Next Saturday the Dead of Winter Festival will be held in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, the event itself has grown in popularity in recent years and the 2018 edition is boasting some of the best established and upcoming bands such as Polaris, Clowns, Ocean Grove, Sensaii, Flangipanis, Being Jane Lane and heaps more. Frenzal Rhomb are also making their way back to headline so we had to grab frontman Jay Whalley for an interrogation and trip back in time to his not-so fun experiences with Music Festivals in Brisbane
Thanks for calling Jay and welcome to Wall of Sound. How is life mate?
Look it’s a pleasure to be here at Wall of Sound. Life is pretty good. I am currently sitting in my car, outside my house and I think that the neighbors think that I am being a bit creepy to be honest, but here we are. The heater is on, it’s minus five degrees in Sydney (and that is a personal measurement that I have made).
I’m in Tasmania Jay, I know all about cold, so by your measurements it’s probably minus thirty here (laughs).
Oh yeah, no doubt I’m hearing you there (laughs)
Now you guys are heading to The Dead of Winter Festival in Brisbane on July 7th, setlist wise, will it be similar to your Hi-Vis High Tea Tour or will it offer a bit more from the back catalogue?
Hell Yeah, its Australia’s best festival. We have actually shuffled the deck a little. We played a festival in Adelaide last week; The Day of Clarity festival and we allowed our long suffering bass player Tom Crease to write the set list. Normally I guard the set list writing duties with some sort of guarding implement. I usually don’t let anyone else touch it, but we let him do it and it was pretty good.
As it turned he picked a lot of songs from the back catalogue, a lot of hits, a few off the new record, a few off the less new record and a lot of songs that should have been big hits, but weren’t mainly because how offensive they were. It was a good mix.
Will you be taking that setlist with you to The Dead of Winter Festival?
Well I’m actually setting that setlist on fire and will be writing my own and he will never ever be allowed to write another set list ever again. But it will actually be pretty close to what I will do anyway. On second thoughts that’s a waste of time, I’m going to take his set list and add two songs and call it my own, making it perfect.
Talking about festivals in Brisbane, you’ve obviously played a few over the years (we remember a great set at Sounds Of Spring back in 2009). From memory what’s been the best and the worst thing to happen to you and the guys at a music festival.
Ohhhhh… I think the best and the worst thing actually happened at the Sounds Of Spring Festival. You have just transported me back to that very day. Gordy (Foreman – Drums) had broken his hand and Lindsay’s guitar stopped working half way through. In the midst of the silence I actually realized I has nothing to say to anyone. The whole thing was a disaster, but I’m glad that you think that it was good. I’m glad people invent their own history I think.
I have had a few good festivals over the years, I can’t really thing of any bad festivals, however we did play the Moosic festival in Townsville once. It is on this enormous footy oval in Townsville. I think there were about fifty payers. Christine Anu played as well, so it wasn’t too flash as it was a big place with no one in it.
What do you do in situations like that?
You play the best show of your entire life. You give those fifty people a really, really great time.
I remember when I was a kid and I went to a rock concert, I wouldn’t give a shit how many people were there. I would go there and if there weren’t any people there I would think, look at all this space for me to do whatever I want. For me it was a positive thing not even thinking that the band up there is going Oh my god.. Fuck my life, I’m going to become an accountant.
Are you planning of checking out much of the Dead of Winter’s festivities and attractions?
I am actually planning on seeing as much as I can at The Dead of Winter Festival, but I am actually playing in three bands on the day. I am also playing in a band called Nancy Vandal, a band that I have recorded one album with in 1996. We are playing that album from start to finish.
I also play in a band with my wife called the Neptune Power Federation where she plays the part of a time travelling witch who come back in time to destroy the devil. So I am going to be doing that as well.
Our cohorts Lindsay and Gordy from Frenzal are playing in a band called Dad Religion as well. So it’s going to be a very busy day. I am hoping to see some of the other bands too.
It’s going to be an action packed day and I have to make sure I don’t get too drunk.
Are there any bands are you looking forward to checking out on the bill?
Yes there are, I want to see Hightime, Clowns, Pangaea, Flangipanis (who are amazing), Goon On The Rocks (who are again amazing), Lagerstein and Lo!, there are so many bands I want to check out !! What a day !!
Are you coming from Tasmania for it? You can’t go wrong.
At this stage no I’m not Jay, but I am seriously considering it, it should be an amazing day and night. Back to you guys, Frenzal has never shied away from controversy and calling out members of the industry where necessary. Lately there hasn’t been any real form of controversy surrounding the band. Is that intentional?
That is where we like to be, outside of the controversy. Yes there are people with their heads shoved up their asses. The Kyle and Jackie-O thing I am assuming you are talking about actually happened to us not because of us.
We like to do our thing and we like to play shows in front of people that enjoy our music. We like to tour.
The thing about those people is that they don’t really realize that people exist without them and that there are a million bands out there. The Dead of Winter Festival is a testament to that. None of the bands on this bill are getting support from the mainstream music industry and yet everyone is doing fine. We all exist outside of that part of the industry.
People say that alternative music became mainstream in the 90’s, which to an extent some of the genres did. But the fact is that there are a million bands that are going around that have nothing to do with radio play or record deals. They are out there putting on shows, recording music and having a good time.
There has been a lot of discussion on social media lately that has been based around the fact that some of the Mainstream music festivals are ignoring new talent/established talent in taking them out into the public eye. What is your take on that?
There are plenty of places to play and I don’t think that you need to get on the back of a Jimmy Barnes show to get noticed. If people want to see bands they will go out and see bands. If people want to put on show, they will put on shows.
Just a couple of quick questions to finish off Jay. When can we expect a follow up to the awesome Hi-Vis High Tea?
There definitely will be one; we have started writing songs which takes us a long time. I was about to say we are all busy, but lazy is probably a better word (laughs). Will it be shortly? Shortly might be a bit of a stretch, but we will get there.
What does the rest of 2018 hold in store for Frenzal Rhomb ?
Big things !!! We are going to go to Marickville in Sydney and then we are going to go to Europe.
WOW Marickville !!!!
Yep, Marickville is kind of the Europe of Sydney. So before the end of the year we are going to do both of those things.
Jay thanks so much for your time. Frenzal play the 4ZZZ Stage in The Jubillee Hotel carpark from 10-11pm. Have a great day. See you there?
Pleasure mate, hopefully we will see you there.
Interview by Andrew Slaidins
Frenzal Rhomb headline the Dead of Winter Festival 2018
July 7th @ Fortitude Valley, Bris