Words Emma Cooper.
Seedy Jeezus band photo Barry Takes Photos.
Artwork Mr Frumpy except Isaiah Mitchell poster, artwork Shannon Trottman.
It’s that time of year again. Collingwood is battening down the hatches and The Tote and The Bendigo are rolling up their sleeves in preparation for Melbourne’s sell-out celebration of metal, rock and beer, Brewtality. On Saturday 6th August 33 bands will strut their good stuff across three stages, including local psychedelic space rock legends Seedy Jeezus.
No strangers to Brewtality, Seedy have previously headlined the upstairs stage. Guitarist Lex Waterreus loves the festival and talked to us about how important it is to the local scene: “A lot of bands who many people don’t see or don’t bother to see will get in front of people and hopefully play their asses off and get new fans, sell merch and get support from punters. Anything like this is an oasis of unexposed local talent. I remember when Heavy posted for people to suggest names for it and seeing the spark that ignited everything. That in itself tells you the level that this was born from – grass roots. Local import, normal folks wanting to try something. Not a corporate shark tank trying to devise a strategy. Just fans of the music, seeing a scene and a place to do something to help it blossom. The Brewtality crew spend a LONNNNNGGGGG time deciding who they want to play and it’s not easy to get on. So you know it will be nothing but great stuff!!”
Power trio Seedy Jeezus are well known for their heavy, 70s-flavoured shows packed with extended improv jams. They were once referred to as ‘The Bearded Shamen of Riffology’, which we checked for accuracy with Lex: “Someone wrote that in a review! We liked it and thought whoever wrote it actually got what were were about.”
Seedy recently reissued their 2015 self-titled debut LP, which was both recorded and launched at Brewtality venue and Melbourne icon, The Tote. Lex describes how this came about: “The Tote is the home of some of the best gigs I have ever been to. Before we recorded the album Tony Reed (Mos Generator) suggested we record it somewhere that we felt at home in. The Tote was definitely that place. Paul (Crick – Seedy bass player) contacted a friend there and we got the venue in the daytime. Tony flew over, and we set everything up and just played like it was a live gig. He captured our live energy. The vocals we dropped on later. I never got a perfect take on the songs, but that doesn’t matter, the energy was there. That’s what matters.”
The band tends towards short-run CDs and vinyl, describing their recordings as a ‘musical laboratory’. “We like to do small runs to keep stuff special. We have local fans who have supported us from the beginning and that’s awesome, those people have these unique hand-made limited-run EPs and CDs of our music. We often get asked to reissue stuff, but at this point because we have a lot of music that we are always working on, we think why? We keep looking forwards not back.”
However, the reissue of the LP was driven by the first run selling out in Australia and Europe, as well as through a new relationship with German label Kozmik Artifactz. The album has been redesigned with new art and a special deluxe edition which includes a sheet of perforated acid blotter paper (minus the acid). “When we were on tour in Europe last year we met the guys from Kozmik Artifactz. We had established a friendship before the tour. They approached us about the reissue so we talked with our label and all found a way it could work for everyone. The reissue has sold very well here and it has almost sold out again in Europe.”
The European tour opened up a lot of doors for the band overseas. Lex describes the highlights: “Freak Valley Festival was amazing. The bands were amazing, the promoters were all so friendly, we were hanging with these bands whose records we had – it felt like being adopted into a family, and this was our first family reunion. Touring with Freedom Hawk (USA) – those guys were great. We bonded and became lifelong friends. Had crazy adventures, funny moments and met Mathjis who is one of the coolest people ever. He opened his home up to us and looked after us on the tour. After the tour I jammed with Knall in Cologne, a band I dug and had listened to many of their recordings, but to jam, record and hang out with them was a high. They too just made me feel like family.”
“We are fortunate and appreciative of the fact that the reaction was extremely positive. That was the best outcome we could have hoped for. We are all still working jobs to pay bills, we rehearse, and we still do what we did before the album. The experience of touring Europe did open our eyes to the possibilities available to us here. We have started dipping our toes into touring bands here in Australia using our label Blown Music.”
Anyone who already knows the band or owns some merchandise will know that design is a big part of the Seedy Jeezus experience. Lex does all the artwork himself: “My core inspiration when I started was Frank Kozik and the whole San Fran/UK psychedelic scene, Family Dog, Mouse, Moscoco, The Fool who did the Beatles’ stuff, Hipgnosis, etc. I actually love advertising, I have photos of signs on cars, posters in frames at train stations, anything that catches my eye. I collect old magazines, pamphlets, anything that’s interesting, it’s all an archive of ideas. Then I work on the principal of does it suit, and does it draw attention – would I buy it? If it’s ever a no, then I keep working it. I design to suit my taste, and I feel fortunate others have dug it. My style isn’t genius or detailed, it’s not photorealistic or anything that takes serious chops, but it’s stuff that I like. There is stuff I regret EVER having done, but that I won’t discuss.”
Dream vinyl packages such as the recent ‘dressed in denim’ release and etched vinyl are just as Seedy as the music: “Packaging is important. As a band you work so hard on the music and then the cover art is the last thought. That cover competes with every other album that will ever sit near it on a shelf or online. I hate it when I see an amazing band put cover art that just isn’t attractive or doesn’t say much about the band to people who don’t know them. It’s selling yourself, your music and your band short.”
We asked Lex for his professional opinion of which local bands we should be listening to right now: “I’ve been listening to Sun God Replica – Devil and the Deep. Link (Meanie) for me is one of the best songwriters ever. We played a lot of gigs with them, and I would just spin at the crazy rhythmic patterns Link played while singing a melody that seemed opposite. I really can’t believe he’s a dude who oozes such musical genius and you can just catch him playing round the city.” (Fun trivia fact for Seedy fans, Lochie from Sun God loaned Mark his cymbals for the debut Seedy Album.)
The band has limited-run one-off vinyl releases coming out later this year both in Australia and Europe, a small amount of which will be deluxe editions with what Lex describes as ‘trinkets and sweets’. They have just announced a national tour for September with psychedelic blues guitarist Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless), after which they’ll be aiming to record the next album before heading back to Europe in 2017. In the meantime, catch the guys at Brewtality on 6th August, where they’re likely to be hanging out all day.
To be in the know about Seedy Jeezus releases and shows, join the mailing list at www.blownmusic.com.
Sept 23 – Melbourne @ The Tote, Collingwood
Sept 24 – Wagga Wagga@ Beer Deluxe
Sept 25 – Canberra @ Phoenix Bar
Sept 26 – Brisbane @ Beetle Bar
Sept 27 – Brisbane @ Tyms (instore)
Sept 29 – Newcastle @ Small Ballroom
Sept 30 – Sydney @ Doomsday Festival (w/ Acid King) – Newtown Social Club
Oct 1 – Geelong @ the Barwon Club
Seedy Jeezus: Site // Facebook // Bandcamp // Instagram // Youtube.