Before there were The Jungle Giants, the members of the Brisbane indie pop rock outfit were in opposing bands in high school and it was not until university did the band that we know of now come to be. Being a blithe bunch of young’uns, their music is certainly a mirror of their personalities where you can expect the usual jaunty rhythms of an ‘indie band’. However, lead singer Sam Hales – who was a recipient of a songwriting scholarship – has managed to channel his catharses into songs that have garnered them a fanbase that appreciates both their playful nature and the infectious songs that also speak true to them. Having opened for bands such as Two Door Cinema Club, The Vaccines, and Last Dinosaurs, the hype around this band won’t be expiring anytime soon. Slated to play at The Bee for the Upfront series, JUICE speaks to Sam about their debut full-length album Learn To Exist, their easygoing spirit, and the possibility of exploring a darker sound in their next offering.
We love the band’s Facebook page! It’s not the run-of-the-mill promotional page, it showcases the band’s humour through memes and poking fun at pop culture, which we think is a better way to relate to fans.
For sure. We treat the band’s Facebook like our Facebook pages. It’s not something we take overly seriously and the fans like it that way, which is a plus.
There’s so much emphasis on being ‘fun’ with the band, is that something that you guys consciously want to put out to your fans and the world?
I guess we do, but only because that’s the way we are. We’ve known each other for years, and we’re fun-loving people. We like to have fun no matter what we do.
But with Learn To Exist, it seems that you guys are trying to show other aspects or personalities of yourselves that people may not be as well-informed about?
Well, yeah, there’s a bunch of different sides to every person. With music, that especially becomes apparent when you make a record. In the next one you’ll probably hear other things you weren’t expecting. That’s what I love about albums.
It’s understood that you’ve attributed the tone of the album to just writing a lot and growing up. Has touring immensely helped with the process as well?
Totally. I made some of my best friends on tour. I live with some people I’ve met on tour now, and they’re all great. Those relationships have been really good for me, and I hope that’s reflected in the music. A tour is a great way to get to know someone, and luckily we haven’t toured with any people we don’t get along with yet.
You’ve described yourself as obsessive and anxious when it comes to songwriting, is it because you see it as a huge responsibility?
It’s funny but lately I’ve been a lot more relaxed when I’m writing. I guess you come into new stages as you keep going. I still have an underlying pressure for sure, but it’s one I put on myself because if I don’t write something in a day I feel a bit lazy.
Would it be fair to relate your songwriting process as a cathartic one?
Has there ever been a time where the other members of The Jungle Giant wanted to contribute a song or ideas, how does that get resolved?
As of yet no one really writes full songs, but every time someone comes up with an idea, I’m always super, super keen to play with it and see what we can do. You have to encourage that in people you play with. If you’re stuck on a song or not sure what it needs, an idea from someone else can really change your perspective on the song. Sometimes that’s all you need, a little refresher.
You maintain a foresight when you’re writing because you’re always thinking how the songs will sound on stage. Could you tell us about your songwriting process? When you sit down to write, which comes first: The words or the melody?
Usually it starts with chords, then drums and bass will follow. I’ll usually sit on a groove for a while to get it flowing nicely as a nice foundation for the melody. From there, I’ll sing gibberish over the song to nut out the melody, and at the very end I’ll turn the gibberish into words.
The videos have become darker and more abstract; did you guys treat the medium as a way to expand more on the content of the songs?
I guess we’re always just keen to try anything. Some of the songs are a little darker, so the videos follow. We’re definitely not the type of people to sit on one aesthetic and not be interested in messing around with others.
You once said that you prefer the slower songs on the album, especially ‘Home’, is that something the band would like to possibly venture into on the new album?
I think I liked ‘Home’ not because it was slower but because it was really fun to write. I liked the instrumentation and the way it came together. You can definitely expect us playing with more sounds on the next record. It’s going to be way more broad than the last, seeing as we have listened to a lot of music, and toured, and written since Learn To Exist. The new record is a little more experimental, but still dance-y as hell. Our first single will be out sometime this month, I think, so listen out for that.
As part of the Upfront series, The Jungle Giants will be performing at The Bee, Publika on Thursday 23 April ’15.