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Jebediah – Outliving The Simpsons

It’s hard to believe that the young punk tinged rebels who brought us the singles ‘Jerks of Attention’, ‘Leaving Home’, ‘Teflon’ and ‘Animal’ are celebrating their 20th year in the music world, but that is exactly what this band from Perth are doing this year on their appropriately titled tour and album, Twenty!

Vocalist Kevin Mitchell is in a jovial mood when I speak with him and doesn’t take umbridge at all when I ask if he feels old on this special occasion.

“It’s weird,” he laughed, “sometimes I feel old, sometimes I feel young, it just depends on the day and what’s happening. It’s pretty crazy when you think of 20 years as a chunk of time; it’s pretty significant. It’s longer than I’ve been with my wife! It’s longer than I went to school! It’s more than half my life now, I turn 38 in October. It’s amazing!”

Many musicians starting out in the big old music world give little thought to celebrating their 20 years a second time in life, and it was no different with Jebediah, who didn’t dream they would still be celebrating their career with an album and tour after two decades.

“Oh no, not back then,” he stressed.

“I always thought – and I think I’m on record as saying this in an interview I did in about ’98 – that I expected music to be something I did in my 20’s and by the time I was 30 it would probably all be over so I obviously didn’t expect to still be doing this after all these years.”

When I ask him if he actually thought he would still be alive, let alone playing, his humor returns.

“I wasn’t counting on it,” he laughed.

“It’s true! I don’t necessarily count on ANYTHING much when it comes to the future, you don’t know what’s around the corner…”

So if he could travel back in time and give Kevin junior a bit of advice, what would it be?

“I think I’d definitely advise myself to learn more about the business side of things,” he mused.

“Just because, like, when we first started I just didn’t give a damn about the business side of things and I never really learnt it. We were all kind of mostly mollycoddled a little bit and we were only young and our manager and record label really mollycoddled us and we were having the time of our lives! We were having a great time but it got to 10 years in the mid 2000’s and we were an Independent band and we’d been doing it for that long and we still didn’t know how anything worked! We were really naive and ignorant. I had to learn alot of stuff the hard way later on. At the same time though, I know what would happen if future me came to past me with that kind of advice. Past me would probably tell future me to stop being such a drag. It would be ‘come on future me, let’s just go out and take some drugs and stop talking about business I don’t care hahaha.'”

This lighthearted attitude is one of the factors that has been vital to Jebediah’s continuing longevity.

“We’ve never stopped having fun,” he offered.

“It’s always been fun, even when our success started to die down in the mid 2000’s which led to us taking a break. Even then we still wanted to hang out together. We still liked each other and we still intended on making more records and doing more stuff which we did so yeah, I think our relationship has always just been strong.”

“Alot of it comes down to friendship. I guess we’re all a similar age and we grew up in the same suburb and went to the same school so there is some commonality there I suppose. That has to have an effect when it comes to relationships. Brett, the drummer, is also my brother and I guess we were all friends for years before the band got together so it’s kind of…, I don’t know…, I think the glue that keeps us together is more than just the strength of the band.”

With the band approaching this milestone, Kevin says they wanted the album and accompanying tour to have more meaning than just another cash cow money grabber from the record label. He wanted it to be more in keeping with what was important to the band and the fans rather than corporate greed.

“We were very adamant from the beginning that we didn’t want to put out a traditional Greatest Hits record which is basically where you put all your singles on a C.D,” he stressed.

“We wanted this to be something different, something that came from us. There’s a bunch of singles that are left off and we’ve included a B side and a track off the first E.P and a bunch of album tracks that maybe didn’t get a huge amount of attention when they were first released but we always like to play live. We sort of approached the track listing as if we were putting a set list together for a live show – that’s how we figured out how we were going to put the songs together so they weren’t just in chronological order and the 20th anniversary thing gave us a really good excuse to do it and not have a Greatest Hits album put out by our label that we weren’t involved with. And that happens all the time. We were really afraid of that and didn’t want it to happen because our history is important to us. If we were going to do a big compilation record it had to come from us. I’m proud and relieved that that’s how it ended up.”

Jebediah have long held a reputation for their live performances, and they have decided to up the anti once gain on this tour.

“It’s a kind of show that we’ve never actually attempted before,” Kevin explained.

“What we’re doing is two sets: the first set is from 1999 onwards, just crowd favorites and then we take a 20 minute intermission and come back and do ‘Slightly Odway’ from go to whoa. I think it’s like a two and a half hour gig! We probably would have been a bit better suited to doing this when we were a bit younger but surprisingly we’ve done well at it so far. I thought it could potentially physically break us but we’re holding up pretty well. We’re fighting fit!”

For a band who took their name from the fictional creator of Springfield in the television series ‘The Simpsons’, it is now a race to see which one survives the longest, and Kevin seems no closer to knowing the answer to that than Homer is to giving up beer.

“That’s a good question!,” he laughed.

“That T.V show has been going for a long, long time and it doesn’t seem like stopping. That’s a REALLY good question! I reckon that it could be a draw. Maybe we’ll retire when they stop making The Simpsons.”

Kris Peters

Jebediah play The Tanks on Friday 21 August.

Tickets available through Ticketlink

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