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JAMIE T Back To The Circus

Jamie T
Jamie T

 “When you’re young you just don’t know what anything is and no-one really explains anything to you, because it’s assumed that you know what’s going on. Before you know it, you’re in a situation where it’s like, ‘I don’t want to fucking do this. This is bullshit’.”

Jamie T has just released his long-awaited third album, Carry On The Grudge, and will perform at the Astor Theatre on Monday, January 26, 2015. AUGUSTUS WELBY reports.

When his debut album, Panic Prevention, came out in 2007, London tunesmith Jamie Treays was just 21 years-old. Based on Treays’ wry wit and colourful storytelling ability, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the work of someone with several more years of living behind them.

Album number two, Kings & Queens, followed in 2009, featuring an even broader outlook and proving that Jamie T was no one-trick pony.

However, shortly after this release, Treays cancelled a string of live dates and essentially put his career on hold. By the time 2014 rolled around, the likelihood of another Jamie T album looked decidedly dim.

“There were times when I was wondering whether I was really going to do it again,” Treays says. “I’ve been doing it since I was really young and I’d been on the road a long time. I’d never had a moment to stop and think, ‘Wait a minute, do I really want to fucking do this?’ I just decided it was time to think about it all and work out if it was something I wanted to do.”

It might’ve taken a while, but in July this year the outcome of Treays’ career re-evaluation at last became clear. First there was the brand new single, Don’t You Find, and then came the announcement of Jamie T’s third album, Carry On The Grudge.

Right from the get-go, Jamie T garnered critical acclaim and commercial success all over the world. Treays’ tunes are rooted in punk rock attitude and possess a street-hardened edge, but the extent of his immediate impact prevented him ever qualifying as an ‘underground artist’. Aside from the financial security, gaining swift success in the music industry isn’t always an ideal scenario.

“When you’re young you just don’t know what anything is and no-one really explains anything to you, because it’s assumed that you know what’s going on,” Treays explains. “Before you know it, you’re in a situation where it’s like, ‘I don’t want to fucking do this. This is bullshit’.”

Song-wise, Carry On The Grudge isn’t a radical departure from its two predecessors, which suggests Treays’ past frustrations haven’t impinged upon his creative freedom. Granted, it’s a more melancholy work and the hip hop influence is fairly subdued this time around. But Treays’ cunning lyrical flair, combined with that unmistakable South London accent, remains the main attraction.

“At one point the album was sounding completely alien to the past two records I’d done,” he says. “I had no want to shun those records at all. I’m very proud of them and I didn’t want to come back into music with some brand new fucking album and be like, ‘No man, I don’t do that anymore’.

It’s fair to assume that Treays would feel a sense of ambivalence about diving back into the circus. Of course, it’s unlikely he’ll completely avoid the less-inspiring aspects of the music industry, but at least he’s now confident this is what he wants to be doing.

“It is kind of in my identity,” he notes. “Since I was a kid I’ve been writing songs and if you take that away from me, I can get a bit lost. It took me a while to get the ball rolling, but by the end of it I was writing three or four songs a day. I just took some time to work out how I wanted to do it and whether I wanted to do it forever or not. And I’ve decided I’d really like to do it for years to come.”

Tickets for Jamie T’s Astor Theatre show are available from http://lovepolice.com.au/jamie-t-2015/