Spiderbait's garrulous drummer, Kram, remembers well what he was like at the age of 15: "I was very pimply and a complete jock with a huge mullet," he admits without pause.
Thankfully, having arrived at the same age, Spiderbait itself is in somewhat better shape. A year ago the rockin' trio enjoyed the first number one Australian single of an already illustrious career with their high-octane cover of Huddie Ledbetter's "Black Betty". The album it announced, Tonight Alright, went on to earn platinum sales status, pushing the group's collective sales of their six albums towards the 500,000 mark.
The extensive touring that followed the hit single and album reminded anyone who saw a show on the 2004 jaunt that whether controlling the main stage at the Big Day Out or creating chaos in a packed club, Spiderbait remained a blistering live proposition: Kram flailing at his drums, Janet resolutely slamming her bass and Whitt coaxing out waves of noise from his guitar.
But something odd was happening after each show: "We'd talk to these excited kids who didn't know our previous albums," recalls Kram. "It was like Tonight Alright was our debut album in some ways."
To apply a swift bump to the knowledge base of their new fans, not to mention compiling the highlights of a varied and invigorating back catalog for longtime supporters, Spiderbait have put together Greatest Hits.
Running in reverse chronological order - it begins with new single "On My Way" and "Black Betty" and ends with 1991's "Circle K" - Greatest Hits is a reminder of how Spiderbait have combined their punk rock roots with an appreciation of pop song craftsmanship.
It has concise guitar anthems ("Buy Me A Pony" - #1 on JJJ's 1996 Hottest 100), metal mayhem ("Sam Gribbles"), the best song the Jackson 5 never recorded ("Stevie"), moshpit madness ("Calypso") and a fitting tribute to the genius of The Goodies ("Run"). It is, in short, a plethora of riches. With three talented songwriters, Spiderbait have never been confined by genre or the expectations of others.
"We definitely aren't a normal band," Kram admits. "There's a singing drummer, a painter bassist who doesn't smoke and a partying guitarist - but all of that helps make us unique."
In this era of truncated careers, it is no small achievement for a band to not only survive 15 years together, but to come out of it still enjoying the experience of writing and playing together.
"There's two main reasons why we've stayed together so long: the first is that we've always remained close and the second is that if we ever made any money we always split it equally," explains Kram. "Everyone's always been willing to compromise in order to keep things running smoothly."
The seeds of that bond were planted in the small southern NSW town of Finley, where all three members of Spiderbait grew up. The band formed in Melbourne in 1990 after all three members had relocated there, and they soon graduated from raucous house parties to the city's stages.
Influential but now defunct independent label Au-go-go issued "Circle K" in 1991 and Spiderbait's debut long player, ShaShaVaGlava, in 1993. Following the cataclysmically catchy "Jesus" single, Spiderbait began their partnership with Universal Music in 1995 with The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake, which brought them to national prominence and earnt them a gold album.
In 1996 enjoyed further success when their authoritative third album, Ivy And The Big Apples, sold over 180,000 copies and earnt the band several ARIA Awards. After extensive touring locally and overseas, Spiderbait recorded their most complex studio creation, 1999's Grand Slam, which was followed by 2001's The Flight Of Wally Funk.
"We have been around quite a while," marvels Kram. "It's crazy, it really is. We're a lot more easygoing these days, just happy to be in a band together, but at the same time, after all the recent touring, we're playing better than ever."
With the 22 tunes on Greatest Hits as compelling evidence, long may it be that way.
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