Wagga is Bluejuice's barometer

FOR Australian pop-funk outfit Bluejuice, the hip NSW inland city of Wagga Wagga serves as a barometer of just how much they now pervade the nation’s collective consciousness.

The first time Bluejuice played there back in the days before hits like Vitriol from their debut album Problems dominated the airwaves, 400 punters turned up to see them. But within minutes of them strumming the first chords of one of their unique post-pop apocalyptic funk tunes, the awaiting audience fled.

“Wagga’s great, we love Wagga, Wagga likes us, Wagga never used to like us,” Bluejuice’s keyboard player Jerry Craib says.

“The first time we played Wagga ... the crowd expected an electronic dance night. They turned up to a band. When they realised it was rock music they were like, nah, and there was a mass exodus, which left about three people and the security staff.”

Fast forward to January 2010: Bluejuice packed out the biggest venue in Wagga last week. This comes off the back of the release of their second album Head of the Hawk last September, which saw their Top 40 hit, Broken Leg, up for an ARIA award, with subsequent invitations to play the Pyramid Rock Festival as well as Big Day Out.

Bluejuice will drop in to Byron Bay next week to play the Great Northern Hotel. Constant touring has been pivotal in raising the band’s profile.

“I like touring most of the time,” Craib says when asked if he gets sick of life in the tour van. “Lots of days in a row, in the van, with those guys, after knowing them for nine years, gets testing or trying. But no, it’s great. I’m really enjoying it now because I don’t have to go back to a day job at the moment.”

However, life on the road stuck with four other ‘strong personalities’ has served to create situations Craib has been unable to live down.

“When you’re in a van, you want to be the first person into the bathroom, I don’t care what anyone says,” he says.

“I had been missing out there for a while. When we arrived in Melbourne one time I jumped out of the van and ran upstairs. But little did I know the key I had been given, for some reason, worked in the wrong room.

“All the guys came up and I heard this laughter outside because all this person’s stuff was in the room. Thank God they were out. I was using their bathroom in a not so nice way. You don’t want a band turning up and using your bathroom. I’ve never lived it down.”

But touring life has also brought the highs.

“For me it’s still the same one that it’s been for the last few years,” Craib says. “We played a festival at Port Macquarie – the Festival of the Sun – in 2007, and that was just after Vitriol had been out for a little while. We knew it may be going okay and things might be looking a bit better.

“But we didn’t fully realise until we reached that festival when about 500 people just lost their minds and stated screaming and carrying on. It was amazing.”

Catch Bluejuice at the Great Northern Hotel on Wednesday, January 20. Tickets on 6685 6454.

• Pulse has one double pass to give way to its readers to see Bluejuice at the Great Northern Hotel. To win, write why Bluejuice are rock gods in 25 words or less and send it to Pulse ‘Bluejuice’ Give- away, The Northern Star, PO Box 423, Lismore, NSW, 2480. Be sure to include your daytime telephone number. Entries close January 19 and will be judged by Northern Star staff.

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