AMERICAN punk auteur Jeff Rosenstock loves Australia. He loves our starry skies, beaches and fresh produce.
“You have fruit which is fresh in the supermarket, more so than just chemical trash fruit,” Rosenstock said from Brooklyn. “That’s a nice thing.”
Three of his six Australian tours have passed through Newcastle and field recordings from a local beach and being kicked out of the Hamilton Station Hotel’s karaoke, following a show at the venue, wound up on his 2015 album We Cool?
However, the 34-year-old is probably best known in Australia for producing Melbourne punk kings, The Smith Street Band’s, last two albums Throw Me in the River and More Scared of You Than You Are of Me.
“I really like those guys, they’re like family,” Rosenstock said. “When you’re in band you have a handful of bands when you see them make you feel like you’re home, no matter where you are because everyone is always travelling around.”
Rosenstock is a prolific songwriter in his own right. Since the age of 13 in 1995 the Long Island lad has been pumping out records with his former bands Arrogant Sons of Bitches, Bomb the Music Industry! and Kudrow, before going solo.
The majority were released with passionate DIY commitment and in a style that traverses folk-punk, ska and indie rock. These days Rosenstock benefits from the support of a booking agent and record label and believes its become harder to operate with DIY ethos due to the proliferation of home-made music.
“It’s all about communication, and with social media it’s harder to communicate,” he said. “Sometimes it’s like white noise because everyone is trying to scream at each other.
“I feel lucky that I started doing [independent label] Quote Unquote Records when I did before bandcamp was a thing because I feel like I didn’t get lost.
“Now I wonder if bands coming up get lost and I wonder how anyone gets started now?”
Rosenstock isn’t getting lost. Last year’s album Worry was arguably the most successful of his 20-year career. A strong theme flowing through the record was the negative impact of gentrification on cities. A process some Novocastrians are struggling with at present.
“It does start with things that seem nice,” he said. “We’re like ‘oh you’ve got a coffee shop now’ and then enough goes on and it gets to a point where you can’t afford to live anywhere.
“I’m actually surprised it’s taken that long for Newcastle to undergo gentrification because you’re right on the beach and it seems to be where it usually happens. There’s all this property with seaside views, so let’s slap some condos in there.”
Jeff Rosenstock performs at the Hamilton Station Hotel on September 8.