Lost at Splendour: Interview with The Jungle Giants

The Jungle Giants first came to our attention five years ago, via their breakout single ‘Mr Polite’. And while we’re loath to say a band with a sound this fun have ‘grown up’, they have absolutely gone from talented teenagers to a formidable force in Aussie indie.

In August last year, the Brisbane act released their second album, Speakerzoid, to critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone calling it “dazzling, inventive and beguilingly strange”.

Since then the four-piece – consisting of frontman Sam Hales, lead guitarist Cesira Aitken, bass player Andrew Dooris, and drummer Keelan Bijker – have been touring the new album, selling out dates across the country and through Asia.

This week the band play Splendour in the Grass, appearing in the GW McLennan tent at 5:45pm on Sunday, July 24.

Just before kicking off another national tour, we caught up with Sam, who told us about Speakerzoid‘s Parisian roots, the band’s mad recording process, and why you can’t afford to miss The Jungle Giants’ show at Splendour.

Sam, you started writing Speakerzoid in an old apartment in Paris after a bout of itchy feet, Why Paris? Do you find getting lost in a new space generates inspiration to take a new creative direction?

“My mum spent a lot of time in Paris when she was younger and she was always telling me stories about it as a kid. I thought it would be cool to finally check it out on my own while starting work on the record.

“I think it helps to try and get out of your head when working on a record. At least at the start. Get out of the sameness and make yourself uncomfortable, so your ideas come from an excited and more expressive place at the beginning.

“Then I came home and had a great starting point, so the excitement stayed and the songs built from there.”

With this feeling of losing oneself and being removed from the everyday mundane in mind, how do you think recording the album in your remote makeshift mountain hut studio affected the sound you arrived at for Speakerzoid?

“The house we used really just tied everything together. The idea was to go nuts for a while, and make as much noise as we wanted to.

“The first thing we did was pick different rooms in the house and give them different purposes. One of the rooms was filled with like 50 different weird instruments that we had collected over the years. While we were working on tracks, we were literally running around banging things into microphones until we found what we wanted.

“It was a fun record to make, and also taught us a lot about how we work.”

You recently hit some awesome locations on your southeast Asian tour, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines. Where was your favourite gig and what made it so?

“I think that would have to be our Singapore show. We ended up playing at a really nice venue and sold the whole thing out, which was a complete surprise. Also, as we came on to play our first song, my pedal board exploded a bit because there was a power problem. The only thing I could do was just plug my guitar straight into the amp. Even though, we had one of the best gigs we’d ever had. The crowd was insane and so responsive.

“When we finished, we came on for an encore, and then had to come on again for a second one. They kept screaming so we stuck our heads together and tried to figure out if we even had another song. In the end, we remembered a track from our first EP and the crowd was singing along to that too.

“Won’t be forgetting that show any time soon.”

Classic festival problem – band clashes. If people are torn between seeing you and someone else, what would you say to sway them your way? What can we expect at a Jungle Giants show?

“We’re the kind of band that build up our tracks for live. We beef them up sonically and we always give the show everything we have.

“I really hate seeing a band just stand there and not give the crowd anything to work off. It’s almost like you have to show the crowd how nuts you want them to go. Anyway, we’ll be bringing the fire.

“Also, we’ve been working with some people to build a really insane stage that will pulsate with light. It’s really hard to explain, but it’ll be really cool.”

Have you got any tales from times you’ve got completely lost at a festival and ended up having a great – or terrible – time?

“Well, one time at Falls Festival, Cesira and I were walking into the campgrounds to find a friend, I think. We got completely lost and eventually didn’t even know which direction the festival was.

“After a while we could hear the sound of distant drums and electric guitars, so we walked in that general direction, assuming that was the festival. When we finally got there we were still deep in the campground, but we had found a tent with laser lights coming from inside, with a live band blaring.

“In the end I think they had brought a generator or something, and had set up a jam tent with amps and everything. It was sick. We stayed and jammed for ages in the sweet-ass tent rave.”

Getting away from the mainstage, which lesser-known acts are an absolute must at Splendour 2016 – who can’t we afford to miss?

“Total Giovanni. They are one of my favourite bands in the whole world right now and they’re from Melbourne.

“Anyone who hasn’t heard has to hear them and anyone who hasn’t seen has to see them. They’ve a kind of Talking Heads/LCD Sound System vibe, which is ridiculous. You’re welcome!”

Splendour in the Grass will be held from July 22-24 at North Byron Parklands. Whether you’re heading along or not, be sure to stay up to date with all the action through Lost at E Minor with the hashtag #LostatSplendour

The Jungle Giants
The Jungle Giants