SARAH MCLEOD CONFIDES IN ME ABOUT KYLIE, THE ANNIVERSARY TOUR AND BEING A CRAP DJ

The 20th anniversary of The Superjesus’ debut album Sumo has rolled around and for those of us who remember it well would be thinking, surely that’s not 20 years already!

Well it is, so get yourself a ticket to The Gov on September 29 and strap yourself in for some nineties nostalgia or an education in all things rock.

Sarah McLeod, arguably one of the country’s best frontwomen (or men. frontpeople?) is looking forward to getting back to The Gov to take the stage with the Adelaide band who took the world by storm.

“It’s one of the best gigs to play in the country actually. I have two favourites, one’s The Gov and one’s the Metro in Sydney. It just sounds really good there [The Gov],” she says. “I like the layout of the stage. I like the layout of the room. It’s the only place that I know that you can stand outside in the beer garden and watch the band at the same time. I love it. It’s close to home and all my mates come. The response we get in Adelaide is always the most energetic response that we get from around the whole country, which is really lovely.”

For this tour, Sarah says the band will play Sumo in its entirety and also a few other treats, like perhaps the Kylie’s Confide in Me, which she has done a stellar cover of.

“I’ve always been a Kylie fan. I used to be a DJ for a little while, a really bad DJ. Really bad. In fact, I wasn’t really good at what I was playing but I knew how to use the equipment so I used to be a DJ with my sister. She was more in charge of what we’d play and I would work the equipment. She would stand next to me and she was my connection to the people. They would come to her and I’d just hide behind the gear and she’d kick me and go, ‘You need to play this’ and make suggestions,” she says.

“They were just all Kylie, just Kylie after Kylie after Kylie, but it turned out to be a nightmare because she would say yes to people for songs that we didn’t have. She would go, ‘You need to play this.” And I’d go, “Leah we don’t have that.” And she’d go, “Well you better find it ’cause there’s one drunk man that really wants it and he’s starting to get angry with me. It’s the seventh time he’s asked.” I’d be like, “Well, we don’t have it. I don’t know what you’re doing to me.’”

But after DJ days, The Superjesus have enjoyed smashing success both at home and overseas and Sarah says she has been enjoying looking back on it with the upcoming anniversary tour looming.

“As the progression for tours got closer and I’ve done a lot of digging to find old articles and old photos and reliving all the old songs again. I’ve been writing sort of like a blog about what happened back in the day and I’m starting to all piece it together and remember. So, not only am I remembering what happened, I’m starting to remember how I felt as well and what I was wearing, what certain rooms looked like, next I’ll be remembering smells. It’s weird the way it comes back to you in stages,” she laughs.

“Looking back on it now, I think I feel more of an accomplishment now than I did if you’d have asked me this a couple of months ago because I’d sort of forgotten. I had this thing where I’d just trudge on with reckless abandon to the future, and I’d live in the now and completely forget about what I did yesterday. I know I did some cool things. I’ve got a vague recollection. I was just always looking at what was happening next. To actually have that trigger now where I can remember it clearly and feel certain emotions that I felt back then, it’s really weird actually. It’s interesting, I feel like I have been going through some sort of weird therapy that’s triggered images from a past life.”

And if she could go back twenty years in time and giver herself any wise words of advice?

“God. I have made a lot of mistakes along the way and there’s so many things if I could go back and do it again I would actually do things differently. I hate to say that because I know that usually the correct answer is, ‘No, I wouldn’t change a thing. I live with no regrets.’ But it’s bullshit. Of course there are things that I could’ve done completely differently,” she says.

“I made a lot of errors actually, to be honest, along the way that changed a lot of things. A lot of good decisions too. The biggest thing I would’ve told my young self is to find something and stick to it and just get really good at one thing. I think my main problem over the years has been that my scatty brain makes me jump from project to project, management to management, record company to record company. I move house all the time. Nothing in my life is permanent and I think that’s what’s been stuffing me up.”

But in transience is creativity and the roads Sarah has travelled had brought her to this point where she is an ARIA award winning artist and still rocking as hard as ever.

In fact, the re-release of Sumo (it’s got the Kylie track on it so you should buy it immediately) is hugely popular and going great guns.

“It’s going better than I thought,” Sarah says. “I just sort of assumed that everyone already had it by now and it’s old news and they’ve moved on. I guess new people have been born since the nineties. There’s new markets to heat up. It’s got heaps of extra tracks on it as well. It’s a bit more exciting than the original one and the vinyl is red which is bad ass. In fact, we’re doing a reissue the next round because they sold out of the reds, so the next round they’re going make it white.”

You can grab the album re-release now so you can be ready to sing along at the gig (as if you don’t know the words already).

And speaking of the gigs, Sarah says there are ups and downs of touring but overall, she’s looking forward to getting back out on the circuit with the band.

“I love building up momentum within the wheels of the band, the machine of the band, because when you do just one show and then you go home you’re kind of like, ‘Yeah, cool.’ But when you do a show and then a show and a show, everything that you learned from the first show you apply to the second show and then when you get to the third show all of the shortcomings that, you apply that to the next show,” she says.

“And each show, you hone the performance and the set list and your approach and everything; you watch it get better and sleeker. I find that really fascinating and we hadn’t done that since the ’90s. The only shows we played when we got back together were a weekend here, a weekend there. That’s what I’m looking forward to because I want to see if we can get that machine smoking again like it used to be.”

The show will be two full hours with lots of treats for fans new and old, and it’s set to be a ripper. The Adelaide show has almost sold out so get on it, quick!

“We’re playing everything from Eight Step Rail, everything from Sumo, a whole bunch of b-sides, rarities, a greatest hits set. It’s like the biggest performance that we’ve ever attended ever. It’s actually quite insane. It was a really weird idea. It was my idea and I bet you I’m going to be the first person that says, ‘This is ridiculous’ because it’s going to kill me,” Sarah laughs.

“I hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot, but it’s terribly ambitious. I just think Sumo deserves it, you know? If we’re going to do an anniversary tour on an album like that then we’re going to go for it and do it properly, but it’s a massive undertaking.”

Make sure you grab your tickets to the Gov gig in Adelaide and get your copy of Sumo re-released, not just to support a homegrown hero, but also because it’ll be a damn good show.

By Libby Parker
Photo by Nix Cartel

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