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Image of a crowd of people standing behind a music stage at night time watching a woman on bass guitar on the left of the stage (as we view it), a man on drums in the middle of the stage, and another man on guitar on the right of the stage.
Spiderbait playing at the 2008 Australia Day concert in Parramatta
Background information
Also known asCandy Spuds, Spiderbaby
OriginFinley, New South Wales, Australia
GenresAlternative rock, hard rock, post-grunge, electronica, punk rock, hardcore punk
Years active1989 (1989)–2004 (2004), 2013 (2013)–present
LabelsAu-Go-Go, Polydor, Interscope
Associated actsThe Wrights, Happyland, Hot Rollers
MembersJanet English
Damian Whitty

Spiderbait are an Australian alternative rock band formed in Finley, New South Wales in 1991 by bass guitarist and singer Janet English, drummer and singer Kram, and guitarist Damian Whitty. In 2004 the group's cover version of the 1930s Lead Belly song "Black Betty" reached number one on the ARIA Singles Chart. They have five top 20 albums: The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake (1995), Ivy and the Big Apples (1996), Grand Slam (1999), Tonight Alright (2004), and Greatest Hits (2005). The group have won two ARIA Music Awards with the first in 1997 as 'Best Alternative Release' for Ivy and the Big Apples and the second in 2000 as 'Best Cover Art' for their single "Glockenpop". Between 2004 and 2013 the band was on hiatus to concentrate on solo projects and their personal lives—although periodically returning for occasional gigs. In November 2013 the band released its first studio album in nine years, Spiderbait.


1989–1994: Early years[edit]

In 1989, Janet English on bass guitar and lead vocals, Mark Maher (better known as Kram) on lead vocals and drums, and Damian Whitty (or "Whitt") on guitar, began performing together.[1][2] All grew up in the small town of Finley in southern New South Wales where Kram and his second cousin Whitty jammed together as schoolboys.[3][4] With English on board, early rehearsals were held in sheds or barns, Kram later recalled: "we were shithouse! We were so bad ... I mean Janet had never played a note of music in her life".[4][5] Kram taught English to play bass.[2] Initial gigs included a friend's party as an unnamed band where they played "Freak Scene" and an AC/DC song.[3] They performed at the combined 21st birthday party for Kram and Whitty under the name Candy Spuds.[3][5] They used that name for only one gig and then used Spiderbaby.[3][6]

In 1990, the trio moved to Melbourne, where Kram was studying at the Victorian College of the Arts School of Music.[3] They soon became part of Melbourne's punk scene, playing gigs at venues like The Tote Hotel in Collingwood.[7] Fellow alternative rockers The Meanies were an early influence and helped the band get gigs and a recording contract.[8] They signed with Au-Go-Go Records and were renamed as Spiderbait – Spiderbaby was already being used by an American band.[6] Spiderbait released their first single, "Circle K", in 1991.[1][9] A seven-track EP titled P'tang Yang Kipper Bang Uh! (named after the 1982 Michael Apted telemovie, P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang) followed in January 1992, displaying the thrash-like hardcore punk of their early live gigs.[1][10] During 1992 they supported United States groups Rollins Band Green Beaver and Beastie Boys on their tour of Australia.[1]

Spiderbait's first album, Shashavaglava, was released in May 1993.[1][9] 'Šašava glava' (written as Шашава Глава) means 'crazy head' in Serbian or possibly 'dickhead'.[3][11] The album included all the tracks from P'tang Yang Kipper Bang Uh! and featured the songs "Old Man Sam" and a cover of English comedians The Goodies' song "Run".[1] Allmusic's David Colon found the album "agitating" where its "thrashing and pounding may be meant to energize, but in the end, only enervates."[10] "Run" was released as a CD single in March 1994 and was followed by "Jesus".[1] The group supported US band Primus on their Australia 1994 tour.[1]

1995–1998: Major label signing and side projects[edit]

In 1995, Spiderbait was signed to Polydor Records by Craig Kamber—who also worked with Powderfinger and Underground Lovers—and released its second album, The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake, in October.[1] The album reached number 14 on the Australian charts,[12] with singles "Monty" (September) and "Jesus" receiving extensive airplay on radio station Triple J.[1] The album title refers to a then-unfinished project by the Finley community,[1] an artificially-made lake included a replica sailing ship.[13] Spiderbait played to predominantly under-18 audiences.[3] At the ARIA Music Awards of 1996, the album received two nominations: 'Best Alternative Release', and 'Best Cover Art' for English and George Stajsic.[14][15]

Their third album, Ivy and the Big Apples, was issued in October 1996 and reached number 3,[12] and by 1997 had received 2× Platinum certification by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of over 140,000 units in Australia.[16] Their next single, "Buy Me a Pony", received extensive airplay on Triple J, resulting in listeners voting it as their favourite song in the Hottest 100 of 1996 – the first Australian group to do so.[1] In October 1996, the group toured Canada and played gigs in Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle in the US.[1] The album's third single, "Calypso", also achieved commercial airplay, and reached number 13 in the ARIA Singles Chart in June 1997.[1][12] It was featured in the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You during the scene where the character of Kat (played by Julia Stiles) is reading the novel The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.[17] At the ARIA Music Awards of 1997 the group received seven nominations, but with Savage Garden dominating the ceremony and winning ten awards, Spiderbait only captured the 'Best Alternative Release' category for Ivy and the Big Apples.[14][18]

In early 1998, English and her then-boyfriend Quan Yeomans (of Regurgitator) formed a side-project, Happyland (originally called The Shits), which released their only album, Welcome to Happyland, on Polydor in September.[1][3][19] English provided cover art work and 3-D animated videos for Regurgitator releases.[20] By 2000 the couple and Happyland had split.[21] Also in 1998, Kram and Richie Lewis of Tumbleweed formed a side-project, Hot Rollers – so named as both member's mothers were hairdressers.[1][22] Their only album, The Hot Rollers, was issued in July through Polydor.[1][22]

1999–2004: Grand Slam to Tonight Alright[edit]

Spiderbait reconvened in June 1998 to record the album Grand Slam.[1] They toured Japan in October 1998 and supported the Beastie Boys in February 1999.[1] The album, produced by Paul McKercher (who had also produced You Am I and Cold Chisel), was issued in April,[1][9] and debuted at number 10.[12] "Shazam!" was released as a single in February, which reached the top 50. It was featured in a 2001 episode of Sex and the City entitled "The Real Me" as part of a fashion show scene. In 2009, it was used in promotional advertising for the A-League. At the ARIA Music Awards of 1999 the group received five nominations.[14][23]

Despite good airplay for the Grand Slam singles "Stevie" (May) and "Glokenpop" (January 2000), neither charted in the top 50.[12] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2000 the group received two nominations and English won 'Best Cover Art' for her work on "Glokenpop".[14][24] Their 2001 dance-influenced album The Flight of Wally Funk was less successful than their previous three albums, although it reached the Top 40.[12] It was recorded mostly in Whitty's living room.[3]

Spiderbait recorded the Tonight Alright album in Weed, CA with engineers Josh Kiser and Richard Veltrop, producer Sylvia Massy (Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Tool, System of a Down, Skunk Anansie).[3][8][25] The songs had been written and demoed at Whitty's home in North Melbourne with English and Kram cycling in from nearby suburbs.[2] The album's first single, "Black Betty", was released in early March 2004.[26] It was a cover version of the 1930s Lead Belly song which was a hit in 1977 when covered by Ram Jam.[3][8] Spiderbait's version reached number one after 10 weeks in the singles chart in May 2004, and stayed there for three weeks, becoming their biggest selling single ever.[26][27][28] By the end of the year, "Black Betty" received 2× Platinum certification.[29] In the US, it reached the top 40 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Singles Chart.[30] The film clip featured a hot rod similar to the car on the cover of the ZZ Top album Eliminator. The song also made the soundtrack to the Electronic Arts video games Need for Speed: Underground 2 and Need for Speed: Underground Rivals for the PSP.

Tonight Alright was released in March 2004 and debuted at number 14 on the ARIA Albums Chart.[3][12] The second single, "Fucken Awesome", reached the top 30 in June.[12] From May, the group toured supporting Hoodoo Gurus, followed by their own tour to United Kingdom and US.[8] Interscope Records signed the band in 2004 to distribute Tonight Alright in the US and UK.[3][31] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2004, Kram performed as part of the super-group The Wrights, which also featured members of Powderfinger, The Living End, You Am I, Jet, Grinspoon, and Dallas Crane.[32][33]

2005–2012: On hiatus[edit]

After touring in support of Tonight Alright Spiderbait went on hiatus to concentrate on solo projects and their personal lives – although periodically returning for occasional gigs.[3] In March 2005, English gave birth to a daughter.[34] In September, Spiderbait released a compilation album, Greatest Hits,[3] which debuted at number 6.[12] According to their official website, they had discovered that newer fans were unaware of their material before "Black Betty".[35]

In October 2005, Spiderbait performed at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, as part of the Coca-Cola Live'n'Local Tour '05.[36] In November 2006, the band performed at the Queensland Council of Unions-organised Rock the Vote! concert in Brisbane.[37]

The band recorded a cover of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" as the main theme for the film Ghost Rider (2007), starring Nicolas Cage. A small excerpt is played during the film, and then in its entirety as the first song when the credits roll. The band's song "Glokenpop" is featured in the 2009 game LittleBigPlanet for the PlayStation Portable.[38] Kram released his debut solo album, Mix Tape, in March 2009.[39] In 2010, Magnapop's album Chase Park featured a cover of Spiderbait's song "Jesus" from The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake. In December of that year, they supported Guns N' Roses at a Sydney gig.[40] The band recorded a cover of "Rock-a-Bye Your Bear" for the compilation ReWiggled - A Tribute to the Wiggles.[41]

2013–present: End of hiatus and self-titled album[edit]

In an interview with Triple J in February 2013, Kram announced that Spiderbait were in the studio, working on their first album in seven years, saying "We're doing a new record and we're about halfway through. We're just writing demos at the moment and it's coming along well. We're back in our Motorhead and Metallica metal phase—I'm all double kick at the moment."[42]

The self-titled album, Spiderbait, was released on 15 November 2013. The band played a gig on the same day, for the opening night of the Jam Gallery, a new music venue in Bondi Junction.[43]



Awards and nominations[edit]

ARIA Awards[edit]

Spiderbait have won two awards from nineteen nominations for Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards.[14]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1996 The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake Best Alternative Release[15] Nominated
The Unfinished Spanish Galleon of Finley Lake – Janet English, George Stajsic Best Cover Art[15] Nominated
1997 Ivy and the Big Apples Album of the Year[18] Nominated
Best Alternative Release[18] Won
Best Group[18] Nominated
Ivy and the Big Apples – Janet English Best Cover Art[18] Nominated
Ivy and the Big Apples – Phil McKellar Engineer of the Year[18] Nominated
"Buy Me a Pony" Single of the Year[18] Nominated
"Calypso" – Janet English Best Video[18] Nominated
1999 Grand Slam Album of the Year[23] Nominated
Best Alternative Release[23] Nominated
Grand Slam – Janet English, George Stajsic Best Cover Art[23] Nominated
Grand Slam – Phil McKellar Engineer of the Year[23] Nominated
Producer of the Year[23] Nominated
2000 "Glokenpop" Best Pop Release[24] Nominated
"Glockenpop"– Janet English Best Cover Art[24] Won
2004 Tonight Alright Best Rock Album[44] Nominated
"Black Betty" Highest Selling Single[44] Nominated
"Black Betty" – Paul Butler, Scott Walton (50/50) Best Video[44] Nominated


  • Craig Mathieson (September 1997). Hi Fi Days: The Future of Australian Rock. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-86448-232-4.[45]
  • McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Whammo Homepage". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-86508-072-7. Archived from the original on 5 April 2004. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t McFarlane, 'Spiderbait' entry. Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Mathieson, Kram (26 March 2004). "Storm Warning". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Nimmervoll, Ed. "Spiderbait". Howlspace – The Living History of Our Music. White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd (Ed Nimmervoll). Archived from the original on 15 April 2002. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Spiderbait". MusicMight. RockDetector. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Kram Gets Fishy". TheDwarf.com.au (The Dwarf). Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  6. ^ a b Failla, Annemarie (October 2001). "Spiderbait - Oct 2001". Girl.com.au (Trellian). Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  7. ^ Fitzsimmons, Hamish (19 January 2010). "VIC Liquor Laws Force Iconic Pub to Close" (transcript). 7:30 Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
  8. ^ a b c d "Spiderbait Interview (with Janet)". WHAMMO Interviews. Worldwide Home of Australasian Music and More Online (WHAMMO). 31 May 2004. Archived from the original on 10 October 2004.
  9. ^ a b c Holmgren, Magnus. "Spiderbait". Australian Rock Database. Passagen.se (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  10. ^ a b Colon, David. "ShaShaVaGlava meaning the art of the tight skin in ancient Aramaic – Spiderbait". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  11. ^ According to Google translator: Шашава Глава (shashava glava) is Serbian for 'looney head'. See here. Whereas, 'crazy head' is луда глава (luda glava). See here.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Discography Spiderbait". Australian Charts Portal (Hung Medien). Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  13. ^ "Finley – Places to See". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. 1 January 2009. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Artist: Spiderbait". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 5 September 2011.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ a b c "Winners by Year 1996: 10th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  16. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1997 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  17. ^ Henderson, Scott. "Hollywood Musical". Au-Cinema Films (WordPress.com). Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h "Winners by Year 1997: 11th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  19. ^ Holmgren, Magnus. "Happyland". Australian Rock Database. Passagen.se (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  20. ^ Andrew Stafford (May 2006). Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden. Brisbane, Qld: University of Queensland Press. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-7022-3561-0.
  21. ^ "Friday Flashback: Week One: Unit by Regurgitator". RipItUp. Rip It Up Publishing. 6 May 2011. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  22. ^ a b "Hot Rollers". Howlspace. Wollongong Bands Home. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Winners by Year 1999: 13th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  24. ^ a b c "Winners by Year 2000: 14th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  25. ^ "Spiderbait". Music Australia. National Library of Australia. 30 June 2004.
  26. ^ a b "Spiderbait - "Black Betty"". Australian Charts Portal (Hung Medien). Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  27. ^ "Spiderbait "Black Betty"". Top40-charts.com.
  28. ^ Scatena, Dino (24 April 2004). "Spiderbait Finds Success". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  29. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2004 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 7 May 2009. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  30. ^ ""Black Betty" – Spiderbait – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  31. ^ "Tonight Alright – Spiderbait". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  32. ^ Rogers, Christina; Peach, Stephen; Small, Lynne (June 2008). "PPCA Licensor Profile". In the Loop. Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited (PPCA). Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  33. ^ Donovan, Patrick (29 September 2006). "Jet Propelled". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  34. ^ "Industry News – Lifelines" (385). dBmagazine. 10 May 2005. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  35. ^ "Spiderbait – Bio". Spiderbait Official Website. Archived from the original on 4 August 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  36. ^ Dwyer, Michael (6 October 2005). "Coke Live 'N Local". The Age. Fairfax Media.
  37. ^ "Rock the Vote Concert Draws a 5000+ Crowd". Australian Workers' Union. 25 November 2006. Archived from the original on 31 March 2012.
  38. ^ "Glokenpop Videos". NME. IPC Media (Time Inc.). Retrieved 5 September 2011.
  39. ^ "Special Guests – Episode 7 – Kram – Musician and Funky Mover". Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation. Network Ten (Ten Network Holdings). Archived from the original on 23 March 2011. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  40. ^ McCabe, Kath (3 December 2010). "Spiderbait Gunnin' for Action". The Daily Telegraph. News Limited (News Corporation).
  41. ^ "ReWiggled - A Tribute to the Wiggles". ABC Shop. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  42. ^ "Spiderbait to record new album". Triple J. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  43. ^ Spiderbait to headline Sydney's brand new live music venue Archived 25 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine, spiderbait.com.au, 4 November 2013.
  44. ^ a b c "Winners by Year 2004: 18th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  45. ^ "Hi fi days : the future of Australian rock / Craig Mathieson". catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 7 September 2011.

External links[edit]