A tumultuous year has passed since Music Feeds last spoke to The Jezabels. With a second EP, She’s So Hard under their belts, a spot on the Come Together Festival in June and an upcoming tour supporting Tegan & Sara, it’s cooler than ever to be into the Sydney four-piece.
With their recent headlining show at the Oxford Art Factory still resonating in the ears of fans across the city, singer Hayley revealed that they felt quite intimidated in the lead up to their gig at the notoriously indie venue.
“It’s probably our second or third headlining gig. We’re pretty scared of headlining shows actually, they’re a rare occurrence.”
Their usual stomping ground, The Annandale, has taken a back seat to the more accessible Sydney venue this time around. Why the change?
“We’ve done our past two headlining shows at the Annandale and we felt like we needed a different place, but [the Oxford Art Factory] crowd intimidates me. Not so much ‘intimidates’, but I don’t really feel part of it. I’m not going to say they sat there and threw bottles or booed us off, but I don’t really feel like we belong there,” she explains.
Onstage jitters certainly haven’t quashed their enthusiasm for fresh material, as Hayley drops word on a third EP release. “We’re doing a trilogy, but it takes time. We’re quite slow writers,” she says.
It’s a process that comes together between four individuals with their own inspirations, so it’s no wonder each EP is an annual affair. “Nick the drummer is a science student. He’s quite rhythmic. He wants to be rational, but I don’t think he is. He really hopes and prays that there are rational truths that are unquestionable. It really upsets him sometimes, in this post-modern world (laughs). Heather studies piano at the CON, so she’s a bit stuck in the past in many ways (laughs).”
So where does Hayley draw influence for her confronting lyricisms?
“I draw a lot on what I study at Uni, from topics and themes. Things that have really started to interest me in the last part of my degree have been gender studies. There are many layers to that. It’s not like I could say I focus on masochism or feminism or anything. To me, it’s not as simple as that.”
Gender roles are a prominent theme of The Jezabel’s latest single, ‘Hurt Me’, a song Hayley explains is as much about masochism as it is about relationships.
“With a song like Hurt Me – without trying to explain what it’s about or anything – I wanted to get across that it’s not as simple as ‘there is this girl that gets hurt’. It’s a bit ambiguous… hopefully. That’s what I was trying to get across, because there’s so much that I’ve learnt that is ambiguous about relationships. I’m not just talking about heterosexual or even sexual relationships; I’m talking about verbal abuse between friends or band members. It’s easy to go on tangents (laughs).”
“I think a song like Hurt Me has been successful because we all got our ‘thing’ right at the same time,” says Haley. “Sometimes that might be enjoyable for some people to listen to, the struggle, but Hurt Me was one of the few songs where we all just ‘got it’ at the same time; A harmony between all of our opposing forces.”
The critical and commercial response to the track has been impressive. As well as receiving wide acclaim from blogs (WhoTheHell, Mess&Noise) and magazines (Frankie), the track also landed the title of iTunes Single of the Week in early February.
With the undisputed success of Hurt Me came their second video release – a dark, metaphorically hazy clip that is as confusing to the band members themselves as it is to the viewers. “There was a director who had this vision but he never really told us what it was – he just told us to do things. We did them in our own way. Then he put it together, and everyone was like, what does it mean? That’s been the general consensus from people who weren’t involved in it: ‘I feel like I’m supposed to get it, but I don’t’. Just sort of looking at each other sideways, like there’s some trick that we know about but really there’s not.”
More important than a clear-cut meaning, Hayley believes, is how Hurt Me should be individually symbolic to every listener. “For me, I can apply it to so many things in my life. So can everyone. I mean, why do I have to tell you what it’s about? If you like it, then you can work out why you like it for yourself.”
What does Hayley perceive the video to be about, though? Surely the artists themselves can speculate?
“I had a theory about the clip. Nick, the drummer is the private investigator. Sam is just this old dude, and I have a crush on Nick apparently and I want his attention, but I can’t get his attention because he’s so obsessed with his work, so I kill Sam. And Heather is the suspect, but she’s the innocent one, and I’m kind of like that the bad femme fatale whore – if that makes sense (laughs).” It’s a good theory at least.
The Jezabels will be joining Tegan & Sara on their upcoming national tour. It’ll be the second time the band have toured with the Canadian twins. Hayley explains how – aside from the sweet hook-ups (their manager is, gasp, Oz tour manager for Tegan & Sara) – they came to play shows with a duo that possesses one of the biggest cult followings of our time.
“They’re quite picky with their supports. They have that kind of lesbian-alternative-on-the-side-of-punk sort of thing. They are quite insular and selective with who supports them. We were amazed that they let us support them. They liked the EPs after that and said we could come again. People love them, and their crowd is actually obsessed with them – they have tattoos of T&S.”
And one of the best things gained from their last shows supporting Tegan & Sara?
“We’ve now had a few of their fans coming to our show, so we feel like we’re reaping the benefits of T&S’s hard work (laughs).”
It can’t hurt to gain your own cult following, right?
The Jezabels will be joining Tegan & Sara on their upcoming national tour, kicking off on the 3rd May in Brisbane before travelling across the country. Click here for full tour details.