Legendary Australian pub-rock rebels The Screaming Jets will be celebrating 30 years as a band next year. Starting off as a covers band in the 1989 Newcastle pub scene, The Screaming Jets gained massive traction in 1991 with the song ‘Better,’ which peaked at #4 on the ARIA charts, and is still a staple on rock radio today. From there, the band has faced its fair share of adversity and lineup changes but has always bounced back with new records, tours, and a willingness to expand its horizons.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary, The Screaming Jets is releasing a covers album fittingly titled Gotcha Covered. TEO caught up with longtime frontman Dave Gleeson to discuss the new album and what it’s like being almost three decades deep as a band.
TEO: After almost 30 years of being a band, what’s made you guys want to do a covers album now?
Dave: Well, we’re coming up to 30 years next year so we’re planning ahead, working on a new album and stuff like that. We thought we’d do something to fill in so we could tour this year, and I said we could cobble together all the covers we’ve done over the years, which our bass player said was half-arsed. So he came up with the idea to do an all-Australian covers album and it grew from there. We were just going to do it on the fly but we got Steve James onboard and he made it sound a million bucks—so it’s unreal.
As far as cover albums go, Gotcha Covered is different because it doesn’t feature many obvious song choices, was that a conscious decision by you guys?
I started off in cover bands, as many people did in the early days; the first things you learn to play are other people’s songs and that sets you up for performing your own craft. I mean ‘Rain’ by Dragon, I did that in my first band and the crowd used to love it. ‘Gimme Head’ by The Radiators, well we’d do that all the time for obvious reasons. Then there’s ‘Shadowboxer’ by The Angels and a whole bunch of songs that have been part of our musical development, which we love to listen to.
The last track on the album ‘Guitar Band’ is a huge collaborative effort, did you plan on having it be so epic?
It fell into place, the great thing about doing a real album is spending seven or eight days in a studio just bouncing ideas around, a lot of fun stuff comes up and a lot of stupid stuff gets said. We were talking about getting someone to guest on ‘Guitar Band’ and we ended up with such a long list that we thought ‘why don’t we get them all to do it?’ Of course all the guitarists we know have a studio setup in some way so they just sent their takes to poor Steve James (our producer), who had to mix 14 guitars into the track. When he sent us the mix I said ‘is that you I can hear screaming in the background?’
The Screaming Jets is having something of a mini-resurgence recently, selling out shows and releasing new material, how have you kept the buzz going for such a long time?
We were lucky to come along in the end period of the ’80s and the early ’90s where there was a strong pub circuit and we were touring heaps, supporting bands like The Divynls, The Angels, The Choirboys, and The Radiators. Because we had the same style as these bands we were able to win over some of their fans, and obviously gain some of our own. It was a great time to not only learn your craft because you were playing so much, but also to get around the country and build up your following.
What plans have you guys got for the future?
We’re working on songs at the moment with Steve James, that’s looking like it’ll come out near the end of next year rather than the start or middle. Between The Angels and The Jets I’m on the road about 44 weeks a year—I love it though, it’s the best fun you could ever have. With The Jets now we’re all best mates, we play our guts out and blow everyone away, then wake up the next morning and do it again.
Gotcha Covered is due for release on Friday, 27th July.
Gotcha Covered is available for pre-order here.
Friday, 3 August 2018 – ROZELLE (SYDNEY), The Bridge Hotel
Saturday, 4 August 2018 – ROZELLE (SYDNEY), The Bridge Hotel
Sunday, 5 August 2018 – ROZELLE (SYDNEY), The Bridge Hotel
Friday, 10 August 2018 – DONCASTER (MELBOURNE), Doncaster Shoppingtown Hotel
Saturday, 11 August 2018 – MULGRAVE (MELBOURNE), Village Green
Friday, 17 August 2018 – KINGSFORD (SYDNEY), Juniors Kingsford
Saturday, 18 August 2018 – ROOTY HILL (SYDNEY), Rooty Hill RSL
Friday, 24 August 2018 – PARKWOOD (GOLD COAST), Parkwood Tavern
Saturday, 25 August 2018 – HAMILTON (BRISBANE), Hamilton Hotel
Friday, 31 August 2018 – HINDMARSH (ADELAIDE), The Governor Hindmarsh
Saturday, 1 September 2018 – HINDMARSH (ADELAIDE), The Governor Hindmarsh
Friday, 7 September 2018 – RAVENSWOOD, Ravenswood Hotel
Saturday, 8 September 2018 – NORTH PERTH, The Charles Hotel
Friday, 14 September 2018 – MIRANDA (SYDNEY), Miranda Hotel
Saturday, 15 September 2018 – REVESBY (SYDNEY), Revesby Workers Club
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Photo: Scott Kingman Productions