Local bass player shares the Triple J Hottest 100 joy

Jono Colliver (centre) and James Keogh (right) performing together for a live Vance Joy clip on YouTube.
Jono Colliver (centre) and James Keogh (right) performing together for a live Vance Joy clip on YouTube.

WHEN Vance Joy's track Riptide was announced as the winner of Triple J's Hottest 100 on Sunday, Jono Colliver was in a radio station in Auckland with his Vance Joy bandmates, listening to the momentous moment from across the Tasman.

It's a long way from his beginnings playing bass with bands in Portland, but it's the latest amazing experience for the musician, who will spend much of 2014 touring the world with the indie-folk group.

"The general vibe was we thought that Lorde track (Royals) would smash it," Colliver said of Riptide's surprise victory.

Celebrations were pretty sedate, he added, with the band in bed by midnight due to a gig at the Auckland Laneway Festival the next day at noon.

While that may not sound typically rock 'n' roll, Vance Joy is not your typical band.

The act is the outlet for Melbourne singer-songwriter James Keogh, with Colliver headhunted from a previous band, Thnkr, to join Vance Joy.

"He was already doing good things but he hadn't done any gigs with a band and his management wanted to set up a showcase gig," Colliver explained.

"They emailed me after (a gig at The Toff in Melbourne with Thnkr) saying they were looking for a bassist that can sing and would I like to play with this indie folk guy.

"I was super skeptical, I rolled my eyes.

''I thought 'this can't work you can't build a band, it's going to fail'.

''I was really cynical about it.

"The whole thing of it being a business rather than a band was a big turn-off for a 'bandy' kind of guy (like me).

"But then I actually met James and that was the turning point.

''He's a genuinely down to earth dude who writes amazing songs.

"I genuinely dig his songwriting, regardless of how commercial it gets.

"The first time I heard him play the songs, just on his ukelele ... when he played them for me, that was an earth-rocking moment.

"If I can help him get those songs across and be a key part of the machine, then I'm interested in doing that and learning from that and having that experience."

Colliver doesn't actually play on the recording of Riptide he's a member of the live touring band, with session musos used as a cheaper option for recording Vance Joy's album in Seattle last year (the album is expected out in the middle of 2014).

He does play bass on one track on the band's God Loves You When You're Dancing EP.

As a result, the congratulations he's received for his part in the Hottest 100 glory and the song's general success are a little "undeserved", he laughed.

"The song is the hero. James wrote the song. I'm not even playing on it, but indirectly I'm part of the same ride so I'm happy to accept the congratulations but they're not necessary."

Colliver noted the Hottest 100 success had particularly resonated back in his old hometown of Portland.

"It can be hard for the general populace to gauge what success is for a band ... but getting number one in the Hottest 100 is something regular country people can understand," he said.

"But for me, the joy of playing a really great gig that's the pinnacle."

By comparison, the achievements of Colliver's other band Kashmere Club have meant more to him. Playing a series of great gigs at Melbourne rock venue Cherry Bar and getting nominated for a Cherry Award last year, as well as releasing an EP recorded by The Living End's Chris Cheney.

Unfortunately for Colliver, getting the opportunity to tour the world with Vance Joy after the Laneway Festival tour they will travel to the UK, Europe and the US multiple times this year has meant he's had to step aside from Kashmere Club, with an option to return after his Vance Joy duties are complete.

He'll continue to scratch his creative itches via a side project called Money On Verema, which has a single due out soon.

In the meantime, Colliver said he will keep being blown away by how far he's come from his early days as a musician in Portland.

"I do think about that at regular intervals," he admitted.

"After playing Splendour In The Grass (last year), where it was a completely new experience, that was another earth-rocking moment, and naturally you just reflect on the path you've managed to follow."


Discuss "Local bass player shares the Triple J Hottest 100 joy"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.