Over the weekend, The Jezabels made their long-awaited return to the live stage as headliners with a brilliant hometown show at The Enmore in Sydney. Reinvigorated and charged up, Hayley Mary and the band led the crowd through some unforgettable moments of live music; a triumphant statement from the beloved group that they were most definitely back.
The tour continues around the country this weekend, with The Jezabels’ new album SYNTHIA finally being able to spread its wings in a live capacity following the original postponement of their world tour dates as Heather Shannon‘s cancer recovery took much needed priority. Speaking with Hayley shortly before the tour kicked off, the frontwoman’s enthusiasm for the forthcoming shows was almost tangible as she took me through the band’s approach to the tour.
“We feel like this is a rebirth or a new beginning.” she says. “Starting again at slightly smaller venues after so much time off is exciting. A really good word for it would be ‘reconnection’ and I think this album is like that as well, in that we had the time off and we didn’t expect to make the album.”
The last time we spoke, Hayley was still in London, and the news of Heather’s illness had only recently been made public. Though the outpouring of support from the industry and The Jezabels’ fans around the globe was immense, the songwriter remained incredibly candid and honest as she reflected on the darker times, eventually leading to the making of SYTNHIA. As a band, hitting the lowest of the low forced them to look inward and figure out why they were making music and if it was still worth doing.
“I remember I told you back when we last spoke,” Hayley says. “We were connecting to why you make music and getting back to the basics. Not musically, the basics, but spiritually. What makes you need to write music. A friend of mine said, and I find this interesting because you’ve got to balance it because we live in capitalism and it is about business, but he said, ‘There’s two types of musicians: there are musicians who write for the cycle and because they have an album that’s coming out and then there are people who just need to write songs’. I think that I’ve found that I’m definitely one of the latter and I think the rest of the band is too.”
“It can be easy once you get some momentum going,” she adds. “When you get bigger and bigger venues, to have to write and play for [that]…but there was kind of a silver lining in having all of that taken away from you for a minute. We went back to, ‘Why are we writing? Why are we playing?’ It’s the kind of thing that could have, just as easily, made you give up too. Those really big, confronting life things that make you go, ‘This is too much,’ or, ‘This reminds me what life is about’.”
The remaining dates on the tour will be seeing The Jezabels hit some more intimate spaces around the country, some venues they haven’t played since the early stages of their career. It’s going to be a good opportunity for the band to almost cut their teeth again, playing to crowds in cities they haven’t visited in some time and it’s a venture the band has been equally stoked and wracked with nerves over.
“I’ve always loved playing these small venues,” Hayley enthuses, laughing. “We’re as nervous as a beginner! I’ve not been this nervous in years. Really nervous, but really excited. It’s good. I mean, you hear stories about people who never stop vomiting before shows, even though they’re massive artists; I think nerves are good because it means you’re not taking things for granted.”
“We’re just grateful as well.” she admits. “It’s going to be a celebration and just seeing so many people that we’ve worked with who have worked on all our albums, journalists that we’ve met, fans and the whole world that goes into making a band get as far as we have…when you’re young, you think that it’s just about you and your music. You realise how many people have put so much effort into helping you get where you are; your touring company, your booker, your manager, your publicist – all of these people who have given you any kind of attention, it’s really exciting to see all of them again. I just can’t stop smiling about it.”
Image: Cybele Malinowski.
THE JEZABELS AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
October 14th & 15th | The Croxton Bandroom, MELBOURNE
October 19th | The Gov, ADELAIDE
October 21st | ANU Bar & Refectory, CANBERRA
October 22nd | Bar on the Hill, NEWCASTLE