Spiderbait’s Kram rolls around the corner on his old bike, his long hair wet given he’s just come from the beach, no shoes, ever-present aviators perched on his face. We’re meeting at a small café around twenty clicks north of Byron Bay, just down the road from where Kram lives these days – the staff know his name, he’s become a fixture in this part of the world.
He’s in a good space, and well might he be. Spiderbait, a good nine years after their last record, 2004’s Tonight Alright, are this month releasing a new, self-titled cut, a booming return to the scene, almost “another debut”, as Kram pronounces with a laugh.
It comes nine years after its predecessor because, as he says with no small amount of incredulity on the hiatus the band has been on during this period, time just slips away. Work began on Spiderbait a good three years ago though, and so to say it’s ready to be unleashed, would be an understatement indeed.
So why has this new record taken three years to make?
It just took a long time to put together – you can blame Franc (Tetaz, producer) for that, he’s way too meticulous (laughs). We looked at all the songs in great detail, and would have no hesitation scrapping something if it wasn’t right, even if you’d worked on it for ages.
Franc obviously worked on Gotye’s Making Mirrors record – how did you come to bring him into the fold?
I did the Nick Cave tribute thing for Triple J and Bertie Blackman was making her record with [Franc] at the time and was raving about him. We were thinking about doing it ourselves, because at the time we just wanted to make something pretty fucked up and punky. But I eventually took him some demos and met him, and we just hit it off straight away… we started writing, jamming, we knew straight away he was gonna be perfect.
Over the past 24 years, no doubt your goals, hopes and dreams for the band have changed, so how did you want to approach this rebirth, so to speak?
It’s pretty much the same, I don’t think our goals have changed that much. We’re lucky that we can remain a successful band in Australia… we enjoy doing it and people seem to like us, they seem to want to hear our music, and that always helps.
You guys recently played support to Pink on her last Australian show, which seems an odd pairing – how did that come about?
That was insane. We got asked to do the whole tour, which would have been something like 65 gigs… but we were in LA doing the record at the time. So when we came back, they asked us to do the final show, and we were like, “Fuck yeah,” and the crowd was just great to us.
In 2004, at WaveAid, you played in a supergroup call The Wrights, doing a version of Stevie Wright’s ‘Evie’… if you could assemble around you a supergroup today, who’d be in it?
OK, well I’d be on drums. I’d have to say Dan Sultan, we’ve jammed a lot… he’s the one guest we had on the record too. Abbe May on second guitar. Bass player, shit… it’s not just Australia, right? Yeah, Lemmy, definitely (laughs). You’ve gotta have a lead singer, I’d go a young Ozzy. Can you go back in time? Ozzy Osbourne.
Your version of Lead Belly’s ‘Black Betty’ was a killer cover, your highest selling single too… if the three of you were to revamp another of someone else’s songs, what would it be?
We love covers. The thing is, you get that thing of what you’d love to do, and what actually sounds good, and you want something that’s both. I think it’d probably be ‘Ace Of Spades’ by Motorhead, and I’d get Janet to sing it.
You’re sitting here with Tony Abbott, instead of me – what are you talking about?
Not much (laughs).
Next year, Spiderbait will have been around for 25 years, which is more than half your life – does that blow your mind?
Yes, it’s epic dude, epic. We feel like we should do an anniversary thing… we’re planning it at the moment. Maybe in the past, we would have gone, “Fuck, that’s heavy.” But now it’s like, “This is awesome.” We feel really proud of it, I think partially because we’ve still got all our hair and still feel relatively sexy. I guess what I’m saying is we still feel, in some ways, relevant to what’s going on.
Samuel J. Fell