Interview with Jason Singh of TAXIRIDE

Written by Jackie Smith

In the late 1990s/early 2000s, Aussie band Taxiride dominated the airwaves and turned rock music on its head with tunes such as Get Set, Everywhere You Go, Creepin’ Up Slowly and Saffron (to name but a few). It would seem their popularity knew no bounds with three successful albums, a “greatest hits” compilation and even an ARIA to top it all off.

Having disbanded a while back, the group have now reformed and are playing up a storm around Australia in their solo shows as well as part of the impressive Red Hot Summer tour line-up.

In this interview with Jackie Smith, Jason Singh (co-lead vocalist/guitarist) took time out of his busy schedule to chat about the band’s upcoming sideshow in Melbourne, mending bridges, and finding their feet in a music industry that has changed immensely in the last decade or so.

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Taxiride

Taxiride

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You’re playing a sideshow at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne soon, as part of the Red Hot Summer tour. What are you most looking forward to when playing that gig?

I’m looking forward to doing a full, long set. We get to play a whole bunch of other music as well [as the hits] across the two albums that we’ve got. A few of my favourite songs are the ones that people don’t really know off radio. We get to play a longer set, that’s probably the best bit.

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What can people expect from one of your live performances?

So far, we’ve just played songs off our first two albums. They can expect to hear pretty much our first record [Imaginate] in its entirety as well as probably half of the second record [Garage Mahal]. And also, they can expect to hear songs they haven’t heard in a long, long time.

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How has the Red Hot Summer (with the likes of James Reyne, Daryl Braithwaite and Shannon Noll tour) been going so far?

It’s an amazing tour. I’d do that every year if they asked. Incredibly well run, incredibly well set up. It’s a really special thing which it’s great to be a part of. That sort of success brings success, I guess.

To be on something that’s that big and that well-run, has been really good for us, and there’s no pressure on us. We just concentrate on music and getting along well. It’s a good start.

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What do you enjoy most about touring in general?

I like all sorts. When you’re doing a lot of tours and stuff [you get run down], but because we’re only away for a week at a time [with Red Hot Summer], it’s really enjoyable. We’re in and out. I just love all the different places we get to go. That’s my favourite thing about touring.

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Throughout this tour, and your sideshows, you get the best of both worlds: festival settings and more intimate gigs. Do you have a preference?

It depends. I just like to play, with Taxiride or myself. I’ve done really big gigs or intimate, whatever. I’ve got something to remember out of everything, you know? It’s amazing how you remember a gig, because the show in itself is always kind of the same.

You remember a gig by something crazy that’s happened: you get a flat tyre, or you break down – something outside of music that remind[s] me where we are. Like, “Remember that gig, the hotel room had a cow in it!” or something [laughs]. You know what I mean? It’s always some kind of crazy, outside thing.

As far as the band goes, we just love to play so, the big stages are good fun but the small stages are where you get the immediate reaction, and talk to people in the show, and you can get in there amongst them.

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Have you found that audiences so far consist of fans who grew up with your music, or newer fans, who are just discovering your music?

The Red Hot Summer tour has been a real mixture of people [who] have seen us over the years, or these new fans who have never seen us play before … ever.

That’s what’s good about it, winning over all these new people who have never even heard of us, or wouldn’t come and see us … on a big stage. They go, “Wow!”. You win over new people like that.

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Taxiride

Taxiride @ Rush Festival (c) Cynthia Lee

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From Get Set to Creepin’ Up Slowly,  to Saffron and Everywhere You Go, you’ve had a lot of hits in your career. What is it about these songs that maintain longevity do you think, as they continue to be popular today?

I don’t know. That’s hard to answer, cos it was the band that wrote the songs. The melodies have always been really important to us. Melodically, writing catchy songs is what we strived for in the early days. I guess that’s why we were really popular even in Japan [or other countries]. People could still hum along; they could remember the tune. Maybe that’s why.

Sonically, when Get Set came out, it sounded like nothing else ever. I guess it always takes people back to a certain part of their lives, and it takes me back to a certain part of mine.

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Which songs from your back catalogue is guaranteed to get the best crowd reaction?

Creepin’ Up Slowly is one, and Get Set comes on and the crowd goes [off]! We couldn’t go a night without playing it … Everyone wants to sing along. Those two, definitely!

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In 1999, you guys won the Breakthrough Artist ARIA – Single for Get Set, an honour you shared with Alex Lloyd at the time for Lucky Star. Looking back, how does it feel to have made ARIAs history

[Laughs] I never really thought about it until you’ve asked this question. It’s the only time anyone’s ever shared the award or [drawn], as far as the awards go. I mean, it was good, cos it took the pressure off having to make a really good speech. [Laughs] When you’re up there, and the biggest of the music biz are looking at you, it’s really tough to have a speech that you go to.

I really struggled, actually. Tim [Watson, co-lead vocalist/guitarist] helped me out, and saved the day. As I was talking I looked up and saw Daniel Johns and all these people staring at me, I’m like, “Oh, shit!” and started freaking out, you know.

It was an amazing thing. My kids still watch the clip on YouTube now and talk about when I won a trophy. It’s a pretty cool thing to have sitting on my studio desk.

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Is it difficult organising Taxiride gigs now that you’ve all got your own lives, careers and solo endeavours?

 I think it’s actually easier. We all have less time, but we always put time aside for it. For me, [when we split] we saw the top of the mountain, and we weren’t even talking, you know? For me, that was a real shame and I wanted to mend those bridges.

And then, to be able to get along well enough to get back on the road … There’s no one in the world that we could talk to about those great things we did. If I was to tell someone else about it, it just doesn’t come across very well …

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Taxiride

Taxiride @ The Gov (c) Bronwen Caple

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You released a few songs last year as The Jason Singh Project as well as your solo record Humannequin before that. How does working as a solo artist compare working in a band with Taxiride

Well, it was completely different. For me, I really wanted to keep going with writing and recording and making music constantly, and that’s where the project was a really good idea. I could constantly put out new music on a timer.

When we made the Taxiride records, we were a very big priority for the record label, and we had a completely different way to put music out, [compared to] making it in a home studio, recording it yourself, with the tools, and all that sort of stuff that we learnt from those big studios … putting out music on an independent basis.

I’ve loved every minute of it, actually. I’ve liked the experience of the big studios and the big dollars, and I’ve really enjoyed the do-it-yourself approach as well. They don’t really compare. Only the end result compares, I guess.

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How has the music industry as a whole changed over the years?

It’s changed in every way, I think. Every possible way that you could change something, it’s changed 50 percent more than that. The internet – that was the big game changer – and the fact that there’s no artist development anymore for young bands – that’s probably a really bad thing. It’s all about how many YouTube plays you’ve had, how popular you are on Facebook.

But, every now and then, a really good song will come out – like Lorde, or whatever – that still shows that a really good song can get to the top, which I love. That’s the gamble about the whole thing for me, that you’re just one song away from [being] back at the top. That’s where I think it hasn’t changed.

It’s changed in the fact that it’s a lot easier to get into, there’s a lot more people in the music business, but that one song that’s a cracker song will still separate the good from the bad.

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So, how do you deal with the influence that social media has over your career and your demographic these days?

It had a huge impact on The Jason Singh Project. If it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t have been really able to put the music out, that’s how we did it. It was using those tools to your advantage. It’s part of the world, you either get on, or you get off the train.

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Do you have any plans to record new music as a band, with Taxiride?

I have plans to do it. Whether or not I can talk the other guys into doing it, I’m not sure! You know, we’ve all got our own things going on creatively. It’s definitely something that the fans are asking for, and people are asking for, and I’m asking for. We’ll see what we can do.

Now that we’re back together, we’re playing together, [it’s] baby steps, really. But it is probably a natural thing to do eventually.

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What music are you listening to at the moment?

I still listen to my staples [like] Prince. It depends where I am. If I’m in the gym, I like to listen to rock music, but it’s probably the only place I listen to that kind of stuff anymore. I listen to all sorts of things. It’s really hard to pinpoint one thing. You know, with Apple Music and that now, and the shuffles, the only albums that I listen to from start to finish are ones from my childhood.

There’s nothing new that I’d get around to, although, Rag N Bone Man – I’ve been obsessed by that track Human for the last month. Again, another great song: it doesn’t really matter about image or anything like that. It’s all about the hook. I’m sucked in.
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TAXIRIDE

TAXIRIDE

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What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?

Apart from “Don’t go into the music business!”? [Laughs] I’m only joking.

Write songs. Take control of your life. Use the tools that are out there. All social media and Tunecore. You can put your own songs on iTunes, fund it all yourself. That would be my advice to any musician, even people who have had huge success.

There’s a way to forge forward and make all your own music, and all your own decisions. Hopefully these ways will keep moving forward.

 

UPCOMING SHOWS

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Tickets
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Red Hot Summer dates
John Farnham, James Reyne, Daryl Braithwaite, Shannon Noll, Taxiride

January 28, Ballarat
February 4, Port Macquarie
February 25 and 26, Sandstone Point
March 4, Dubbo
March 18, Kiama

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Connect with Taxiride:  

Official WebsiteFacebookInstagram

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Read more of Jackie’s work here

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Live images courtesy of Bronwen Caple and Cynthia Lee

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AMNPLIFY – DB

January 26th, 2017

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