Saturday, January 10, 2015


Today I'm going to be learning about the music group Spiderbait.

I've heard a few of their songs. The only one I can think of offhand is "Black Betty".  I really like that song, although I did more so in the past. It's one of those songs that I played too much, and then became somewhat tired of it.

I don't think I've ever seen the video for "Black Betty".  I'm going to see if it's on YouTube, so I can watch it now.

Here's the video.

There's someone playing the drums, and another playing a banjo.

There's some kind of guitar. Maybe electrical? I'm really dumb when it comes to instruments.

The guy on the drums is the one singing, although, it looks more like he's lip-synching.

There's a black car in the video. Is that supposed to be Black Betty?

I think I just saw an American actor in the video. Seth Green. I think that's his name.  He appears at 1:52. It's either him or a guy that looks like him. After I watch the video, I'll see if anyone has mentioned it in comments.

Actually, the Maybe-Seth-Green guy has been there throughout the video, but I just noticed the resemblance now.

Okay. I looked at the comments. It is Seth Green in the video.  It's scenes from a movie.  From comments, I'm getting the idea that this video was made specifically for the movie. But someone mentions that there was a previous video of the song before the Seth Green version.

I'm also being reminded in comments that the song is a cover. Spiderbait isn't the original singer.

Lord Wiki says originally the song was an African-American work song.

Here's a 1939 recording of the song. I like it.

Well, I should probably start on the task of learning about Spiderbait.

Lord Wiki says the band formed in 1989, in a New South Wales town called Finley.

From Google Maps, I can see that Finley is seven hours south-west of Sydney.  And it's about two hours south-west of Wagga Wagga.

The members of the band were (and still are, I think) Janet English, Mark Maher, and Damien Whitty.

I think of Janet as a woman's name, but I think in this case it applies to a man. I don't think I saw a woman in the video.  Lord Wiki says he plays drums and does lead vocals.

Mark Maher is known by the nickname Kram.  He's the guy who does the drums. And he also sings.

Damien Whitty is Kram's second cousin.  He plays the guitar. I guess he doesn't sing. Or at least he doesn't do lead singing in the band. He might do a little singing in the band and some lead singing in the shower.

The band started playing in sheds and barns. Lord Wiki says that Kram says the band was pretty awful in the beginning.

In 1990, the band moved to Melbourne. Kram attended the Victorian College of the Arts. Is that the same one that that Eddie Perfect went to?  I need to go look at the post I wrote a few days ago....

Okay. No. Perfect went to the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. But I did mention the Victorian College of the Arts in the post. That's why I got myself confused.


The Spiderbait folks started getting gig jobs. Their name back then was Spiderbaby. But there was an American band who were already using that name. So they switched to Spiderbait.

I wonder how Spiderbaby is doing.

I can't find anything about a 20th century American Spiderbaby band. But Lord Wiki knows of a 21st century Spiderbaby band that's from Brighton.

Spiderbait's first single was "Circle K", released in 1991.  I'll listen as I continue to research.

In 1992, Spiderbait performed at concerts done by American groups touring Australia.

Their first album was released in 1993. It was called Shashavaglava. Lord Wiki says that word is a Serbo-Croatian word meaning crazyhead. I wonder if the band members are Serbian-Croatian. Or some of them maybe?  Maybe the two cousins?

I feel I'm getting boring with this all  career stuff. Or at least I'm bored. I'm probably usually boring to other people, but at least I'm not making myself bored.

I think I'll just skim over Lord Wiki's overview. I'll mention highlights or things I find interesting.

Spiderbait's song "Calypso" was featured in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. That's the film with Heath Ledger.

I just looked up the song on YouTube, along with the movie title. I didn't get Calypso. I got a Spiderbait song called "Sunshine on My Window". Maybe it's an alternative title for the song? Or maybe two Spiderbait songs are in 10 Things I Hate About You.

I'm looking at lists of Spiderbait songs. I can't find any "Sunshine on My Window" song.

But then I googled the song, and the results were all Spiderbait things.

I think it's an alternative name for "Calypso".

Okay. Yeah. I'm looking at the lyrics. The first line is Sunshine on my window makes me happy.  Is that related to the song about sunshine on my shoulders?  John Denver did the "Sunshine on my Shoulders" song, and he also has a song called "Calypso". So maybe the Spiderbait song is an homage to John Denver?

Well, I'm going to listen to the song now.

I have heard it before.

I'm very confused.

It sounds like women singing.

Maybe this isn't Spiderbait.

Or maybe Janet IS a woman.

Well, I just read further down. Janet is either a woman, or HE is gay.  Lord Wiki mentions a boyfriend.

She's female. Now I see that she birthed a baby. Men can't do that...yet.

Spiderbait participated in the Wiggles tribute album. They sang "Rock-a-bye Your Bear".

I wonder if I've heard it before. I'm checking to see if I have it on iTunes. It's sad. I pretty much never listen to my iTunes music anymore. I don't know what I have and don't have.

I see now that I do have "Calypso". I don't think I listened to it much.

I have three songs from the Wiggles tribute album, but not the Spiderbait one.

Now I can't shut down iTunes. It took a long time to open, and now I'm stuck with it. it's gone. Thanks.

Spiderbait went on hiatus around 2005; then in 2013, they started getting things rolling again.

Their new album is called "Spiderbait".

Maybe I'll listen to a random song. says I should listen to "Goodbye".  I love the beginning. It's beautiful.

While I listen to it, I shall tell you guys about Rory. He's my Green Anole lizard friend. Well, we're not exactly friends yet. It's more like we're in a cohabiting relationship.  I found him a couple of days ago when I was in the closet looking for clothes. He dropped on my foot.  Usually, I'd release such a visitor outside. But it's way too cold.  So I captured him and put him in a cage. It was too small of a cage, though, so we went out to buy a bigger cage and some food.  But he seemed so unhappy in the cage. I released him, and now he just roams free in my office.  Yesterday he hid most of the time and wouldn't eat. Today he's eaten two mealworms and he's a happy green color.  He's also hiding much less. I'm very happy about that. Because actually, this morning I feared he might be dead. He was just lying there not moving.  I poked him a bit, and he moved.

Okay, now I'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I'm going to look at Spiderbait's official website.

There's a big video on the home page. I'll watch that. They're obviously eager to promote this one.

The video disappeared after a moment, but the song's still playing.

It's Janet English doing the lead vocals for this one.

Now I can see the video. There's lots of graffiti and and three walking toys.

When English does the lead singing, the songs sound so much different from "Black Betty". It sounds like a different band.

I'm going to watch Black Betty again, and see if I just totally missed the fact that I was seeing a female.

At least two of the people look very male. I'm not getting a good look of the third person.  I'm getting quick glances. It could be Janet English. I'm not sure.

Now I'm looking at Spiderbait's about page.  I see English. I think she could be mistaken for a man if shown in only quick glimpses.

The about page talks about how their new album isn't a comeback album, because they never actually broke up. They just took a break. It sounds like the Ross-Rachel thing on Friends.

I think it's nice that they're break is over, and they're making music again.

I'm trying to look at their tour page now. It's taking a long time for the tour information to load.

Well, now the information is there. It says there's no upcoming tours at this point.

Here's an interview with Kram.

He says they didn't plan for the long hiatus. It just happened. He was busy with his kids. He says, Umm… after that record we did a lot of touring, and because we had such a big number one hit with that, that does take things [and] stretches them out a bit further.  I think he's saying that they made enough money, so it became less urgent to keep working.  I mean not that they only worked for the money. But if you make a lot of money, it's easier to take a break if you feel like it.  Although I take long breaks for the opposite reason. I mean not with my blog, but my fiction writing. I make no money, so I don't feel the motivation to continue.

Blogging is different because I enjoy doing it more. Writing fiction stresses me out.

Kram says, I mean, fuck, how many fucking bands do I hear coming out of America every year where every song sounds exactly the same? I don't know if I've heard a lot of songs that sound the same. But there are bands in general that sound the same to me. I get so confused between Imagine Dragons and Lumineers. And I think there are other bands that sound like those as well.

There's talk here about friends forming bands and then ending up hating each other. Kram says the way to avoid that is to not do too much touring together. It's like that whole thing of how it's not a good idea to become roommates with your best friend.

Kram also credits their small town background for them staying friends.  That doesn't make much sense to me.  I don't see how it would make such a difference.  So if one of the members had been from Sydney, they'd be more likely to break up?

It's nice to have a commonality. And maybe that does add something.  But I don't think it always does.

I think Kram is trying too hard to explain why he and his band members still get along. Maybe it's just luck and a good combination of personalities.  It's like someone trying to rationalize why they have a well-behaved child. Or why they continue to have a happy marriage.  I think a lot of times there's no easy explanation. It's just something that happens.

Someone can say we've been married for fifty years because we did this, this, and that. But another couple can do the exact same things and be divorced within a couple of years.

Now I'm going to read this other interview.

Here Kram says the three things that have helped the band endure are their creativity, friendship, and live shows.  But I think most bands have those three things.

I didn't find much else in the interview that interests me a lot.

So I've moved onto Twitter. They have a surprisingly low number of followers. 2809. That's much more than what I have. But I'm not famous.

Their most recent post is from 21 hours ago. They say they loved the movie Angus.  Are they involved with the movie Angus? Is this a self-promotion post?

Or...wait. Maybe Angus isn't the name of the movie. I think Angus is the guy who made the movie, and Spiderbait says, Congrats, Mate. So I think Angus is a friend of his.

I think there's a comma missing in the Tweet, and that confused me.

The movie is The Mule. The director is Angus Sampson.

It looks like most of Spiderbait's Tweets are about Spiderbait; and there's a lot of Retweets of other people talking about Spiderbait. It's pretty much a self-promotion kind of thing...not my favorite kind of Twitter account.

Now I'm going to look at their Instagram.

Their most recent photo is from six days ago. It's the audience at the Southbound Music Festival.

The southbound Music Festival took place January 3 and 4.   Spiderbait played from 3:10-4:10 on the second day. I recognize a few other names here: Vance Joy, Temper Trap, Empire of the Sun, etc.

Most of their Instagram photos are of themselves, usually doing music things.  There's a photo of a Circle K. I assume that's in honor of their first single.

The idea I'm getting from their social media accounts and interviews is that their music and their band is what they think and talk about the most.  They don't seem to have much of a life or interests, outside of that. But it might not be true. It might just be the image their projecting.  Probably not on purpose.

There's no cute photos of pets or children...or beautiful scenery photos.

I think I'm going to look at this one last article, and then quit.

Janet English is punctual. The guys are not.  It says here that Kram and Whitty will be two hours late. What does English do while she's waiting? It doesn't sound like she gets mad, so I imagine she keeps herself busy.

We had this houseguest who was often very late. He confessed to me that he likes being late, because he doesn't like having to wait for people. So by being late, he never has to be the one left waiting. I was in a polite mood that day and didn't say anything. I wish I had been in a bitchy mood and asked why it was okay for his friends to have to wait.

English reveals that the band tried to make it in the United States. They worked at it for six weeks, and then gave up. No one knew what genre we were and no one got our sense of humour.  No one? How do they know? Well, maybe they made jokes at a concert, and no one laughed. Although sometimes people don't laugh out loud. And if you're busy singing and playing your bass guitar, you might not notice the few people quietly chuckling. Then again, they were probably making the jokes while not singing and playing their instruments. Maybe they made a joke, and there was that awful awkward silence from the audience.

In the article, Kram is described as being hirsute. What does that mean? I don't think I've ever seen that word.

This dictionary site say it's, having a lot of hair especially on the face or body. Well, where the hell else would you have hair? I guess they mean scalp not included. But the scalp is part of your body. Isn't it?

The article also says that Kram is gregarious. Yeah. I sort of get that sense from the article and interviews.

Maybe before I quit, I'll listen to one more song.

Which one?  I think I'll pick another song from their new album.

I'm going to listen to "I'm Not Your Slave".  The sound of this one reminds me more of "Black Betty" than the other songs I've listened to today.

In the credits, someone says the song sounds like something that could be used for True Blood credits. Yeah. I can imagine that. I think the show used to play a different song each episode for the end credits.

Anyway...that's it from me for today.


  1. I love the song Black Betty. Not so keen on the 1939 version but Spiderbait's is good. I remember the song from my youth and google tells me it was group called Ram Jam. Just listened to a bit of it, and the Ram Jam one was good.

  2. Andrew,

    I need to go listen to that one. I'm going to do it now.

    I wonder if I'll like it more or less than the Spiderbait version.