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Interview with Philadelphia Grand Jury

By Sara Morgan

“This one’s about a girl I was in love, her boyfriend wanted to kill me...” Berkfinger says of the track ‘When you’re boyfriend comes back to town’. Then adds with a smile “in fact pretty much all the songs are about one girl or another I’ve been in love with.”

Berkfinger kinda sounds like he’s been sucking on a helium balloon, making his raw vocals seem all the more surprising. Riotous fun, upbeat pop-punk is how to best describe the sound of Philadelphia Grand Jury, the name they’ve settled on after various incarnations, inspired by the Feiry Furnaces.

Berkfinger and MC Bad Genius, aka Simon Berckelman and Joel Beeson, formed this 3 piece. In person their shyness is cunningly disguised behind beards. They have that easy way with each other that only comes from having known each other since misbehaving as kids, which is why they probably admit things other bands would go to lengths to hide...

“With ‘The Next Neil Young’ we’re talking about how everyone is trying to be so different and innovative like Neil Young and they all end up sounding the same. Ironically we borrowed the bass line from ‘Kate’ from Ben Folds Five who we think borrowed it from The Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’... should I have said that?”

It’s pretty endearing that they can’t help but reveal themselves and don’t tow a record company line. In fact the making of Hope is for Hopers, their debut release, didn’t involve the big guns at all. They wrote, recorded, engineered and released it themselves under their own label ‘Normal People Making Hits’ for under $3,000 (AusD). Berkfinger’s previous engineering credits include Architecture in Helsinki and Wolfmother.

To prove their commitment to putting the “fun into funk” they marked the album release by taking to the back of a truck and performing 7 shows in one day at various locations around Sydney. The first show was in the city centre at 8am as the suits rushed into their offices ties flapping over their shoulders. The last was 11pm to Sydney’s party set on the Purple Sneakers’ rooftop. Their goofball antics included smashing up pianos and throwing guitars into the crowd.

The Jury is in. Do your duty, check them out at

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