Q & A With Steve O’Brien Of Tumbleweed

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Tumbleweed were a force to be reckoned with in the 90s, riding the wave of grunge rock’s popularity. They parted ways more than a decade ago, but now they’re back. I recently caught up with drummer Steve O’Brien to find out what it’s like to be doing it all again.

Q   A with Steve O Brien of Tumbleweed tumbleweed jpg

You’ve taken a lengthy break from the music scene. What inspired you to get back out there?
Well we haven’t taken a break from the music scene as such; all members of Tumbleweed have been busy over the last 10 or 15 years in several other bands, touring between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and releasing several CDs. See Richie & the Creeps, the Pink Fits, Monstrous Blues, Leadfinger, The Unheard, Brother Brick, the Yes Men and more.

How does it feel to be back playing together?
It is good fun. It sort of clicked right from the start like it had only been a few weeks apart. There is also plenty of piss taking too so it’s all a laugh.

Is anything different for the band this time around?
Err, we’re older and fatter and wiser, but I think we’re playing better as musicians. We’ve learned a hell of a lot and hope to avoid certain mistakes again.

You hadn’t played a live show together in almost a decade. Were there any nerves?
There were a few before the Waves show – our first show back together in 15 years – mainly how we’d go down and perform in front of a sell-out crowd. But after a few wobbly bits at the start I think we settled back in fairly well. Homebake will be interesting as there will be a few of our kids at that show and they’re big Short Stack fans so we better play better than them!

You started your new tour in Wollongong. How important was it for you to play first for that home town audience?
Well, it was supposed to be a friend only gig at first for selected guests. Then we realised that there’d be a few who’d wanna be there. It was far more comfortable than say doing Sydney or Melbourne straight up.

You’re playing Homebake and Meredith this time around, and you used to play the early Big Day Outs. What draws you to those big festivals?
They are easy shows to play. The sound and stage set up is usually top notch. There’s a guaranteed crowd and they’re always great fun. Some of those festival gigs still live on as fond memories. Livid in Brisbane 1994 for example was incredible

In your early days you were the support act on what turned out to be Nirvana’s one and only Australian tour. How do you feel about that time looking back?
We were young and fans of the band and didn’t think of them as this huge phenomenon, especially as we were originally booked to play a small pub tour with them. It was great to play those shows though.

Will we see some new music from you all soon?
That we don’t know. We are taking it a step at a time for now and just looking at doing the shows we have booked. We are hoping to get a re-issue of the back catalogue in some form though.

Back in the 90s you had some real interest from the UK and the US. Do you plan to travel abroad again?
Ha ha, we would say no, but it would have to be worth our while as we all have other things to worry about these days such as jobs and family.

I hear the dates we have confirmed are just the start. Where else do you hope to play in Oz?
So far we are booked to play Homebake in Sydney, The Hi Fi Bar in Melbourne, and Meredith, the Espy in St Kilda on New Years Eve and then the Lost Weekend Festival in March in Brisbane with a Great Northern in Byron Bay show thrown in for good measure. After that, we’ll see. We do plan on playing a club show in Sydney and possibly some other places too.

Image used with permission from Roderick Kempton