QUESTIONS BY ANNA CAFOLLA
The Gown met with Samuel Lockwood, the guitarist of Australian “intensindie” band, The Jezabels– who are setting off on a UK/Ireland tour and releasing their second album, The Brink.
When do you set off on tour?
We are just about to start touring at the minute, we’ve got two more days of rehearsals and then we’re heading off to do our first show in Nottingham, stopping off in Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast.
You guys have toured with Imagine Dragons and supported Depeche Mode; how would you say your experience supporting an act has affected your performances?
Well, it’s amazing. It’s really a gift to play with a band like Depeche Mode when you are a much smaller band. When you start doing bigger shows you realise what the pinnacle of performing is and it helps when you start touring as a headliner to have that experience.
So you learnt a lot from them?
Oh yeah, a lot. You use them as a reference of what you’d like to be like some day. I mean, of course they’re getting on a bit obviously, but their performances are so amazing and the consistency with their shows is really nice. They’re also great people and we respect them a lot as people, as well as artists.
Have you met your support act, CHAMPS, yet?
Well they’re on our label. They were a great suggestion for the tour; they share a lot of our musical influences and they’re fun! I really like their music too.
What’s been your favourite gig that you’ve played so far?
We did a headline show for a festival in Melbourne – it’s summer there now. We did a huge tour of Australia and the festival circuit. It was Laneways festival in Melbourne with loads of amazing acts like CHVRCHES and Haim. It was an incredible festival and I think it was the best performance we’ve ever done. It’s very rare that all four of us would walk off the stage and be completely happy with the performance, so that was really cool.
And you’re playing Belfast next week- what’s your experience been of Belfast before?
We’ve been here once before playing with Depeche Mode. It was great. Though I’d say one of our favourite cities is Dublin- we’ve played there a couple of times. We’ve only been to Belfast once, so it’s great getting to come back and experience it again. We’re only here for one night so we’re psyched to be returning. Especially since we’re Australian and being from where we are from we all have some sort of heritage. I’d like to live in Ireland one day! I love the history- the literary history and political history makes it such a cool place.
Your album, The Brink, came out this week- how would you describe it?
I would describe it as good…and musical. It’s kind of a step forward for us in a new direction. It’s a compilation of really great songs that reflects a lot of our new experiences. It’s been produced really well.
Would it be a big progression from your last album?
Not a big progression, although I suppose in some respects it is. It’s subtly different with the sound. We have a new producer who’s done a lot of bigger records, and his touch is definitely noticeable on this new album. It’s hard to describe but it’s definitely discernable.
Whenever you are recording, would you all have a particular recording process or a set routine?
We haven’t done too many recordings just yet so we haven’t found a particular routine. We all get together to write and hit the studio as a group to record what we have thus far as a normal procedure. At that point we’ve done all the song writing and it’s just about finding the right sounds and putting them together nicely. Just like building a house; putting the pieces together and building from the ground up.
What would your own personal influences be with your music?
It’s pretty diverse. I first started playing piano and then guitar when I was younger. I grew up in the bay in Australia and I was really into Ben Harper and John Butler while I was growing up. So a lot of acoustic guitar stuff. When we began constructing The Jezabels I started to get into the likes of Interpol and The National. I was listening to a lot more radio then too, so it’s a mix of a lot of things.
How did it come to be that “The End” was released as a single off of the new album?
It’s out of our hands, but it was one of the first ones we had recorded that we were happy with and that the label knew they could confidently release. I think the song is really immediate and it was really quickly brought to life from the lyrics, fleshing it out with our parts as we went, which doesn’t normally happen. The song has a really good core.
What would be your favourite track off of the album?
“The End” is really fun to play live which makes it one of my favourites. I like some of the more morbid ones like Psychotherapy. The last track on the album “All You Need” is one Heather came up with and it’s really beautiful. Like harmonically beautiful. They all have their own special little features, like children!
As a writer from the student newspaper, it’s interesting to read that The Jezabels formed while at university. Would you say university prepared you for the life you lead now?
Yeah totally! It’s probably one of the major things that helps to form you as a human being. It’s strange to say that now; I turn 28 this year so I’m maybe getting on a bit (!) so it’s crazy to think it’s been five years since I left university. For us, the band really formed there. We began doing as little classes as we could to focus, maintain the band and do as many shows as possible. It was our time; university for us was where we became who we are, where we met, and helped to influence the music we’re making. It was a really fun time, so I look fondly on those innocent university days!
The Jezabels are playing The Limelight 2, supported by CHAMPS, on 28th February. The Brink is out now.