by Jay S. Jacobs
Aussie rockers Jet exploded onto the music scene with the hit single “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” The song reminded us of some great old-school sleazy garage rock highs when it was first appeared in an iPod commercial in 2004 and then crossed over onto radio.
The band wasn’t just some Johnny-come-lately that got lucky, though. They had been struggling on for years in their native Melbourne before their breakthrough. The band was formed by the Cester brothers – Nic (guitar and vocals) and Chris (drums). The guys hooked up with guitarist Cameron Muncey and bassist Mark Wilson.
Their debut full-length CD Get Born had actually been out a while before the hit single jump-started the sales. The band never looked back, returning to the radio with the slamming rocker “Cold Hard Bitch” and the lovely British Invasion-pastiche “Look What You’ve Done.”
The follow-up CD, Shine On, was released in late 2006 and continues the band’s fascination with hard melodic thump and their surprisingly sweet way with a ballad.
With the title track of the album making its way onto radio, Chris Cester was nice enough to sit down and answer a bunch of our questions about the band, Shine On and working with his brother.
Nice vague question to start; how did you originally get into music?
I knew someone on the door… had a fake ID as well. He told me the best way to get into music was to meet him at the back door, slip him a fiver and lastly not to tell anyone that he helped me. I can’t reveal his name. I’m not even sure it was a “him” come to think of it.
There are two brothers in the band. Does that make it easier or harder?
We’ve had ups and downs for sure. We are extremely talented in the art of pissing each other off. Essentially, we are very different people who interact the same way we did when we were four and six years old. Having said that… We are still brothers and would do anything for each other. So, it balances out in the end.
How did the band come together?
Coming together is difficult, man… you know that.
Your first indie release was called an EP called Dirty Sweet. How did you hook up with Elektra?
Well, Leigh Lust at Elektra came along to our Sydney show after hearing the Dirty Sweet EP. The show ended up being an A&R man convention in the end. Someone said if we bombed the venue that night, the music industry would have ended. Maybe we should have bombed it. If we bombed it, maybe “Sexyback” would never have been released. Like Fight Club – back to zero. No, in the end, they just convinced us that we were a career band, and the deal they offered reflected this.
The band caught peoples’ attention in kind of a different way – at least in the US. Most people first heard your music when they used “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” on an iPod commercial. How did the song get chosen for the ad and did it surprise you that it played such a big role in introducing the band?
Everything surprises me. I was amazed that it played such a massive part really. You have to remember that we are from the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne. I kind of wandered out of the jungle wearing a loin cloth and ordered a gin and tonic. TV is the new radio. We weren’t getting played on the radio and were told this would help. If you can’t get in through the front door, climb through an open window type thing. Our manager knew someone who loved us and wanted us to be massive.
You ended up having three hits off of Get Born, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” “Cold Hard Bitch” and “Look What You’ve Done.” What was that like to break so big?
It was like coming a thousand times at once. Obviously if that ever happened to you, it would feel rather good… but also, you’d be going, “What the fuck is going on here?” We just did what we wanted really, went mad on the drugs and all that. Took its toll in the end. It came to a head when our father passed away. All of our fathers died young. We are now officially fatherless. In the end, we made a record that we had to make. Complete with respectful black album sleeve.
The new album seems to experiment with a lot of styles, “Eleanor” is sort of 60s sounding folk-psychedelia, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” is harder rock, “Rip It Up” has a bit of a blues-rock feel, “Come On Come On” is kind of alt rock, “All You Have To Do” is psychedelic, “Shine On” is an arena ballad. Were you looking to experiment with styles on the CD?
Jet aren’t the kind of band to plan things really. To me, THAT is selling out. I mean, we try and wear our hearts on our sleeve. We did what we always do, which is whatever the fuck we want. Dad dying made us realize how short your life is, so I think we put more soul into this record than the last one, which was a more simple expression of frustration and enthusiasm. We were also listening to a lot of new things that we hadn’t really heard before as well. It’s certainly confused some people, but confusion is great, it brings out your inner weirdness.
It seems like on the new CD, when the songs turn to love like “Bring It on Back,” “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” “Shine On” and “All You Have To Do” they seem to be rather hopeful or positive, unlike stuff on the first album like “Cold Hard Bitch” and “Look What You’ve Done.” Is that a reflection of where you are now in your life? Also, as a songwriter, do you find troubled relationships more interesting than happy ones?
That’s interesting. I think the truth is that we were miserable, and instead of crying into our beer, we decided that we would use Shine On to light us up again and inspire us. I always say that music is like your best friend. It’s a safe place that you can be honest with and no one can get to. Also, we had seen that living well wasn’t just a stupid dream that existed in the sky.
Where would you want to go on “Holiday” to disappear from the rest of the world?
New York City. Best place on Earth.
“Shine On” is a lovely song and I think it’s the new single. Do you have an input on what is going to be the singles, or is that decided by the label?
We rock paper scissors with Julie Greenwald at Atlantic. Our songs are like children. You can’t love one more than any other… although, it’s clear that my mother loves me more than she loves Nic.
I’m a huge fan of Jellyfish. How did Jason Falkner get involved in the CD and what was he like to work with?
We met at an orgy. No, Dave Sardy – our producer – said he was a very good string arranger, not a pompous old fool, which they mostly are.
One thing I like about the band is that you are hard, but you aren’t afraid to have a tune. A few years ago, it was something of a sell-out for a rock band to have a melody. Why do you think the world is so ready for more melodic rock?
People who think melody is selling out need to wake up. Actually, they might be already dead. I also think that those people are a minority. Good melodies last forever. People who make music without melody will be accountants in five years, with two-and-a-half kids and a Walmart fetish. Melody is just as beautiful as Sid Vicious playing an out of tune guitar. However, Sex Pistols had great melody, you know? People will always love melody.
Nowadays, musicians have so many more ways to reach out to their fans, the forum on the official site, your MySpace page. What is it like being able to communicate with the fans like that?
It’s the future, I guess. It’s just another way to communicate your manifesto.
Do you feel any pressure for Shine On to be as big a hit as Get Born was?
Not really. The second you think about that is the second that you have strayed from your soul’s intention. Hit records are largely out of your hands. You just have to be honest with yourself and hopefully your fans will follow.
Have you ever had a sinister urge to write a “Wind Beneath My Wings” or a “Feelings” and how do you battle it?
It’s my heart’s greatest desire to be Phil Collins, but I have to wait until he passes away so he can’t sue me.
Radio playlists are so regimented these days. You used to be able to hear rock, pop, country and soul on the same station and that just doesn’t happen anymore. Do you think that can make it tougher for a band to find an audience?
Good bands always find a way. People have been talking about the decline of the record biz for ever and ever. People will always want to hear great music and see great musicians sweating it out on a stage. Like monkeys in the zoo cage. As one format disappears another will replace it. It’s already happening with MySpace and the internet in general.
In the end, how would you like people to see your music?
It should make you want to destroy school property, tell your woman how you feel, strive for your dreams to happen. You only get one life.
Are there any misconceptions you’d like to clear up?
I know what I am and nothing else matters.
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Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 1, 2007.