Interview: The Jezabels
Published on April 3rd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
The sky-scraping sounds of Australian Music Prize-winners The Jezabels have been making waves on a little old island the other side of the planet from their home town of Sydney, so Rocksucker fired over some questions to the band’s guitarist Sam Lockwood in the hope of finding out a wee bit more about the whole operation. First though, check out the video for “Rosebud”, the latest single to be taken from their epic debut album Prisoner…
Congratulations on winning the Australian Music Prize! How do you plan to spend the $30,000 prize? Invest carefully, or fritter away irresponsibly?
We aren’t ‘big spenders’, but I know some of us desperately need some new clothes. So I think we’ll be doing that first. We may be finding a place to rent in London in the coming year so I think it will be saved for that as well. That’s not going to be cheap. It’s an age old question; clothes or board?
Have you started thinking about album two yet, or are you just focused on promoting Prisoner for now? If you have started thinking about it, what kind of direction can you see it taking?
It is definitely early days regarding album two, and yeah we are still in the middle of promoting Prisoner. We still have the US tour coming up for Prisoner, for instance. I want to keep on touring this album for ever because I think that it’s awesome, but you can’t do that, obviously. Looking ahead, however, I can’t say what direction the new album will head. One thing I was thinking was to get angrier. The world is too unfair these days. It’s calling for more anger, I think.
You must be looking forward to your forthcoming US/Canada tour. Have you enjoyed playing out there in the past? How was SXSW last year?
America is on the one hand everything that it offers to be – big, cheap, beautiful, and friendly – which makes touring there so enjoyable. But because it’s so big it means that you’re in a van for at least eight hours a day. For a month. Now, that’s not so bad, it’s just the ensuing cabin fever. SXSW was incredible. We had great showcases. Michael Cera apparently came to one of our shows. Sadly though he came to the worst one in someone’s back yard where every portaloo had overflowed so it all smelt like crap.
And how did your recent NME Awards show at KOKO go?
Great. It was our biggest show outside Australia. I think we smashed it, but I’m slightly biased I suppose. I’m getting used to the feeling of being the underdog in the UK, in many ways, but it gives you the incentive to try harder and perform harder, and I think we did that throughout the UK tour.
Do you know yet which UK festivals you’ll be playing this summer?
We’ve been confirmed for T in The Park and Hop Farm festival. There will be more but they haven’t been announced yet. I’m happy enough with them though, particularly the Hop Farm festival, because that is the best line-up ever.
I read Hayley saying that the band’s origins stem back to her writing folky songs with Heather in college. How did you go from folk to the kind of epic sound you have now? Was it a conscious decision, or did it happen more organically?
Well, I like to think that it was when I got a university scholarship and bought an electric guitar with an amp. We were playing folk music together, but then ‘went electric’. We found Nik, our drummer, as well and he was into metal so we had to accomodate his style as well. We just had to start playing really loud.
Was “Long Highway” really turned down by the Twilight Saga team for being “too mature”? How does this make you feel? I think you should be delighted with that!
Hahahaha. This was a funny misquote from a show in Manchester. I can’t remember what Hayley said exactly, but it was something like that. Twilight is a weird one; I think the soundtrack is a different beast to the films, because of the bands that have done it. Radiohead? Death Cab For Cutie? I’d do it because they’ve done it. But yeah it’s pretty funny.
There seems to have been a lot of really good Australian bands emerging in recent years. Do you think there’s any particular reason for this?
In my own humble opinion, I think that in Australia we’ve let go of dominant genres that were around over the past few years. People are just doing what works for them and they’re making some really cool pop music. For example, groups like Boy and Bear, and artists like Kimbra and Gotye. Then you have some one like Lanie Lane who is just doing a sort of blues/rockabilly thing or whatever it is. They just do what feels natural and that means that they do it really well. There is no one style that Australian musicians are doing right now.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming artists that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
We played with Julia Marcell in Germany, and she was awesome live. In Australia there are a lot of cool bands doing cool things. Sleepyhands is one. They aren’t really that obscure but ReTros from Beijing are amazing. And because Australia is an Asian country, that’s fittingly regional.
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
Palestrina, The Band, Los Lobos, Gillian Welch and Wilco.
Sam Lockwood, thank you.