musicOMH is sat inside a West London gig venue that multi-platinum, Aussie retro-rockers Jet played the night before and subsequently partied at. Unsurprisingly they’re late, although their tour manager seems to think that it’s babes, not booze, that’s to blame. “This is what happens when they bring their girlfriends on tour,” he explains with an air of resignation.
Half an hour later and four scruffy, young blokes walk in, all tousled greasy hair and with more stubble than a female, East German shot-putter. At first glance it seems that Jet must have been staying at Hotel Park Bench rather than Park Lane, but on closer inspection, the uniform of ’70s blazers, flared jeans and cowboy boots indicates that it takes effort to be this louche.
After some quick introductions, drummer Chris Cester and guitarist Cameron Muncey draw the short straws to do the interview while bassist Mark Wilson and Chris’ brother, frontman Nic, venture off, presumably to nurse their hangovers. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that for Chris and Cameron, not only is an interview not the best cure for a headache, it’s a headache in itself: “It’s part of the job but it’s not the fun part,” states Cameron categorically. Chris expands: “We had a scare a while back when we did an interview and it was completely taken out of context. If we hadn’t had that happen to us early on we would probably enjoy this part of the process a lot more.”
“When you owe a record company, say a million dollars, it’s not a good feeling.” – Aussie rockers Jet explain the logic behind selling their singles for TV adverts.
Right. With that warning in tow we continue carefully, though not before upsetting Cameron by suggesting it was a stroke of good fortune that both Apple (iPod) and Vodafone chose to use Jet’s single Are You Gonna Be My Girl for their ad campaigns – arguably the major factor in breaking the band worldwide. “We’re not going to sit here and go, ‘Oh, thank you SO much for using our songs.'”
Fair enough, but it did help, surely? Chris agrees, though in true confident-style, he asserts that it’s no more than the band deserves: “We took it because there were a few radio stations that initially ignored us because they grouped us in with the ‘garage rock’ thing and so this was our kind of way of saying, ‘We don’t f**king need you anyway!’ And also, I don’t want to be in debt to a record company for the rest of my f**king life because when you owe a record company, say a million dollars, it’s not a good feeling. Doing this sort of thing helps you pay off the record company debt and you can then get on with the business of making records.”
Alas, given the way Get Born has been kicking off in the States, it doesn’t seem as if Jet’s record company is falling over themselves to have the band record a follow-up just yet. However, for all the attention they’re getting from America, predictably it’s the Japanese who remember best that “fan” is actually short for “fanatic”, as Chris explains: “In England people just want to come up and say, ‘You’re f**king great, I love you!’ But in Japan they are f**king mad. It’s like Beatle-mania – that’s the way they treat their bands. One woman – she looked like she was 40 years old – and every two minutes she was like, ‘Can I take a photo?’ The woman must have a million photos of me coming down hungover from my hotel room! But they are really generous too. It was my birthday and I got a million f**king presents – they are really sweet.”
“Stuff that can’t have been made in five minutes – that’s the electronic music we appreciate.” – Jet clarify where they stand after their anti-dance music single, Rollover DJ.
The conversation then turns to dealing with the fall-out from fame (“you get some people who think they own a piece of you”), ideas for the next album (“the next record is going to be a lot more about personal statements than four guys sitting in a room together trying to make some noise”), and music in general.
With regard to the latter, we wonder where Jet really stand on dance music given their infamous single, Rollover DJ. Cameron denies that they hate all electronically-produced music: “I think when we were talking about hating dance culture it was more to do with when it turned into a superstar f**king DJ putting on other people’s songs. Daft Punk had some great bass-lines and really cool kinds of sounds. Stuff that can’t have been made in five minutes – that’s the electronic music we appreciate.”
But don’t get any ideas that we’ll be hearing a new synth-version of Jet in the near future: “It’s not the kind of music I have in my collection that I will go and listen to again and again because it just doesn’t really inspire me in that way,” clarifies Chris.
“It’s f**king genius, f**king great – it’s so simple and right on the head.” – It could be said that Jet like AC/DC’s records…
A band that does inspire all of Jet, however, is AC/DC. Mention their name and Chris and Cameron momentarily turn into teenage boys, air guitaring and singing Bon Scott-era lyrics in unison. If you ever had the sneaking suspicion that Jet’s harder moments are a tad influenced by Back In Black, then you’d be dead right, as Chris gushes: “We f**king love AC/DC. I wish I could communicate to English people how they make you feel… I mean, we’re driving through LA with AC/DC on, and you feel like you know them because they understand what it’s like to grow up in Melbourne… It’s f**king genius, f**king great – it’s so simple and right on the head.”
And it’s not just AC/DC’s sound that Jet seek to emulate: “To be an Australian band and go to America and sell records is a f**king accomplishment and that’s why maybe we come across as cocky sometimes because, f**king hell, it’s a lot harder to do what we do coming from where we come from than it is when you’re from here or America. We’ve got that extra thing of first of all getting off the island and then convincing people that it’s worthwhile that they listen… We feel like we always have to apologise for how f**king far away we come from.”
Well, Jet certainly have come a long way, both in terms of air miles and success. However, it’s very unlikely that their journey to superstardom has finished quite yet. Keep watching ’em fly.