Image for The Jezabels: Debut EP The Man Is Dead

The Jezabels: Debut EP The Man Is Dead

Written by Toby Smith on February 5, 2009

It’s rare that a band really stands for something, unified in spirit and energised by a shared idea. The Jezabels are one such band, and ultimately they’re the only bands that count.

Mixing classic pop and disco with an expansive, emotionally sophisticated attitude to indie rock, The Jezabels present like few bands in recent years. Onstage, they’re intensity personified, with a presence and purpose so emotionally raw, brittle, directed and genuine; they make most other groups look contrived.

“The first CD I ever had was ABBA Gold, and more ABBA Gold.” – Hayley M.
“Hayley and I went to school together, and started writing ballads.” – Heather S.
(Why did you meet?)
“Necessity.” – Hayley M.

Hayley and Heather shared a childhood in Byron Bay on the NSW coastline. While their peers were getting high and joining hardcore bands, these two misfits were growing up strange in an isolated town, until they met at a talent quest. When they left their hometown to study the girls met fellow Sydney Uni scholars Nik K and Sam L. Their bass-less arrangement is comprised of Heather’s Conservatorium-trained piano playing, Sam’s intuitive rhythm guitar, anchored by Nik’s nuanced, explosive drumming and capped by Hayley’s incredible presence and unlikely voice.

Their sophisticated song writing combines with Hayley’s scorching intensity to make them a potentially iconic group for young people, but particularly the young women for whom the group have an obviously directed focus.

At live shows, crowds are struck by the energy, intellect, ambition and emotional honesty they bring to the stage. An audience can’t help but invest in them.

“I’ve been singing my throat hoarse, striving for perfection and not quite getting there… I used to write things I couldn’t sing, but eventually I’d HAVE to get there.” – Hayley M.

“She seems to write the lyrics and then realise what it’s about two years afterwards. Hayley’s lyrics are didactic, about teenage girls and what they should watch out for.” – Heather S.

In their first single Disco Biscuit Love, with its epic themes of dislocation, drug-abuse, gender politics and romantic wreckage, there is a real emotional force, ambition and something necessarily unarticulated at work behind the music. The Jezabels are struggling to say something, and to embody it physically, so that it might be felt. For an audience, it’s an electric experience.

“I think that’s the best thing about being innocent; you see the stage and think there is some truth to be explored there.” – Sam L.

In their relatively short lifespan they’ve supported Canadian duo Tegan & Sara as well as some of Australia’s most exciting bands (Regurgitator, Bluejuice, Duke Of Windsor, Van She, Ghostwood, Cassette Kids, Damn Arms, Sparkadia) and played a bunch of great festival gigs, (Big Day Out, Playground Weekender, Pyramid Rock, Come Together, Festival of The Sun) but the best is most certainly yet to come for this wonderful young band.

Their debut EP The Man Is Dead, in store February 2009 independently through MGM Distribution.

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