Interviewing a past hero is somewhat exciting … except when you aren’t as big a fan of their more recent material and harbour a grudge at their lack of performing said old stuff. This was the attitude I took into my chat with Jay (my 15-year-old self would be outraged).
Nevertheless, if there is one thing FRENZAL RHOMB taught me, it is never be afraid of telling people what you think – even if it may offend them. “And you turned out alright? Most fans who say our music has been a big influence on them are meth heads.” After politely asking a question about the upcoming tour, I told Jay straight up about my teenage obsession and subsequent disappointments with the band. In particular, I mentioned my love of ‘Coughing Up a Storm’ and ‘Not So Tough Now’ and cited the last time the group played The Basement as a prompt for probing into how their set lists are chosen. “That last tour we put the vote out to our fans, so unfortunately you were outnumbered in your love of those albums.” Jay delighted me in advising that “the set list won’t be impinged by democracy this tour.”
The group will most likely be trialling some of the material they have just finished recording for a new album that is set to be released in May. He wasn’t able to reveal a title for the album. “We’re keeping some things under wraps, then there will be a huge explosion where everyone will be disappointed.” He did however tell me that they just finished recording and mastering the album in Colorado with Bill Stevenson of The Descendants. Having both just been at The Descendants show at Enmore Theatre, we then had a quick chat about that (I didn’t tell Jay that he pushed past me to enter and then leave the mosh). When he expressed that “it was quite emotional”, I took the opportunity to reinforce the power of nostalgia and asked if he would ever consider doing a show where they play ‘classic’ albums back-to-back (hinting at their first two of course). “The only problem with that is that none of our albums are good from start to finish.”
Discussing the new album opened up a conversation about the songwriting process for the group today. “We put a lot more effort into the song writing now. I think I wrote ‘Not So Tough Now’ out the front of the studio with a couple of longnecks. Now because we all live in different cities, we work on the final product a bit more.” Jay was surprisingly polite and appreciative when I mentioned I had also seen his solo show and asked if he ever keeps songs specifically for his solo career. “I do give things to Frenzal first, but there might be a few leftovers from this album that I will keep.” As well as the opportunity to trial songs from the upcoming album, Jay informed me that “this tour is to recover funds from a recalcitrant tour member,” but wouldn’t reveal any more details about that. He also indulged me in my desire to hear some older material at the gig. “Feel free to incite violence if we don’t play what you want.”
Frenzal Rhomb, with supports Totally Unicorn, play at The Basement on Friday March 24. Tickets are $34.70 through Oztix.