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Three decades on, Gleeso says the Jets have Nothing To Lose


When you think of Newy rock ‘n’ roll legends, Dave Gleeson and the boys from The Screaming Jets immediately spring to mind.

From their humble beginnings in the former steel city, back in 1989, they’ve been an enduring force in the Australian music landscape for more than three decades.

Before they had even signed their first record deal, the Jets had already clocked up in excess of 200 “live” shows, won the Triple J Battle of the Bands competition and established themselves as an onstage, no-holds barred, powerhouse.

Their No 2 smash Better then introduced them to the world.

And, now in 2023, not much has changed.

Gleeson and the lads – Paul Woseen (bass), Jimi Hocking (guitar), Scott Kingman (guitar) and Cameron McGlinchey (drums) – are still on the road with The Rock Vault Encore Tour, the sequel to the band’s hugely-successful national odyssey celebrating the 30th anniversary of their ground-breaking debut All For One; they’ve just released a new single Nothing To Lose off the forthcoming album Professional Misconduct; and they’re about to take the stage at the Doyalson RSL Club on Saturday 5 August.

“Our longevity is due to our love of the game, mate,” he said.

“If we didn’t love it, we would have stopped years ago.

“But, even though you have your ups and downs, it’s the best job in the world, hanging out with your mates, making music and records.

“We just love it.

“A little thing called COVID helped, too.

“I said to a lot of people ‘look, if you come out of the pandemic and haven’t got a bunch of songs written, you’re an idiot’.

“Because, we all had that downtime.

“However, the other side of that was making sure that you didn’t write songs only about being locked down.

“No one wants to hear it, we all know, we get it.

“So, it was a very productive period as far as getting stuff ready to come out and record.”

The success of All For One, and the foot-stomping Better, saw the Jets share the rostrum with the likes of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and INXS to name a few.

They also released another nine studio albums (four of them Top 5 on the Australian ARIA charts); collected multiple gold and platinum records; and delivered classics such as Helping Hand, C’Mon, Shivers, Eve of Destruction, Shine On and many more.

Photo: Kane Hibberd

Gleeson admitted even he was surprised to be rocking it out… in 2023.

“Who would have thought I’d still be here?” he said.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be pumping out the first one [record].

“I never dreamed of it.

“As a young kid growing up in Cardiff, it was all football for me and my family.

“So, I kind of fell into it [music].

“Grant Walmsley (Jets founder) snagged me into a band after hearing me sing at Mass one day in Year 10.

“It’s bizarre… I never ever thought that I’d be in any kind of entertainment business.

“But, here we sit.”

Not content with just leading the Jets, the charismatic singer also joined forces with another legendary act, The Angels, taking the reins from the late Doc Neeson.

For good measure, he has his own radio program as well, Triple M Nights with Dave Gleeson.

“Playing with The Angels has been awesome,” he said.

“I’ve still got a few shows to go with the boys but, yeah, it all came about very kind of ‘let’s suck it and see’.

“I just got up and sang with them one night, when they were playing a gig near my home in Adelaide.

“John Brewster asked me: ‘What Angels songs did I know?’

“I replied: ‘Mate, I’m from Cardiff, I know all of them’.

“So, 12 years later, to help bring the band back to the prominence they deserve has been a terrific part of my journey.

Photo: Kane Hibberd

“And, I love my radio gig.

“I actually started at 2nurfm (in Newcastle).

“My mate Jim Duncan used to have a show on a Sunday night, and I’d go in and spin a few tracks when I was 18.

“However, my first real stint was at Triple M in 1997… I’ve been there, off and on, ever since.

“Nothing beats performing though.

“Like I said earlier, there’s good and bad times.

“When we started, if you had a bit of success here in Australia and you went over to America or the UK and it kind of didn’t translate, people lost a bit of faith in you.

“Nowadays, because it’s so global, so instantly, there’s not much of that drop off.

“For us, we spent a good amount of time building up a ‘live’ crowd.

“It was very organic for the Jets.

“I think we got to the stage where we were doing great shows around Newcastle.

“Then we thought, let’s branch out to Sydney.

“Once we won the Battle of the Bands down at Selinas (Coogee), we absolutely stacked the house with those gigs.

“We just took busloads of people to Sydney.

“We’re lucky, we’ve always had a staunch – and loyal – following here in Australia.”

Photo: Kane Hibberd

Although based in South Australia these days, Gleeson said he missed his “beautiful” hometown.

“My wife’s family is from Adelaide, so we’re on a gorgeous 10-acre property,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“But, I don’t get back home as often as I’d like.

“The last time we were there, we stayed at Noah’s on the Beach.

“I love it… just sitting there looking at Newie Beach, just going, how good is this?

“I can’t talk highly enough of Newcastle.

“I’ll tell you what happened… when we had our first child, we were living in Sydney, had a mortgage and stuff and we had two options.

“One was to move back to Newcastle and obviously destroy my marriage,” he laughed.

“Or, move down to Adelaide… so, I thought, let’s do that.

“We’ve been married 27 years now… I guess, it’s worked out okay.”

With Nothing To Lose already receiving nation-wide praise, and Professional Misconduct to drop soon, Gleeson is excited about the Jets’ future.

“It’s our first new music offering in eight years,” he said.

“And, yeah, it sounds like The Screaming Jets straight away.

“We thought it was best to make sure people didn’t think we’d gone too far off track.

“However, Professional Misconduct, our 10th album, is actually pretty diverse.

“There are a few curve balls in there that we can’t wait for people to hear.

“The hardest part [these days] is finding somewhere where everyone can listen to it together, which is what we did when we were kids.

“You know, we would listen to the radio and that 100,000 other people were hearing that song at the same time. Yep.

“But, now, with streaming or what I call ‘stealing’, it’s kind of a real scatter-gun approach.

“People get their music from different areas… it’s a different ball game.

Photo: Kane Hibberd

“So, that’s probably why we cannot wait to play ‘live’.

“And, we are really looking forward to this weekend’s gig at the Doyalson RSL Club.

“I absolutely love the Doylo.

“I used to go and see bands there myself, like the Choirboys.

“In fact, there are a lot of acts out there from that period who are still on the road.

“There’s Dragon, Choirboys, 1927 and even Boom Crash Opera.

“That’s testament to the fact that these bands all had fans, real supporters, with them for the duration.

“Plus, their hits remain classics, even in 2023.

“There was a real timeless period in the 1980s and ‘90s where these songs, they didn’t kind of really relate to any specific era.

“That’s why you can still listen to them now and get a buzz off them.”

So, what’s in the works for Gleeson and the Jets moving forward?

“We’ll finish off these Rock Vault Encore shows and then October the album comes out,” he said.

“I think we’re touring pretty heavily towards the end of September.

“Then all the way through December and January, we’ll do the Red Hot Summers again.

“So, I’m very excited about all of it.”

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