ARIA award veteran Kav Temperley says the best way to approach Australian music’s night of nights is to make sure you’re having a laugh while keeping your competitive spirit high.
Kicking back on the phone from Fremantle, the Eskimo Joe frontman says the ARIA awards is like one massive party. “It’s almost like going to a school ball where all the bands get to put on their finest outfits. Let’s face it, we’re all musicians, so most of us never completed high school. It’s our chance to re-live the ball. We get to put on our best clothes and do naughty things.”
Aside from the red carpet, champagne and free food, at the core of the event lie the prestigious titles that, if collected, can mark a band’s musical footprints in Aussie history books for decades to come.
Eskimo Joe’s latest delivery and third studio album Inshalla has been nominated for Album of the Year, Best Group and Best Rock Album. The record is also up for an Engineer of the Year award.
Temperley says even though the band’s been through this process plenty of times before, he still feels the pinch as the special night rolls in. “My gut tells me ‘Oh my god,' but I don’t really know what that means. You can’t really go there and expect to win. If you do win something, that’s awesome and it’s a bonus. You’ve just got to go there and enjoy free alcohol,” he says, laughing.
“I was a bit nervous when I first got told because you suddenly go ‘Oh my god, the pressure.’ But, really, we’ve been to a few of those things now and you’ve just got to appreciate being involved in the spectacle more than anything else. I’ve learnt not to expect so much because a lot of times we’ve gone there thinking we were going to win, and we’ve won an ARIA or two, but we’ve never swept the pool.
“I remember being almost bitter about that but really it’s been quite a fortunate thing for us because people have always thought of us as the underdogs, to a certain extent. We haven’t overstayed our welcome with a lot of people. A lot of those bands that came through, like Jet and Powderfinger and Silverchair, have kind of had their big moment and they haven’t been able to recapture that ever since. We’re lucky we still get the recognition but we get to cruise along and do our thing.”
After soaring to the top of the charts with their third studio album Black Fingernails Red Wine, their most recent delivery stayed true to their rock roots but put showed a far more creative and adventurous side to the trio.
Temperley says each time they bring out a new record they like to mix it up. “I know there’s the thinking that if you’re onto a winning formula you should just stick to it and cash it in, but for us, we’ve been doing it for 12 years and it’s all about it staying interesting and fresh for us. If we make a record we don’t really enjoy and we’ve got to go tour it for the next 12 months and play it on the road, that would be hell.
“You also try not to be patronising to the fans that you have, and hope they want to progress and go somewhere new as well.”
Up against Australia’s finest acts including AC/DC, Sarah Blasko, The Temper Trap and Empire of the Sun, Temperley says the stakes are high because everyone’s worthy of winning in their own way. “Luke from Empire is from Perth and we’ve known him since we first started. When we played our very first Battle of the Bands competition he was in another band. So there’s definitely a respect that goes on but also a healthy competition. You would be a liar if you said you didn’t want to win it but you know, f**k it, if Luke wins a bunch of awards, good on him. And if Sarah Blasko wins a bunch of awards, good on her. They’re all fantastic artists who have done really, really well and created some really good music,” he says.
“AC/DC are the best rock band in the world and if we beat them that means we’re the best rock band in the universe.”