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The Jezabels' drummer Nik Kaloper talks about hsi thrash metal past, the band's on tour habits and their debut album Prisoner.

You played London club Koko on your February tour of the UK, how did it go?
It was packed out and a lot of fun. It was our first show of the tour so it was nerve-wracking.

Your impression of England has been it’s a land of real estate programmes and online bingo ...
Obviously I won’t make an assumption on a whole country based on two hours of daytime TV, but if I was to do so then, yes, that would be my assumption of the UK. They seem very popular pastimes.

You haven’t taken up bingo then?
No, none of us is an avid player. Our rehearsal studios are right next door to Mecca bingo, though, so we might. 

How did you prepare for this tour with new album Prisoner giving you a wealth of new material to choose from?
We did 48 hours of rehearsal in the week leading up to the first show. Sometimes we try not to take it too seriously and other times we definitely do. We wanted to put a really good show together and play a few songs we have never played before.

What led you to do a trilogy of EPs – The Man Is Dead, She’s So Hard and Dark Storm – before Prisoner?
We decided to do a trilogy because we didn’t feel ready for a whole album. After Dark Storm in Nov ‘10, we toured for a month and then locked ourselves away for six to write the album.

How do London shows fare compared to other towns?
The smaller cities can be more energetic than the capital where people stand there with their arms folded. It can be a bit like: ‘Entertain me!’ Melbourne can be like that, they don’t want to show you they’re having a good time.

Do you get a lot of Aussies at your shows?
There was a small contingency of people jumping around and acting out at one of our gigs the other night. Just tomfoolery. I would have put money on the fact they were from Australia, they have a trademark enthusiasm that can be seen at gigs.

You all met at Sydney University ...
Originally, Hailey (Mary – vocals) and Heather (Shannon – keyboards) were writing folk songs in Byron Bay – they had known each other since high school. Sam (Lockwood – guitar) had lived up there, too, but didn’t know them until they were all at Sydney uni where they recognised each other and got together. They had entered a band competition at the university but didn’t have a drummer, and Sam mentioned on campus they were looking for someone for rehearsals and I said: ‘Sure, why not?’ Three weeks later we played the band competition.

Did it take a while for you to find your feet musically?
It took a while to figure out what we were all about; there are very few bands we all agree on and like. I listen to our first EP and can’t imagine us writing songs like that now. It took two to three years of gigging, writing and practising for us to find somewhere that we were all comfortable together, and that turned out to be gothic, epic pop.

Is that different to the music you were into before?
Before this band, I was into a lot of Seattle Nineties grunge and a lot of metal. My old band was a metal band, but you won’t find much trace of us, we only put out one EP and played a few shows back home. But thrash metal let me drum as loud and as fast as I could all the time, which is not appropriate for this band.

Do you live up to the drummer stereotype, the party animal?
Haha. The last person at a bar is most likely going to be me, but it is laughable sometimes how much of a rock ‘n’ roll  band we aren’t.

It’s not all sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll on the road then?
No, most of the time we just sit down and read books and do crosswords – we are big on crosswords! We have the Sydney Morning Herald back home that we are obsessed with. No crazy stories, just crazy crosswords!

How has being in this band changed you?
The Jezabels really opened me up to loads of different kinds of music. I went to see M83 recently, not a band I would have typically been in to before. When you’re open to new things, you have your mind blown all the time.

The Jezabels’ debut album Prisoner is out March 5 through Play It Again Sam



















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