When thinking of Eskimo Joe, I’m sure your mind automatically jumps to the iconic lyrics of ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine‘. Rightfully so! It spent 62 weeks in the Top 50 and snagged #2 in triple j’s 2006 Hottest 100! Bringing home multitudes of stand-out industry awards, including 8 ARIAs, 11 WAMIs, 3 International Songwriting Awards, with 11 of their compositions being featured in the Iconic Hottest 100 Countdown, they will always be a crowd favourite.
Now with 21 years under their collective belts, the West Australian rock trio have gone from strength to strength keeping their fanbase loyal whilst still amassing followers by the droves. Having reissued their fourth studio album ‘Inshalla’ just last month, their upcoming show during Brisbane Festival is sure to excite a broad age group due to their larger than life stage presence.
With their musical journey still unfolding, it will be a delight to see what the future holds for the iconic yet humble boys from Fremantle!
Eskimo Joe revealed their Savvy Seven responses courtesy of Stu MacLeod! Read on to discover the inside scoop of touring and the joys of the Music Biz!
Who was your first musical inspiration? Why? Who inspires you now?
The Cure. I started playing guitar at 16 and the basslines were simple and amazing. The bass part to Like Cockatoos was the first thing I ever learned to play on guitar and every album just has basslines for days. These days I’m inspired by almost everything and everyone. I’m loving the local music coming out of Perth; bands like Mt Mountain, BOAT SHOW, Dream Rimmy and Childsaint (RIP), Grievous Bodily Calm, Benjamin Witt, Ginole… Honestly, there’s so much talent in this city it’s crazy. I discover a lot of music listening to local radio, like RTRFM in Perth and RRR/PBS in Melbourne. Each one of the presenters on air has picked their music, knows about it and is passionate about it. It’s a great way to discover things you would never have imagined you’d be into.
What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
Don’t overpack. Whether it’s a 10-week tour or a one week tour, you only really need socks, shirts and undies for 7 days, one pair of jeans (maybe two), something warm and one pair of shoes/boots. Make sure you have a good data plan on your phone, that can sting you. Seek out healthy food options wherever you go. Don’t succumb to the junk food until you have to, because some towns will have no healthy options. You’ll definitely feel the difference after 6 weeks of junk food and booze. Get out of the hotel room when you have time off. Be a tourist. It won’t be a lot of time, but it recharges the batteries. Above all, just chill out. Tours can drag on and the cabin fever sets in. Everyone is living in each other’s pockets. Be respectful, don’t sweat the small stuff and give people space when they need it.
What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?
Hearing Eskimo Joe on the radio for the first time. It was on RTRFM. Hearing our music on the radio totally legitimised what we were doing; made it real. Gave me the confidence to drop everything else and just go for it. Best.
How has your music practice changed over time?
The biggest change would have to be the exploration of software synths. I’ve always used a computer to create music, but it was always just a substitute for a tape machine. I’d play an instrument into a microphone and press record. It’s only in the last ten years or so that I’ve really got into software synths etc. Playing around on music software is a huge journey into the unknown these days, there are so many possibilities to explore. You end up creating pieces that sound nothing like the stuff you wrote the day before.
My top business tip for new artists is…
Split your song-writing equally and encourage everyone to get involved in the song-writing. If this is established from day one, you will avoid so much angst in the future. Get a decent manager. Don’t just get your friend to do it unless you truly believe in them. They need to be a strategic thinker, BE GOOD WITH PEOPLE, admit their mistakes and have a good sense of your music and why you do it.
My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now?
Signing a further 3-year record deal before the biggest record of our lives! Record companies are a good partner to have if you are trying to get established and in the faces of people that can influence your career, but the cost is crazy. The deals are set up so that the record company pretty much takes it all, no matter how good your deal. I’d much rather go independent and invest in a good marketing and promotion team. The rest is simple.
In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?
Home entertainment. It’s so easy to stay inside these days. You have every movie ever made at your fingertips, food delivered to your door, home theatres… Pretty soon Virtual Reality will even enable you to go to concerts in your own living room. But there’s never any substitute for a live show. If the music industry is to survive, everyone needs to get behind live music. It’s the only way artists really make money and if punters, business and government aren’t behind it, there goes our music industry.
You won’t want to miss Eskimo Joe’s Brisbane Festival show on the 28th of September so make sure to get your tickets here!
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