GRENADIERS The ups, downs & all-arounds

Adelaide punk-rockers Grenadiers had their fair share of speed bumps during production of latest LP Find Something You Love and Let It Kill You, but the results are impressive to say the least. Now they’re trekking across Australia for a national tour to serenade listeners with a live dose of the energetic album. RYAN ELLIS caught up with frontman Jesse Coulter for a chat about album influences, hardship, post release relief and what’s we can expect at their WA gigs at Mojo’s, North Fremantle on Friday, March 9 and The Prince of Wales, Bunbury on Saturday, March 10.

How’s it been, recovering well after the stressors of producing/releasing the album?

Yeah, getting it together and out was a bit of a trial but we got there in the end. Now it’s out and done, and we’re about to go on tour with it, which is always a good feeling. Always good hitting the road and just looking forward to playing this new batch of songs for people.

It sounded like it didn’t come without its fair share of issues, recording and studio issues, gear getting stolen…

Yeah, it’s a funny thing you know, some albums just happen so naturally and easily, and effortlessly, and some are a real labour of love. This one was a real trial, a herculean trial. From everything you mentioned, like, we had a lot of mixing issues, Phil’s car was broken into and they stole all his pedals and our favourite guitar that was kind of central to a lot of the tones on the record. Lots of these things got thrown at us and a bunch of them stuck, thus the title of the album I guess: Find Something You Love and Let It Kill You, that’s what this band is for us. The labour of love that drives us to an early grave (laughs).

What motivated you to just keep pushing through all those issues, did that help fuel that angry, angsty vibe that comes through in parts?

No actually, funnily enough, I think friendship and love for each other is what helped us through all the bullshit and the angry, angsty vibe just comes from a totally different place. The way I see it is, as an individual I’ve got a lot of problems with the world around me and I sing about those, and I get kind of angry about them and that’s translated through the music. But it’s the relationship that I have with people like Phil and Jimmy in Grenadiers that enables us to actually do something positive with it such as, you know, translating it into a cathartic thing like a rock and roll song and taking that out to people and showing them, and hopefully them enjoying it.

You mention it’s issues around you that you sing about, did they heavily influence the album? For me, it felt like a real sort of day-in-the-life-of Grenadiers vibe with tracks like Drunk and Broke and Suburban Life…

Yeah, well obviously not every track on the album is some angsty payout against modern society or something. There are a bunch of those (laughs), but then others are just like a whimsical look at the sort of stuff that most people who would listen to us would be familiar with. Like being down to your last $50 and going out and spending it on beer, or you know, the sound of a two-stroke lawnmower on a Sunday afternoon…

A nice touch at the end of Suburban Life that one…

(laughs) Yeah. You know, it’s like what you said before, a day in the life of Grenadiers. It’s like that in the sense that in the course of any given day, you are going to have the very mundane combined with the extraordinary. Meaning, you might in the morning experience the birth of your child or something, or someone dies close to you, but then in the afternoon you’re washing dishes. I think that’s kind of reflected in the different lyrical subject matters of the record.

Any personal or band favourites that you thought, “this is it, this is the one”?

As a band, I don’t know what listeners are going to think because the listener and the band are often going to have different opinions. Often people that dig a record are gonna like the songs that are really immediate and have something that they remember, in terms of a hook and stuff like that. But then, some of the ones that are closest to the band are often the ones that are different or interesting to make, and not necessarily quote-unquote “hits”.

So, in that sense, the last track on the album Ramona is a bit of a group favourite because it just kind of makes no sense and goes all over the place, but it sounds really cool.  It’s got a weird breakbeat-based verse into like a full on 90s grunge, Nirvana-esque pre-chorus, and then a surf pop chorus, then this big weird outro with a million vocal layers, pedal steel guitar and all kinds of weird shit. That was a fun one to record.

Ramona is actually one of the tracks I really dug on the album, a real thrashy beat to let loose to then a mellow down for the chorus, a great song and a neat closer too…

Thanks man. I always think that that’s important, an album having a closer. You can write 10 great songs but if you don’t have something that’s great as an opener and something that’s great as a closer, it’s not an album, it’s just a collection of songs. I think that’s the difference between a compilation and an album, peaks and troughs, a beginning and an ending, with a story. The art of the album is a dying thing these days, I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing, it’s just a thing.

You’ve got the national album tour coming up soon, what can fans expect from these live shows, is it going to get as dirty as the Live Fast Diabetes video?

(laughs) Fuck I hope not, that was a struggle to make. I don’t really do sugar so eating all of that fucking cake, glutinous snakes and all that stuff, I felt very very ill after that. But yeah, I don’t know, what can people get from a Grenadiers show? We will always give it at least 60% on stage…

Depends on how much beer has been consumed…

Yeah (laughs). Nah, it’s just, I’m not going to say anything that it’s not, we don’t do light shows, we don’t do costumes (laughs), we’re not Kanye West, we’re not Taylor Swift. It’s just three very uncool, older dudes playing very uncool older rock, but it’s loud and with passion.

The album’s got a real energetic vibe to it as well. I couldn’t help but think shit, this is going to sound fucking awesome live…

Yeah, that’s definitely the goal. The beauty of sound as simple, stripped back and as raw as ours is that you can basically just plug in, turn it up and go. You don’t have to do any lengthy sound checks or anything, which is something we never bother with, we keep everything as simple as humanly possible. And that just means that, you know, when we’re having a shit night… sorry crowd. But when we’re on, which we do try to be all the time, as much as humanely possible, it’s on.

Obviously, every band has an off night, but I hope none of our nights on this upcoming tour are off. But yeah, just get up there, plug in, turn up and go hard. That’s the basic approach and there’s not really anything more to it than that. Hopefully, if the crowd’s half as into it as we are, then it’s going to be a good night.

The Perth gig should be awesome. Mojo’s in North Fremantle is a small venue but it makes for really intimate shows and when bands let loose, it’s off the hook…

I’ve not been to Mojo’s so I’m looking forward to checking it out. I’m also really looking forward to that show in particular because the line up is one of the best of the tour I think. We’ve got Pat Chow opening, who I think are a fantastic band, and Hideous Sun Demon as well, who I saw in Adelaide probably four or five weeks ago and that absolutely slayed it, I thought they were amazing so I’m really really stoked to be playing with those guys.

Things could get pretty crazy then?

Should do, I’d be surprised if they don’t.

What’s the craziest gig you’ve performed, or the loosest crowd you’ve had to deal with?

I remember once in Hobart, there was a dude crowd surfing in a wheelchair. I can’t really think of an example off the top of my head. The thing is, when the crowd tends to get crazy, I tend get crazy, which means I drink 15 beers and I don’t remember the show so…. don’t ask me questions like that (laughs).