The Jezabels mark their return
The Jezabels are finally back recently making their return with a soaring pop track ‘The End’, that sees a growth within their signature ‘intensindie’ sound they have created and become renowned for. Since the release of their widely acclaimed debut album ‘Prisoner’ in 2011, this is the first single being lifted from their sophomore album ‘The Brink’, that is set to drop at the end of January. Having a whirlwind past few years, between living in London, supporting Depeche Mode and the Pixies, I caught up with lead guitarist Sam Lockwood to see what’s next on the agenda for one of Australia’s most internationally established and recognised bands currently.
So with ‘The Brink’ you’ll be facing the sophomore album syndrome, are you feeling the pressure of this at all?
Yep! I think we're all pretty good though, I think if we had made an album that we weren’t happy with then we wouldn’t release it. I listened to it last night with my parents. I think it's just such a beautiful album, there's a lot of nice moments and it’s got a lot of great pop songs and it's really cool. It increased the pressure when creating it, but we always give that to ourselves, no matter what we're doing. So I think pressure is a great thing, as long as you don’t get too depressed about it.
If you weren’t in the Jezabels, what do you reckon you would be doing now?
I would hopefully still be making music, but I was actually on track to be a high school English teacher, so I’m sure I’ll still do that one day. That’s my alter ego; I guess which is kind of fitting since I’m kind of boring. Not that English teachers are boring! But I am a bookish kind of person. Hopefully I would still be making music on the side, anonymously making cool electronic beats that everyone loves, but I’m actually a high school English teacher.
Hayley has previously spoken about pop music being the darkest and most twisted form of music, and that your current single ‘The End’ has been described as being “about a time that I think we all reach at some point in our lives, where you are not sure you can go on, not sure that you have anything left to give”. This is some quite emotionally heavy inspiration for material. Have there been any particular events that have brought this on for you guys?
There is personally, but we chose not to talk about it... I think for many reasons it was like being in London. I don’t think she means it in that sort of way, like some of the pop songs have a dark beauty to them. I think the one she always references is Whitney Houston’s ‘I Want to Dance with Somebody’. It’s like she’s so lonely - “I want to dance with somebody, I want to feel the heat with somebody, with somebody who loves me” and it’s almost the best pop song ever written, yet it’s a very sad and true song about longing.
Some do deserve a really strong analysis because they're such important cultural things, so I totally agree with Hayley in that respect and she is someone who really brought me around to that idea.
I saw on your Facebook profile that you were encouraging people to sign a petition in support of Edward Snowden. Being in the public eye and in the position that you are, do you feel that you have the power and even the responsibility to promote and encourage social issues, and have you ever done this much?
Well I was very political in university but I’ve had to tone it down now and I like that because I don’t really like preachy sort of stuff going on either. It’s something we all care about, I think you have definite inherent tendency when you become a musician to have a political perspective. We all believe in speaking about when something gets us enough. When we were rehearsing and writing in London, the whole thing about Julia Gilliard and all the sexist vitriol she was copping just made us so sad, especially being a bit removed from Australia and looking back on it. That caused us to write, we just recorded a reaction to it which was not using words, it was cool.
It’s a good way to do it, so people can form their own opinions. However it’s sort of hard as well, this day and age no one wants to hear what you have to say so we try to be smart about it; we definitely all care so much about these issues and Hayley's actually done some really amazing lyric work. When you’re listening to it, she’s a genius with that sort of thing, you can’t tell that she’s doing it but just does it in a really subjective way, so it’s awesome.
Obviously you’ve been touring for quite a number of years now and have toured extensively worldwide. People often talk about touring being the only method of survival for artists; however respected musicians such as Tim Levinson (Urthboy) have spoken out against how little artists do truly make, what is your opinion, speaking from the perspective of quite an established band?
It’s a very big thing for band and artists. We sort of caught the last season of CD buying when we released ‘Prisoner', it’s now just dropping like a lead balloon. Urthboy is totally right though, if you’re touring at like a level of 300-400 people around the country which is massive for a band, you don’t actually make that much money out of the shows. This is until you start doing massive shows.
I think there’s a huge misunderstanding about the level of success that bands have, financially at least. I’m not taking that away from the fact that it’s the best lifestyle in the world and I’m so stoked to do it. The artist will be okay, the people I feel sorry for are the ones that make albums like producers, engineers, front of house guys, and touring crew, because when bands lose money, they’re the first ones to go. Bands will always be able to do their own thing and make music, but people who have a craft secondary to the artist are the ones that will suffer. Our producer is really worried… he’s worked with the likes of Radiohead and Lana Del Rey but if no one is buying albums any more than no one’s going to pay the producer. He's good friends with Calvin Harris and made that album with him, I mean he had five number one hits and he made it in his bedroom, so it’s just shows you the way the world is going.
By James Sherley
The Jezabels new album 'The Brink' is coming early 2014. Stay tuned. Until then you can catch them at upcoming Laneway Festivals.
Upcoming tour dates for 2014
31 JAN - Laneway Festival: Brisbane, Australia
FEB 01 - Laneway Festival: Melbourne, Australia
FEB 02 - Laneway Festival: Sydney, Australia
FEB 07 - Laneway Festival: Adelaide, Australia
FEB 08 - Laneway Festival: Perth, Australia
Tickets from http://lanewayfestival.com/
The Jezabels – The End