IT’S been about 15 years since Jebediah last played in Warrnambool, but bassist Vanessa Thornton still remembers that show at the long-gone Lady Bay Hotel.
“Fur played first and a bit of a crowd was gathering and there was this one guy, some punk, going nuts on the dance floor out by himself,” she recalled.
“The bouncer went over to him and said ‘can you just settle down a bit?’ and the guy got right up in his face and yelled ‘listen mate, I’m here to mosh!’.”
Jebediah have come a long way since that tour with The Living End and Fur. Next year they will celebrate 20 years of existence and over the past two decades they have joined their fellow ’90s alt-rockers in ascending to “elder statesmen and stateswomen” status.
That was confirmed in recent years by Triple J, which helped make the band such a success in the ’90s. When the national youth broadcaster polled listeners for their favourite songs of the past 20 years, two Jebediah cuts made the list (Harpoon and Leaving Home), and when the best Aussie albums were counted down, Jebediah’s debut Slightly Odway came in at number 15.
“It’s really awesome,” Thornton said of such accolades.
“It’s definitely part of the reason we can still go out and play shows and people still come to see us — because there’s that history there.
“But the other night there was a guy at a show in Wollongong who’d just turned 18 and it was the first time he’d seen us.”
“That makes us feel like not so much of a nostalgia band,” she laughed.
Winning new fans is partly thanks to Jebediah releasing their fifth album Kosciuszko in 2011. Not only did it go top 10 on the ARIA charts but it was widely regarded as one of the best records of their career.
“That was definitely an album that was a combination of a lot of years’ work and a shift in nature of the band and the way it works,” Thornton said, noting that the seven-year gap between albums came as a “result of the band shifting from full-time focus to purely a hobby thing”.
“At the time we made that we had no label and no management — it was just the four of us in a recording studio with a mate (Dave Parkin) who produced for us.
“We were so happy with that record and so proud of it. It really made us confident and comfortable that Jebediah can be whatever we want it to be.”
When asked to nominate her favourite Jebediah album, Thornton picks fourth album Braxton Hicks — the band’s least successful record to date.
“It was the first time we’d ever recorded at home in Perth and the first time without a producer,” she explained.
“It was also the first one not on a major label — we released it on our own label ... which is probably why it didn’t sell,” she laughed.
“But also I think the songs on it are really awesome — a lot of the songs on that record are really under-rated.”
A couple of the tracks from Braxton Hicks will likely make the set list on Saturday night when they play at the Whalers Hotel, with support from Lurch & Chief.
Thornton said that despite having five albums and a B-sides collection to pick from, compiling the set list was pretty easy these days.
“It’s a pretty standard procedure for writing the set list — we try and include at least a couple off each record and we can’t not play songs like Leaving Home, Harpoon, and Animal,” she said.
“There’s always the definites, and there’s always a few songs where we say ‘oh we haven’t done this song for a while’, songs like Puck Defender or Star Machine.
“Quite often people are requesting and calling out for a particular song and if we can remember the song and can play it we sometimes do it.
“But there’s always the hardcore fans yelling out for obscure songs, and I’m like ‘I don’t know what that is, I can’t remember writing that’,” Thornton laughed.
Jebediah make their return to Warrnambool on Saturday night at the Whalers Hotel.