After enjoyed a well-earned break from tour buses and recording studios, Grinspoon’s dummer Kris Hopes sounded refreshed, happy and excited for things to come when we caught up a few weeks into the band’s Guide to Better Living tour.
“All the shows have been sold out and all that sort of stuff so yeah, it’s going real good,” he said.
“I think we’re a lot more relaxed about what’s going on than we were… well, definitely than we were 20 years ago. I think we’ve had roughly three years off, we did a couple of shows with Cold Chisel in the middle but yeah, towards the end before we had our hiatus I think – well, maybe just speaking for myself – I was just a bit burnt out and wanted a break.
Now it just feels re-energized and feels nice to get back together and play. Everyone’s happy and all that so yeah, it’s all good. We’re stoked to be back out there and stoked that people want to come along and hear us re-do it, you know?”
The tour, marking the 20 years since the band’s breakout album Guide to Better Living was released, will take in a multitude of regional and metropolitan centres in every Australian state and territory between July and September. It is, however, a ‘part-time’ affair, allowing Hopes and band mates Phil Jamieson, Pat Davern and Joe Hansen time to get home between gig weekends.
“We go home for about one or two days a week, every week,” Hopes said.
“I definitely hate playing on Mondays (laughs) and they try to make us do it, Mondays or Tuesdays, but I hate playing on those days, that’s kind of our weekend. It’s been quite full on so far, we’ve had a few other things like a couple of TV things like for the Footy Show and the NRL State of Origin and that kind of stuff. There’s been a lot of press and stuff in between shows, so it’s been a pretty full-on start to the tour but it’s nice to have a day off or two a week after 25 years or however long we’ve been together.”
Grinspoon’s history is fairly well-known to even the casual music fan in Australia. Meeting while attending university in Lismore in the mid-1990s, the guys took out Triple J’s inaugural Unearthed comp in 1995 and released Guide to Better Living in late 1997.
The first release of the album went platinum and peaked at number 11 on the ARIA charts. The 20th anniversary re-release this year went double platinum, and peaked at number eight on the charts.
Hopes said the idea of playing the whole album start to finish was, “a bit of an effort.”
“When we first thought about it we thought, can we bring the same energy and everything? Obviously we recorded it 20 years ago when we were 20 years old,” he said.
“You know, you can never tell until you get into the rehearsal room and start playing it. We’ve obviously done that and it came together pretty good, everyone is playing really well so energy wise it’s just cranking at the moment, it’s really awesome.”
So is it as energetic as it was 20 years ago?
“Probably even more so, I was thinking!” he laughed.
“You know, we did a crazy show the other night at… where were we… in Melbourne somewhere, and it was just off the hook. Jamo was jumping 10 feet in the air and doing all sorts of crazy shit and yeah, I don’t even think we need to talk it up. I think when people come along and see it, you know, it is what it is.”
Part of the band’s energy may stem from their break, during which time all members except vocalist Jamieson pursued avenues away from performing.
“I run a little building company in Brissie, which I just kind of offloaded recently,” Hopes said.
“Just doing little renos and stuff like that. I’ve really just been hanging out and having a bit of time to myself. Joe went off doing a few music festivals, on the production side, on the stage side. Phil has continued on doing his solo stuff and had a few other things going on. And Pat bought himself a shop, like a music-slash-clothing shop in Bangalow, New South Wales, so him and his wife have been doing that.”
Hopes said the more relaxed approach to touring was also a bonus for spending time with family, although his sons were excited to see him back on the road.
“Our kids are all growing up so it’s nice to be around for that instead of being away all the time,” he said.
“I think with the age of our band and what we’ve done, we can take a few of those liberties now. Now that we’ve come back and we’re doing this, we don’t have to go on the road again, or we don’t have to go and record, whereas the last 20 years we were just doing that non-stop. Whenever we were off the road we were recording, there weren’t too many breaks in there. It was pretty full on.
“I’ve got two boys and they’re both drummers as well. They just love coming to sound check and playing drums and doing all that stuff, so they’re pretty excited about it all. It’s nice to have your kids kind of appreciate what you do, I guess, and now that they’re old enough to kind of know what’s going on it’s nice.”
Hopes said there was still hope – excuse the pun – for fans wanting to see some new music from Grinspoon in the future.
“I mean, who knows what’ll happen at the end of this tour,” he said.
“If we’re all still friends and we’re still liking each other we might go and do something else, we’ll have to see what happens.”
With the band’s second performance at New York’s infamous CBGB’s on the GTBL re-release, it seemed fitting to bring up the similarly infamous story of Hopes falling off the back of the stage during the band’s first performance in the ‘90s.
“Oh that’d be one of the worst things (that has happened) when we’re trying to do a show,” he laughed.
“But it was my own fault; we’d been drinking all day so yeah, it was definitely self-inflicted that one (laughs). But anyway… yeah, let’s not talk about that (laughs). We’ve all had a few accidents and injuries and all sorts of things go wrong but that’s what comes with all the dudes playing rock n roll on the road.”
I asked if he had heard about Superheist’s drummer being hit in the face with a glass at the band’s recent Brisbane show.
“What? No, I hadn’t heard about that… wow, poor dude,” he said
“Funnily enough that gig we were playing, – the one I was talking about in the Melbourne suburbs somewhere – we were surprised that they all had glass out there, ‘cause usually that’s not the case these days for that reason, people throw shit.
“I think that’s originally why I started wearing the hat, the cap, back in the early days because people back in ’97, at a lot of festivals we played, kind of liked to throw stuff to show appreciation for the band or whatever. So instead of me having to look up and cop it in the head I had a cap for a bit of protection, and that’s kind of stayed with me for my whole career (laughs). “
So having Jamieson in front hasn’t afforded much protection?
“He’s only a skinny thing,” Hopes laughed.
“Plus he’s always jumping around. Whenever they’re trying to hit him and miss they’ll just get me!”
With so many other great Aussie bands from the late ‘90s doing the 20-year rounds recently, are there any Hopes would like to do a double-bill with?
“I think we’ve got a couple of gigs coming up with a few of the older kind of bands,” he said.
“We do run into bands on the way. I mean, it’s a shame good mates of ours Shihad did their run a few years ago, it would’ve been fun to reunite with them and do something together but I think they’ve kind of done their thing already. We did a lot of shows with them back in the day here, then we went to New Zealand with them and we supported them for a while. They were always good friends of ours on the road and it was always pretty competitive when we played together, which is good, we would always try to play as good as them and all that kind of stuff and they did the same or whatever. But who knows? If that opportunity ever came up at some stage I’m sure we’d have a crack at it.”
The band has been fairly proactive on social media with this tour, thanks largely to Jamieson, according to Hopes.
“Phil’s pretty good running a lot of our social stuff, I think we’ve all got a pretty good handle on it,” he said.
“I think it just adds a whole other lot of work to what you’ve got to do on the road, you know, releasing footage and tweeting and Insta and all that stuff. I think back in the day when we started if that was all around we would’ve been a mess (laughs) people would’ve probably not liked us, we would’ve said a lot of weird shit… so yeah… it probably is a good thing it wasn’t around when we were kicking off.”
Catch Grinspoon live at their remaining Guide to Better Living 20th Anniversary shows with guests Hockey Dad & others:
Thursday 10 August: The Jack, Cairns (Sold Out)
Friday 11 August: Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville (Sold Out)
Saturday 12 August: Magnums Hotel, Airlie Beach (Sold Out)
Thursday 17 August: Villa Noosa, Noosaville (Sold Out)
Friday 18 August: Redland Bay Hotel, Brisbane Tickets
Saturday 19 August: Shaka Fest, Gold Coast (Sold Out)
Thursday 24 August: Dunsborough Tavern, Dunsborough (Sold Out)
Friday 25 August: Metro City, Perth (Sold Out)
Saturday 26 August: Adelaide Entertainment Centre Theatre, Adelaide (Sold Out)
Thursday 31 August: The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle (Sold Out)
Friday 1 September: Lismore City Hall, Lismore (Sold Out)
Saturday 2 September: Racehorse Hotel, Ipswich (Sold Out)
Thursday 14 September: The Entrance Leagues, Bateau Bay (Sold Out)
Friday 15 September: Waves, Wollongong (Sold Out)
Saturday 16 September: UC Refectory, Canberra Tickets
Wednesday 20 September: CSU, Wagga Wagga Tickets
Thursday 21 September: Barooga Sports Club, Barooga Tickets
Friday 22 September: Beer Deluxe, Albury Tickets
Saturday 23 September: The NEX, Newcastle Tickets