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Interview: Joe, Bodi, & Phillip from ‘The Jensens’

The Jensens 2016

Brisbane’s favourite retro-rockers The Jensens are heading back out on the road in support of their upcoming EP ‘Everybody Talks’. We sat down for a coffee with frontman Joe White, bassist Bodi Lowrie, and drummer Phillip Frabros to talk about their live shows, being inspired by The Beatles, and who’s the band’s sexiest member.

The Jensens have quite a strong female fan base in Brisbane, who’s the main sex appeal in the band?

Bodi: Phillip, obviously!

Joe: Yeah, Phillip as he’s behind the drums he’s mysterious…

Bodi: Where’d you get these statistics?

I have my sources. I’ve been to your shows and the spread is about 60% per cent [women] 40 per cent…

Joe: Yeah, I guess that makes sense…

So why do you think Phillip has the ‘X factor’?

Joe: People like that mixed-race look (all three laugh).

Phillip: I’m just going to say it’s true.

Bodi: He just looks so sexy on the kit…he just does his thing!

Joe: He’s always working out on the drums so he’s got a great body.

Bodi: Yeah, he looks like he works out a bit, definitely attracts female attention.

You guys have a very retro look and rock sound, who are the band’s main influences?

Joe: Classic rock bands really, like just the good ones.

Bodi: Just only good rock bands! Quote from Joe White…

Joe: No, because we like rock n’ roll music so anything like Elvis and The Beatles, who are probably the best rock band ever…

Bodi: Pretty much we’re basing the structure of The Jensens on The Beatles, the best rock band to ever live right? As if we wouldn’t try to go down the same path they did! We want to release our ‘Please Please Me’ and then finish up.

Is there a particular ‘Beatles era you guys are focussing on the most in terms of image and sound?

Joe: Probably our favourite eras are ’66-’69, like ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and ‘White Album’ and stuff like that. I feel like that’s something we definitely take sound from…I don’t know thought because our last single sounds like it could be on ‘Please Please Me’…[we take inspiration] from just The Beatles in general really (all three laugh). But [we also take inspiration] from any great rock band really, we just want to be the best like [great rock bands] were. We’re not the best, obviously, yet but people like Led Zeppelin and even like The Ramones, just someone who made an impact with a really distinct sound…

Bodi: We don’t want to stay with one kind of sound either, like if you look at The Beatles career they definitely mastered a few genres of music. Every single album they did had something different to offer, so that’s kind of where we’re at where we don’t want to write the same song or album twice, we want to progress as a band from start to finish…every one of our releases will diverse and different in their own right.

So your upcoming EP ‘Everybody Talks’, how does it sound different to your previous releases?

Joe: It’s the first EP that we’ve needed to put out, it’s just taken a long f*cking time to do it.

Why did it take so long to release?

Joe: It’s not that we’re lazy, we just wanted to play live for a long time. It’s what we’re all about at the moment. The last year, and even the year before that, was all about playing gigs and making fans and meeting people. We should have put this EP out a long time ago but it sounds better [now] than it would have back then.

Bodi: The main inspiration for this first EP was to try and capture our live sound and feel, like we needed those two years to play as much as we could live so that people could get that image of us in their heads so when they listen to our first release it’s a fun happy party rock live album! It’s recorded live, it’s got that same vibe as when we play live. So the first EP is essentially like our live set into eight tracks.

Joe: Seven and a half…

How are the seven and a half tracks?

Joe: There’s just like an interlude…so it’s not a full track (laughs).

Your new single is called Elvis Is Dead. What’s the story behind such a statement?

Bodi: We were drunk!

Joe: (laughs) We were at practice a long time ago and we had about four-five songs in our set that hadn’t been named so we just sat there and named them all…based on not much really.

Bodi: Not based on anything!

Joe: I guess with [Elvis Is Dead] it’s because it sounds like Elvis, but if Elvis was hyped up on cocaine and had his acoustic plugged into a distorted amp.

So what’s the Dead part of the name then?

Joe: Like most of our song titles it really means sh*t all (laughs).

Bodi: Like Shark Thunder!

Joe: Shark Thunder really doesn’t mean anything (laughs). It’s just something sharp and catchy I guess, something for someone to read and then want to listen to [the song].

The Jensens had a very busy second half of 2015, playing shows what seemed like every second week in Brisbane. What was the most memorable show during that period?

Joe: Last year as a whole we played a lot of shows, like from September through to November we played 20 shows…there was a period over eight weeks we played 15 shows! I think I speak for all of us when I say that our show supporting Last Dinosaurs at The Enmore Theatre in Sydney was probably the most memorable show we’ve ever played. It was the biggest venue we’ve ever played and the biggest crowd…

Phillip: And most responsive crowd!

Joe: Yeah, most responsive crowd. It’s something like a 1,500 capacity venue and there already like 750 people [there] when we went on stage. And they were so energetic because it was an all ages crowd too, and they were just cheering like crazy from the get go [all three laugh)…and we were all just laughing between every song, we had the biggest smiles on our faces! We came offstage and just fell on the floor laughing…

Bodi: And hugging!

Joe: We were just so happy!

Bodi: Then we went back onstage to pack our gear up and they were still cheering!

Were The Jensens main support or opening for Last Dinosaurs for that show?

Joe: Opening!

Bodi: It was crazy, we got back onstage to just wrap up leads and stuff and they were screaming [at us], it was like the most ridiculous thing for a random band from Brisbane!

Joe: They just had some much energy…and it was probably one of the best shows we’ve played because of that…

Bodi: We had so much adrenaline! When you get offstage [from shows like that] you’re just buzzing! That’s the kind of shows we want to play all the time…

Joe: That’s the f*cking buzz man, that’s the f*cking buzz!

I saw you guys at Bedlam Record’s ‘Deadlam’ Halloween showcase sporting some amazing costumes for your set. Why did (guitarist) Jordan decide to wear what can only be described as a ‘sexy joker nurse’ costume?

The Jensens Sexy Joker small

Joe: Ahh that was a last minute thing, he was going to go as something, like I don’t think he thought about it very well, then his sister was like “I’ve got green hairspray, makeup, and a naughty nurse outfit so you could go as The Joker”…

Bodi: Yeah, he did his own makeup and hair at our house, and I think he got to the point where “ohhh ok, lets just do whatever”…so [Jordan’s sister] went to town on his hair and makeup.

I just loved how onstage you guys kept referencing his ‘bulge’!

Joe: Oh yeah, the bulge! (all three laugh) He f*cking loved it! He loved everyone staring at his bulge, he’s never had a better time [onstage]!

Due to your costumes, were there any good nicknames that came from that Halloween show?

Joe: Yeah, Bodi got called ‘Cavewoman’ in a review, like the said what everyone was dressed up in and Bodi was ‘Cavewoman. He thought he came as a caveman but…(all three laugh).

Phillip: They thought I was an alien!

Joe: Yeah, they thought you were an alien, but you were actually a [Mexican] wrestler…and a power ranger or a gimp!

Phillip: Ok, maybe I was an alien then…

How does supporting the likes of Last Dinosaurs and The Vaccines affect the band’s confidence and professional outlook? 

Joe: We’ve always been confident onstage, but those two bands in particular were a huge deal for us. Like back in 2011 Bodi and I were living on the coast, I wasn’t listening to anything but Last Dinosaurs and The Vaccines’ first album. So for then in 2015 to open for those guys yeah, it’s a massive confidence booster.

Bodi: And even just having their friendship is a bit surreal…

Joe: It is so surreal! Meeting both bands in general was just so surreal. It’s weird (in a great way) that we’re now friends with the ‘Dinos after listening to their stuff so much.

Why should people come catch The Jensens on your upcoming tour?

Bodi: ‘cause we’re f*cking sick man! (all three laugh)

Joe: Every time we play everyone has fun. It’s not about our…musical prowess, like our favourite thing to do is go watch a band by going right up the front and slamming our heads on the stage and be real f*cking drunk. And every time we play that seems to be what people want to do, there’s just an energy at our shows. I feel people will enjoy [our shows] if you want to have a fun night!

Can you describe The Jensens in three words?

Joe: Three words? F*ck…

Bodi: F*ck’s one of them! (all three laugh)

Phillip: Nippy?

Joe: No Phillip, no one’s going to get that…

Bodi: Ok, three words to describe The Jensens. Silly…

Phillip: Silly’s definitely one!

Bodi: Acrobatic is the second one.

Joe: (laughs) Flexible?

Bodi: What’s the last one Phillip?

Joe: Silly, flexible, Phillip?

Phillip: There you go! Silly, flexible, Phillip! (all three laugh)

‘Everybody Talks’ EP is set for release on the Friday 11th March.

The Jensens ‘Everybody Talks’ EP Tour

Sol Bar, Maroochydore

Brighton Up Bar, Sydney

Visions Festival, Sydney

Shebeen, Melbourne

The Foundry, Brisbane