Revisiting a hero of golden era Aussie rock with the legendary Jebediah

I have some pretty fond memories of summer family holidays when I was a kid. The nostalgia is usually soundtracked by the Triple J Hottest 100 CD’s my dad would buy and we would devour when driving up the coast to some remote beach town. Alongside The Presidents of the United States of America’s track Peaches, and Dennis Leary‘s Assholeone song still reigns king on the soundtrack to my half-forgotten childhood summers, and that is Jebediah‘s Leaving Home.

This week kicks off Jebediah’s 20th anniversary tour, celebrating two decades since beginning to play in earnest. Take a trip down memory lane with Jebediah while I fight back tears about my long lost childhood freedom.

Jebediah feature

As they kick off their 20th anniversary tour, we nostalgically look back on heroes of the golden age of Aussie rock with the legendary Jebediah.

The mid to late 90s saw the release of some pretty critical records for Australian rock music. Reveling in the path of the destruction that Nirvana left, Australia saw bands like Silverchair release Frogstomp in 1995, Grinspoon take out the first triple J Unearthed prize that same year, Spiderbait, Powderfinger and You Am I find mainstream success, and a little band called Jebediah put out their first EP.

It was a bit of a golden era for rock n’ roll in Australia, before hip-hop and pop took hold in the noughties, and the music industry became completely defragmented, smashed to pieces by the major digital revolution of recent years. Rock bands were finding major success in the mainstream and were forming in troves.

Like many of these bands, Jebediah, of course, formed in high school. Singer/guitarist Kevin Mitchell and guitarist Chris Daymond met at Leeming High in Southern Perth. Legendarily named after Jebediah Springfield, the earliest line up of the band consisted of the two guitarists, plus Almin Fulurija on drums and Vanessa Thornton on bass before Fulurija was replaced by Kevin Mitchell’s brother Brett, and Jebediah as we know it was complete.

Inspired by bands like Nirvana and Green Day, the band played their first gig was in May 1995 at their high school formal covering their heroes. To their disbelief they won a competition to fill the opening slot for the Summersault Music Festival in 1995 alongside Pavement and Sonic Youth. Within a year the band had released their debut EP Twitch and had signed to Murmur Records, an offshoot of Sony, before the band had chance to catch their breath. The EP was a collection of fuzzy, grunge inspired pop – a combination that won the band a top spot on the singles chart in Perth and a WAMI.

Caught up in the whirlwind of initial success and the intoxicated buzz that was beginning to grow around them, Jebediah quickly released Jerks Of Attention. Their first single was a howling grunge track (it’s weird how much Kevin Mitchell looks like Cobain in that film clip), structured around pop elements implement by bands like Green Day: growling vocals with a wall of distortion buried neatly under snappy drums.

Quickly they followed up with Leaving Home, a melancholy tale of growing up, underlain by one of the most unmistakable chord progressions in Australian rock music. The band played Homebake and scored a bunch of support slots with Soundgarden, You Am I and Silverchair in 1997, meanwhile writing what was to become their debut record, Slightly Oddway. 

Their debut was released in September 1997, reaching number two on the ARIA charts and going gold within months. The band had a knack for killer pop songwriting; Mitchell had a voice that combined the angst of Cobain with the nasal twang of Billy Corgan, but most of all their music was a shit load of fun. 1997 was the year Leaving Home scored the number 10 on triple J’s Hottest 100 (The Whitlam‘s No Aphrodisiac came first, Song 2 by Blur came second, Paranoid Android came fourth – what a time for rock n’ roll in Australia).

The band popped their Big Day Out cherry in 1997, but they became mainstays on the festival circuits for years after. In 1998 they supported Smashing Pumpkins before releasing their second album Of Someday Shambles in 1999. With singles like Animal and Harpoon, the album stayed in the ARIA chart top 50 for 25 weeks, peaking at number two.  They kicked off the new millennium by playing Big Day Out and touring the States and Europe  – a limited tour that the band lamented not being able to take further, considering their massive success at home. It was here that it seems problems started to arise with their label, Sony. However, despite any problems, by the end of the year Of Someday Shambles had reached platinum-status.

By 2004 the band had left Sony, opting to work as an independent. Story has it there was trouble with their management failing to stand-up to what the label wanted, after three records the band wanted to do something a little different, something that Sony resisted, in the end their contract was up – they opted out.

2004 saw the band release their self-produced, self-released album Braxton Hicks. In 2005 the band released their Anniversary EP before heading on their 10 year anniversary tour (if you were there I’m sorry if I just made you feel old). Ten years, however, seemed to be enough to deflate the band. Silverchair had called it quits indefinitely years before, with Daniel Johns suffering from serious medical issues; Spiderbait went on hiatus after their classic album Tonight Alright, mostly due to personal commitments (like kids); and Powderfinger were scattered, with members committed to side projects. It seemed as though the golden era of Aussie rock had extinguished, well into the noughties, I might add.

Mitchell continued to make music under the moniker of Bob Evans, while other members began to play with bands like The Fuzz, and Felicity Groom, each to their own relative success, though none seemed to imbue the magic that Jebediah once had. Although the band continued to play the odd festival together over the late 2000’s, it wan’t until 2010 that they began rehearsing in earnest once again.

In 2011 the band released Kosciuszko on Dew Process. It was a staggeringly fresh album – once again self-produced, it still held that high-minded pop sensibility, brought down to earth by shattering distortion and belting drums, and it appeared Jebediah could never lose their touch. Singles like Lost My Nerve and She’s Like A Comet were lapped up by triple J (that was four years ago…now I feel old) and it seemed like Australian rock would always have a soft spot for Jebediah. 

Jebediah are currently kicking off their 20th anniversary tour alongside some rad supports. Their compilation album Twenty is also out now.

Check out the dates below, grab a mate and get nostalgic:

Thursday 4 June – Metro Theatre, Sydney – w/Bodyjar
Friday 5 June – Metro Theatre, Sydney – (sold out) w/ Front End Loader
Friday 12 June – The Tivoli, Brisbane w/ Screamfeeder
Wednesday 17 June – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne w/special guests Bodyjar
Thursday 18 June – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne w/ Adalita
Friday 19 June – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (sold out) w/ Fur
Saturday 20 June – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (sold out) w/Fur
Thursday 25 June – HQ, Adelaide w/Red Jezebel
Friday 26 June – Astor Theatre, Perth (sold out) w/ Turnstyle
Saturday 27 June – Astor Theatre, Perth (sold out) w/ Turnstyle
Sunday 28 June – Astor Theatre, Perth w/ Beaverloop