Things have been pretty quiet in the Frenzal Rhomb camp as of late, and there’s a good reason for it. Lead singer Jay has been out of the country for the past year.
“Yeah, twelve months. Three hundred and sixty four days or something.”
I’m talking to Jay down the phone line only days after he flew back into the country. He still sounds jet lagged as he explains his recent trip.
“My partner and I went to ah… the world. We started in South East Asia and went through the Middle East, through Syria and Jordan and through Europe and the States and Central America. We spent the last few months in South America.”
It seems like they covered a fair chunk of the globe. “Yeah, it was a bit of it, a little slice of the world” Jay says, before reflecting a little.
“It was very nice, very strange to be back home.”
Travel can sometimes be quite trying on a relationship. I ask how it was to spend all day every day with his partner.
“It was good. We were thinking before we went ‘oh you know, we’ll have to make sure we spend time apart and work out how we can have some time away from each other’ but it was actually surprisingly easy. It was really good and we’re still mates and here we are.”
About three weeks ago the pair were on a small wooden boat on the Amazon river, “having one of those real sulky sort of ‘fuckin’ fuck to you’ sort of arguments” when a sign from above put them in their place.
“A fuckin’ piranha jumped up out of the water, slapped me in the face and kept going over to the other side of the boat, in to the water. It was really crazy. It was like mother nature just going ‘shut the fuck up!’”
Being a muso off to see the world, Jay had the opportunity to see some live music overseas, but not all of it was good.
“A lot of pan pipe covers of Beatles songs which were pretty hard to take. We saw Neil Young in London, that was good. Saw the Bronx in New Jersey. Saw some good kind of wierdo bands in Beijing. Saw some different stuff but yeah mostly it was sort of strange western versions of indigenous music.”
While he’s been away, the other members of the band have been keeping themselves busy. Jay wonders whether they even noticed he was gone.
“Everyone’s doing different jobs now. Gordie’s in urban planning, he’s been doing a lot of developments down in Melbourne. Tom’s been building sail boats, just locked away in his shed building. Lindsay’s a big superstar on the television. Everyone’s doing their own thing.”
Leading such separate lives, he’s excited to get them all back together and play some shows.
“I’m very much looking forward to it. It’ll be nice to catch up with everyone and play some music in front of people.”
I suggest that there’s a lot of people who have been waiting for a new Frenzal Rhomb tour. Jay responds with his typical cynical humility.
“There’s a certain element, usually the people that live at the end of the train lines. Usually they’re the ones who are excited by our return.”
With a reunion organised I ask whether we might see a new record from the band. Their last album was released in 2006, so it’s been a while.
“Was it really 2006?” Jay asks. I assure him that indeed it was. “Yeah, it could have been. I think you’re right.” As for plans for a new release, he’s decidedly non-committal.
“Yeah nah, I dunno. I don’t think so, maybe, I dunno, probably not. I don’t think so.”
The dynamic in the band is a strange one. It seems somewhere between polite courtesy and a “a general disinterest in one another’s lives.” Jay explains that an album takes a lot of work to create.
“You have to write songs and record the songs and no one really likes each other in the band that much. We like each other enough that we can go on tour and have a nice time and be civil to one another but really were we to be stuck in a room together for lengthy periods of time it’d be really difficult.”
“But you never know, you just never know” he adds mysteriously.
Having only just returned to Australia there’s still some preparation needed before the national tour starts in May. Preparations like talking to the rest of the band.
“I haven’t actually talked to anyone. No one’s really talked to anyone yet. I only just got back a couple of days ago so it’ll be good to catch up with everyone and see what everyone would like to do.”