Australias Spiderbait

Photo credit Giulia McGauran

Spiderbait are an Australian rock band with a sound that’s a bit all over the place; pop, punk, country, heavy rock and even a hint of folk.
I was fortunate to catch their show at Adelaide’s (South Australia) newest music venue, which I will have a story about soon, Hindley Street Music Hall during their national Tour In The Key of J, a run of unique and special shows dedicated entirely to celebrating the legacy of their revolutionary bass player Janet English, in support of their new album, Sounds in The Key of J.

When asked about the tour Kram, Janet and Whitt they replied,

“Janet’s songs are special. And over the past 30 years she’s written so many beautiful ones, but also others that hit you like a lightning bolt. The Key of J Tour will be a unique show – like nothing we’ve done before – it’ll be us celebrating Janet’s work in Spiderbait, and also the release of the double album collection of her songs Sounds in the Key of J,” explains Kram. “We can’t wait for this tour to start and to perform so many of her songs live – for me personally, it’ll be very moving, and to quote Janet directly… fucken awesome!”

“Kram was going on about the compilation idea – and initially, I said ‘hell no’. I kinda said ‘OK’ to shut him up… And here we are!” jokes Janet. “It’s been a tough few years and music really got me through the lockdowns. I still can’t quite believe we’ll be out touring again soon and for The Key of J tour, I’m super humbled and slightly terrified. I’ve missed that energy and that connection live music makes, being part of that exchange is one of the most amazing privileges.”

“So happy to have a tour coming up with my two best friends, especially to celebrate the Janet dynamic of our band,” adds Whitt.

In 1989, Janet English on bass guitar and lead vocals, Kram (Mark Maher) on lead vocals and drums, and Whitt (Damian Whitty) on guitar, began performing together. All grew up in the small town of Finley in southern New South Wales where Kram and his second cousin Whitty jammed together as schoolboys. With English on board, early rehearsals were held in sheds or barns, Kram later recalled: “we were shithouse! We were so bad … I mean Janet had never played a note of music in her life”. Initial gigs included a friend’s party as an unnamed band where they played “Freak Scene” and an AC/DC song. Using the name Candy Spuds for only one gig and then used Spiderbaby.

Following a move to Melbourne and becoming emersed in the local punk scene, regularly gigging with The Meanies. After picking up a deal with Au-Go-Go Records they changed their name to Spiderbait, there was an American band using Spiderbaby.

With an impressive discography and an even more impressive line up of all original members they are one of the few surviving bands to come out of Australia’s massive ‘90s scene.

  • Shashavaglava (1993)
  • The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake (1995)
  • Ivy and the Big Apples (1996)
  • Live in Canada and Australia (1998) Produced by Jack Endino
  • Grand Slam (1999)
  • The Flight of Wally Funk (2001)
  • Tonight Alright (2004)

Following a hiatus, in February 2013 it was announced that Spiderbait were working on a brand new album.

  • Spiderbait (2013)

This self-titled offering was met with resounding applause.

Tone Deaf wrote – “Spiderbait proves that the Aussie rockers are mature enough to know what they like without rehashing their old style.”

While Renowned for Sound offered – “A magical, mystical atmosphere is created through lyrics that seem to float through echoing harmonies, digitalized guitar riffs and a solid beat.”

Nine years would pass before we would see another offering from Spiderbait but they were far from resting. Touring with many festivals and celebrating the anniversary of Ivy and the Big Apples.
The release of Sounds in the key of J and subsequent tour.

Smashing out all the amazing tracks and celebrating all things Janet it was a show and setlist to remember

  • I Gotta Know
  • Jesus
  • Yeah Oh Yeah
  • Hot Water & Milk
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Goosh
  • Goin’ Off
  • Glockenpop
  • Alex the Seal
  • Ballad of Whitby farm
  • Calypso
  • Footy

And so many more.
They were 100% on point with the aging crowd pumping as best we could as most are now north of 45 years old. It wasn’t quite the energy ball of sweat, sex and drugs it was at the Spiderbait stage during a BDO festival in the 1990s but a great night was had by all.

As for the brand new venue, as I said I am working on a piece for that but it is certainly a great music hall and one I will certainly become a regular.

Until next time, Rock On.


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