The Jezabels

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The Jezabels

We caught up with the always friendly Sam Lockwood, guitarist for The Jezabels, at sunny Maroubra Beach on a picture perfect spring day and what he had to say was music to our ears. “We’re starting work on our third album while we have a little time off over summer,” he revealed happily.
“It feels like ever since we released Prisoner [debut album, 2011] we’ve been going pretty hard. We all needed a bit of a rest from being on the road. These days it seems like you need to release new stuff all the time or people will forget about you – the world has a very short memory sometimes,” Sam grinned self-deprecatingly.
I find that hard to believe. In the past they’ve been deserving winners of Rolling Stone Awards ‘Record of the Year’, the Australian Music Prize and the ARIA Award ‘Best Independent Release’ (all for Prisoner) and more recently Rolling Stone Awards ‘Single Of The Year’ for ‘The End’ (first single from their sophomore album The Brink).
With two stellar releases under their collective belts, the wickedly talented four-piece set out to conquer the universe, commanding attention from music lovers across the globe. With their latest single ‘Time to Dance’ inspiring audiences to bust a move at some of the biggest festivals in the world, with Glastonbury, London Calling and New York’s Bowery Ballroom just to name a few.
Now back on home turf with the sand between his toes, Sam spoke candidly about the highs and lows of their recent US tour: “Our American tour got postponed because of visa issues. We left our visa application quite late, so with the timing we had to cancel the tour and re-schedule it.” He gives a little chuckle, able to laugh about it now while assuring me that at the time it was another story.
“Because of all the rescheduling, the US tour was brutal! We drove 10,000 km in 21 days! At the time we thought ‘never again!’. That’s why we all agreed to have this summer off from touring.
“It was really fun though … the shows were the relaxing part of the tour! We learnt a lot from that experience – we’ve got a really good fan base there now. We can play most places in the UK, Europe and America and get a little crowd there. It’s really special. We’ve never had much radio support over there – we just built it up ourselves. That’s been really rewarding and once we get some more recording done, we’ll have a reason to go back.”
From here, talk naturally turns to the band’s plan for album number three, with Sam admitting they’ve learnt from past mistakes. “Prisoner, our first album, was such a mission to play live – we struggled so much.” “Why?” I asked. “Because we simply couldn’t play them how they were recorded,” Sam replied blatantly.
“For some of the songs on Prisoner I recorded four different guitars,” he explained. “But we were all guilty – we all added too much stuff. We had backing vocals that we couldn’t do live. It was so challenging for us and was quite stressful actually because we felt like we couldn’t capture what the songs were about. Playing it live, we were like, ‘Ughh! That’s not right’. So that’s the biggest thing we wanted to change when we made The Brink – to make the transition easier from studio to stage.”
So that’s what we did. But honestly I think we went a bit too far with the simplicity – we didn’t allow enough room for exploration. Third time’s a charm, I hope!” Sam joked.
“I actually can’t wait to get back into writing and recording. We’re less anxious as performers now and less anxious generally – we’re old in this business you know!” he smiled, adding: “Not really, but not a lot of bands stay together for three albums these days. So we plan to be in the studio during December, January and February, hopefully release an album early next year and go from there.”
Despite his obvious excitement to start working on new material, Sam insists that they’re serious about having some R ‘n’ R over the summer, citing it as the reason you won’t see them much this festival season: “We’re pretty worn out, this is meant to be our time off, but when we were asked to play at QMF we couldn’t say no.”
For almost two decades the crew behind the Queenscliff Music Festival have set the benchmark for all the summer music festivals that follow. Kicking off the last weekend of spring, The Jezabels will be joined by other Forte favourites including Residual, Husky, Stonefield, Tkay Maidza, Dan Sultan, Xavier Rudd, Yirrmal and the Yolngu Boys and so many more.
“It’s a pretty amazing line-up! There are so many cool bands playing this year, it’s incredible. Plus we can go swimming there – it’s right on the beach!” A muso beach bum – what are the odds?
When&Where: Queencliff Music Festival – November 28-30
By Natalie Rogers