G’day Mate kicked off with much excitement last night as the Brisbane indie-rock darling, The Jungle Giants, delivered frenetic danceable beats to enthusiastic crowds at Empirica, Jakarta.
G’day Mate is a gathering for alumni of Australian universities, or former Australian residents – although, it’s actually opened for public anyway.
The concert, organised by Prasvana and supported by the Australian Embassy, was part of the band’s first ever South-East Asian tour that’s going to cover three more countries on the list after Jakarta. Neonomora and Elephant Kind, two rising Indonesian bands who are both Australian alumni, opened the show with their catchy and dynamic sounds (catch the interview here).
We got the chance to spoke to the four-piece Australian band: frontman and guitarist Sam Hales, lead guitarist Cesira Aitken, bassist/backing vocalist Andrew Dooris, and Keelan Bijker on drums/trombone before the concert.
The Jungle Giants
First thing first, why do you call yourself The Jungle Giants?
Sam: There is absolutely no reason why. We just made it up. I think it’s because it sounded cool.
Cesira: And we had to have one within five minutes because we were getting our EP mastered. We eventually named it to finish the master.
Sam: We had a list and we just chose the least… bad… name.
Cesira: It was the most likable title that we chose.
You guys are kicking off the South-East Asian tour and Jakarta is the first leg. What’s keeping you guys from doing this a year or two years ago?
Sam: I guess money is a big problem. We couldn’t make it without any money (laughs). And also, it takes a while to know how many people you could bring to a show. So yeah, like, now is just the perfect time.
How much does being an Australian influence your sound?
Sam: I guess maybe like subconsciously cause we listen mainly to the local bands. And that influences you. So I guess in that way. It’s just that you hang out with your Australian friends and they listen to Australian bands.
Cesira: It’s just the surroundings…
Andrew: It’s kinda hard question because I can’t take myself out of being Australian and see “What is being an Australian like? And what do we do?”
Sam: Yeah, it completely influences you.
Andrew: I guess, for myself, I haven’t been really listening to Australian music growing up. The first time I was listening to Australian music was when I was in a band. So that’s when I got really introduced to Australian music. It’s a good question though. It got me think really hard (laughs).
In your first album “Learn To Exist”, the songs are pretty upbeat and positive. Even the title itself seems to carry an optimistic message. What was the idea behind it?
Sam: It wasn’t like a specific thing. I guess it was mainly like this is a bunch of songs we had and we tried in the best way we could to make them sound like a record. Learn To Exist is definitely our first venture out of being kids at home, like leaving uni; leaving school; leaving house; moving to a new house. I guess the idea of Learn To Exist is about learning to be independent in that way.
You guys just released a new single “Every Kind Of Way”. Does that mean new album is on the way?
Out of the four of you, who do you think is the most popular among fans?
Sam: I think it’s Cesira.
Andrew: I think it’s you two (pointing at Sam and Cesira).
Sam: It’s Cesira, man! Everytime we post a status and there’s a photo of four of us. All the comments are like “So sexy, Sira!”
Andrew: Yeah, probably it’s you (Cesira) ‘cause all the guys love you. They think you have hot ass! And then all the girls like, “I wanna be you!”
Cesira: And we have Sira Update.
Sam: Sira says a bunch of stupid shit. Everytime she said something stupid, I’ll put them on Facebook and people like that.
Cesira: Yeah, “Ce-series” (laughs).
Which brings us to the next question. How does it feel being the only girl in the band?
Cesira: It’s fun. I’ve been a tomboy since forever.
Andrew: And she’s not the only girl in the band (laughs).
Cesira: Yeah, that’s never been an issue. I can say whatever I want to them ‘cause we’ve known each other, like, since we were ten.
You’re the lead guitarist in the band. Have you received any nasty sexist comments?
Cesira: I get some strange behaviour occasionally but I’m never offended.
Sam: People will be like “Oh, a chick with guitar!” People just like it.
Cesira: I’m not really sensitive. It never really bothers me.
Andrew: Sira got a good sense of humour about that kind of stuffs. She just brushed it off. I mean some people may talk a bit gross about her sometimes but it’s just some stupid teenage boys. So, whatever (laughs).
Other than music, what other sort of things are you guys into?
Sam: Drones! I just bought one on e-bay, like the world’s smallest one. It’s like the size of a yo-yo. And I’ve been obsessed with that. I bought it and it’s like 25 bucks and I flew it into a wall and broke it. I bought another one and I’ve bought four since then.
Andrew: I get really obsessed with little things every now and then. Last year I built a computer. I just find weird projects to do. But I guess lately I’ve been interested in films and videos stuffs ‘cause my girlfriend (Michaela Holmes, also the music video director for Every Kind Of Way) does music videos and aiming to do more film stuffs in the future.
Cesira: She did the video for Every Kind Of Way.
Keelan: A little bit about food-related stuffs. I can make beer and smoked meat. I don’t know, like really boy things? Making beer and drinking beer.
Sam: Yeah, like wearing no shirt in the house (laughs).
Cesira: Definitely cooking. Anything really. There is this website where my boyfriend and I go to, seriouseats.com. And we love cooking so we’ll be planning it out all afternoon making stuffs. And also exercising. I don’t mind doing that (laughs).
So what’s the most memorable thing about Jakarta so far for you guys?
Sam: It has been pretty cool!
Cesira: It’s very different culture. It’s awesome.
Keelan: Actually the embassy (of Australia) is interesting.
Sam: Yeah! Actually it was the embassy. And that was a bit weird and intense.
Cesira: But it was wonderful once we got in.
Andrew: Actually it was really nice to be supported by your own country in another place. We didn’t really expect that kind of thing.
Sam: Then again, that Blok M market was pretty interesting too.
If you can be any famous artiste, dead or living, who would you be?
Keelan: I’ll be Buddy Rich.
Sam: That’s such a hard question. Maybe Alice Cooper cause I saw this documentary about him and he is awesome. He got a jet and everything. And he seems like a really cool lad. But he’s really old now. So I’ll like to be Alice Cooper when he’s in 25 to 35 (laughs).
Cesira: There are so many cool people. It could’ve been like Aretha Franklin and have a belting voice.
Andrew: David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. Yeah, he’s a total cool guy. Pink Floyd is awesome. So influential and so cool.