The Vine interview: Brett Mitchell of Jebediah, April 2011

An interview for The Vine. Excerpt below.

Interview – Jebediah

“Jebediah’s apparent strategy is simple,” I wrote in December last year; “Take to the stage and kick several shades of shit from any lingering doubts about their ongoing aptitude.”

At the time, it’d been a while between drinks for Perth quartet, who rose to national prominence off the back of their 1997 debut, Slightly Odway. During the ensuing years, their high-energy alternative rock – occasionally intercut with slower, ballad-like singles, in ‘Harpoon’ and ‘Feet Touch The Ground’ – was on a par with Silverchair, Spiderbait, You Am I et al in terms of both triple j airplay and frequent festival appearances. The foursome – frontman Kevin Mitchell, his older brother and drummer Brett, bassist Vanessa Thornton, and guitarist Chris Daymond – took a breather after the so-so chart performance of their independently-released fourth album, Braxton Hicks (2004), Kevin Mitchell pursued (and found) success with his solo project Bob Evans. Jebediah would continue to play sporadically, but by and large, it seemed as though the group weren’t in any hurry to return to the studio.

Now their fifth album is being released on April 15 via Brisbane-based independent label Dew Process. Kosciuszko was recorded on-and-off over several years with Dave Parkin (Snowman, Sugar Army) in a Perth studio, whenever the four members could find the time. Bar now-Melbournite Kevin Mitchell – the only member able to support himself as a full-time musician – the other three still live in Perth. Mitchell senior works for a logistics company, Daymond works at 78 Records, and Thornton recently completed a Bachelor of Science, between playing with Felicity Groom & The Black Black Smoke.

I spent a couple of days with the band in early December last year, while they played a short run of shows and shot the video for ‘She’s Like A Comet’ – their current single, which is receiving heavy airplay on both alternative and commercial radio – in Sydney. With those experiences still fresh in mind, TheVine connected with drummer Brett Mitchell.

You’ve been in this situation before, where you sit down and do a bunch of phone interviews to promote the new record. How does it feel this time around?

It’s coming back to me. Promo is one of those things which – as I’m sure you know – ranges from genuinely painful to genuinely enjoyable. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. It’s always nice to have the chance to talk about things in a meaningful way, or in a way that you think is going to be relevant to people. But that doesn’t always happen. What can I say? I’m just kind of going with the flow, and trying not to be too cynical about it.

At this stage, which sensation is more accurate: painful, or enjoyable?

I have to say, it probably has been more enjoyable than I would’ve anticipated. Maybe that’s because the commercial [success] is happening with the single (‘She’s Like A Comet’). Plus there’s that [band] history there, which a lot of people seem to be familiar with. I guess people have got a couple of different angles to approach us from, and maybe that’s helping me smooth it over.

The single has been doing well, hasn’t it?

Yeah. I’m certainly spun out. It’s very strange to me, that after all this time, we get this song pretty much across the board on radio. It’s certainly never happened before. It’s awesome because it’s giving us a springboard, which I’m sure we did need. But it’s still a shock. It probably doesn’t bear anything, really; it’s one of those things that’s just happened, and perhaps it’s a random event. We just have to capitalise on it.

I have to ask about the album title, Kosciuszko. Is there a significance behind it? Can we draw some parallels between it being the summit of Jebediah’s musical career so far, or some such?

I was actually a bit worried about the symbolism that people might interpret in that. It seemed like it might be a little bit grand, or arrogant, or something. But in actual fact, that doesn’t exist at all, and I’m still at the point now – speaking of promo – where I’m actually telling the truth about most things. So the truth with [the album title] is that it was Kevin’s baby.

Apparently The Beatles were going to call The White Album Everest. He must have read something about it. Obviously it never happened, and I don’t know if anyone else has ever gone down that path. But the appealing thing to me about it, is that it’s essentially a nonsense word. It doesn’t even look like a word, when you see it written on the page. We’ve always had a lean in that direction, so I think it kind of fits. As for the symbolism – I don’t know. People can make of it what they will.

For the full interview, visit The Vine. For more Jebediah, visit their website. The music video for their song ‘She’s Like A Comet‘ is embedded below.

Elsewhere: ‘Jebediah Return From Hiatus’ news story for Rolling Stone, February 2011

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