The Tragedy & Triumph Of The Screaming Jets’ New Album: ‘You Don’t Leave A Gang’

12 October 2023 | 11:12 am | Jeff Jenkins

"We’re just older. Otherwise, we’re exactly the same. And that’s why I’m proud of this band; we stayed true to who we are."

The Screaming Jets

The Screaming Jets (Credit: Kane Hibberd)

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About halfway through a conversation that had me laughing out loud, Paul Woseen, co-founder and bass player of The Screaming Jets, suddenly became serious when I asked how he would describe the band.

“We’re a gang,” he replied. “We’re not just a band of players. We’re a gang of mates.”

I was chatting to Woseen to help the band put together a bio for their first album of original material in seven years, Professional Misconduct. Little did we know that this would be his final interview. Three weeks before the album was scheduled for release, Woseen died suddenly. He was 56. 

Since his passing, I’ve been reflecting on the bond between band members, how a great band is – as Woseen explained – a gang. Steven Van Zandt, from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, believes: “Band members have a special bond. A great band is more than just some people working together. It’s like a highly specialised army unit or a winning sports team. A unique combination of elements that becomes stronger together than apart.”

It’s something that a music journalist, or any outsider, will never truly understand. 

A great band is complex and complicated. It’s a creative relationship and a business relationship. And a personal relationship. In the studio, on stage and on the road. Endless kilometres in the tour van. It’s joyous and ridiculous. Secrets are shared. Insecurities and vulnerabilities can’t be hidden. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. It’s not a job you can leave at the office. 

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And I suspect it’s a relationship that can be more intense and interesting than a marriage because there are more than two people involved.

“It’s so true,” agrees guitarist Jimi Hocking, who joined The Screaming Jets in 1993. 

“Several members have had more than one marriage, and the relationship with the other band members has been more enduring than the length of those marriages.

“We share all sorts of details of our lives. When you’re travelling around, you’ve got hours to kill, and you really get to know everything about each other.

“In The Screaming Jets, we’re full of strange idiosyncratic behaviour, and we all understand that about each other.”

A little while back, a friend remarked to Hocking: “Watching you guys and seeing how bonded you are, people want to be in your band – they want to be in The Screaming Jets and share that bond.”

“But,” the guitarist points out, “it’s just not that simple.”

Woseen called his bandmates “skin brothers” or “brothers from another mother”.

Guitarist Scotty Kingman, who joined the band in 2007, was the driving force behind the new album, writing seven of the ten songs with Woseen. 

“If it wasn’t for Scotty, we might still be sitting here, saying, ‘Well, we should make a new record’,” Hocking says.

They recorded Professional Misconduct with producer Steve James, who’s been with the band since the beginning, helming their first EP, The Scorching Adventures of The Screaming Jets, and debut album, All For One. “He’s like our funny uncle,” lead singer Dave Gleeson says. “He’s the guy who brings out the extra part of the music in us.”

James called Woseen “not just someone I worked with; he was a friend”. The bass player would stay with the producer when he was in Brisbane, always arriving with a present. At the memorial service, James was wearing a “John Candy, Orange Whip” T-shirt that Woseen had given him.

All the band members are grateful they got to make the album but devastated that their friend won’t get to see the fans enjoying the new songs.

Great bands are unlikely combinations. Hocking admits he was “dubious” when he was first asked to do a tour with The Screaming Jets. Described at the memorial service as “the band’s beloved vegetarian”, Hocking wasn’t sure if he’d click with Gleeson, who had a reputation for being an outrageous rocker. But by the end of the first week, they were reciting their favourite Monty Python sketches, “and over the next couple of years, we became pretty much best friends”.

Hocking acknowledges the band has had line-up changes over the years, “but over 34 years, that’s unavoidable because most bands have a career that lasts three or four years in reality.

“We’re truly a real band: the old school idea of being in a band. The Screaming Jets are still that.”

Drummer Cameron McGlinchey is “the new boy”. Gleeson says he’s “the jigsaw piece we needed five years ago to complete the puzzle”. 

“I’m really heartened to hear that,” McGlinchey says. “Not that it’s new to me; we tell each other what we mean to each other.”

The drummer was surprised by the depth of the relationships within the band. “I think I’ve dug myself in deeper than I thought I would and quicker than I thought. I’ve grown to love them.

“They really welcomed me, and Paully was an integral part of that. In the studio, I was like, ‘What do you want on this, Paully?’ And he would say, ‘Whatever you do, mate.’

“He was just so supportive and generous in spirit, which has made the music all the more meaningful.”

Paul Woseen chuckled when I asked if the band had changed since Better burst into the Top 5 in 1991. “We’re just older. Otherwise, we’re exactly the same. And that’s why I’m proud of this band; we stayed true to who we are.

“You’ve got to be you. If you’re not you, it just goes through.”

The bass player was buzzing when he talked about the new songs. When I highlighted the closing cut, Speed Quack, his eyes lit up. “To me, this is the Jets,” he said.

“It’s a belter. It’s like, ‘Cop this, motherfuckers!’” 

It’s fitting that Speed Quack is the last song on the last Jets album that Woseen got to make.

“I actually didn’t think we’d end up calling the song Speed Quack,” Hocking laughs. “I thought we’d change the title. But there it is: Paully’s whole duck analogy reveals itself – calm on the top and going crazy underneath the water to make it all work.

“That’s kind of the whole band, in a way.”

Woseen told me he loved ducks because “they’ve got a sense of humour. They fuck up. I watch ’em as they’re trying to come into land. They’re unsmooth and uncool. You think they’re gonna crash. It’s my interpretation of myself. 

“I think ducks are funny,” he added. “I like to think of myself as an old pirate duck.”

Woseen was also particularly proud of the album’s second single, the big ballad Second Chance. “It’s a beautiful piece of music,” he noted.

Gleeson and Woseen wrote the song together, and the singer had been introducing it at Jets shows by explaining it was about “people we’ve lost, who we’d love another chance to say something to”.

The lyric runs: “What if the sky begins to fall and the treadmill stops and stalls? What if the sun lost its shine? We’re running, running out of time … You thought about a second chance; you never get ’em anyway.”

“God, I don’t know how Dave’s going to sing it now,” Hocking sighs. “I mean, it’s heavy. This record has taken on a whole new set of meanings.”

If you were unaware of the backstory, Professional Misconduct is simply a ripping rock record—the sound of a band at the peak of its powers. 

“We’ve still got mountains to climb; we’ve still got things we want to achieve,” Gleeson told me when we were working on the bio. “I’m not a Hawthorn fan, and I’m not a big AFL guy, but when Shane Crawford, at the age of 34, after 17 years, got up and won that Grand Final and said, ‘That’s what I’m talking about!’, I could relate.

“I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think there was another Grand Final in me.”

And then they were blindsided by the passing of their mate, who they called “king of the bass” and who Gleeson referred to as “the throbbing heart of The Screaming Jets from day one”.

The Memo Music Hall in St Kilda was packed for Woseen’s memorial service, with assorted road crew and members of other bands. “Paul was a rascal and a rogue, but he was so loved for his fantastic music,” Hocking says. “Everybody knew his authenticity as a musician.”

The band performed one of Woseen’s songs, Friend Of Mine. “Don’t just sit around all day and cry,” Gleeson sang. Don’t worry, you will always be a friend of mine.”

There’s a song on the new album called No Reason. It leapt out at me the first time I listened to the record. “Paully writes really fantastic choruses,” Gleeson agreed. “He’s got a great melodic bent. Even though we’re proudly a rock band, he’s brought some great pop moments.”

A snatch of the No Reason lyric resonates: “We make our lives out of chaos and love.”

That could be the story of The Screaming Jets in just one line.

They are a great Australian rock band. Loud and loved. Chaotic and cheeky. Listen closely to the end of No Reason, and you’ll find an audio Easter egg – a line inspired by Gleeson’s mate Wazza: “How does get fucked sound?

Asked to explain the album title, Gleeson replied: “Misconduct is frowned upon by polite society. We embrace it and have made it our profession.”

I started a review of Professional Misconduct: “Some bands never grow up … and that’s a beautiful thing.” It got a laugh when it was repeated at the memorial service, but, on reflection, it sells the band short. Sure, there’s a sense of humour in the music, but the quality of the songwriting runs deep.

The staging for Woseen’s memorial service was simple, with his black boots perched on stage next to a bottle of Fireball whisky.

The bass player was buried with his favourite white boots. “We’re all going to miss him on so many levels,” McGlinchey says. “I’ll even miss the white boots. They made me laugh. Only Paully could pull off white boots and look so cool.”

He might have loved ’em, but Woseen never got too big for ’em. As The Music’s Stephen Green reflected when he called on ARIA to induct The Screaming Jets into the Hall of Fame, “The Screaming Jets were arguably one of the last big ‘working class’ bands. They weren’t better than you. They WERE one of you.”

In one simple sentence, that says everything you need to know about The Screaming Jets. 

McGlinchey recalls touring with the Jets when he was in a band called Maeder (who were signed to Warner Music and released their self-titled debut in 2007, produced by Steve James). “They were bloody good to us,” the drummer remembers. “And Dave and Paully were the captains of that.”

Backstage at a Jets show can often be crowded and chaotic. “People you’ve never met manage to find their way in,” the drummer smiles. At first, he found it a little disconcerting – “After a gig, you often just want 10 minutes to yourself” – and following one of his first gigs with the band, he spotted Gleeson being harangued by a fan. The drummer whispered into the singer’s ear, “Do you want me to get these people out of here? I’ll do it.”

Gleeson took McGlinchey aside and gave him a quick lesson in the Jets code. “No, we don’t do that,” he said simply. “That’s not what we do.”

“They’ve never become too big for their boots,” McGlinchey believes. “And I think that goes back to their background, their upbringing. I’ve heard a lot about their days growing up in Newcastle, not just from them but from their friends and families. It was a tough place, and I would imagine that no one would get too big for their boots in that town.

“Have they caused some trouble? Oh, yeah. Are they larrikins? Yep. But they treat people well.”

The Screaming Jets’ connection with their audience has been forged over thousands of gigs since the band started in Newcastle in 1989.

“Our fans are paramount to everything we’ve ever done,” Gleeson explains.

He remembers the band’s first big tour supporting The Angels, “when people thought, ‘Who are these idiots?’ There’s no worse place to be than an Angels support slot if the punters don’t like you. But we built our own crowd. And more than 30 years on, people are still paying their hard-earned and supporting the band.

“We’re blessed to have great fans.”

When I last spoke to Paul Woseen, I mentioned that I looked upon The Screaming Jets as The Last Great Pub Rock Band. He thought for a moment before replying: “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen us as a pub rock band, but the ethos of the Australian pub rock band is definitely in us. You can’t put on a shit show in an Aussie pub – if you put on a shit show in an Aussie pub, people will tell you you’re shit.”

The pub is more than just a workplace for Gleeson. “He loves it,” Hocking smiles.

“When we’re on the road, I’m your classic Melbourne wanker – I’m like, ‘Come on, let’s go and get some lunch, there’s a good coffee shop up there.’ And Dave will say, ‘Why don’t we go down the pub and get a beer?’”

Paul Woseen also loved his workplace. He came alive at night. Explaining Give Me What I Want, another song on Professional Misconduct, he said: “It’s all good if you can make it home before the sun comes up. And the hangover’s nowhere near as bad. If it’s dark, it’s still party time. It all falls apart in the daylight, doesn’t it?”

The band members’ grief was palpable at the memorial service, but they have made the agonising decision to do the scheduled Professional Misconduct tour – to honour their mate and celebrate the songs he was instrumental in creating.

I’m hoping that Woseen’s boots will be a permanent fixture on the stage whenever and wherever the Jets play. But even if they’re not there, his spirit will live on. As Scotty Kingman says, “his whole heart and soul was in every song he wrote”.

When a band is this tight, the bond between members is never broken. As Paul Woseen told me, “You don’t leave a gang.”

Jimi Hocking finished his eulogy: “Paully will forever be a member of our gang. Our mate. Our brother. Our Pirate Duck.

“All for one.” 

Professional Misconduct is out now. You can catch The Screaming Jets on tour throughout the rest of the year and early 2024.




Friday 3           The Triffid, Brisbane QLD

Saturday 4       Beenleigh Tavern, Beenleigh QLD

Friday 10         Chelsea Heights, Chelsea Heights VIC 

Saturday 11     Prince Bandroom, St Kilda VIC 

Friday 17         Dubbo RSL, Dubbo NSW

Saturday 18     Bathurst RSL, Bathurst NSW


Friday 1           The Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW

Saturday 2       Anitas Theatre, Wollongong NSW 


Friday 19         Blank Space, Toowoomba QLD

Saturday 20     Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff QLD

Tuesday 23      Longyard Hotel, Tamworth QLD

Thursday 25     Sunken Monkey, Central Coast 

Sunday 28       Pacific Palms Recreation Club, Elizabeth Beach NSW


Thursday 1      The Albies Bar, Busselton WA

Friday 2           Port Beach Brewery, Fremantle WA

Saturday 3       Ravenswood Hotel, Ravenswood WA

Saturday 10     Club Central, Hurstville NSW

Friday 16         Commercial Hotel, South Morang VIC

Saturday 17     Village Green, Mulgrave VIC

Friday 23         Toronto Hotel, Toronto, NSW

**More shows to be announced, including SA

Tickets are available here.