[MUSIC: Interview] The Jezabels
The Long Road
By Krissi Weiss
Hayley Mary, the singer and the face of Sydney’s The Jezabels, has just arrived in Seattle and is settling in for a rare day off when we talk. At just 25 years of age, she is weary from travel and repetitive interviews but still incredibly warm, and exhibits a confusion over why anyone would be interested in her that’s both self-effacing and charming. She is shocked that she is morphing, slowly, into a bona fide rock star; the personification of a band that began at the University of Sydney as a four-part democracy of simple music making.
“It does play out in this band that I am becoming a focus, and how to deal with that has been on our minds a lot,” Mary admits. “I think we do a pretty good job of being equal and pushing the idea that we’re a true band. It’s kind of like tradition in music I guess – you can’t change tradition – and to an extent this was always my dream,” she continues, before a slight backtrack: “Actually, I never dreamed of being in such a great band. Part [of dealing with the attention] is ignoring it, part is to accept it and part of it is to enjoy it. I guess in some ways I am the more outgoing member with regard to the music; the others are purists who kind of resent having to have an image and do interviews and media. They just want to play.”
The Jezabels began their voyage via the obligatory indie music apprenticeship of triple j Unearthed recognition followed by radio play, which lead to a steady increase in their audience size and slow steps up the festival ladder, from opening slots to main stage attractions. After the huge success of 2010’s Dark Storm EP, it was last year’s appearance at SXSW that set the international industry buzzing. Mary admits that while they aren’t playing Gotye-sized gigs on their US tour yet, interest is growing and their international audience is as well. Meanwhile back home, their imminent tour has set them up for a huge jump in venue size – although Mary tries not to think too much about that… “Because we’ve been touring Canada and the States for months now, it’s very real – it’s not very glorious here,” she laughs. “We get up every day, early, and jump in the van and that’s it. I’m not acknowledging what is happening in Australia. It’s like another world and I think that I might freak out when I get there. I guess I am secretly looking forward to it too, because it’s like the rainbow, metaphorically – playing in front of your local audience in those places.”
More than anything though, Mary is surprised at her fans’ – and therefore the media’s – interest in her as a person. “When I have a regular conversation with someone like you and I am suddenly talking about these emotions, I think I have to stop talking about myself – I’m boring,” she says genuinely. “I don’t understand why people care about these things, about me – it’s just so weird.”
What Mary doesn’t seem to realise is that her modest, unassuming persona is a big part of why people find her so appealing and intriguing as a frontperson. But creative achievement always seems altered when experienced from the inside, and Mary is aware that success and happiness do not always align. “Success is built on capitalism, and that is ongoing,” she says. “There is always another market and another venue and another thing you need to be successful, so you always look forward and never enjoy where you are. A tour manager once said to me that he doesn’t understand why bands are never happy with where they are, but that’s because when it is being experienced, it is just your everyday. We get to do the things that people describe in their everyday as exciting, [but] when that becomes your everyday, it is no longer exciting. Which is sad.”
But The Jezabels are young and touring is still exciting, even with the early starts. There are no family commitments getting in the way at this stage, but no matter what phase of life an artist is in, fame and distance can take their toll. “Whether it’s romantic, personal or family relationships, I think it is the Internet that keeps them going,” she says. “It’s not the same as being there, but it helps. I have no idea how people did it back in the day. Actually, I understand how people became assholes and slept with a heap of women, because it’s pretty lonely. You change as well, and when you come back people have changed too, and sometimes that means that things can’t be what they were. You just accept that what you’re doing is a choice – and if I felt like it wasn’t a choice and I was sacrificing relationships, well, I’d stop it.”
So what’s next for The Jezabels, after this mammoth Australian tour? “Towards the end of the year, after the European and American festivals, we plan on writing the new album,” Mary tells me. “We don’t have a date yet, but it will be out sometime next year. It’s mostly more and more touring at this point though,” she laughs. “That’s all we do these days.”
With: Lights (CAN)
Where: Hordern Pavilion
When: Saturday June 9
Posted: June 7th, 2012 under Brag 465 (June 4), Feature Music, Music, Music - Interview, New.
Tags: Australian Tour, Feature, Hayley Mary, Hordern Pavilion, interview, Jezabels, Krissi Weiss, Lights, New, The Jezabels