“It must be kind of depressing when you see a page that’s got a missing person on it,” was Jeremy Neale’s response when I point out that my notepad is made from recycled milk cartons. That joke pretty much sums up the personality of the recent QMA winner: witty, down to earth and up for a laugh. “I usually have a coffee,” he says of his pre-performance routine, “but you’ve gotta have days off to give yourself the full effect. Then it feels magical again.”
That magical feeling infuses his performance with an infectious energy. The crowd eat it up, whether it’s the pounding guitar riffs or the rock n roll stage poses. “It’s the Dire Straits in all of us” he quips. Certainly one should expect nothing less from the master of ‘spy rock’. “I actually wrote a spy song that was on ode to Johnny Rivers,” laughs Jeremy as he recalls the origins of the term. “It actually wasn’t a great song, but it was based around having a cool spy riff. So content: lacking. Spy riff: maximum.”
“’Winter Was The Time’ had a solo that sounded like ‘spy rock’, and in ‘Love Affair To Keep You There’; that’s a spy rock solo. They’re the only two, but I just thought the concept was so cool.” From there on it grew, with Jeremy taunting the press with his arch enemy: Dr USSR, and semi-historical references to the Iron Curtain.
This is not the only curious glimpse into the mind of Jeremy Neale. The charming DIY music videos are full of Jeremy’s ideas, “I don’t have a very imaginative narrative,” the singer admits modestly, “it’s just: rip a bit of pop culture, have myself against impossible odds and have a happy ending. But it’s how story works.”
Ever fond of tangents, Jeremy regrets not being a “1980s action film director from Hong Kong” just to have to the skills to make the action clips he desires. “I’m not very good at editing. I make so many mistakes and do changes, which means the video quality has to be lower. Then I get to the end and I’m like “Why does this look so shit?’” he explains with humorous resignation.
But Jeremy promises the video for his next single will be done professionally, which hopefully won’t take away from the charm. “Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for me to do more home videos,” he assures, promising more fight scenes in future. “If I get a big budget, you can bet it’s gonna be like that Jet Li scene in The One.” The song in question was recorded to launch his next EP. “I was like “Crap Jeremy, you need a single. So I spent one week pacing around like Howard Hughes.”
Powering through 13 hours at Applewood Studios, he seems happy with the way the track turned out. “We’ll smash out the EP and have a vinyl ready, the cover art done.” Unfortunately touring costs have drained the EP of financial resources. “I’m going to start a Pozible campaign as a way to pre-order the album,” he says. “It’s not asking for handouts; if people buy the record in advance, then I can make the finished product better.” Jeremy shrugs, “if it fails, it fails. But it could be fun – I’ll get to make more YouTube videos.”
Eskimo Joe recently received flak for their use of the crowd funding system, something which Jeremy can see both sides of. “Some said that all they need to do is a capital city tour. But then, there’s a pre-conception that if you’re a large band you have money. But sometimes that’s not even true.”
On the topic of other artists, Jeremy firmly believes in the responsibility accompanying the role of a famous artist. “It’s like being the Queen, you can’t be a dick in that position, but you’re responsible for what a lot of impressionable people do,” he says of Justin Bieber. “I sound like such a nerd saying it, but it’s so important. You can be a badass and not destroy peoples’ lives.”
There’s no danger of Jeremy not being a fantastic role model, he makes the time for everyone he meets, and is prone to spontaneous humour that will still make you chuckle days later. Fans will get to experience the man himself soon as he embarks on another tour in October. “The tour is with Feelings, with Simon ‘Berkfinger’ (Berckelman) who used to be with Philadelphia Grand Jury. And there’s another special addition to the lineup.”
Jeremy finishes up with a wonderful promise: “We’ll probably put out a Velociraptor single early next year. It’s really exciting what’s happening there, it’s some of our best stuff.”
You can catch Jeremy Neale in Brisbane at BIGSOUND Live: Black Bear Lodge, Sept 11 at 11:40pm.
Keep an eye out for the EP release later this year.