Sing-A-Longs With Philadelphia Grand Jury
Philadelphia Grand Jury are not a band who do things per the norm, cementing that status recently with the announcement of a karaoke tour around the country where they will be inviting fans to join them on stage for a show like you’ve never seen before. Prior to this kicking off, we had a bit of a chat with MC Bad Genius to find out why these legends do things differently to everyone else. Fittingly, we interviewed them a little differently than anyone else.
Vulture Magazine: Today we’re going to do something a little different, since you guys don’t do anything like everyone else does. We’re going to ask you the questions that we want to know about, then we’re going to ask you the questions that some random people wanted to know, yeah?
Philadelphia Grand Jury: Yeah, that’ll work.
VM: Tell us about this karaoke tour. What gave you the idea to do it like this?
PGJ: To be honest, it was at a late night band meeting when the idea came up. We were talking about how to get people involved. Someone suggested people singing our songs, then that developed into this massive thing that we’re kind of stuck doing, and we have no idea how we’re going to pull it off.
VM: Have you got a list of other people’s tracks you’re going to be playing?
PGJ: We have a shortlist, but they have to meet a few criteria. One is we have to like the song; we don’t wanna play songs we think are crap. Another is it’s gotta be a song that we can actually play. We like to think we’re okay at playing songs, but a lot of these songs are very intricate, and played with a lot more people in the band.
VM: Visually and logistically, how are you going to handle the stage setup??
PGJ: Yeah look, I don’t know. That’s one of the things that we’re yet to work out, that’s why I’m excited for the tour but quite anxious about it as well. We’re talking about using some decorations to make it look more like a karaoke bar, or maybe we could dress up in really ill-fitting suits. If you’ve got any ideas, let me know.
VM: We will. What’s the thought pattern behind you guys doing things differently?
PGJ: When we go out to see shows we get a bit bored with the whole three bands on the bill, they play for 40 minutes and the headliners play for an hour then do an encore after they go off stage. That really sucks, these people are obviously incredibly talented and creative people, why does that need to stop in their making music? So, we’ve tried to make our shows a lot more about the experience than just a concert, we always think “What’s the best way to do it?”, and “What’s the most fun way to do it?” Then we try to find a balance between that instead of just “what is the best way” in a music industry sense.
VM: Have you had any ideas bomb out?
PGJ: Yeah. We thought about when we release an album instead of just playing a couple of shows around Sydney, we would have a national Philly Jays Day where we play all around Australia in the same day, play in every state or something crazy like that. We worked out it is logistically possible, but probably stupid.
VM: Do you think there could be something in this though? Does there need to be more to get punters to the shows than what there are?
PGJ: I think all artists should be thinking about these things all the time. Art is more than just the thing that you’re making, it’s about how you present it. I hope there’s a lot of other musos out there that have these ideas and I hope they just try them. Failing is a lot cooler than just not doing anything.
VM: Righto, part two. These are some questions put out there on a Facebook status asking people what they would like to know about you guys. Emily wants to know if you guys have had to share beds on tour, and who was the best cuddle?
PGJ: Yeah, pretty much every show we’ve ever played we’ve had to share beds afterwards. I think Dan’s easily the best. Simon is impossible because he’s not tired until he’s tired then he tells people to shut and turn the lights off. If you do anything at that point he will flip out, so it’s much better to be sharing a bed with Dan.
VM: Reilly wants to know if you would rather collaborate with Prince, Michael Jackson, or David Bowie?
PGJ: Ohh. That’s a very good question. I think I would never pass up a chance to collaborate with David Bowie.
VM: Mike wants to know how you guys go working when you live in separate continents?
PGJ: It’s pretty difficult, so whenever he’s (Berkfinger) out here for a tour we smash in as much as possible. So we rehearse, get to all the shows, try to write and record. A whole year gets condensed into three weeks, so it’s pretty intense. As long as we allow ourselves the time together though, it’s great, but if we are apart for too long we lose momentum and productivity.
VM: Scott wants to know a little about Berkfinger’s studio in Berlin.
PGJ: He’s got a website. It’s called Golden Retriever Studios in Berlin. It’s a beautiful space, massive open spaces, really natural light and a beautiful grand piano, an amazing view. If you were ever going to record somewhere I would recommend there.
VM: If you could eat a lizard or a snake, which would you devour?
PGJ: A snake because I would be happy that there was one less of those little devils sliding around. I really can’t stand them, they freak the hell out of me.
VM: Christina wants to know what the deal is with the funny stage names.
PGJ: I think I was originally going to be the MC of the band where I would talk in between songs, so I did that for one show and I was actually really really terrible so we cut that idea out, but the name stuck. Simon (Berkfinger) was ripping off Snakefinger and it just stuck. With Dan, originally the band was called The Sweats and he was Dan Sweat. Once we changed the name of the band, Dan Sweat lingered on.
VM: Lastly, is there anything about this tour you’re pumped about, or anything you want to tell people?
PGJ: I would say, bring everybody you know and get really drunk so it’s a really great night, and you don’t have any fears about getting up on stage and singing. I think the more ridiculous it gets, the better this will get.