It started out with a second place at a Sydney University band comp. Since then, The Jezabels have won several awards, toured the world, and reclaimed a shamed biblical character in the name of feminism. We caught up with band member Hayley Mary to talk about supporting legends, overcoming creative emptiness, and upcoming album The Brink.
Having been described as intense indie and disco in the same breath, the Australian four-piece somehow manages to twist dark themes of isolation and mortality into pop melodies without sounding insincere. On the new single The End, from upcoming album The Brink, Hayley Mary’s stark vocals simultaneously echo the desperate sadness of loss and the thrilling prospects of a new beginning. After what seems like a rough patch of post tour limbo, I chat to Hayley about supporting legends, overcoming creative emptiness, and being on the brink to something wonderful.
You recently toured with Depeche Mode. What was that like?
– Amazing. I’m a big fan of their music, so it was a little surreal, but there was a welcoming and generous vibe from the band and their crew that just showed that it’s possible to be real rock stars and still be good people. And, yes they are still very much rock stars. Their show was incredible.
Would you say it was the best experience of the tour?
– Sharing a stage with the Mode is up there. Also, our recent show at Scala in London felt great. We played some stuff off our new record to our own crowd for the first time, and the reaction was really encouraging.
Finishing a tour is similar
to the feeling of getting off
a boat onto land and feeling
like you’re still at sea
Your upcoming album is called The Brink. What does the title refer to?
– The feeling that seemed to surround this record, of being on the brink of a lot of things. In some songs it refers to something fearful, in others hope. This year, we had to face a few challenges in our private lives, and in our bodies and minds. We were living in a new place, and were probably a little dizzy from how busy the year before had been. Finishing a tour is similar to the feeling of getting off a boat onto land and feeling like you’re still at sea.
– We were also facing the pressures of that second album hurdle, which every band faces. Sometimes you feel like giving up. Sometimes you think you will fail to realise a decent follow up to the first, but overall, I think it began to mean pushing through and coming to the brink of something wonderful. Now that it’s done, we love what we’ve created and are ready to jump off the brink into touring the world again.
What do you do when you feel creatively empty?
– I find that the better the idea or song we have just finished, the less capable I feel of writing another one. After all of our records, I have gone home and thought “I can’t do that again”, but you just have to keep writing shit until you write something good. The End came to me in a park in Newtown, in Sydney. Some events had happened in our lives that really illuminated the fleeting nature of, well… life, and emotions were running high.
– I started thinking about how lucky I had been to have a reason to get up in the morning for the last few years and how having a purpose in life is sometimes what pulls you through the hardest times. I wasn’t really sure if that purpose could get me through this time and I started wondering if it was the end of something.
– I guess people get that feeling when they finish school or a job or a relationship, that it’s the end of an era. It was kind of like that. I just became aware that something was definitely shifting, but it was a choice. It was the end of something if I stopped and gave up, which I did consider, but it was a new beginning if I kept going.
Do you feel like you are where you want to be with your band now?
– Yes. Without going into details, I am actually amazed at what we have come through as a band. There have been some challenges, but I think we are writing better music than we ever have and have a better understanding than we ever have. We have travelled the world and met countless amazing people. And when I think about it, there is nothing better than that.
The Jezabels’ new album The Brink will be out on February 17 next year.