Why The Superjesus were jealous of Jebediah in the 90s

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Sarah McLeod and Kevin Mitchell talk songwriting and the ugly side of 90s fame.

When Kevin Mitchell recently filled in as the host of Double J’s lunch program, one of his guests was the formidable Sarah McLeod.

McLeod has just released Rocky’s Diner, her first solo record since her 2010 foray into dubstep, Madness, and is in the middle of an extensive national tour in support of it.

Both Mitchell and McLeod came to prominence around the same time. Their bands Jebediah and The Superjesus released their debut albums – Slightly Odway and Sumo respectively – within just a few months of each other.

Twenty years later and both bands are still active. In November, they share a stage at Frankston’s Sea N Sound Festival along with Shihad, 28 Days and Dallas Crane.

While their careers have diverged widely over time, McLeod and Mitchell still shared plenty of common ground when it comes to making music as solo artists, as well as being part of a band with a strong legacy.

 

This snippet of conversation between the two artists provides a great insight into their creative process and has them reliving some interesting memories from the past.

Playing in The Superjesus and Jebediah in 2017

Kevin Mitchell: Our bands are doing a festival together in Frankston. How is playing in the Superjesus these days?

Sarah McLeod: It's really nice. I don't know if you remember what we were like back in the 90s, but it was difficult back then. We had a lot of problems. We used to fight all the time. Now it's just a moving party, it's great fun. We love each other, we enjoy the music, we're just happy to be there, there's no pressure.

It's different now. It was hardcore back then. There were too many peoples' jobs on the line. Now no one cares.

KM: We always kinda got on pretty well in the 90s...

SM: Your band always looked like you were having way more fun than my band. I used to be jealous! I was jealous of your band. Look at them, they're all friends, they have so much fun. I feel like we're in some kind of regime and you're out there playing under the sprinklers.

KM: Yeah, we did have a lot of fun. But in terms of pressure, all that pressure is gone and that is nice.

SM: It makes a big difference.

Writing Lyrics You’re Proud Of

Sarah McLeod: A producer I used once said 'Go through your lyrics and give each line a score of one to ten, in your heart of hearts. Don't show anyone, it's just between you and yourself'.

Lyrics are high class real estate, you can't say that much in a song, it's not a book. You've got a limited amount of space. I'm always wincing at lines I've written before.

Kevin Mitchell: I totally get it. I've gone through the same thing. It's so much better in the long run. It can make criticism easier to deal with too. If you know [your lyrics are] honest then it's kind of beyond criticism.

SM: Yeah, you're criticising my life then. But if you don't believe it then it's very easy for other people not to believe it. And you can get insulted.

Recording Demos

Sarah McLeod: I do really elaborate demos.

Kevin Mitchell: Yeah, I'm the same.

SM: You want to give the song the benefit of the doubt. You want to hear it the best it can possibly be. If you do a half-arsed demo you might get halfway through and say 'This song's not very good' and it'll be on the cutting room floor. But if you finish it and give it every chance of success, you know if you can keep it or not.

KM: I approach it like I'm making the actual record, even though I know I'm not. I throw everything at it, re-record it three times.

At the same time, I like the idea of just demoing an acoustic guitar and a vocal onto a phone and then handing it over to a producer and getting somebody else to have their ideas.

SM: I wish I could do that. I can't do that.

KM: I've never done it. But I should one day.

SM: I love the idea of doing that. Wow, that'd be so much less work!

KM: People do it, you know. I've talked to people who do it!

SM: Who are these people? Give me their names! I sit there and program every high-hat, every kick drum, 70 tracks of guitars, all the harmonies...

Jebediah and The Superjesus play Sea N Sound in Frankston Park on Saturday 18 November.

Sarah McLeod’s new album Rocky’s Diner is out now. Head to her Facebook page for all her tour dates.

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