Together for a while now, the recent release of Sister Jane‘s debut EP Be Kind, along with the completion of their full length album Mercy marks the culmination of several years or tireless recording and live shows crammed in amongst the bands many other commitments. With three of the band’s members also playing in Belles Will Ring, lead guitarist Liam Judson also being more than busy with his work as a producer (most recently working on Cloud Control‘s Bliss Release) this Blue Mountains troupe and their EP and album represent the meaning of the word passion when it comes to music.
The band’s music is a heady brew of blues tinged psychedelia reminiscent of countless classic artists such as The Byrds or The Doors without being dwarfed by them. Their releases showcase not only the band’s dedication to realising their musical vision but also their impressive skill as both songwriters and performers. Having a had plenty of time to gestate during the length recording process, a process that saw the band discard the early version of the album years back, their EP feels more like an accomplished third album than a debut release, a fact indicative of the years the members have spent working in this and other bands.
Set to launch the Mercy tomorrow night at The Annandale along with Music Feeds favourites Dark Bells along with The Kremlin Succession and The Maple Trail (solo), we caught up with band leader Dan Davey to discuss how the band came to finally release the album as well as why they never gave up in the face of hardship.
Music Feeds: So you guys have finally finished the album, can you tell us about how it all came together?
Dan Davey: We’ve recorded it over several years now, so it covers a lot of ground in terms of the style of stuff that we’ve been writing and writing about but I feel it still holds together, although that’s for others to judge. To me though it really represents the kind of journey we’ve taken to get to this point, so it feels like quite an accomplishment for us personally because of that.
MF: I can imagine that working on the recording for such a long time means that you’re able to really capture the trajectory the band has taken as you were living it as you were working on it, rather than cramming your experiences into it over a three month period or what have you.
DD: We’ve actually found our sound during the recording. We had a finished version ready to release quite a few years ago but we had to make the hard decision to start again from scratch because we just weren’t happy with it. As a result of that we’ve got a lot of different material on it to what we would have released had we gone ahead all those years ago. We’ve been playing live constantly throughout it all though and that does a lot to develop your sound and the way you play together as a band.
With the length of time it’s taken, a lot of that has to do with the fact that we do it all ourselves, it being produced and mixed by Liam Judson who’s our lead guitarist. He’s actually a producer in his own right, he did the latest Cloud Control record amongst many other things, and the way we work because he’s part of the band and we’re not actually paying for the time, is that we try and fit in the spaces around his other paid work. There were periods where we couldn’t do any recording for a few months because he was flat out with a paid project. Also the other members are involved with other bands, three members of Sister Jane are members of Belles Will Ring, Liam included, and they’ve got their own stuff going on so recording just stretched out over a period of time.
MF: I have to say it’s very admirable of you to have scrapped the first version. Too often I feel I hear recordings that aren’t as good as they could’ve been had more time been spent on fine tuning.
DD: It’s a very hard decision to make, but it wasn’t really a change of direction or anything it was more to do with the production. We recorded the first version in a different physical space to where we ended up recording it and we were working with someone else and using a lot of their equipment and in the end we reverted back to using Liam’s gear, that obviously he knows very well. It turned out to be a much more pleasing recording in terms of sound and the production, and there are a few different songs on there to what we would’ve released, but considering how long we’ve been doing this, we haven’t really changed direction that much in terms of what we write about and the style of music we play.
MF: That’s really a luxury though, that you guys have had the time to really find something your happy with and that you’re happy pursuing.
DD: That’s true, but saying it that way makes it sound more like a peaceful easy journey that it actually was. It was fucking frustrating, I just wanted to get something out. But in hindsight I think it’s worked well for us, we’re much more pleased with what we’ve got out now than we would have been had we done it earlier.
MF: It must be a massive relief for you to finally have it done.
DD: It’s a big thing for any type of artist, for anyone who writes music, to get something down that you hope stands for something, that’s a record of what you’ve done, and I guess it’s important for anyone creating in that way to make it be the best they can. This represents what we’re doing now with this group, with Sister Jane, but there are a lot of years of work a lot of other collaborations that go into that before you even get to the point of finding an outfit that works together well and you can even get something out, so when you do get to that point you want it to be the best it can be.
MF: It’s a sign of your dedication to your vision as well, cos let’s face it it’s hard industry, and one that often doesn’t yield the greatest rewards. Were there ever any points where you thought of throwing in the towel and getting your real estate license?
DD: It’s ridiculously hard, personally I would’ve given up long ago except for the fact that it’s one of those things that get’s under your skin, that you can’t stop, it’s a compulsion. You’re right, I would be much better off spending my time studying dentistry if you know what I’m saying, it’s a bit silly really the amount of time and effort that goes into it for the reward that you get, but it’s something you do for yourself in the end. I kind of demystifies it a bit, but every musician I know is working a day job of some description, it’s just the name of the game now. It is your passion but it’s certainly not lucrative.
Sister Jane will be launching their debut full length album Mercy at The Annandale tomorrow night Saturday the 12th of February.
SISTER JANE *Album Launch*
DARK BELLS + THE KREMLIN SUCCESSION + THE MAPLE TRAIL (solo)
Saturday 12th February
The Annandale Hotel