Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ The Jezabels

The Jezabels
Australian foursome The Jezabels will play Toronto’s Lee’s Palace tonight with Gold & Youth in support of the release of their second studio album The Brink. Ahead of the show, I had the opportunity of giving lead vocalist Hayley Mary a call to discuss recording in London, creating a neutral album title, privacy, drinking and partying, and her incredible dream line-up — dive in and enjoy!

AMBY: Welcome to our site, Hayley. It’s great to be speaking with you today!

The Jezabels: Thanks for having me.

AMBY: I wanted to start off by discussing your new album The Brink. What was the overall experience like recording the album? Were there any highlights?

The Jezabels: Mainly, working with Dan Grech, he was amazing and very talented and positive. I think he really shaped the sound of the album and everything. He made it a more uplifting record than I think we were expecting to write. That was probably a highlight. Getting to spend some time in London was pretty amazing! I liked seeing the snow… We wrote it all in London and recorded in London.

AMBY: When it comes to the title, why did you decide to call the album The Brink?

The Jezabels: We were sort of struggling with a title and we had some positive and some were more negative. I felt like you can take a positive or negative spin on the title; The Brink was a little more neutral but kind of exciting. It’s that feeling of teetering on something…. I feel like we had that making this record. A lot of the time when you’re writing, you’re chasing some kind of ideal and feel like you’re on the brink of catching it or failing all of the time. It’s kind of exciting.

AMBY: The album serves as a follow up to your 2011 debut, Prisoner. When I listen to this latest record, I feel it’s a lot more personal than your debut. In other interviews, you’ve said how you’re always pretending things aren’t about you in the lyrics, but this album has lyricism that’s directly about you. Was it difficult for you to let down that initial wall of privacy and express yourself more on the album?

The Jezabels: I realized that people just assume things are semi-autobiographical, even if you tell them they’re not. You kind of don’t have privacy in that sense. Privacy is a funny one!

AMBY and The Jezabels: [laughs]

The Jezabels: You’re putting your emotions out there… and you can’t really separate your feelings or thoughts from a song that you’re writing. But, it was hard. It was necessary since you have to change the writing and you have to evolve. The main thing that made me want to do it was that I realized you’re allowed to contradict yourself as a songwriter; I used to disguise and speak about other people and issues rather than myself. I’m not a politician, I’m a singer. I can write a song that’s really poppy and tacky in some points, and then try and write something more authentic and deep. It’s not like you have to be one thing…

AMBY: Absolutely. And you’ve evolved on the privacy side of things in songwriting, so how do you feel you’ve evolved as a band since your debut?

The Jezabels: I think a lot. I think the main thing that forced us to evolve was how much we played live. We played hundreds of shows all over the world for that record and it made us really hone in on what worked live. Prisoner was made and recorded in the studio but with The Brink we wanted to be able to play the songs live before we recorded them; we had trouble playing some of the songs live. In a way, these songs do come more naturally live and that was a big thing.

AMBY: In support of the album, you’re on a North American tour and will be coming through to Toronto on June 14th. While on the road, what does the band do for fun?

The Jezabels: It’s hard not to get drunk [laughs]. I feel like I need to quit drinking… We like to eat good food and drink good drinks. You try and be as normal as you can and enjoy the simple things, but I like when I have time off and can explore. I did a hike the other day. It’s hard to not fall into a cycle of drinking and partying. We like to try and engage in the arts or something a little more refined.

AMBY: Have to love the rock and roll lifestyle.

The Jezabels: It’s difficult, though. Nocturnal life!

AMBY: In addition to your tour, you’ve also announced multiple festivals you’ll be playing including Firefly and Glastonbury. Do you prefer playing festival sites or smaller more intimate venues?

The Jezabels: I don’t prefer either. I feel intimate venues are kind of more selfish in that you get more of a sense of if a crowd is enjoying you or not. Festivals are great because there’s not that much pressure since it’s not about you. You go on and people might be there to see you but probably not since they’re there to see everyone. You’re just playing with a good vibe alongside a lot of amazing musicians. I like them both though, to be honest.

AMBY: With festival season right around the corner, if you could curate your own line-up, where would it take place and who would be part of it?

The Jezabels: Oh man… Where would it take place? I would pick The Blue Mountains or something. Can they be dead?

AMBY: Sure. The show might be a little dull, but go for it…

The Jezabels: [laughs] Abba, Queen, David Bowie, Flying Lotus, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kate Bush, The Pretenders, Depeche Mode, The Pixies, Blink-182, The Cure…

AMBY: I would absolutely attend this.

The Jezabels: Tegan and Sara, Gold & Youth, Cloud Control. Is that enough?

AMBY: Perfect amount [laughs]. For the last question of our interview, what’s something about The Jezabels that nobody knows yet?

The Jezabels: We’re more humourous than people think.

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Thank you The Jezabels, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout |@AliciaAtout

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