In anticipation of their national tour, Grinspoon’s Kristian Hopes spoke to Grok about touring, having fun and the band’s relationship.
In under four months, you and the rest of Grinspoon will be embarking on the Chemical Hearts national tour. What’s the atmosphere like right now?
Absolutely, no it’s great. All of the shows are starting to sell out at the moment, so we’ve added a couple of extra shows—I think Melbourne and Wollongong—and yeah, the tour is starting to really shape up. So yeah it’s exciting, exciting times ahead.
Where did the idea of doing the tour and vinyl album come from?
Yeah, we just wanted to release kind of like a best of on vinyl. So we put together a whole bunch of songs that we like, our faves or whatever, and put them together and thought we should do a tour as well to support it.
Given the well-deserved hype of your previous tour, what should fans expect this time ’round?
The previous tour we did was Guide to Better Living, so that was just playing our first album. We played it from start to finish and added a few tracks on the end of it, so people knew exactly what they were getting. With this tour, we’ve picked all our favourite songs, and we get to play them all. We’ve kind of picked a few larger venues this time, so we’re bringing in a bit more production, the show is going to be bigger. Yeah, this could be a pretty fun tour, we’ve picked a few cool bands to come along with us. Short and sweet, I think it only goes for six weeks or something like that. And yeah, it’s going to be a fun little run.
It sounds like you’re doing this tour as enjoyment, as a celebration, rather than an album promotion.
Well, these days it is. We’ve been a band for 25 years or something like that. We don’t have to go out and tour, we’ve played over 1200 in our time, and these days we pick and choose what we want to do. Doing this—releasing this album on vinyl and getting to do the tour—we’ve chosen to do it; we don’t have to do it. So it is a fun thing for us to do, and we have a bit more say in where we play and what we do these days. In the early days, we kind of were going through the motions a bit when we picked certain tours that we had to do. It is a bit more of a celebration for us these days. Before we did the Guide to Better Living tour we had a hiatus for like three years, and that kind of gave the band a new energy. When we decided to come back together to do Guide to Better Living it was really fun and we really enjoyed it personally, and we kind of enjoy playing together again and hanging out doing all that. So we decided to go ahead and do this one.
Since each member of the band has their own respective families, how has that changed the dynamic during touring?
Not so much. I mean, it’s nice for the kids now that we’ve all got kids and they all get to come along and hang out and run around the gigs and do all their fun things and see their dads play which is cool. The dynamic hasn’t really changed with the band, it’s still pretty much the same; just that outside of the band we have a few more responsibilities and a few things we gotta do which is enjoyable these days. We’re a bit older and a bit smarter these days and kind of know what we’re doing. Yeah, it’s all good.
In saying that, if you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
I don’t know, I wouldn’t change too much. We had a good go, we enjoyed ourselves through the 90s. We had a lot of fun during those early years of the band and I probably wouldn’t change too much or have anything too big to say to myself. We’re all still here, which is amazing. No one’s died and we haven’t changed any band members. I think it’s all pretty good, the past.
You’ve mentioned having fun a few times, would you say that this is important in your band?
Yeah, I suppose so. Leading up to the hiatus we took, the three-year hiatus they call it, towards the end of that I don’t think we were having fun. I don’t think we were enjoying what we were doing, and I think that showed in our shows. And cause we’re, I guess, a high-energy band, if you’re not bringing that energy every night, people will pick that up and then, in turn, we’re not having that much fun. When we called that hiatus, it quite possibly could have been the end of the band, and if it was, so be it. But I’m glad it’s not and we get to move on and do a few extra things. I think we’re definitely still having fun with it now, so if that changes in the future maybe we will stop playing. But for now we’re looking at doing some new songs and there might be a possibility of a new album or something like that coming up. So that leaves some fresh air into the band as well. Fun is definitely the word.
There is a long list of achievements attached to the band, including ARIAs, tours and festival appearances. What do you believe has been your greatest achievement so far?
Hmm, I don’t know, that’s a tough one. We’ve had lots of highs and lows as a band and we’ve travelled overseas and done shows all over the place. It’s a tough one. I guess our greatest achievement is still being here and still being together. We’ve never changed the members of the band; it’s been the four of us from the start and it’ll be the four of us to the end, whenever that is.
It sounds like you have a very good relationship with the rest of the band members.
Yeah, I think so. I think we all have a pretty good relationship. Back in the early days, sort of up to and around the middle of our career, our band relationship was pretty volatile. There was lots of fights and stuff like that, but there was never band-ending kind of stuff; it was more like family, brotherly love. And we’d have those kinds of fights, we’d get over them and move on. It was pretty good. I think having that past, while we’ve got such a strong culture amongst the four of us, I can’t see that ending in a hurry. Unless I get fired today and then it’s all over [laughs]. No, it’s all good. We’re a band of brothers. We hate each other sometimes, we love each other times, and I think that’s our secret.
When you first started out, did you ever think that you were going to reach this point?
No, not at all. When we first started out, we made a couple of EPs, I think they had five tracks on them or something. We got a deal with Universal to do an album, and they signed us for four albums, which is ridiculous. And we just thought we’re totally ripping them off, we’re going to do one album and that be it and we will break the band up. So we felt we were killing it in this contractual agreement that we made with them for four albums, but we did end up seeing it out which is pretty weird. Yeah, we had no idea that we’d go on this long.
What can we expect from Grinspoon after the tour?
Well, we finish up the tour mid-November and, as I said, at the moment me and the guitar player are working on some tunes over the next few weeks. We’ve got a couple done already, so we’ll probably go back to finishing up a few of those into early next year. And then probably look at starting recording. I’d say if we do any other touring, it wouldn’t be until mid-July next year. But, hopefully, we’ll be bogged down in a studio somewhere recording.