The Jezabels finally make it to NZ

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2014
The Jezabels

HEADED FOR LANEWAY FESTIVAL: Australia's The Jezabels.

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Touring is stressful.

Releasing a sophomore album in the middle of a music festival spanning three countries over two weeks? Yeah, that's more than a little trying.

But Australian quartet The Jezabels are attempting to balance the two, with second album The Brink scheduled to come out in the middle of the Laneway festival.

The Sydney foursome - vocalist Hayley Mary, keyboardist Heather Shannon, guitarist Sam Lockwood, and drummer Nik Kaloper - have been in London for the last year, where they've been putting together the new record.

They've been back in Australia for the last few weeks, learning to play the tracks off the album in a rare moment of quiet before heading off on the Laneway tour and then going on to Europe.

"I don't know how long we'll be touring so we've got to make sure we can play as many songs as we can in case we never get a break again," Mary says, catching a second to talk.

The Brink, which will be released on Thursday next week, is the long-awaited follow-up to their 2011 debut album Prisoner.

It won't be out by the time Laneway collides with Auckland on Monday. Instead, it is scheduled to hit the shelves on the day of the Brisbane leg of the festival.

"It comes out a few days after [Auckland] which is sort of annoying, people won't really know any of it except for the two songs that are out, so we thought we'd try a couple more that I think work live," Mary says.

"Hopefully people will be patient with us while we try the new songs and not walk away."

Their appearance will be more than just the first time the tracks off the new album will sound in Kiwiland.

Despite seven years together, The Jezabels have never jumped the ditch to play for Kiwi fans.

"We've been all over the world and we haven't been to New Zealand. It's just ridiculous so we're definitely going to make it this time and hopefully a few more times in the year," Mary says.

"Somehow every time we've had something lined up to come over, something's happened, something's fallen through and there's been a problem and we haven't been able to make it."

But Auckland's Laneway audience will see a band with new maturity, coming off the back of touring with international headliners like The Pixies and Depeche Mode.

The experience proves that even after seven years together, the quartet still have a lot to learn, Mary says.

"Depeche Mode was just massive, just a massive scale tour. We've never been on that kind of tour before and it was obviously incredible to play with them and watch their level of professionalism."

Putting together the new album rivalled the Depeche Mode tour for best moment of 2013, but it wasn't without its tough moments, Mary says.

"I won't lie, I think it was a real challenge. A real struggle, coming off a couple of pretty solid years touring and jumping into being in one place and in the studio, day in and day out.

"Neither of those things are particularly hard, but I think the contrast kind of jolts you a bit and you get something close to landsickness, like when you get off a boat and you feel something shaky on land."

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She says it took them a while to get back into the groove of writing, and relocating to the UK upset the process too.

They say an Australian's first year in London is lonely.

Mary reckons that's true.

"We all got a bit low and vitamin D deficient," she says.

"Some of us went through some physical health stuff, some of us went through some mental health stuff, we're all about that age where you start questioning yourself and your life, and getting a little bit down.

"But I think the music became therapy and cathartic for us. A big part of this record ... lyrically it's not necessarily the happiest, but I think musically it sounds really warm.

"I think we were putting part of our feeling about wanting to heal and be positive and get through a hard time into the music.

"That sounds really cheesy ... but we are a really cheesy band.

After Laneway, The Jezabels will head off to the UK and Germany, touring with the new album.

Further international dates and venues will have the band sewn up for most of the year, and Mary says to expect the band back Down Under sometime soon.

- Stuff

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