Interview by Andrea Royston
These three friends have made an imprint in Australian music since bursting onto the scene 25 years ago. Spiderbait have released seven albums, which have all received gold, platinum or double platinum status. Spiderbait have also attained pretty much every accolade there is to achieve on the Australian scene, having taken home numerous ARIA Awards, chalked up a number one spot for their 2004 cover of Leadbelly’s ‘Black Betty’ and even topped the prestigious Triple J Hottest 100 in 1996 with ‘Buy Me A Pony’.
To celebrate their hit-laden career, Spiderbait have announced a small handful of big shows, the leading one being at Forum Melbourne on November 9. Another exciting announcement for long-time fans – the show will be paired with a brand new, limited edition 7” vinyl box set of singles, SPIDERBAIT – SINGLES and will be available exclusively at the show.
We got to have a chat to drummer and vocalist Kram about the upcoming Spiderbait Plays Singles shows, the early days of Spiderbait and future plans.
The upcoming show at Forum Melbourne is certain to please old and new fans alike, as drummer and vocalist Kram enthuses, “For the first time we’ll be performing every one of singles in order of release, from Circle K to now. It’s been great to look back at all these singles, it takes you down memory lane, its like your life documented in songs”. Stoked to be playing at the Forum, Kram wasn’t surprised when he discovered that the show had sold out, but was stunned about how quickly that it did, “something has happened again with the band, we can all feel it when we play together”.
The last time Spiderbait played together was for the Hotter Than Hell festival earlier this year. Kram described this show as ‘euphoric’ and ‘exciting’, “I still get goosebumps talking about it” he admitted.
There are four important things that keep a band like Spiderbait going Kram shared. The first being success and relevance. “You need a sense of relevance”, he said before sharing a proud story of discovering that the band’s materials are showcased in the Australian Music Vault at Melbourne Art Centre. The second factor being to share the money equally, “it should be an equal incentive to be part of such a collective”. The third being friendship and the fourth being the music. There is no doubt about Spiderbait being a huge part of Australian culture and their long-term collective has made a permanent imprint on the Australian music scene.
Now, let’s go back to the earlier days of Spiderbait, before they made their mark on Australian culture. It is fair to say that you probably wouldn’t feel many punk vibes in the inner eastern suburbs of Melbourne, particularly in Camberwell. This is where Spiderbait spent many of their early days living together in a block of flats. It was during these days that the band released their first single, ‘Circle K’. Whenever they hear or play that song live they are taken straight back to the days of catching the Studley Park bus to Uni and that inviting feeling of arriving in Collingwood.
Kram fondly reminisced of the times when the band had to take the tram from Camberwell to their rehearsal space in South Yarra every Saturday morning because no one had a valid driver’s licence. “The old wooden tram would stop at the depot for just enough time for us to quickly load all of our equipment on before departing back in the direction of South Yarra”. This is a humorous image you must admit, the three dedicated musicians quickly loading their amps, drums and guitars onto this tram before it would depart from the depot. When they would eventually get to the closest tram stop to their rehearsal space, one would stop the traffic whilst the other would offload the equipment to the other who would quickly carry it all to the side of the road. Whilst band rehearsals normally would take place on a Saturday morning, there would be some weekdays where they would have to carry out this well-rehearsed routine on crowded school trams. Kram recalled the strange looks that they would receive from the private school kids, “perhaps Camberwell turned us more punk after all”!
Spiderbait is a very social band. The three of them are close friends and thoroughly enjoy playing together. When it comes to touring, they collectively prefer big individual shows than a series of smaller shows on a tour. Kram explained that if a band tours all the time then their performance can really suffer, “it loses its spontaneity and becomes more of a job than anything else”. It has always been important to Spiderbait to keep performing only as a fun thing to do and not to overdo it. “It is important to us to play well, kick ass and put on a good show because we always want to play the best we can”, Kram reasoned. The secret behind Spiderbaits strong and united stage presence has been revealed as being able to feel one another’s vibes when playing together. “I could just be going absolutely crazy while Janet is just over there all chilled out”, he held.
The setlist indicates that fans are in for one big treat, but what songs is Kram most looking forward to playing live? “Old Man Sam”, he said without hesitation. “It is a ridiculous song that takes me back to the days of playing at The Tote in Collingwood”. Spiderbait were a regular Act there back in the day. They would attract and play to crowds of up to 200 people. This drastically shifted to drawing a crowd of 20,000 people at Big Day Out. “Old Man Sam is a very sentimental song. The humour that is in this song was formed early on in our band”. Other live favourites include ‘Black Betty’ and ‘Calypso’.
Now for the announcement you have all been waiting for – it is very likely that there will be some new music from these guys in 2020! The bands vibe is really strong right now and “the fans are great”, Kram told us. After their individual projects such as Abbey Road Live, where Kram will form part of the talented lineup, and their headline at Triple J’s One Night Stand, they plan to knuckle down and get into the depth of writing new music.
These shows will be a victory lap for the group, and they are excited to be taking all their fans along for the ride!