Music / Only in Australia

Huge in Australia and yet almost unknown here, guitarist Joel Quartermain chats to Vincent O’Boyle about spaghetti, bushfires and his band Eskimo Joe.OTWO HASN’T BEEN up this early in quite a while and as we get through to Joel Quartermain all the way in Australia, it is discovered that he’s making dinner. Confusion ensues for about half a second until the concept of time zones becomes apparent.Otwo stifles what would have been an embarrassing “oh yeah,” and asks him what he’s cooking. The guitarist is quite proud to inform us that he’s making “boring old spaghetti Bolognese, but with a cool new recipe from the internet that includes milk”.The conversation topic swiftly moves onto music. Joel’s band Eskimo Joe is about to embark on a European tour. “We have been in intensive rehearsals for the last month, practicing new songs which we just finished recording.”The band is huge in Australia having had two platinum albums and “now the goal is definitely Europe”. Joel is optimistic of their chances of breaking into the European music scene. “It seems like our music resonates better in that part of the world and we’re planning to spend quite a bit of time there.”They did take a break from rehearsals to play a couple of gigs. One of which was an appearance at Sound Relief, a benefit concert for the victims of the recent Australian bushfires which tragically claimed the lives of 210 people and left a further 7500 homeless. Quartermain and his fellow bandmates were proud to be involved in such an emotional gig, saying, “One thing Australians are really good at is rallying around people who have gone through a tough time or who are in crisis.”Eskimo Joe is no stranger to big crowds. They played the Australian leg of Live Earth in Sydney in 2007. Joel explains how it’s “a pretty surreal experience playing in front of a stadium full of people”.When asked what it’s like playing to that many people in his home country and then playing in pubs and clubs overseas, the Australian just laughs it off. “We’re only starting to build a following. The best place to do it is probably in a small, sweaty pub”. New album, entitled Inshalla, is due out during the summer. Joel explains how the band is very democratic when it comes to recording new songs. “We have a principle songwriter but every song goes through the Eskimo Joe machine and comes out very different to how he might have initially imagined it.”Previous records by the band were self-produced, but a producer was used for their latest effort which “is quite a departure in sound from the last album. We took a White Album approach where we threw everything in the kitchen sink at the wall to see what would work and now we have a very eclectic bunch of tunes.”Something tells Otwo that Eskimo Joe will be cooking up a storm in the upcoming months. For now though, they’ll have to be content with cooking up their spaghetti.Eskimo Joe plays Whelan’s on 9th April