Sarah McLeod, musician, Spectacular, Spectacular
I love to freak myself out by going outside my comfort zone. I thrive on the horror of it and then I love the feeling once you’ve done the work and rehearsed and the show is a success ...
Few bands encapsulate the whirlwind energy and hard-hitting enthusiasm of Australia’s late-90s alt-rock scene than The Superjesus. The group’s first two records – 1998’s Sumo and 2000’s Jet Age – endure as seminal samples of the sound of that era, with lead vocalist Sarah McLeod becoming a defining voice of her generation of Australian musicians. After a few years in the wilderness, The Superjesus are making a bit of a comeback – there’s talk of new music in the works and a swathe of tour dates have seen the band perform to long-time fans all across the country. Despite being busier than ever, Sarah McLeod is taking time to appear in Spectacular, Spectacular at The Fortitude Music Hall on Friday December 10 – a reimagining of Moulin Rouge’s acclaimed soundtrack as a live-music show. Sarah will take the stage alongside a host of other incredible musicians to bring the soundtrack to life. We caught up with her ahead of the performance to talk all things Moulin Rouge and The Superjesus.
We can’t believe that it’s been 20 years since we first experienced the visual and aural spectacular that is Moulin Rouge. Do you remember the first time you saw the film and the effect that it had on you?
I remember being very impressed by the special effects – to see the colours of the Moulin Rouge come to life in such a vivid fashion was quite amazing. I drove past the Moulin Rouge when I was in Paris and remember seeing the big windmill, so I was especially excited to see the story behind it, of which I knew little.
Whilst the costumes, story and performances were incredible, it was the revolutionary soundtrack that made Moulin Rouge the film that it was. Do you have a personal favourite track from the album?
Oh god, they’re all really cool and so very clever – maybe ‘Children of the Revolution’? I also love ‘El Tango De Roxanne’. The mix of songs throughout the medleys are bloody genius.
We have a confession to make – the Moulin Rouge soundtrack still gets a regular run in The Weekend Edition office. That’s why we were thrilled to hear that the music is being brought to life on stage at The Fortitude Music Hall in Spectacular, Spectacular – and you’re performing! What was it about this show that made you want to sign on to participate?
I love a challenge and I love the theatre – this is a challenge, all right! I love to freak myself out by going outside my comfort zone. I thrive on the horror of it and then I love the feeling once you’ve done the work and rehearsed and the show is a success. Those kinds of thrills are the ones I chase.
Baz Luhrmann and his writing partner Craig Pearce were pioneers in the art of the ‘mash-up’ with the Moulin Rouge soundtrack – the ‘Elephant Love Medley’ brings together more than ten classic love songs to create a musical masterpiece. What songs would you love to be included in a modernised version?
In this show I’m singing ‘Come What May’ and ‘El Tango De Roxanne’ – both very challenging pieces and I’m enjoying learning more each day.
This year also marks 20 years since the release of The Superjesus’ sophomore album, Jet Age. Congratulations! To celebrate, the band has been touring, with a string of shows lined up for next year as well. Can you describe the energy and the dynamic of the band being back on the road again – especially after the last couple of years?
We bounce back like little balloons in our band. Time goes out the window. We’ve been doing it so long it’s like there is no time – it’s just stretched. I feel like our band will go on forever. I forget how long we’ve been doing it or how old we are, we just play!
How does it feel seeing old and new fans relishing every guitar lick and vocal line from the record after 20 years?
We love seeing people singing along! That’s my favourite part – especially if you can stop the music and let them sing by themselves … goosebumps!
We’ve heard that there might be some new music from The Superjesus in the future. How would you describe the tunes you’re coming up with now and what do you think is the most exciting aspect of the creative process these days?
We are pretty excited right now, because we have written some crackers. I’m now writing everything with the bass player Ruddy – we have found a magic combination and we are stoked. The new songs have got the 90s sound of our first record Sumo, but the vocals are more pop. We’re going for this anthemic thing and even if nobody ever hears the songs they’ve already made me so happy and that’s what songwriting is all about!
Finally, we’d love to know what drives you beyond music. What inspires joy, happiness and inspiration in your daily life?
I love to renovate. To me it’s another creative outlet. I’ve renovated two apartments in the past two years and it’s really fun! Renovate and decorate – rock ‘n’ roll style!
Spectacular, Spectacular will be reimagining Moulin Rouge’s soundtrack as a live-music show on Friday December 10 at The Fortitude Music Hall, featuring performances from Sarah Mcleod, Powderfinger’s Darren Middleton, Sahara Beck, Hope D, Patience Hodgson, Tia Gostelow, Tim Nelson and more. You can get some last-minute tickets here.