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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Jerome – The Saint. The Bar. The Festerings.



This is Jerome. As in ST JEROME. Like, THE St Jerome – the bar, the festival, the legend. He is the reason Melbourne has a laneway culture and kewl bars under bridges in the middle of the Yarra. HE IS THE GUY. As a kid, his Euro parents would chuck parties at home all the time, so little Jerome grew up thinking: 1) people partying erryday was normal; and 2) never wanting a real job. Thus his life was determined.

You used to show up to council meetings wearing no shoes?
25yrs ago, I was one of only 300 registered residents in the City of Melbourne so the laneways were my drive way. I used to kick the footy up the middle of Bourke Street on Sundays with my mates.

You legit brought the OG milk crate graffiti bar thing to Melb. St Jerome’s was 1) the best bar Melbourne ever had and 2) loose as fck

There was barely any laneway culture in Melb in the early 2000s, and people who weren’t in suits were frowned upon – which was fucked, why do I need a fuckin suit to go for a drink? So I rented this dinge as place, decked it in old shit I found and brought in a No Suit policy.

Your staff were mental – one dude told me to fck off when I wanted a beer so I poured it myself. Then he cheer’sed me.

We had three rules:

  • never serve warm beer
  • don’t be late for your shift
  • the customer is NEVER right

Once the staff were sitting behind the bar chuggin’ on durries and a customer got really irate: ‘You can’t just sit around doing what you want – get me a drink’. One of the barmen stood up and pissed against the wall, poured himself another drink and sat back down ‘Yes we can’. There were never any issues tho, we didn’t have any fights, no dickheads – it was just a good fckin place full of good cnts.

The caged staircase, $3 beers, full of rascals – I met one of my loves dancing next to a bin – I’m still devvo its gone.

I stayed on for 5years longer than I was meant to, holding up the development of the multi-bill dolla Emporium shopping centre. There I was in my shorts, in court arguing against 100 lawyers that I could stay as they hadn’t given me the right paperwork originally. The judge threw the case out in 10 seconds. The building now has a boardroom in it named St Jerome’s cos I won.

I went to the first Laneway Fest with my sister and you had the sickest artists from the get go –
Even from the first one in 2005 we had legends like Clare Bowditch, The Avalanches, The Presents, Architecture in Helsinki. Over the years we’ve had Daniel Johnston, Florence and The Machine, Mumford and Sons, ChVrches, Haim, The Temper Trap, Sleepy Jackson… We went from our little laneway party to massive festivals all over Aus, NZ and soon to be again in Asia. This year we have Baker Boy, Courtney Barnett, Gang of Youths, Mitski…..

You keep coming up with new ways to fuck with people eg Melbourne’s entire hotel industry.

I was drinking a beer on Lonsdale St one day looking up at the skyline and just thought ‘How hard can it be to put a tent on a roof?’ then made it happen on the rooftop of Melbourne Central. We called it St Jerome’s – The Hotel and we went up to #1 on Trip Advisor – which pissed of Crown, Langham, Hyatt, everyone. They made TripAdvisor change the algorithms and The Hotel suddenly dropped to #63 – but came back again to #1. And it was just tents on a roof. And I don’t even like camping.

That fully immersive fake kidnapping thing, last year’s summer pool party, messing with my plans to be basic… you’re always ahead of what is next so help WHAT IS NEXT?

Wham Bam Thank You Fam – kids parties that are cool for parents too. Social stuff and activities centred on creativity not fckin sport in a supercharged aggressive environment. There will be Dj classes, pizza classes, kids wellness, a drawing room, rock’n’roll choir – and parents can kick back with a can, like they used to.

Everything you do is 150% – you went from apartment party life, that laneways festival guy to living on a farm in the country with your bae.

Amelia and I moved to Mornington Peninsula a few years ago and love it. We have goats, Scottish highlands, racehorses, alpacas, mini donkeys, a cat called Meow Meow and two Aussie shepherds, chickens, fish and soon to get birds. There are animals fuckin everywhere. I have hair on everything.

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