AFTER seven studio albums and 15 years together, punk rockers Bodyjar hung up their boots and retired in 2009.
But just a few years later, a friend re-released their 1998 album No Touch Red on vinyl, stirring the boys to pick up their instruments and reunite.
Several sell-out shows followed, with more on the cards next month, including an August 26 gig at Newcastle University’s Bar On The Hill.
Vocalist and guitarist Cam Baines told LIVE it was surprisingly easy to slip back into the ’Jar after a few years apart.
‘‘For the members of the band, getting back together and jamming after a few years off has really been like a breath of fresh air. I think everyone is really enjoying it, it’s been really good,’’ Baines told LIVE.
‘‘It was a bit weird [the first time we jammed] but strangely enough – it probably sounded like shit – it felt like it was coming together really easily. We were like, shit, some of these songs are really good.’’
The four-piece kick-started their reunion by re-learning all the songs from No Touch Red, which Baines described as a ‘‘real musical challenge’’, with each member going home to practise.
He said some of the songs had to be prepared for their first live outings ever, having never made it onto a Bodyjar set list in the past.
‘‘Even when No Touch Red came out, we probably played You Say, You’ve Taken Everything and Remote Controller because they were the singles. We’ve never played all the album tracks.’’
But, Baines explained, week by week jamming became easier as the band’s confidence increased.
‘‘The main thing for me was to try to remember all the words. But I got that down. I think it’s all there in your mind, you just have to recall that information,’’ he said.
Come April this year, the ’Jar had played two sell-out shows in Melbourne (at the Espy and Corner Hotel, no less) and a successful show in Adelaide, prompting them to plan Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle shows next month.
Baines obviously relished playing live again, even if touring is different these days with personal commitments, kids and ‘‘a few extra kilos’’ in the mix.
Surprisingly, Baines copes better with the physical rigours of touring than he did back in the heyday of the band – thanks to cycling to work and cutting down on partying.
‘‘It’s always been a pretty physical thing, Bodyjar,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s usually shitloads of crowd up on the stage and things flying around everywhere.
‘‘When we first started touring I was always really knackered. My throat was really sore, I could never go out after gigs or party because I had something on the next night.
‘‘But now I can do it, I don’t know why. I can actually sing it a lot easier than back in the day when I was smoking heaps of ciggies, bongs and stuff like that. I don’t do any of that shit now so it’s a lot easier for me.’’
Baines explained that fans would get two sets at August shows – they’ll play No Touch Red from start to finish, followed by singles including Not The Same, Hazy Shade of Winter, Too Drunk To Drive and more (‘‘if anyone yells something out, we’ll try to do it, we try to play what people want to hear’’).
Baines is looking forward to revisiting Newcastle, which was always a good show for the band back in the day. He remembers playing the Hunter on Hunter, the Cambridge and drinking at the Ducks Nuts Hotel.
There was also the time the band and roadies shared a single hotel room in Newcastle, with a sleepwalking and talking stagehand offering to head out to the shops in the middle of the night.
After the east coast shows the band might turn their thoughts to new material, Baines said.
‘‘We’re sort of jamming and trying to figure out if we want to take it any further, see how these gigs go. Doing another album is a different story,’’ he said.
‘‘Everyone is really digging it but we said to ourselves we’d wait until after these gigs and then see.’’
Bodyjar play at the Bar On The Hill on August 26. Tickets at bigtix.com.au and oztix.com.au.