The Steinbecks

Here’s the latest of the retro music posts from Blast! Magazine.

The Steinbecks
The Steinbecks 1994. l-r Josh Meadows, Robert Cooper, Joel Meadows, Bianca Lew, Adam Dennis.

Melbourne’s Josh and Joel Meadows had made inroads to jangle pop notoriety with The Sugargliders by releasing music on Sarah Records, home to such luminaries as Tallulah Gosh!, The Field Mice, and Heavenly. They are also cousins of Tali from The Lucksmiths. From the smouldering ashes of The Sugargliders, rose The Steinbecks.

I met up with Josh in early 1995, just after the release of the first The Steinbecks album, At Home and Abroad with the Steinbecks (Summershine). They had launched the album at the now defunct Carlton Moviehouse by screening Head by The Monkees and then playing tunes from their album.

Here’s the song “Apollo” “2 Star Motel” from At Home and Abroad with the Steinbecks. People who like the previously mentioned Sarah Records bands will most likely have already heard of The Sugargliders and The Steinbecks. For readers that haven’t, if you who enjoy Camera Obscura, The Bats, or Belle and Sebastian, then you may find The Steinbecks to your liking.

This interview appeared in the first edition of the fanzine, and I was lucky enough to have the The Steinbecks play at its launch gig at The Lounge. As I remember, it was a really warm December night with a good turn out. The band image that you can see at the top of this post and the start of the Youtube video is the promo shot that I used in the article.

Later, I used to pop into the RMIT University book shop to say hi to Josh, when he worked there. I lost contact with him, but do seem to remember that he went off to do some work in Papua New Guinea. I also caught up with some of their subsequent releases on Summershine and then Microindie Records. It seems that their last release was 2005’s Far From the Madding Crowd.

July 2013 update – and they’re back with this single:

The Steinbecks.

Josh Meadows tells Ed that “Fresh is the vibe. Fresh and up and fizzy” in The Steinbecks camp.

Josh – We’ll just test if the coffee sounds good…(slurps)…Ahh!

Ed– (Laughs) What’s the vibe in The Steinbecks at the moment?

J- It’s a really up vibe. It’s a new feeling vibe. It’s as if we’ve only just started, even though we’ve all been in bands before. There’s a really fresh vibe about it…so fresh is the vibe. Fresh, and up, and…fizzy.

E- That’s grouse. What a quote!! So, what’s been the change from The Sugargliders into The Steinbecks?

J- Well there’s obvious personnel changes, but more than that there’s a more communal atmosphere.

E- What’s the difference with being a 5 piece now as compared to being a 3 piece?

J- Songs seem to happen more quickly. We’ve just got a lot more songs going at the same time. Which is good. Just about everyone in the band writes music from time to time and we bring that to the rehearsal room and I write the lyrics. So we can get a lot more things going than when it was only Joel and me writing stuff. As far as negative changes, the lack of overseas interest is one thing that I’m starting to get a little concerned about. We were spoilt with the ‘gliders, we were used to having people always writing to us from overseas and lots of interest because we were signed to Sarah records (UK). One of the disadvantages with starting afresh is that you have to create those opportunities over again.

E- What about Sarah. What happened with them?

J- We’re with Summershine primarily. We wanted something new; a distinct difference. A change of labels is part of that. I don’t have regrets.

E- What’s that little green shaker you use on stage?

J- That’s an egg shaker. They’re great, people use them in studios all the time. They’re afraid to bring them on stage

E- They’re called Chicken Shake, I’m not embarrassed, I like ‘em. You hear them on loads of records…they make this great noise that is a lot easier to control than maracas.

J- The CD launch at the Carlton Movie House with the screening of the Monkees film. Who’s idea was that?

J- Well it was a joint effort. It was tested that we do something different. I asked the Moviehouse. Joel had the idea for the Moviehouse. They were really positive about it, it was nice.

E- Have you had any good letters?

J- We used to get tons of letters. We’re still getting letters from people asking why there’s nothing post-Sugargliders? They don’t know.

E- With your recording, you used 3 different studios and engineers. Why did you do that? ‘

J- We just felt that there were some songs that would work better in some studios and with certain people than others. Straightforward ones at C’est Ca, trickier ones at Sing Sing and the more straight rock band ones at Metropolis. The cohesion came because we mixed it all down at the same place.

E- Did you just have the 12 songs to record?

J- Yeah, but we’ve kept writing and we’ve a few new songs in the set and 4 ace, ace, new songs that have just gotta be released! Phew, they are just Hot Pop; really good. I just can’t wait to record them. We’re just itching to get back into the studio!

E- Enthusiasm man. that’s the best way. That’s what I want to do with this mag. Promote enthusiasm, we’ve got this competition, your favourite Rock experience. What’s been your fave?

J- Um, there have been some good ones. When we were in England, Matthew Sweet was doing a promo tour and not doing any gigs. But then we heard on the vine that he was doing a secret gig one night, so we stood in the cold reading the Christmas NME, waiting to get tickets. A tiny place as big as the Punters’ Club, A terrific place to see them, really tight band. Loud, crystal clear, great crowd. When we were queuing to get tickets, Matthew did a sound check and we talked with him and got his autograph and felt like real Fans. It was a bit of an experience

E- There’s nothing wrong with being a fan.

J- No. No. We saw The Sundays when we were in London and it was unreal. That was the best!

E- What are you listening to at the moment?

J- Cardinal. The Cardinal album. Besotted with it at the moment. Bit of sixties stuff, like Love, the Beach Boys and the Beatles…

E- The Monkees?

J- Yeah, I bought a whopping double album, 40 great Monkees hits

E- how did you decide what tune to cover at the Moviehouse?

J- It was tough, Daydream Believer’s a great song and we…it was easy to work……Oh, the Auteurs, the second album was pretty good. I love Blur, Unrest. We like them, but AD hates them…damn, gotta go.

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