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Interview: Sam Lockwood – The Jezabels

The Corona Sunsets Tour is coming back to local and regional pubs across Australia this month, and leading the charge on the tour are Aussie legends The Jezabels. We caught up with Sam Lockwood, the band’s guitarist to chat about the tour, Keep Sydney Open, and what’s ahead for the band after a short break!

Note: this interview has been edited from its original form. For the full interview, check out the Pod of Destiny Podcast here (Apple Podcasts), or here (Spotify Podcasts).

It’s been a little while between drinks, but you’re back on the great Aussie roads, touring with Corona. How does it feel getting back to touring Australia after two-and-a-half years?

Yeah it’s been ages! We didn’t stop touring for basically ten years, and we got to the point where we thought, “ok, time off.” We needed to do some study and other stuff, but now a few opportunities have come up, which we almost said yes to, but then pulled out, because it just didn’t feel right. Haley [Mary], our singer has been living in Scotland, so it’s been hard to get everyone together.

We’ve been friends with the guys from Cloud Control and some of the other bands that have done the Corona Sunsets Tour, and they’ve said it’s been the best tour that they’ve done. We also found it hard to get to these more regional places, so it just made sense in so many ways, which is exciting, and it’s going to be heaps of fun.

The shows aren’t ticketed either, which takes the pressure off of promotion. It’s just basically at a pub, with a great crowd, and everyone’s stoked, so it’s kind of like the perfect tour!

It’s a really cool set up! On that, you’re hitting up a mixture of regional and city spots on the way. A lot of musicians say that there’s a certain rowdiness that Aussie fans bring compared to the rest of the world, but do you find that there’s ever a difference between the crowds at city shows and regional ones?

Oh, without a doubt! If the conditions are right, you can just have the best shows. I grew up outside of the city, so I know what it’s like to have bands come and play your town; it’s really special. It’s sometimes hard to get everyone together, but if you get a good vibe, I much prefer it to cities, because everyone’s more excited that you’re there.

Is it a little more intimate as well? Do you get more of a connection with the audience?

Regional shows are a little smaller as well, so yeah, they can be a bit unorthodox. Touring does become a bit monotonous when you’ve done it for so long, and as soon as you do something different it’s really exciting. I think that brings something out of the artists who are playing too. They’re a bit out of their comfort zone, and it’s a bit more exciting for everyone really.

Corona describes the whole tour as, “giving back to people, and creating a great summer vibe with intimate live music.” With everything going on with the “don’t kill live music” push, which you guys have been very vocal about on social media, is it almost poetic to celebrate live music in this way?

It’s an interesting time for the live music industry. We’ve been in it for a long time, and it’s a big grind. It was already a grind before, like it’s hard to get a career going. We’ve been lucky, we grinded for about three years and we were then able to make a living. These days, it’s almost impossible to do that.

These opportunities are rare, and it takes an adventurous decision by a brand like Corona. They’ve done it every year for the last five or six years, and it’s good. I’m cynical about brand associations and all that stuff, and I’m not necessarily pro-beer drinking, but I think you have to tip your hat to Corona for pulling this together.

It’s like the link between these country towns, the city pubs and a great time. Someone has to do it, and say, “I’m going to pay for this, and promote this.” It’s a bit risky these days, and it takes a big company or organisation to make it happen.

Do you feel as though it’s the start or rejuvenation that the music scene needs? It’s hit that lull where a lot of festivals have been shut down, and the lock out laws impact cities, especially Sydney. Is this something we need to see more of, even with that brand association?

It’s a tricky one, it’s so complicated. What we’ve seen is that music used to be the centrepiece of a night out. I think now it’s only part of a night out. People will get a really nice meal and then go to see music. I think generally culture has shifted with regards to this stuff, so it’s hard to pin-point exactly what’s going on.

You have cities like Melbourne, which has the most number of live music venues per person in the world or something. I live in Sydney and I think the biggest issue is cost of living is too high for people to go out and spend money on things like music. 

The thing that can really help the scene thrive and survive is that Corona put on shows like this and the pubs see how much live music can bring to venues, and then they start doing it. It’s going to take a huge cultural shift back to actually supporting and taking risks. When we started, it was the pokies that were the issue, and that was just the first thing. We’ve had a constant wave of things going on in Sydney which have stopped the culture from shifting.

Talking quickly on the musical side of things, earlier this year you worked with Zero Percent, and dropped a couple of mixes for your song, Pleasure Drive. What was your thinking behind that and wanting to work with Zero Percent?

They actually approached us, I think. That’s been bubbling away for a while, they take ages, these kinds of remix things. They approach, and ask, I think that’s how it happened anyway. Then ages later, they were like, “we’ve finally finished it, it’s been going really well in the clubs, can we release it?” It’s a very organic process, they get really psyched on the song, and if it’s going well, they maybe make a 7-inch which is cool.

We’d love to do that more going forward, and that’s the cool thing about electronic music, there’s a lot of collaboration, which is awesome!

Wrapping up, what’s in store for the rest of 2019 for The Jezabels? Can we expect more music, more touring?

It’s kind of complicated. We’re using this tour as a test of coming back together and seeing how we go, and seeing if the creative juices are going. We haven’t parted ways; three of us live in the same city, and we still talk to Haley, but we sort of treat the whole writing thing quite preciously. We don’t want to force it, we only want to do it if we’re all into it. It’s going to be interesting once we’re all together, and sound-checking and writing. We’ll see how we’re feeling, and this could be a good vehicle for maybe releasing new music.

We’re not rushing back to release new music, but we’re definitely not never releasing music again, we’ll just see!

The Jezabels Live Dates

Torquay Hotel, Torquay
Florida Beach Bar, Terrigal
Sunroom @ Cronulla RSL, Cronulla
Walkers Arms Hotel, Adelaide
The Grand Bar, Glenelg
Lorne Hotel, Lorne
Hotel Steyne, Manly
Beachfront Hotel, Rapid Creek
Queens Wharf Hotel, Newcastle
Potts Point Hotel, Potts Point
Coogee Bay Hotel, Coogee
Mullaloo Beach Hotel, Mullaloo
The Lookout, Scarbrough
The Island, Gold Coast
South Beach Social, Brisbane
Sandstone Point Hotel, Sandstone Point
The Beach Hotel, Byron Bay

Written by Sam Muggleton