Philadelphia Grand Jury have been partying their way around the UK, forcing audiences from locations as far as Stonorway to embrace the party vibe. EMMA HOPE caught up with the band to chat about how the tour is going.
You’re playing a ridiculously solid run of dates, you have shows up until the middle of October with no more than a day or two off in between. Is the UK market really important to you?
MC Bad Genius: I guess so, that’s why we’re here. We want to play to as many people as we can while we’re in the UK. We had to take a break from touring in Australia because we played there for two years solidly. It got to that point where we had to take a break but we decided that rather than taking a break we would just go somewhere else.
Berkfinger: We’ve also been to South Africa and through America, we’ve played in Germany and around Europe as well. Our aim is to be a little band everywhere.
How long are you in the UK all up? Are you getting homesick?
Berkfinger: Six months. No, I got homesick when I went home to Sydney, I missed London.
MC Bad Genius: Sydney didn’t feel like home either, it just felt like another place we were touring to. We were staying in hotels, living out of suitcases.
What has the reception in the UK been like so far?
Berkfinger: Good, really good. It’s funny, we’re playing here tonight (at Proud in Camden) to between 50 and 200 people in a strange little room with insufficient sound and equipment, and we just played the main stage at Splendor in the Grass (festival in Australia) in front of 15,000. So it’s weird playing here. But when we first started the band in Australia we spent about a year playing gigs to pretty much nobody. Already here we’re started to get a bit of a following.
What’s been your best show here?
MC Bad Genius: The Windmill in Brixton. It had been going all day at the venue, they had a barbeque for the World Cup, so everyone was well and truly lubricated by the time we went on stage.
Berkfinger: We trashed the stage and the sound guy loved it. Usually they get angry at us. I think if we had knocked over the sound desk this sound guy would have started jumping on it too.
What place are you most looking forward to playing?
MC Bad Genius: Stonorway, it’s an island off the north west coast of Scotland. We have to catch a ferry over, but we haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet. We’re interested to see the type of people who live in Stonorway, it will be a unique crowd I think.
You claim to play like it’s your last show ever. Every. Single. Time. And you always get incredible live reviews, so this must work. But isn’t it rather tiring?
Berkfinger: Some nights it’s like ‘can I really give all of this to these people, I’m gonna get hurt and I’m gonna break something and it’s gonna cost money.’ It’s like we said with the sound guy, we tend to play and make a lot of people really, really happy or really angry. Some nights you just think ‘could I really be bothered kicking up a big fuss tonight.’
MC Bad Genius: Sometimes it gets to the last song of the set and you’re like ‘I don’t know if I can do this again’. Then the music starts and you don’t have a choice, you’re kinda roped into it.
Berkfinger: That said, we all operate on different trajectories. You often have crazy night and I’ll be bummed out sitting in the corner or vice versa.
MC Bad Genius has a heart condition. Is the energy and intensity of your shows really the best medicine?
MC Bad Genius: It keeps me fit. I think since we’ve been touring I’ve lost more and more weight.
Berkfinger: And I’ve put on weight.
MC Bad Genius: That’s because you have the beers. And I just have water.
What songs do you most enjoy playing live? ‘Going to the Casino’ sounds like a big party number.
Berkfinger: That song has been around for about seven years now, so it’s a funny one to play live because the crowd usually responds the most to it but we just play it. We often do a cover of Jay Z’s ’99 Problems’ that’s kinda fun. The newer the song the more we enjoy it.
Your sound is very upbeat, the album is optimistically named Hope is for Hopers. So what’s with not wanting to party?
Berkfinger: The album title was written very cynically, like ‘hope is for hopers, so what’s the point of hoping’. But it’s funny cause when I first said it to him he was like ‘oh that’s nice, hope is for hopers, you need to have hope.’
MC Bad Genius: The ‘I don’t wanna party’ thing, well the song always makes people party because it’s a party song. The idea is that you don’t want to party, but you’re just going to have to. It’s about meeting someone and worrying that they’ll think you’re not a fun person. So forcing yourself to try to be fun, for the sake of it.