“I have given you nothing to work with, have I?” It's Thursday morning, and Brisbane singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Neale has been chatting with Mixdown for nearly half an hour. The perennially-cheery Neale is such an easy, friendly chat that the time has flown by talking about all different kinds of things. Discussion has turned to tropes – films with two characters on the poster with their arms folded and their backs to one another, for instance; or shows where the ensemble main cast are all goofing off in front of the camera. After all, that's where Neale ended up getting the title for his debut LP, Getting The Team Back Together.
“It's always been one of my favourite things,” he says. “As soon as I find out there's a team that needs to be reassembled, I'm immediately invested. I guess I saw it as this sort of analogy about hitting a rough patch – which I definitely did – and pulling yourself together again. I also just thought it would be a really funny title for my debut album. There's the implication there that it's a reunion album or something like that – which, in my case, is kind of impossible to do.”
Although Getting The Team Back Together is the first album Neale has made under his own name, it's far from his first rodeo. Fans will know Neale from his time at the helm of Velociraptor, the dozen-plus member garage rock collective, as well as surf-rockers Teen Sensations. Through strings of EPs and singles, as well as tours with the likes of Regurgitator and Surfer Blood, Neale has established himself as a hard-working performer and an always-entertaining prospect. It's for this reason that Getting The Team Back Together has been worth the wait – and not just for fans, but for Neale himself.
“It was all recorded in the middle of last year, and I think we had the final mixes back to us by about the end of January,” he explains, exasperated. “It's actually astonishing how long it's all taken. That's never how it plays out in your head – you think it's as easy as just going in, recording some songs and then you'll be done with it. It just never works out that way. I just feel fortunate that I'm still confident in these recordings and happy with these songs – it's very easy to hear back a song and immediately regret everything.”
The album was produced in Brisbane by former Little Scout drummer Miro Mackie. Joining Neale in making the album was his core backing band, the One True Loves, as well as guests like Babaganouj's Charles Sale and members of the dearly-departed John Steel Singers. A key member of Brisbane's music scene, Neale endlessly speaks the praises of the bands and artists that make up the community. “It means that anything's possible as far as my own music is concerned,” he says.
“Whatever kind of sound or playing I'm after, I know that I'll be able to dial up some people that are far more talented than me to be able to get the job done. Everyone who played on this record really helped to make it what it is – and to have someone like Miro piecing it all together was just a dream come true. He could also be brutally honest when he needed to be. I think you need someone like that as a part of the process, otherwise you risk getting caught up in your own head too much.”
The album cover features a few members of Neale's band, a few key collaborators and someone believed to be Neale's best friend – a billionaire dinosaur DJ by the name of T-Rax. Inspired by the likes of Dinosaurs and the failed Whoopi Goldberg vehicle Theodore Rex, T-Rax has quickly taken on a life of its own – including a comic book being made of his adventures. “It was basically the most ‘90s thing I could possibly come up with,” Neale laughs. “We've been having so much fun seeing how far is too far. He and I come from two different worlds – and, somehow, we found a way to get along!”
Getting The Team Back Together is out now via Dot Dash/Remote Control Records.