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Bodyjar are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a national tour that stops by Capitol this Friday, August 15, with guests Samiam, Blueline Medic and Clowns. AUGUSTUS WELBY reports.

2014 marks 20 years since Melbourne pop-punk VIPs Bodyjar started making noise. What is it that underpins the band’s multi-decade endurance? Did they take an oath in the name of the law or the lord? Or has the incentive of financial profit kept them alive?

According to frontman Cam Baines, there’s no real secret to the perseverance – other than being blissfully unaware of the passing years.

“Things come and go so you just never think about it and before you know it, it’s there,” he says. “I didn’t even realise it was 20 years, then Caleb (Williams, manager) was like, ‘You know you guys have been together for 20 years?’ I was like, ‘What the fuck – we better do a special tour’.”
Even though Baines and Co. are using the tour’s significance as an opportunity to indulge their own tastes, the primary focus will be Bodyjar’s 20 year history. What better way to demonstrate how far they’ve come then by smashing through their second LP, 1996’s
Rimshot!, from start to finish? This isn’t the first time the four-piece have performed an entire record on stage (they toured 1998’s No Touch Red a couple of years ago) and Baines emphasises the value of getting re-acquainted with the earlier material.
“You learn a lot about yourself. You remember what you stood for when you first started. I reckon all old bands that have been around for ages should go and re-learn all their old shit. It takes you back to the time when you weren’t over-thinking everything and you just did something because it sounded cool.

“You know too much about music after a little while. When you first start you don’t give a fuck – you don’t care if that chord doesn’t go with that chord. When you go back and learn your old songs you’re like, ‘Fuck, that was pretty wild. There’s a million riffs in one song, there’s heaps of energy, it’s really fast’.”

Yes, Rimshot! sure is fast; the record barely makes it past the 30-minute mark. This means there’ll be plenty of stage time left for a comprehensive journey through the remainder of Bodyjar’s catalogue. Six albums have followed since Rimshot!, including two major label releases, How It Works and Plastic Skies, and last year’s gutsy return to form, Role Model. 

“We’ve probably got a list of about 50 songs we can do,” says Baines of the tour preparations. “A lot of people on our Facebook have been in our ears about what to play so we just learnt the ones that a lot of people have mentioned.

“There’s certain ones that you just know the crowd knows. Not The Same everyone knows, One In A Million everyone knows, You’ve Taken Everything. But it’s more early stuff that we’re going to throw in, like Time to Grow Up and Negative Man. There’s a few weirder B-sides that people want to hear, so we’ve got a few of them ready to go as well.

“We’ve been around for a long time and we’re not here to prove anything. We just want everyone to have a good time. I just like a party sort of vibe at gigs, to just keep it loose.”

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