The Jezabels – Across The Ocean

The Jezabels

The Jezabels are making a big return for a big Australian tour after keyboardist Heather Shannon falling ill. The signs are positive now for The Jezabels with Shannon responding well and feeling strong after treatment. Across The Ocean spoke to drummer Nik Talopler about making album number three Synthia. 


Was it hard setting the bar even higher with this album?

Yeah, every time we lock ourselves in our rehearsal room we present ourselves with a whole bunch of challenges. Wed think that if you go in to it, obviously in the background you sort of know that you’re only going to do it if you can try and do better than you did last time. It’s not that we go in to it thinking that everything has to be better than everything we have done before. I think you can only back yourself in to a corner I think if you approach song writing like that. We tried to approach it from the point that we have grown as people, we’ve accumulated more life experiences and how can we weave that in to these songs to try and come up with something that we haven’t done before. To answer the question of continually bettering yourself the moral is that you challenge yourself in a different way as it doesn’t feel very nice to regurgitate and rehash areas that you’ve already explored as a songwriter.

Are all your ideas fairly well consolidated before heading in to the studio or you leave some room to improvise?

We’re really flexible when it comes to being in the studio. Most of our songs are definitely not done by the time we go recording them because in the heat of the moment and while we’re recording stuff you never know what you’re going to come up with, plus it’s too rigid once you’ve got the songs down. So, literally until we send our songs off to get mixed anything is up for grabs. Sometimes we just don’t know when to stop.

Do you end up with more songs than you need with that approach?

Rarely, we usually barely have enough and we struggle. On this album we had four extra songs that we were able to give the cut to. I heard that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had sixty five songs for one of their albums so we’re definitely not like that.

Is that pressure what you need to bring out your best?

Yeah, I think we know when a song sucks and when a song is good it is hard to tell how good it is. In that sense the pressure at that point is enormously hopeful because honestly you could become part of the song in cracking the code to unlock it. In a lot of ways it is a lot more honest to give yourself a time limit and put it out there whatever it is. It basically is whatever you can do with the resources that you have in a given period of time. On the whole you need a little bit of pressure from somewhere and that applies to us because we’re the sort of people that could hum and haw and change things around and over analyse a song for a couple of years.

Is there much heated discussion about songs or the direction that particular songs will take or what’s in and what’s not?

At times we definitely have moments where we have some pretty opposing views and we work through them one way or another. In the band it can be quite heated but it is very democratic as we all have an equal say in song writing and the music. Generally if someone feels very strongly about one particularly thing we’ll work through it.

Is it a bit of a brother/sister type relationship?

Yeah, it’s good and we still have room to improve. Sometimes all you need is a good fight to be honest than being too nice all the time.

Do you spend a lot of time working out the themes and imagery to support the album?

Usually those things evolve as the album gets written. I don’t think that at the very beginning it’s like ok this is our direction or this is our clear boundary for content to work within our scope. Once you get through to the end it starts to become very apparent what you’re writing about and what you are thinking about. The themes don’t come entirely through until Hayley writes the lyrics where we can come up with the mood space with the content. Generally it is quite an evolution of sort rather than a revolution statement where we want to be fulfilled by the end.

Is it hard to let some songs go, a bit like letting your children go in to the big wide world?

Definitely, when you’re writing a song you’re always trying to make it everything it can be much like a child or help it be everything if it is facilitated. It is hard not to wonder if you have the pre-chorus or the double bridge or this chord or whether my drum beat is in double time. There is only so much time you can trial these ideas out. It is definitely tough because there is always a piece of you that thinks whether this is the best version of this song that could exist. I think it is a pretty honest approach to just get it out in the heat of the moment as is this what we can do. Stop yourself from over thinking it but at the very least you know it is real and that it is coming from a real place.

Is it hard maintaining the momentum post album release given that artists used to be able to get away with releasing an album every couple of years but now that window seems so much shorter?

It’s a good point, the rate of consumption and the instantaneous nature of the digital music world has increased dramatically. We get a lot of comments on our social media that it’s about time and it’s like well The Brink was released two years ago. We did take some time off and started working again and I don’t know how people expect us to do it much faster. For song writers in the pop world it’s more about singles than albums and people are used to having constant updates as well as streams of content coming to them, which is fine, I don’t have a problem with it but compared to that we’re always going to be a bit slower.

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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