold half a million copies but then there is songs like ‘Calypso’ that sort of had a different emotional connection to listeners. 

I always say that our first single ‘Circle K’ is really important to us because it’s so weird to listen and play a song from when you were 18 years old now and love it just as much. We are not a band who feels disconnected to their earlier work. We feel like we are still the same people that we were when we were that age. We’ve spent our whole lives playing in a rock n roll band so it’s hard to not be a kid in someways if that’s your life. And we love that. It’s a really fun and exciting thing to do. The best part is that we’ve gotten to do it together. Being a solo artist is really tough but when you‘re in a band you always have friends around you no matter if you’re hitting the highs or the lows and that’s kinda what this show is about too. 

TB: Have you thought about the production for this show? Or do you want to just focus on the energy behind the material?

K: I think there will be some cool stuff! We are currently sorting through everything that we are going to do for the show. There is a lot of different artwork and visuals within that collection that we would love to include in some way. So I guess we will see. 

TB: Spiderbait are a very energetic band. I once saw you guys live at a festival on the beach on the Gold Coast and you jumped off stage and ran into the ocean halfway through the set and eventually came back after a quick dip.

K: Yeah I went for a swim! I couldn’t help myself man *laughs*. It was halfway through ‘Black Betty’ and it took me longer to get back to the stage than I anticipated. So ‘Black Betty’ went for about 25 minutes that night *laughs*. 

This is my whole existence. You just gotta do it because you don’t know when you are going to get another chance to do that. 

TB: Oh, 100%! I love that! What is one of the weirdest things you’ve ever done on stage?

K: That was definitely one of the weirdest things but I’ve also done a lot of really weird things in general *laughs* One time at the Big Day Out I decided to jump into a crowd of 50,000 people and I realised straight away that I didn’t want to be in there. But full love and respect for everyone in there that was because I was like “wow, how are you doing this?”. But then I tried getting back onstage and the bouncers pulled me out of the crowd and treated me like a kid jumping on stage so I got punched in the face *laughs*. Eventually they realised who I was and let me back up there to finish the set. 

TB: *Laughs* Now, that is crazy!

K: You’re so pumped up in the moment! I’ve been thinking about this lately because a lot of people have been asking me about what I do and I’m one of the few drummer-singers out there. We do go hard in terms of our energy levels, so it’s intense. 

We did a show at Bribe Island two weeks ago for ten thousand people and you end up reaching a level of euphoria because you’re so pumped up with energy, endorphins and adrenaline. And you’re also getting off from playing live and playing with your friends, the audience and the power of the music. All of those three things combined send you into the stratosphere. It’s insane. 

I think that’s gone along way in keeping me alive. It’s become a drug that I love. 

TB: Also when you’re just living in the moment, It makes every single show so different not only for you but for the crowd too

K: I’m a great believer in that! Someone asked in a radio interview earlier today if I ever get bored and sometimes that is actually a poison question because if you say yes they go “hey, you have the best job in the world” and it becomes an insult to the fans. 

For some bands it can be a real grind touring and it becomes difficult sometimes. But for us, I just think the actual show itself is such an unknown. I never know what I’m going to do or say. Stylistically from operating in that way you maintain the ability to be fresh and new. So I never get bored. 

TB: Looking out into the crowd, they seem to go just as crazy along with you guys, so what is one of the craziest things you’ve seen happen in the crowd over the years?

K: One of the weird things about our crowd is that they are really mixed ages. There is a lot of young kids who are into our band while there are also middle age people who have been following our band since the beginning. They all rock out together and it’s so nice. We also love doing our signings and meeting our fans and finding out who they are.

There could be a young sixteen year old girl who has just started playing drums come up while the next person could be someone who came to one of our first ever shows in Melbourne. I really like that difference. I think it’s so cool that our band can reach so many different types of people. 

We did a festival in Hobart a month ago and there was some really young kids in the crowd as it was a festival in the botanical gardens. There was over ten thousand people and I started to get worried that these kids were starting to get crushed so I got them all up on stage. So there ends up being twenty kids on stage and I go up to talk to them and tell them that they better do some singing and dancing for us. And I ask them what their names are and the first kid said “Owen” and then I asked the next kid and he said “Owen” *laughs* and then all the kids said their names were Owen because they were so nervous. It was so funny *laughs*. They ended up dancing their asses off. I didn’t go to Hobart expecting that to happen and it was so much fun. 

TB: With this one off show happening in Melbourne in November, have you thought about hitting the road to play other cities too?

K: If the show is successful then definitely. We would love to tour this new show. But we haven’t talked about extensively yet as we are just going to see how this celebration in Melbourne goes.

TB: You will be releasing an exclusive vinyl at the show of the singles and a bonus favourite. What made you want to release this exclusively only on vinyl? 

K: We just love the idea of going back to vinyl. I remember when we got our first single ‘Circle K’ pressed and Janet did the artwork and Whitty and I did this inner sleeve collage made on a photocopier. We were very punk-rock back then. Everything was DIY. There was even a sticker in the first 200 copies which have become really collectable now. We were just always into those niche rock-n-roll culture things. 

We then went on to have chart and radio success which was unheard of at the time. We didn’t really expect it to happen because there was no one like us on mainstream radio expect for Nirvana. We were doing it for love and not for the money. 

This new show is about going back and looking at the beginning and that’s what vinyl is. The feeling that we got after we received that first single in our hand made us feel like we had finally made it. It’s still one of the best feelings we’ve ever experienced. 

It’s also a statement about how music is now with playlists and Spotify. I think it’s so great that the younger crowds are getting into vinyl and understanding how cool it is to have something physical. 

TB: Was choosing the track list for the vinyl an easy task or were there lengthy discussions surrounding it. And was there any songs that you wanted to be included that missed out?

K: I’m pretty happy with the ones we chose. We didn’t really allow ourselves a long winded conversation. There are so many songs that just choose themselves. We also just wanted to have a good spread of the eras. We really wanted to include ‘Straight Through The Sun’ and ‘It’s Beautiful’ as we just love those songs and they’ve been included on quite a few movies in America. We just wanted to create a balance. 

TB: Throughout your career you guys have won three ARIA awards, so what have you guys done with them and where are they displayed?

K: We are very lucky that we won three because everyone has one each. Because back in the day you only won one trophy per award. Where as now they give each member of the band once which is so fair. 

Mine is here with me at my house in Byron Bay. It’s sitting on the shelf with my other awards, plaques and certifications. 

It’s funny cause my friend Tex Perkins won an award once and they had a big party on a boat and he dropped it over the side and now it’s at the bottom of Sydney Harbour *laughs*. I’ve always wanted to do a documentary about finding the lost Aria with a scuba team on the Discovery Channel *laughs*. It’s down there somewhere. 

TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

K: Alright!

TB: Our pre-show pump up song is…

K: We don’t have one, we just have a very quiet chat. The weird thing about us is that when we walk on stage everything happens. It’s like you cross the line. But before we play we just take a minute of silence and have a quiet chat.

We’ve played a lot with The Living End over the years and we always make fun of each others pre-show warm up rituals because our one is so chilled and there’s is so fired up. It’s as if they are going to war *laughs*. 

TB: Pineapple on pizza is…

K: Delicious!

TB: The emoji that best describes Spiderbait is…

K: Oh, probably the one with the tongue out and one eye open *laughs*. 

TB: The messiest member of Spiderbait on tour is…

K: Definitely me! 

TB: My go to snack on tour is…

K: We did a few shows in Brazil one year and I woke up in the morning with a burger on my chest *laughs*. It was just waiting there patiently for me to wake up. So it’s probably burgers *laughs*. 

Spiderbait presents The Singles Tour

Saturday 9 November – The Forum, Melbourne *SOLD OUT*

Friday 27 December – Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff

Saturday 28 December – Torquay Hotel, Torquay

Sunday 29 December – Grand Hotel, Mornington

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