INTERVIEW: Cam McGlinchey from The Screaming Jets talks ‘Professional Misconduct’ and the amazing legacy left by Paul Woseen

The Screaming Jets – a band that epitomise what Australian rock is all about – hard working, grounded, humble and with a back catalogue of rock anthems to grace stages around the world. But on the eve of the release of their tenth studio album ‘Professional Misconduct’, the world stood still with the shattering news of the sudden passing of founder member Paul Woseen. Musicians & fans alike flooded the internet and social media with disbelief, sadness but above all else an incredible amount of respect.  With news that nine of the ten album tracks have been co-written by Woseen, it is easy to see just how important a bandmate, song writer, friend & mentor he has been over the years and it’s clear to all he will be sorely missed.

When I was contacted to interview drummer Cam McGlinchey, my immediate excitement was suddenly replaced with fear. Fear of how to prepare, of how to approach a discussion about a wonderful album co-written and created by a man who had suddenly been taken while still in his prime. You want to talk about the incredible bond between the guys, whilst knowing in the back of your mind just how raw this all still is, to Paul’s friends and family alike. The instant McGlinchey flicked on his webcam that fear immediately drained away from me as he put me at ease. “It’s ok to talk about anything you like. It’s why I’m here. It’s still very raw, very fresh but it’s ok to talk about it.” And for that Cam, I thank you.

Sean: How are you Cam?

Cam: I’m great all things considered. Thanks Sean.

Sean: Tough times for all of you at the moment and obviously there has been a lot said already on social media with condolences passed by so many and we certainly send ours as well, but it must be such a surreal last few weeks because there must have been huge excitement building for the launch of ‘Professional Misconduct’ and then to receive the tragic news about Paul… it must be impossible to get excited at this time, even with knowing just how much he contributed to the album.

Cam: Yeah, well look, you right. Excitement isn’t something any of us are prepared to feel just yet. We have Paul’s memorial next Wednesday, and there is a lot for us to get through and process. We still haven’t arrived at a destination where we know exactly what we are going to do for the next period of time. We are just crossing bridges as we get to them, but I think it is quite clear to all of us that this up-and-coming record shows that Paul was certainly no bass playing passenger. He wrote huge hits for the band like ‘Helping Hand’, ‘Shine On’, ‘October Grey’ and he’s contributed massively to this record…it’s him and he’s contributed in a big way. Obviously, we have all contributed to it, but I know from my personal perspective, I was certainly not looking to get in the way of Paul’s efforts with this record and it certainly was a Herculean effort. He didn’t let one second of anything go by without being present, not to stand over us all but as a support. He was a beautiful, beautiful man who wanted nothing but the best from everybody. If you brought in an idea, he gave it his heart 100%, if you were uncomfortable with something he gave you his full support. He really was that special. From a pure song writing perspective Paul is a huge loss but from a human perspective he’s a huge loss to this band. You know Paul and Dave are the beating heart of this band. Jimi (Hocking) has been there for twenty-six years now and Scottie (Kingman) for more than fifteen now. We are all really feeling it, those guys especially so. I’m just really doing my best to support those guys who have been connected, particularly Dave who knew him since they were kids. It’s huge in our little Jets community and I’ve just grown to love these guys and this band. I’m not surprised by just how beautiful they all are. It feels like a true family. I’ve never felt so welcomed and part of something than I have with this group. A key component has left us, and we need to work out how we move forward over time.

Photo by Wild Life Imagery (with thanks to Scott Kingman)

Sean: Beautifully said Cam. I can’t begin to imagine how you all feel. You can always judge just how much someone is respected by his peers from the words of condolence, especially across the internet these last couple of weeks. Some of the old clips that have surfaced of Paul either jamming on stage or playing old Jets gigs… it’s incredible to see all those wonderful memories, some of which have never seen the light of day before.

Cam: Yeah, it is. You know, I’ve been around the block a few times now and I think that when you’ve committed yourself to something for so long, and in Australia particularly, because the music scene is big but also small, so you tend to cross paths with people over such long periods of time. Paul’s been around for so long that it is inevitable that there are going to be musical experiences that go far beyond the most important band, which might be your own key focus. You are still going to play with other people, you are still going to have tenures in other projects. Of course, there is an outpouring of grief, but we have been blown away by just how far his reach was, and by how people so far and wide were impacted by him in a genuine way and I think that speaks volumes about the genuine person he really really was.

Sean: His talents as a song writer are well and truly imprinted on this album, as I read today that Paul co-wrote nine of the ten songs. I’ve been one of the lucky ones as I’ve had the album for four or five weeks now and I have to say it is a fantastic collection of songs, some of which are quite different. The ‘All for One’ 30th Anniversary album and the ‘Bitter Pill’ EP saw you all locked in your respective states recording your parts, due to travel restrictions, so am I right in thinking this was the first time you managed to get back in the studio as a group?

Cam: We did, more so for the second half of it. I think that during lock down and especially when doing ‘All for One’ we were workshopping. For me, I live up near Steve James the producer. I’m only a couple of hours drive from his studios in Brisbane. Even when Melbourne was locked down, far more than everyone else, Paul, Scotty and everybody else were all able to send Steve and myself ideas for me to record drums on and we were able to sift through and try things, so this album has been a long time in the making. And we did have long periods when we were trying to maintain some momentum like everybody else was in lockdown. We did manage to do that and then for the back half, when everything opened up, we had a tour to do, we had to finish ‘All for One’ then we had some fantastic weeks together up in the studio where it was great to obviously be together and we had fun… too much fun [laughs]. The band like to have fun but we work hard – it’s old school hard because their ethos is old school. I would like to say, as a fellow song writer, who on this album felt really compelled to not push my ideas too hard, because I really wanted to serve these guys. They’ve all got their own well-established song writing relationships and rapports. So, I was like, “What do you need me to do?”, “Send me some ideas and I’ll play with them”, “What do you need me to do now”, and with Paully, as an observer, with his song writing I don’t think he ever got stale.  This record has some songs on it that are fresh for Paul and for the Jets. I think, personally, as a fan of the Jets growing up and as peers of theirs, I listen to their records and I think they are so adept at re-inventing themselves, experimenting, I love the way they ae able to curate covers that work for them in really unique ways. They are restless and keen to explore, and I think in this record Paully shows that. He did not sit on his haunches, and he did not sit back and repeat himself. He was always looking and searching for something that made him feel something was vital and new and I really admire that. I urge all the Jets fans to give the record a chance and I’m sure you will, not just to honour Paully but I think that you will be genuinely satisfied with what we have pulled together and Paully was obviously the glue amongst the majority of these tracks. It’s a real diverse, stylistic record and I’m really proud of it.

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Sean: And so, you should be because it is a great album and I know exactly what you mean when you say diverse because even with the first single, ‘Nothing to Lose’ the beginning is very different before it opens up to that fantastic Jets chorus comes in and you are immediately transported to a room full of people bouncing and singing along to it.

Cam: Yeah, it’s clever like a lot of Jets songs. I’ve heard a lot of assessments over the years like “good, simple, rock n roll” – Jets songs are not simple. They are challenging to play, challenging to get inside of and even in ‘Nothing to Lose’ there are a couple of sections that would challenge any guitarist. Some of their works are really intricate and they have a high level of sophistication and musical & emotional intellect in their music from my perspective.

Sean: The one that threw me was ‘Lying with Her’, so much so that I had to text Dave to say just how much of an unexpected curve ball it was. It has a real Nick Cave vibe to it.

Cam: [laughs] That was a curve ball for us too. We had a bunch of other songs, some of which were equally valid with those that made the record but with time and budgetary constraints we kind of had to make a decision, “This is the album, and this is what we are going to go with.” We really had to finish because some of the songs we really liked and would have liked to have invested more time, but they weren’t far enough down the road, and we just couldn’t for see getting them done with everything that was going on. Out of nowhere Dave said, “I wrote this song with Steve Balbi from Noiseworks. What do you think of this?” And he showed Scotty the chords I think… no, I remember he just played it once and we recorded it. It’s just a beautiful nylon string guitar and a vocal… and yeah, it does have a Nick Cave kind of vibe, a bit of Johnny Cash… it’s just classic song writing, and I think that is Dave really showing kudos to song writing structures and styles. The lyric in that song is magnificent in my opinion. He recorded it in one take, and we were all like, “Well that’s it. That’s that one done!” And again, The Jets doing something like they have never done before. We love that song. It had to go on the record.

Sean: And just as importantly it fits so well in the track order. You have that huge build up, that sits in there to allow us all to take a breather, top your glass up before things fire back up again.

Cam: That’s exactly right. I think the Jets sets for me as a drummer who has come in in the last five years, I really like it. There’s a part of me that goes in with this intensity, but the set does flow with peaks and troughs. There are so many textural changes. I do think that with ‘Lying with Her’, it does feel like a Jets gig where you do get that breather and you do get an ear break from the hard rock n’ roll. They can punch you in the face with their rock n’ roll if they so desire [laughs] but I do love that fact that we can vary it up… filling up your glass, however you want to characterize it, I think it is great to have that different aesthetic in there to change things up dramatically.

Sean: There are also some real rockers to get your arms moving too with songs like ‘No Reason’, ‘Throwing Shade’ and ‘Speed Quack’ to name a few. I know you’re a fan of ‘Needle’ so these ones must keep you fit and healthy [laughs]

Cam McGlinchey

Cam: Surprisingly some of them were really quick and easy to put down. Sometimes with those faster ones, with this band especially, the arrangements aren’t square I find it easier to plug in and feel it as it goes along. I seemed to have put them down quick. One of them, and I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was, we recorded, Steve and I a few weeks prior and then when all the band got to the studio and we got to listen to what we had and I came in a bit later, they all agreed I had to re-record that one and it was one of the fast ones. I was like, “Of all of them! Really?” [laughs] So we had to do a whole bunch of takes and it really is like doing a bunch of 100-metre sprints, it really is. You want to give every take 100% conviction and emotionally as well. When you are recording you really don’t want to be doing four fast ones in a row. You need to vary it up.

Sean: I know you said at the start there are a lot of bridges to cross moving forward but putting a set list together for a new tour must always be hard, especially with ten new tracks to pick maybe five or six to slip in there, especially with such a treasure trove of classics nestling in the back catalogue.

Cam: Yes, it is, and it’s going to be a challenge. I know the band have made an announcement that we are going to endeavour to push ahead to release this record and to celebrate Paul’s music and his overall contribution to this band, and what better way to do it than to get friends of his and friends of ours to come in and help us out in a time of need and to be able to give Jets fans the opportunity to come and celebrate Paully with us and allow us to go through a process of honouring him in the best way that we can. I think he would want us out there playing his music and if we can do that in a way that is respectful and beautiful and involves people that he loved then I think we are going to find a way to do it. I really think it will be challenging. I can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like for Dave, having to front this band without Paully there because he was a behemoth of a bass player and his backing vocals as everyone knows are a key component to the sound of the Jets. I think there are going to be some real trials and tests and for us to try to keep our composure at times but it’s clear to all of us that it is what he would have wanted and that’s what we want for him. We want to get this record out there and play it to represent his legacy because it’s a pretty incredible legacy he has left us all.

Sean: I know the fans will want to pay their respects the only way they can and that is by supporting the band and enjoying this wonderful music.

Cam: We really hope so Sean. We really hope they embrace our choices going forward, in the way that we intend. In the last few years that I have been in the band the numbers of fans supporting us at shows has been incredible. I’m in the band now but I’m also a fan of the band, I understand the band and I’ve watched them for decades. I supported this the Jets nationally with little rock bands I was in twenty years ago and they were amazing to me even then. I have a long history with them, and they are just such good men. The numbers coming out to celebrate the Jets, prior to this tragic event, though their legacy and longevity and quality… well, I just think they deserve far more recognition for what they’ve accomplished, and how seriously good they are as a rock band and song writers. I hope fans not only get out of the gigs what they normally do but also an elevated understanding and emotion in the room. I really hope this is something we can pull off because it will truly be special for all those who have been on the long haul with the Jets over the years.

Sean: You touched on numbers & the momentum the band has had in recent years; I’ve caught you each and every time you’ve been to WA whether it be your own headline show or a Red Hot Summer or By The C event and like you say the turn outs have been incredible with the crowds filled with young and old all singing along to all the songs. I loved The Rock Vault tour too because it was great to hear some more obscure lesser played songs. You mentioned being a fan over the years, do you remember the day, five years ago when you got the call to join The Screaming Jets?

Cam: Well, yes, I do. I didn’t get a call… I more or less got pulled by the ear at gigs [laughs]. We were doing lots of different tours together. I was playing a four-month stint with Jon Stevens and his band at the time – both bands were on that Red Hot Summer bill, and I was also playing supports for the Jets with another band I’m in called Palace of the King, with my great mates Tim (Henwood), Sean (Johnston) and Anthony (Licciardi Garcia). So, we were just intertwined, and it just so happened at a given point they asked me to jump in on the next tour coming up and said to me it would be great if I could do it, so I just jumped at the chance and since then I’ve become a part of it. It wasn’t necessarily any of our initial intentions to say, “Right! You’re in the band!” But as time has gone on, we all just clicked in some way, and it’s just gone from strength to strength and the numbers have been amazing and we’ve all really enjoyed the journey. The Jets as a family isn’t limited to the guys on stage. It really does include management; Katie, Athol our stage guy and Scott our tour manager – they really are just as much part of this band, and I can’t stress that enough. There really is a big family element and that extends to the support slots. The Rock Vault Tour saw us bring Pricey along for the national tour, who we just loved and clicked with. I think he got a real surprise – Paully and Dave have always been known for treating the younger bands and support acts with great respect and offer as much help and support as they possibly could and they did so for Pricey, so he has become part of the Jets family now as well. They just amass people around the band, and I love that. I think their upbringing in Newcastle in that era, where it was a tough place where nobody allowed you to get too big for your boots… Well, Paully and Dave have never gotten too big for their boots, and I firmly believe that is one of the reasons they have always received everyone’s respect and love.

Palace of the King

Sean: That wasn’t the version I had from Tim. “They stole him from us, the bastards!” was the words he used [laughs].

Cam: [laughs] Well, they didn’t but he can talk. He’s playing with Jon Stevens now, Seany is playing keys with James Reyne. It’s hard to get us all in the same room [laughs] but we will make something happen later in the year.

Sean: Great to hear. Switching from The Screaming Jets before I lose you, I know you’re in Melbourne playing a show with Tania Doko, who readers will know from Bachelor Girl. She launches her solo EP and you’re in her band for a handful of shows, but she told me in a recent interview about your song writing abilities and how highly she holds you in regard. Do you get to do much song writing for yourself?

Cam: Yeah, yeah, I do. I write a lot of the music with Sean from Palace of the King. Tania is a great and wonderful friend of mine. We have had a song writing partnership that has endured a long time and even when she lived in Sweden, I would go over to hers and have writing sessions with her. I also write with a young artist in Melbourne wh0 I produce called Lov3r1. I’ve got a new project that I have just written another record for, which will be something I will be able to talk about soon enough. I still need go through some hoops with that one. I’ve written since I was young. When you are on stage, that’s the bit that people most take notice of, but I’ve always written – even the last Rogue Traders single ‘On Your Way to the Disco’ which I co-wrote. My ex-partner and mother of my two wonderful kids, Nat Bass (Bassingthwaighte) I’ve written songs on her album also. I had a project called The Guilt Association which had a lot of guest vocalists on it and that’s there for consumption so as you can see, I’ve worked on quite a few different projects and co-written with a lot of different people – I’m not going to drop too many names.

Sean: Well as a song writer, my final question will be a breeze for you then [laughs]. If you could be credited with writing any song every written, what song would you choose?

Cam: Wow, what a question! Depends on what time of the day and what the day is and what you’re going through. I don’t know – I’ll just think of one…I’ll throw one out there. There’s two that come to mind; ‘Do You Realise?’ by The Flaming Lips and ‘Harvest Moon’ by Neil Young, I’ll take those two.

Sean: I’ll make an exception as your such a busy man.

Cam: Thanks. They’ll do me. They have beautiful lyrics. I’m a lyric lover and they are two songs with magnificent lyrics and sentiment.

Sean: I’ll add them to my playlist Cam. I really appreciate your time because I know you have a gig tomorrow and the ‘Professional Misconduct’ launch next Friday and also everything else that’s going on right now. We’ll save Palace of the King until next time because there has been some wonderful music coming out of that camp so far this year, which I just love. One of my favourite Australian bands. You and I first met when you came to headline our 10th Anniversary Rockpit Show at The Evelyn which fell on your birthday.

Cam: I do remember that.

Sean: Tony (Kopa) and Johnny (Salerno) turned up for a couple of beers after the show too.

Cam: Of course, they did! [laughs] They always do.

Sean: Well, we wish you all the best for the launch of ‘Professional Misconduct’ – I absolutely love it! The review will be up a few days before its release. A fantastic job by you all and Paully immortalised on such a wonderful album. And of course, our thoughts are with you all during this tough time.

Cam: And thank you to Sean. I really appreciate you interviewing me and allowing me to express what’s happening at such a tender time for this band. I appreciate your ability to navigate through what is a really sad territory for the Jets.

Sean: Thanks Cam. We hope to see you out on the road later this year and early next with the dates all over our website as well as yours. Thanks again Cam.

Cam: Thanks Sean. Appreciate it mate.

In memory of Paul Woseen 2nd April 1967 – 15th September 2023

The post INTERVIEW: Cam McGlinchey from The Screaming Jets talks ‘Professional Misconduct’ and the amazing legacy left by Paul Woseen appeared first on The Rockpit.