Despite their name (misspelling intentional), Aussie synth rockers Jezabels aren’t likely to shake the very foundations of society. But they have shaken up the generally conservative Australian pop charts. Debut album Prisoner shot all the way up to No. 2 in 2012, despite its sometimes rather gothic undercurrent.
Their shimmering sophomore album The Brink has just done the same, cementing their superstar status Down Under. Still awash in ethereal guitars, atmospheric synths and heavenly pop hooks, it is somewhat brighter in tone than its predecessor, especially the soaring, exuberant single, “Look of Love.” Vocalist Haley Mary (get it?) is surely leaving a trail of broken indie boy hearts behind her, with her sensual, impassioned trilling.
BlackBook caught up with the band’s Sam Lockwood on the brink of their arrival again on these shores.
The new album seems a little less dark. Was there a different mindset when recording it?
“Hayley and I were talking about this the other day. We felt that because we were feeling a bit down and out in London after being on the road for such a long time, our music had to offer us something more positive. I think that happy people make sad music and sad people make happy music.”
Mary had described songwriting as a process of dealing with self-loathing. Has that changed with The Brink?
“I think you deal with a lot of things in the writing of a song, though I don’t know if self-loathing is a good way to describe it. It’s more a process of breaking through inhibitions. You never feel that anything you are doing is worthwhile when making something you care about. I guess that’s where self-loathing comes into it.”
How has your homeland following reacted to second record?
“Really well. We’ve just played some festivals in Australia and the new songs went down a treat.”
Is there anything in the name Jezabels that says something about the band members’ personalities?
“Not so much. Jezebel is a just very interesting character. It’s more about the vibe surrounding her I think than anything else.”
You just toured with Depeche Mode and The Pixies–any particular highlights? Do you feel a kinship with those bands?
“It was really eye opening to play with a band like Depeche Mode to begin with. It was a mammoth operation, but we were still treated so well. Same with The Pixies. And yes, I’d like to say that we share musical kinship with those bands.”
What are you most looking forward to on the upcoming US tour?
“I actually love America. I love being there and the feeling of the place. It’s kind of a wonderland in many respects. Australians grow up drenched in US TV and culture, so it’s almost like stepping into the television.”
Can you tell us what were some of your fave places in America that you discovered on your last US tour?
“My favorite American city is Chicago. After we played the Double Door we got some Mexican at Flash Taco just up the road. In LA, I love Swingers cafe underneath the awesome Beverly Laurel hotel. We also always go to the Mission Cantina on Sunset. For New York I’d have to say Weatherup in Brooklyn for the best cocktails in the world. Then I’d head over to Fat Cat’s for some jazz and ping pong.”
The Jezabels Tour Dates
May 31st @ The Starlite in Edmonton, AB
June 1st @ Republik in Calgary, AB
June 4th @ Casbah in San Diego, CA
June 5th @ El Rey in Los Angeles, CA
June 6th @ Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, CA
June 8th @ Neumos in Seattle, WA
June 9th @ Imperial in Vancouver, BC
June 12th @ The Triple Rock in Minneapolis, MN
June 13th @ TBD in Chicago, IL
June 14th @ Lee’s Palace in Toronto, ON
June 15th @ La Sala Rossa in Montreal, QC
June 17th @ Brighton Music Hall in Boston, MA
June 18th @ Rock & Roll Hotel in Washington, DC
June 19th @ Johnny Brendas in Philadelphia, PA
June 21st @ Bowery Ballroom in New York, NY