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THE PINHEADS Exile in Perth

Wollongong’s The Pinheads are known for their crazy antics onstage. They took a sabbatical before getting together again last year to head out on tour and record new music. KAREN LOWE spoke to frontman Jeremy “Jez” Player about their new single Not Like You, stitches in Switzerland and what we can expect to see in their live shows at the Prince of Wales on Friday, February 22, Mojos on Saturday, February 23 and the Four5Nine Bar at The Rosemount on Sunday, February 24.

You guys have a new single out Not Like You and are about to head out on a national tour, including three dates in WA. Where are you looking forward to playing the most and why?

Probably over there, and maybe Tassie too. We’ve actually never been to WA so that will be pretty cool to see how that goes down.

Not Like You is about the pressure to fit into society while trying to retain a sense of self-being. Is it based on personal experience or just from observing everyone around you?

Could be sort of just observing things, I guess.

It was also written as you guys were boarding a plane for a massive tour in Europe. How did the shows go over there? Were you well received?

Yeah the shows were really good over there. It’s a bit of a gamble – you go there and hope the people come and like it but it was really good. Had a bunch of new songs we started playing there and I think we did like 25-26 shows. We were super tired by the end and we just came straight home and recorded some of it. That single we were talking about is one of them. We recorded that live which is pretty cool I think.

Where were some of your favourite shows?

We played at this, I forget what the city’s called, but it’s in Belgium. It’s like an old coal mining town. It was like a post apocalyptic world. It was great. It was the end of the earth. I don’t know, I think the whole industry fell through. It was a really strange place.

We played in this huge warehouse – an old steel making factory which was bought dirt cheap because no one was using it any more. There was a nuclear power plant thing across the road which was really interesting. I don’t think there’s much like that around anywhere. There was a couple of weird places like that we played at over there. Not much like that would ever happen over here. It was very interesting.

Being on tour can be tough on mental health and general well being. How do you guys go with touring and do you have any strategies to keep spirits up?

I think we are all pretty attuned to each other because we’ve been friends before we’ve been doing music so I think we’re pretty good with picking up on someone’s vibe. I think generally we decided to be pretty open when we’re feeling a little rough and we are there to help and hang out. I guess another thing is it’s pretty hard to do but not to have too much alcohol. Picture having that on the road. It kinda kills you. Get sleep and don’t do that – it’s gotta be priority. It’s easier said than done but you’ve gotta try, for sure.

What are some of your most memorable moments on stage? And what are some of your worst?

Probably most memorable and also my worse show was that tour we were talking about. We were in Switzerland playing a show and I stupidly took off my shoes because it was really hot. Somehow, the bottom of the mic stand sliced my foot open and it was a gaping hole. It was really, really deep and was probably like 10cm long. I didn’t know it had done that and when I’m playing, I like to wander around and stuff. As I was going, there were these people backing away and I noticed these shocked faces more and more all looking at me. I’m like, “what the hell?”

You know when something bad happens and with the adrenaline, you don’t feel it? I had no clue and then I looked back towards all the other guys playing; saw a huge trail of blood all over the ground and I was like “oh, ok something’s happening here.” I looked down at my foot and yeah it was just pouring out. So that was fun.

I continued the show there as that was the last song and a guy came and bandaged it and had to go to hospital. But because we were in Switzerland and they’re so strict, I had to talk to the police. People with the ambulance and the doctors they all had to question me in a staunch way, because they were like, “What are you doing here? Why?” So that was definitely memorable. I won’t forget that any time soon.

As a fan, it’s often quite hard to go up to your idols and say hello for fear of being turned away or fear of seizing up and sounding like an idiot. As a musician, how do you go at meeting your idols? Have you ever gone to speak to someone and just seized up?

I haven’t met too many to be honest. I think a lot of the people I look up to; most of them are probably dead. I definitely have met some younger people who I respect a lot. We’ve played with a few people where I think they’re pretty cool but then you meet them and they’re just a regular person. I think that’s the case with anyone though. You have to remember they’re just another person and if they act as if they’re not another person then you probably don’t want to know them.

What music do you all love to listen to while in the van for ages? And do you have a method for who gets to pick what to prevent fights from breaking out?

We’ve definitely got some albums that we all love. Exile On Main Street by The Stones comes to mind. That’s good on the road. It’s all a big mish mash. Sometimes we’ll be listening to punk and after that, we’ll be listening to hip hop.

We’ve definitely got some go tos, but I can’t really think of any off the top of my head. It’s very important – we take that pretty seriously. If someone puts on something bad, they get shunned for sure. I think we all like to try and use that time to find new music that we all like as well.

What bands do you currently have on rotation in your CD player? And are there any bands that you just didn’t get until you saw them live?

With the live thing, there are a few bands that I don’t necessarily listen to but then I’ve seen them live and it’s absolutely mental. There’s a band from up this way called Totally Unicorn. They’re on the same label as us and they’ve been kicking around Wollongong since I was a teenager. Every time, they are absolutely mind blowing – like one of the best shows ever and I’m not necessarily into their music but they’re really good.

I think the band The Drones did that for me as well. I’d heard some of their stuff but just seeing them play… I really loved that. I think that they’re a great band. They are probably the best in Australia. They clicked with me when I saw that. Tropical Fuck Storm as well. I saw them not too long ago and they’re great. There’s too many others. There’s definitely more there.

It might not necessarily be the show but you see the personality of people. When I meet the person – the singer or musician or whatever – it’s their personality that makes it click a lot for me. I’ve met a lot of people where I didn’t really understand or like the music then I met the person and I’m like, “wow that makes perfect sense.” It’s pretty interesting when that happens.

For people that haven’t seen you guys live, what should they expect from your shows?

Well I think it’s pretty energetic, I’ve been told. When we were starting to make music, we saw a lot of live bands and a lot of them were really good but generally, we found a lot of bands, their performance or visual aspect was quite boring. Even if they were good musicians and were writing good songs.

So I think that’s kind of ingrained in us. We try to have a somewhat entertaining show. We get really into it. We try and feel the music a bit, I guess. I think if you like energetic stuff, you’ll probably like it.

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