As a teenager growing up watching summer festivals like Livid and Homebake, with Aussie bands taking the main stages with gusto, women fronting bands like The Superjesus’ Sarah McLeod were held by yours truly in the same regard as Chrissie Amphlett, Stevie Nicks, Blondie and Joan Jett: revered as true rock n roll heroes.
To this day, I am still one of McLeod’s biggest fans – which makes me feel a little bit weird as a music industry ‘professional’ who has since connected with her on a peer level.
Girl caught up with McLeod to talk about festivals; her fan girl moment with Shihad; her dog, Chachi (who comes up in every interview we do together) and her upcoming role as a part-time St Jimmy in the Green Day musical American Idiot.
Admittedly though, speaking about her upcoming shows on the Hotter Than Hell tour, alongside fellow Livid and Homebake alumni such as Killing Heidi, Jebediah, Eskimo Joe and Grinspoon, a little inner fan girl got a wake up call – mine!
Hi, Sarah! What’s going on?
“I am just hiding at my mum’s beach house, trying to escape everybody.”
I apologise for making you do these interviews today!
“That’s okay, at least I don’t have to go anywhere, that’s the main thing. I haven’t had any time off for like three months so I’m completely hiding – after this interview I’m going to turn my phone off.”
Good plan, that sounds like a really good plan! So how’s life in the van been working out?
“Ummm… It was good… it got a bit hectic for a while there so I ditched the van then I did the rest of the tour by air (laughs) it was getting a bit much so I changed my plan in a big way. I had Chachi with me and everything, so I thought I’ll just take Chachi home and then I’ll finish the tour by flying – it’s just so much easier.”
Oh yep for sure. And how is Chachi?
“She’s really good! We just took her down the beach, she’s just been hanging out with my mum, she’s quite happy to be staying down at the beach house.”
Lovely! Congrats, by the way, on the big American Idiot announcement, that’s huge.
“Yeah, thanks! Yeah, it’s pretty exciting… pretty full on as well, it’s a very big production so yeah, it’s quite a lot to keep up with them. But I am all for it, and it’s going to be fuckin’ great! I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”
I did see your attempts at the social media thing on their account when you were in Brisbane…
“Oh yeah! I was like, are you sure you want me to do this? And they were like, yeah! So yeah I wasn’t sure if that was a very good idea but I went along with it anyway. (laughs)”
So have you done musical theatre before?
“No! Never! So I’ve got no idea what I’m in for but I am keen as mustard, and just going to go for it and see what happens.”
Excellent. Well, I’m sure you can catch up with Phil (Jamieson) in Gladstone when Superjesus plays on the Hotter Than Hell bill with Grinspoon and get some tips from him.
“Yeah, totally! And Adalita is doing it too, and she’s just lovely and really supportive. So we’re all like, ‘where are you up to?’ and, ‘what do you know?’ and, ‘what have they told you so far?’ sort of like this constant exchange of information, so we all keep each other in the loop. So yeah, I can’t wait. Adalita goes on before me, because I don’t start mine until March, so I can go and watch her do it, and then I can watch Phil, so then by the time I do it I should have a bit of an idea of what they’re doing (laughs) so that’s good.”
And speaking of Hotter Than Hell, are you looking forward to that?
“Oh yeah, and also because it’s got all my favourite bands on it! Like, we’re going to have so much fun. And I haven’t seen a lot of those guys in a really long time so to have a whole bunch of your mates on a tour together – especially when we haven’t played together for a long time – it’s really, really cool. My whole band is completely pumped about it. We haven’t done much touring, you know, we’ve sort of done a few spot shows here and there but we’ve made a conscious effort to really focus on The Superjesus this year and really get back into it and we’re starting with this, so it’s a really good way to start.”
Well yeah. Didn’t you do a show with Jebediah not that long ago? Or did I imagine that?
“Yeah, we did, and with Shihad in Frankston. It was SO cool. I don’t know if you know this but I’m a massive Shihad fan, and I hadn’t seen Shihad play since the ‘90s so I was peaking, I was right down the front jumping around with everyone… (laughs) it was really funny, people were taking pictures of me while I was jumping around next to them, and I was like, ‘yeah, yeah, enjoy the show, dammit! I’m with you, this is great fun!” (laughs)”
Haha, that is so cool.
“Yeah, it was funny! But it was such a great gig, they were awesome. So were Jebediah.”
Yeah, Jebediah are still amazing. I think to date my favourite gig was Jebediah, Grinspoon and Silverchair back in 1999, I think it was called the Rollercoaster tour… this one may just top that though.
“Oh yeah, oh wow. What was it? The Rollercoaster gig? Was there a roller dome or something? (laughs) That’s a cool line up though. Festivals are great the way they like hand pick a bunch of bands and you wait for the right line up and go, “that’s the ones I like! Let’s go!””
A friend of mine actually told me this tour was happening before it was announced because he was surprised I hadn’t mentioned it to him yet, he told me I’d go crazy over the line up and he was right, I did.
“Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. Because, like, festivals keep popping up left right and centre, it’s just one after another after another, and then this one came up and we were like, (gasps) “oh my god, I can’t believe we’re going to be on it!” It’s really really cool. I can’t wait.”
Well you’re doing Townsville and Gladstone – what other shows are you doing on this tour?
“Um… oh god, now you’re asking hard hitting questions. Can you hang on? I’ll have a look at my computer… Gladstone, Townsville, Redland Bay in Queensland, Adelaide… Mt Evelyn, Victoria… and… Geelong.”
Excellent, so a hometown gig snuck in there as well.
“Yeah, the Adelaide one’s going to be awesome. We get to play later on that one too which will be cool.”
Oh awesome. Well you haven’t been to Townsville for a while, do you remember the last time you were up here?
“You know, I don’t think I even remember the last time I was up there. Nope. Do you?”
Ah, I think you played at the Dalrymple maybe solo? Like, maybe six years ago or seven years maybe?
“Oh, that rings a bell! That name rings a bell. Wow, yeah, I don’t even remember. That’s terrible! I always seem to have so much trouble getting up north. I always say to my agent, “take me up north, let’s do a North Queensland tour!” and there’s always some reason why they say I can’t go. I’ve been asking for years. And it’s always like, “oh no it’s cyclone season,” or, “nobody buys tickets this time of year,” there’s always some excuse. So I’m like, “well, let’s just go – what’s the worse that can happen? No one comes? Cool, I’ll get a holiday! I just want to go, just send me there please.” I can’t possibly go anywhere unless I feel like I’m going there for work. I have this weird thing in my brain that unless I’m working I just don’t feel like I can justify going anywhere. So even if I go to Thailand or Bali on a holiday I always have to make sure I’ve got a gig there. Like, always. I’m insane like that.”
Well, I mean, I guess that way you can write some of the travel expenses off on tax as well…
“Yeah, true – but it’s a mental thing. Like, I can’t ever relax. I just feel indulgent going anywhere. I even did a gig in Fiji when I went there. Yeah, it’s ridiculous. (laughs) I just can’t stop working.”
Well it’s no secret that the music industry is a bloody sausage fest – so is it refreshing with the Hotter Than Hell gigs to see so many high profile women on the line up? Like even just in Townsville, there’s you, Ella from Killing Heidi, Vanessa from Jebediah – that’s got to be a little bit different?
“Yeah, it’s good to finally see some chicks back on the main stage. Especially with festivals. There is still a big lack of females in music festivals. Like, there’s a lot of females in the music business, but for some reason on big main stage festivals they always seem to book blokes. And it’s got to stop. It’s ridiculous. And people are drawing attention to it, which is great, but you know – it’s one thing to draw attention to it but another thing to actually make it change. But you know, it feels like if we talk about it too, it feels like we’re just whinging (laughs) so it’s a hard thing to talk about. It’s good if other people talk about it though because it’s not really for us to say, is it? (laughs)”
Hotter Than Hell Tour 2018
Sat 13 Jan – Townsville
Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, Killing Heidi, The Superjesus, The Koffin Rockers
Sat 20 Jan – Gladstone
Grinspoon, Jebediah, Killing Heidi, The Superjesus, The Koffin Rockers
Sat 27 Jan – Redland Bay
Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, The Superjesus, Thirsty Merc, Dallas Frasca
Sat 3 Feb – Adelaide SOLD OUT
Grinspoon, The Superjesus, 28 Days, Rackett
Sat 10 Feb – Ipswich
Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, Frenzal Rhomb, Bodyjar, Rackett
Sat 10 Feb – Mt Evelyn
Grinspoon, Killing Heidi, The Superjesus, Dallas Frasca, IV League
Sat 3 March – Geelong
Grinspoon, Regurgitator, The Superjesus, Dallas Frasca, IV League
Tickets and more information via the web site