Interview with The Jezabels
The rise of The Jezabels has been similar to most indie bands – slow at first, endless touring, hoping for the best, then exponentially crazy after the first bit of success and then hanging on for dear life. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, the four-piece band plays a mix of indie pop, rock, and some good old dance rock. The Jezabels have released three 5-song EPs, starting in 2009, with their most successful one, Dark Storm, last October.
Graduating from EPs, The Jezabels released their debut LP Prisoner in Australia on September 16, 2011. The LP debuted at #2 on the ARIA chart (Australian Recording Industry Association), which is a credit to their growing reputation, and the strength of the album. For us Canadians, we were finally able to get our hands on Prisoner on November 8.
The band, comprised of lead singer Hayley Mary, keyboardist Heather Shannon, drummer Nik Kaloper, and guitarist Samuel Lockwood, are currently in North American on tour with Hey Rosetta!. The Jezabels are either co-headlining or opening for Hey Rosetta! – it is decided with a fierce game of Stone, Paper, Scissors (note: this method of deciding might be made up by me).
PeteHatesMusic caught up with keyboardist Heather Shannon by email for a chat about their recent success, their songwriting fights, and what Australian beer fans of the Jezabels should be drinking.
PeteHatesMusic (PHM): Congratulations on Prisoner debuting at Number 2 in Australia, that’s fantastic stuff. Given the growing popular of the band with each EP release, what expectations or hopes did you have with the Prisoner release?
Heather Shannon (HS): I guess we saw that our fan base was growing with every release, but still, I don’t really like to speculate on what may happen……you can never really tell how people are going to react. Our sound on Prisoner is quite different compared with the EP’s.
(note: This is evident on the dark, moody opener, also called Prisoner)
The Jezabels – Endless Summer
PHM: What are the long term goals of the band? To headline Big Day Out or other festivals, or is it more of an album by album series of mini goals that you set?
HC: I usually just think about things to aim for in the immediate future, because it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Although, the four of us are really ambitious, and we do aim high! We are really looking forward to recording our second album. The main goal I think, is to become better at song writing.
PHM: I know it’s early days, but have you mapped out any rough ideas for the NEXT album? Any new songs in sound check or at shows?
HC: Hmmm….its really hard for us to write on the road, but there definitely are ideas brewing. We make sure we record any new ideas at sound check or write stuff down. Being on tour especially in a different country really makes me want to sit down and write.
PHM: What was the strategy behind releasing the trilogy of EPs and then an album? Will you revert back to the EPs in the future?
HC: I don’t think we will revert back to EP’s. There wasn’t so much a strategy behind it as just a way to help us feel more comfortable in tackling a full length LP. After the experience we had in the studio, and practice of writing all together, we felt we were very ready when the time came. In the end though, It seems it was the perfect way to slowly expand our fan base and live show. It felt very organic to us.
PHM: How do the Jezabels write their songs and music? Are there many smashed chairs and black eyes during the process?
HC: Well, its funny you should say that. Because there are four of us trying to reconcile our ideas, we do argue a lot. We don’t get physical though. Almost all of Prisoner was written in the studio, some of it even improvised. There is a lot of back and forth between us, a lot of discussion. Sometimes the hardest thing is making a final decision on something. Our producer Lachlan Mitchell helps facilitate the process for us.
PHM: What artists have influenced you, both musically and professionally?
HC: We all have different influences. I listen to a lot of classical music. Mostly Eastern European, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and stuff like that. I also really love Bach. One of our first supporting shows in Australia was with Tegan and Sara. We learnt a lot from them professionally. They treat their staff so well, and are really awesome people.
(note: gotta love those Canadian manners!)
PHM: We missed you at Canadian Music Week, but heard you guys killed it. How was that experience? Anything you hope to get out of this tour?
HC: CMW was so awesome. We played at Lee’s Palace in Toronto and it was the best show. The crowd were so amazing and supportive. I can’t wait to play in Toronto again. We just want to play to more Canadian people who haven’t the slightest clue who we are…..
PHM: How did your tour with Hey Rosetta! come about? How did you decide with Hey Rosetta! to share or switch the headlining slots?
HC: We saw them support City and Colour in Sydney, Australia earlier on in the year, and loved them. I think both our managers knew each other too. We thought it would be a really good match and that we would possibly share some fans. They are the nicest people. They even lent us their van for the tour!
(note: AGAIN with the Canadian niceness! And you wonder where we get that rep….)
PHM: How has the response to Prisoner been live?
HC: Its been pretty positive as far as I can tell. I think some people still really like our older stuff, but there are definitely people that prefer the new. I guess thats always how it is. Some fans seem to get annoyed when a band they like slightly changes what they are doing. I kind of see it as more of a progression of what we were doing before. (well, at least I hope it is). You can’t totally detach yourself from it.
PHM: Fosters is the most promoted Australian beer in Canada, but we hear it is not the best. What Aussie beer should Jezabels’ fans be drinking?
HC: We don’t even get Fosters in Australia, and i’ve heard it tastes pretty bad…..Not sure if you guys have it over here, but Cooper’s is a really nice beer.
(note: Finding this mindblowing, I needed to look this up. It turns out Fosters IS available in Australia, but it’s as common as a rude Canadian)
The Jezabels open for Hey Rosetta! on Thursday at the Phoenix in Toronto, before moving to Ottawa on Friday to play the Bronson Centre, and then the Corona Theatre in Montreal on Saturday.
Also give an older song, Mace Spray, a listen down below, then check out Prisoner and hopelessly stalk the Jezabels (note: we do not recommend any illegal actions – but unbridled worship is acceptable).
The Jezabels – Mace Spray