I was lucky enough to chat on the phone to Hey Geronimo lead singer Pete Kilroy about the important things: the band’s new single, their new haircuts, the upcoming tour with Strange Talk and of course, 7-Eleven coffee. What an awesome, funny guy to talk to, check it out!
I’ve been keeping up with your Facebook news. Tell me about these new haircuts.
Hah! Well, we haven’t seen each other in a couple of weeks, and we thought, we’ll get together and start practicing for this tour. And we rock up and everyone’s got a fancy new do! And I’m like, wow, the boys are taking it pretty seriously. I think they’ve gone the indie look, because the Strange Talk fellas are pretty good looking blokes so I think we’ve gotta up our game a little.
So they’re not matching hairstyles?
No, no. Everyone’s got their own subtle style. Tony’s rocking some kind of hipster indie thing. Ironically, I’m going a bit of a Dan Kelly thing. Ross is just, his own man. It’s hard to describe how Ross rolls.
I last saw Hey Geronimo play at Little Big Sound last year. What are some of the things that have happened for the band since then?
We played Homebake, which was awesome, just because I’m an old school Homebake fan. We played just before Tim Rodgers and we had a moment where he gave me a hug and some life advice. I can’t remember what he said though – he was all sweaty and had no clothes on, and it was kinda cool, haha.
We did Peats Ridge, we did Big Day Out which was amazing. We went on tour with the Presidents [of the United States] as well which was just kinda surreal. And also, we’ve recorded four or five new songs and we’ve got a couple more recording days coming up.
Good stuff. You mentioned the tour with the Presidents. Obviously it went really well?
Yeah, they were just so good. I actually, sort of drunkenly on the last night, just went “Hey guys, don’t take this the wrong way, but you guys are so good, I didn’t think you were gonna be this good!” Like the main guy, his voice was just incredible.
We posted a video the other day on our Facebook of ‘Kitty’, you know that bit in ‘Kitty’: “Kitty you’re gonna spend the night,” and you’d get people yelling “OUT-SIDE!” And it was the highlight of my night. It gave me giggles every single night.
Did you get to play the ‘Pizzas‘ song live?
If we’d played that we’d probably get run out of town you know? Some of the President’s fans were just like:
‘Who the fuck do you think you are, playing before Presidents?” In Sydney, there was a heckler who was like “Bring on the Presidents!” So we said “Yeah yeah ok, that’s cool. Anyway we’re going to play some more songs.” And he shouted “I said bring out the Presidents!”
I’m like “Mate, do you wanna fuckin’ wait outside? Go ahead. You don’t have to be here.” But the rest of crowd just went “yeah, tell that guy to shut up.” It’s the first time we’ve ever had a heckler. It was fun; it worked out well. I mean all of the gigs were really great fun, the whole tour was amazing.
So you’ve just released ‘The Dan Kelly Song.’ I love it, it’s funny; it’s boppy. What is it about Dan Kelly? Is he a big influence?
Yeah he is. I thought that Australian music was, apart from a few local bands, a bit naff. And I finally listened to The Boat People, and I’m like, this is really great local music. And then James O’ Brien from that band, who played with Tony from our band, started showing me these great Australian artists that I didn’t know about. And Dan Kelly was one of them.
The song’s not so much a parody; it’s more like a song written in that kind of conversational style that he has. And the production; we distorted the voice a bit, and we got Jennifer Boyce from Ball Park [Music] to come in. She was our girl backup singer, and the ukulele. I couldn’t get around to doing the amazing similes and metaphors. I think that’s a bit beyond me. It’s just crazy, the imagery he conjures up.
Have you played with Dan?
No, I just had dream basically about writing the song. And then when he came to town, I just hit him up after the gig like “Hey man! Here’s a song called ‘The Dan Kelly Song.’ What do think of that?.” And he’s like “Oh yeah. It’s kinda weird, that’s cool.” He sent us some samples and stuff, and I think some of them made it in there. He sort of gave it his blessing, and it’s pretty fun, so we thought we’d chuck it out there.
Didn’t he wonder why you were dreaming about him?
Oh, I dream about all types of weird shit. None of it makes any sense.
Haha. So listening to the song, tell me: have you got something against 7-Eleven coffee?
No, I actually love 7-Eleven coffee. Seriously, they’ve got like a $10,000 coffee machine in there, and it costs you a dollar! I was lined up behind a whole bunch of homeless dudes, and I’m like: ‘Shit is this me? Am I that guy, just lining up for a dollar coffee?’
I love it too. And you get to be your own barista as well!
Well that’s true, and they have the Nestle powdered chocolate for $1 mochas.
Sam Cromack from Ball Park Music was co-producing too. How did that happen?
He was going to produce the last Blame Ringo record but we ended up going with Matt Redlich, then with Magoo. Then I was talking to Sam again about some tunes, and he said he’d be mad keen to help out, so I was like well why not just get the dude in, almost like as a consultant?
You’re sitting in the studio throwing around ideas for how a song can go. And you’ve got Cromack in the room, putting his two bob in and I think it’s really cool. So we’ll be playing this rock song really fast. And he’ll say: ‘You know what we should do? Just cut out the drums and bass and just put a tambourine in instead of that.”
And we’ll be like “What the fuck are you talking about?” But then we’ll try it, and it’s awesome! But that’s the dude’s vibe. He’s good at what he does. Everyone has ideas and it’s just a case of trying them out, see what works and what doesn’t.
And you’re playing in Brisbane on June 14th?
Yeah, so we’re playing Alhambra which is cool, because they’ve put a stage in. I think our first ever gig was at Alhambra and they didn’t have a stage so it was kind of weird. But the new setup looks amazing so we’re really pumped to go back and have another crack.
And along with your haircuts, you mentioned something about ‘new harmonies’ on Facebook. Can we expect to hear lots of new stuff?
Well yeah, we’ve got a couple of new songs. Everyone’s singing something different. It’s just fun, because band practice is a chore when you’re just playing the same old songs. But when you’ve got a bunch of new songs then it’s really exciting to be experimenting. The band has evolved around those nice harmonies and the energy on stage – they’re the two things that we pride ourselves on.
Yeah your vocals are impressive; you must really have to nail those down.
Yeah, we try to sit down, and make sure we can sing. I especially have a habit of writing notes that I can’t actually sing, like they’re too high or whatever, so it’s just about practising those until you can get them down.
What are the Strange Talk fellas like? Have you had chance to hang out with them?
No, we will – the idea of the tour is just to have a night that’s really fun. I know they sort of play different music to us, but it’s about having a good time and having a few drinks and letting your hair down.
So you haven’t started swapping selfies yet?
Hah, no not quite yet! But we’ve got eleven dates so we’re gonna have a lot of time to be able to hang out, which will be great.
You can see Hey Geronimo live with Strange talk at Alhambra Lounge on June 14, as part of the Strange Geronimo tour. Tickets are available here.
*This interview has been edited.