THE JUNGLE GIANTS The X-Press Interview

Brisbane group The Jungle Giants have been on a roll this year, playing sold out shows around the country and embarking on an international tour that has propelled the four-piece to new heights. The release of their latest single Heavy Hearted marks a direct foray into electronic indie-synth pop fun and is sure to be a Hottest 100 favourite. Before they hit the Ice Cream Factory Summer Festival on Thursday, December 19, LACHLAN HARDMAN spoke with guitarist Cesira Aitken about life on the road, their unique approach to making songs and the Australian music scene.

You’ve been touring pretty heavily this past year, how has that been?

Yeah, its been awesome. We did our first overseas stuff which was the UK, a bit of Europe and America and that was really quick but super intense and super fun. The shows went well, we’re going back and doing some more in February which is awesome.

What’s your favourite place that you visited while touring?

Keelan (our drummer) and I had a five-day break between shows and while everyone went off and did their own thing he and I went to Bordeaux and just drank wine and got like heartburn for five days. It was pretty awesome.

Do you find that the overseas audience differs very much?

Yeah because when you are starting a tour over there people have been waiting a while to see you so there’s a little bit of a vibe of needing to play a lot of earlier material from the earlier records. No one had seen us tour any of the first or second record there so we kinda realise that “ok, we’ll throw some earlier tunes in.” That’s a big, obvious difference.

Let’s get into your latest single, Heavy Hearted, which you released in July. It has got quite a different sound to your previous records, how did that come about?

It was in the first batch of demos that Sam showed us in November last year and we were all in the studio in Melbourne listening to demos and that one stuck out to us. It was a really thumping kind of production and everything that needs to be loud is loud and the subtleties are there. It just seems like a step up from Quiet Ferocity. So that one was just completely stuck out to us. We were totally obsessed. I think Sam had been working away on that bass line for like… ages and ages and had the idea of cooking away for a while. I went down to play a bit of guitar right at the end of the song being done and then we kinda just smashed it out. It was a really quick turnaround from November to July really when it had to be finished. It’s a fun one to play too now, we’ve definitely got it under our fingertips.

It is noticeably more dance/electronic with a bit less guitar than your other records, do you change it up for the live shows?

We’ve made a few changes. Like Keelan plays keys for this one. There’s also a piano line in the song which is totally new. I still play guitar for the guitar parts in there. Sam doesn’t even play guitar at all, he just sings the hell out of it.

Do you ever find it stressful releasing new music and worrying about how people are going to react?

I’m sure there’s a little bit of the nerves leading up to music coming out- especially for Sam. I guess though there’s always a really good energy around each time new music is coming out. Nothing has ever felt like, “oh my god, this is terrible.” There is the general up/down worrying of like “is it going to be good?” But yeah there’s never any real stressful moments, it’s always pretty exciting.

So I heard all four of you went to high school together, is that right?

Yeah, we did.

How does knowing each other for so long and effectively, growing up together, affect your relationship as a band?

We definitely forget that we went to school together. We are that good of friends that no one is sick of each other and we’ve been best friends since school. The band started just after we finished school, like 2011 (I think) so it’s a really long time, I think we were just talking the other day about just how long we’ve been together for but there’s never been any stress on the relationships or how the band works. We hang out when we’re not touring! We’re like constantly hanging out, we’re kinda like a family.

Weird question, but if you could be anything other than a musician, what would it be?

A chef.

I wasn’t expecting that, why?

Um… I don’t know, I’ve loved the idea of it since I was really little. I was super into it. And when we’re touring and stuff each of us are constantly scouting for the best possible meal we can eat in each city. We hunt pretty hard for good food and wine, it adds a pretty fun element to the touring days which is cool. So yeah, probably would’ve been a chef. Though I probably would’ve regretted it because of the hectic hours. But I do love cooking.

A lot of people talk about the Jungle Giants as a band that is constantly reinventing themselves, staying fresh and original. You recorded and produced a lot of your last album yourselves. Is being independent and authentic like that an important thing for you?

Yeah for sure. Sam is a real machine. He’s constantly growing in his writing and production. For Quiet Ferocity he had all the demos nutted out and all the production ideas were there and we would record the songs over small weekend blocks. Instead of doing super intense one month away recording it allowed breathers in-between weeks so you can reflect on how everything’s going and how the sounds are and take a bit of control to make sure it was sounding like the initial demos and production ideas. It was ‘producing on the way in’ rather than right at the end.

In that way, it has just progressed with the new music. We’ve always felt like we’ve had an obvious growth from the start to now with the band but everything has just felt really natural. It’s not been like okay we have to change like this, this is the image or this is the sound. The arc has just been really natural for us and for Sam as well.

We just had the WAMFest awards in Perth a few weeks ago where we had massive and amazing female artists like Stella Donnelly and Carla Geneve take out the top prizes. In the several years that the Jungle Giants have been around, have things changed for women in the Australian music scene?

Yeah, just a side note, I’m like a huge fan of Stella Donnelly as well I think she is awesome, her music is awesome. But yeah I’ve always been treated really really nicely by all the men around us and in our team and everything.

There’s definitely been huge progress for how other ladies in the industry get treated. And it’s cool when you see younger girls after all-ages shows and they come up to you and they’re super fans and so happy to meet other girls who like music and stuff. Those moments are really nice and a sign of how things have been moving forward in that way.

Thanks for chatting Cesira, and we look forward to seeing you on December 19. What else have you people got planned for the next 12 months?

No worries! I think there is a new single which I am pretty sure is finished and an album is just coming along so… more on that later.