The Jezabels Talk New Album, Songwriting Techniques, & ‘Being On The Brink’

The newest chapter for The Jezabels begins, funnily enough, with ‘The End’.

It starts with the band’s familiar moody but infectious melodies, sewn together with rolling drums, steady synths, and jangly surf-rock guitars all stitched up by dramatic, soaring vocals.

‘The End’, released in October, is the first single – and standout track – from The Jezabels’ forthcoming album The Brink, and it’s an absolute cracker.

The track is the sound of pure confidence, and the sound of a band that knows exactly where their strengths lie. This same feeling flows throughout the quartet’s second album.

Keyboardist Heather Shannon explains that while experience and familiarity played a part, it was the change in the band’s songwriting technique that made a huge impact on the overall sound of the new record.

“We all wrote together, so it was definitely more of a group process instead of the four of us coming in separately and trying to throw everything in there,” she says.

“I think this album is a great representation of the way we all play. Everyone has really found their own little place within the songwriting. We’ve all figured out what we’re good at, and I think we’re better at knowing what works and what doesn’t work.”

While ‘The End’ is an excellent indication of what to expect from the new release, there’s plenty more to be found on The Brink.  But confidence shouldn’t be confused for complacency.

On the yet-to-be-released LP, the band strikes a balance between simplicity and fullness to create an album that boasts not only a greater variety between tracks, but a more accessible collection than its predecessor.

“We’ve definitely got more synths in there this time around and added a few other elements, but at the same time we’ve made the songs a bit simpler,” Shannon says.

“We wrote solid structures first then thought about what to add in afterwards. We’ve brought it right back but still managed to get a big sound.”

Though The Jezabels – a band with songs chock-full of melodrama and intensity – should really be synonymous with winter rather than summer, they’ve somehow managed to deliver a record of anthems for the warmer months.

‘Angels Of Fire’ finds the band at their poppiest yet, complete with electro handclaps and a shout out to the current queen of the game (“Hit me with the rhythm of Beyonce”).

‘Look Of Love’ sees singer Hayley Mary kick off with the high notes and remain there, while ‘Time To Dance’ is a classic slow-burner that builds from an acoustic pre-chorus into an all-out foot stomper by its close.

The album closes with ‘Marianne’, a gorgeously bare piano ballad that proves you don’t have to go big to make an impact.

The Brink has been a long time coming in terms of months and years but also in terms of what the band have experienced since blowing up and making it big.

After releasing a string of EPs, including the sensational Dark Storm in 2010, their debut album Prisoner was delivered to wide acclaim in 2011. The record received five ARIA nominations and took out the Australian Music Prize.

What followed was an insane touring schedule that saw the band rip through close to 200 shows in a period of twelve months. The packed calendar left little time for writing, although Shannon says this ultimately helped rather than hindered.

“We were a bit constricted because we wrote a lot on the road with only the instruments we had in front of us, but at the same time that probably helped us strip things back,” she says.

The band essentially took 2013 off from the touring circuit and used the time to fine-tune the songs that would eventually make up The Brink.

“This time we were able to trial a lot of things first,” Shannon says. “I feel like we really worked hard on the songs before putting them out there.”

The album title was also subject to much thought and deliberation. Taking its name from a lyric in ‘The End’ (“I wanted to thank you for pulling me back from the brink”), it’s an intriguing choice for an album name due to the negative and positive connotations.

Shannon says the ambiguity of the term – referring to being on the verge of something great or tumbling over the edge – is a fitting way to think of both the album and the past two years for the band.

“Hayley came up with [the name of] The Brink and there was a lot of discussion about it. It took a long time to settle; we didn’t decide on it until the very end, a few hours from the deadline.”

“We’d had a really full-on year. Hayley talks about being on the brink, of the edge of something, and that’s really what it felt like with this album.”

There are plenty of fans dying to hear the new record, but it’s been an even tougher wait for the band.

“I can’t wait for people to hear it. We actually finished it in October, so we’re anxious to get it out there and see what people think,” Shannon says.

Laneway Festival will be the first chance Australian crowds get to hear the band’s new material live, and gauging by Shannon’s enthusiasm, the shows will be a treat.

“We had a really hard time trying to adapt Prisoner to the live setting,” she says.

“This time we worked through the songs in a rehearsal studio, so we have a really good sense of the songs and how we play them together. We’ve already played a few of the new songs live and it’s definitely not as challenging this time. To be honest, a lot of them actually sound much better than the ones on Prisoner.”

The Jezabels will tour Australia as part of the Laneway Festival before heading to Europe for a string of shows in February and March. The Brink will be released in Australia on 31st January 2014.




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