Interview: Jay Whalley of Frenzal Rhomb

By Jonathan Matthews

Ahead of their trip to Brisbane this weekend for the horror themed Dead of Winter Festival we caught up with the Aussie legend Jay Whalley, best known as the front man of the iconic punk rock band Frenzal Rhomb, they’ll be performing alongside bands such as Ocean Grove, Clowns, Polaris, Radio Moscow, Nancy Vandal , Osaka Punch & more!

SR. We’ll jump straight into it, you guys were down in Adelaide last weekend for A Day of Clarity, how was that?

It was great man, what a festival!

SR. Yeah it was great, and FREE for all to attend too!

It was very civilised, I liked how it was split between all of the venues, I enjoyed walking from pub to pub with a full beer in my hand and no issues. There was a distinct lack of police and the security were all really nice, which is what you want!

SR. The Crown and Anchor is a great venue too, is that one of your favourites in Adelaide?

To be honest that’s the first time I’ve ever been there, but I can say I’ll definitely be going back soon. I really enjoyed the fireplace that was happening. The whole festival was awesome, there’s big shoes for Dead of Winter to fill.

SR. Definitely, I’m not sure if they’ll be able to match it.

You would say that though, you’re from Adelaide *laughs*.There would be a million Queenslanders that would disagree! I’m personally freaking out a bit because I have to play in three bands for Dead of Winter. I think the challenge is not to drink the rider of all three bands, or I’ll be trashed by my last set.

SR. What bands are you playing in?

So I’m playing bass in a band that I played in for one record back in 1996 called Nancy Vandal. Were gonna play that record. I’m also playing bass in The Neptune Power Federation with my wife singing. She’s playing the part of a time travelling witch that’s come back through time to destroy the patriarchy. You better be careful, your number might be up…

SR. How long have you been playing in that band?

A couple of years. We’ll be playing on the Hysteria stage at 7:30

SR. So Dead of Winter seems like it’s going to be a wicked festival with some awesome bands on the line up like Ocean Grove, among many others. Have you played with them before?

No, I’ve heard the name but I’ve never actually listened to them before.
SR. They’re a bit more new age than you guys and less punky, I was thinking an Ocean Grove and Frenzal Rhomb collaboration would be cool.

Dude, I’ve never even heard them before and that sounds like a great idea to me.

SR. So what’s happening with Frenzal Rhomb at the moment anyway? Any new music in the works?

Well it takes us a long time to write albums. I have been trying to write songs .We all live in different cities, and I could come up with a million excuses, but there’s about six years between each of our records. We toured on our last album for five years, so we’ve probably got a good four years left on this one. Then we’ll come out with another.

SR. That’s great man. What’s your favourite track to play live off your most recent album Hi Viz High Tea

The track I enjoy the most is ‘Fuck My School Reunion’. The lyrics make me feel emotionally charged when I sing them. We didn’t play that one in Adelaide, I only noticed when we finished the set. It’s a simple song, it brings back memories of all the dipshits at school, feels good to shame them in song. I guess we could have run back on and played it as an encore, but encores are whatever, I don’t really understand them.

SR. I know man, it’s a strange tradition. Is that one your favourite off the album too?

Yeah probably. ‘Storage Unit Pill Press’ is fun to play and listen to. too

SR. Are you gonna be dressing up for Dead of Winter?

Well I’m playing in three bands, but I think Neptune Power Federation is going to be the most costume involved. As far as Frenzal Rhomb goes, Gordy loves scarves, so he’ll be wearing the latest scarf fashion I’m sure. Winter in Brisbane is pretty mild compared to the rest of Australia, but you’ve still got to cover the extremities. Lindsay has some hi viz woollen gloves. He won’t be able to wear them while we’re playing, but the important thing is you can see his hands at all other times.

SR. Thanks for the chat today man, do you have any final messages for your fans?

Dead of Winter sounds like it’s gonna be the best time of everyone’s lives, so get on a plane and get over here!

Dead of Winter sold out last year and punters will be pushing the limits with their horror themed outfits this year, so if you’re feeling game and enjoy dressing like the ghoul you are, purchase a ticket or two for you and a friend while you still can and zombie stroll around The Tivoli & The Jubilee Hotel Saturday July 7th there’s plenty of great music to be seen and heard!