Australian Rock Imports (Elektra Records)
By: Christine Anne Long
"I'm freezing my ass off," groans Jet lead singer Nic Cester from somewhere in England.
"We were just in Australia where it was 95 degrees, at which time I was complaining it was too hot, so you can never win." Ironically, Jet is winning though; winning over the hearts of music listeners all over the globe, not just in their hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
Rap-rock, bubble-gum pop, and hip-hop have hogged the airwaves for years, it was only a matter of time before rock elbowed its way back to the top. Enter Jet, a 20-something quartet comprised of Cameron Muncy (guitar/vocals), brothers Chris Cester (drums) and Nic Cester (guitar), and Mark Wilson (bass), all of whom were listening to Abbey Road during the early 90's instead of Nevermind, hoping that one day they would lead a rock and roll revival.
Their hit single "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" is a dead ringer for Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life," with a beat that begs you to shake your booty, sing along, and just enjoy. "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" has landed them at the top ("Before the album was even out, we were selling out shows, and that was scary.") the top of the charts with growing record sales of their promising debut, Get Born, the soundtrack to recent iPod commercials, a slot on Saturday Night Live, and an incessant buzz that seems worthy of the hype. "We always thought it was a standout song on the album, so we always thought that would be the biggest single."
Jet's popularity has taken off so swiftly that within three months of Get Born's release Jet were already performing on Saturday Night Live. "It kind of worked to our advantage that we didn't grow up watching the show. So we weren't really scared about doing it. We didn't even really realize what a big deal that show was until people were going," in his best American accent, "'Oh my gawd, dude, you did Saturday Night Live? Oh my gawd.'"
When playing Los Angeles' Troubadour last September opened with a pensive folk ballad to the surprise of many audience members. "People have this preconceived notion that we're this dumb Aussie rock band, so we like to use ballads [as openers] to fuck with people's heads." Riff heavy rollicking guitar romps run rampant on Get Born, juxtaposed against quiet, introspective ballads, showing the softer side of these Aussies. Just like the closing song "Timothy" where Nic even admits, "It's kind of haunting---a haunting way to end, which we kind of liked. The song is actually about, Chris wrote it about...there was a brother that would have been older than Cam, our guitarist. And at a few months old [Cam's brother] died. It started from a conversation Chris had with Cam, with Cam saying sometimes he felt like sort of a replacement child. We never play it live. Cam doesn't like us to. We thought it was a good song and we wanted to put it on the album, but it's sort of a taboo song now."
Moving from their ballads to another of their signature searing sound on the upbeat "Roll Over D.J.," "It started off as a song that I wrote and it was called 'Roll Over D.J.' It was supposed to sort of be a modern-day 'Roll Over Beethoven" type of thing. And then um, I was struggling with the words, so I handed over to [my brother] Chris, who finished it off. And he kind of based it loosely on this one experience he had at a sort of rock n roll club in Melbourne and he spilled his drink on all the deejays' records. He got pretty pissed off at him, and deservedly so, I might say."
The second single "Cold Hard Bitch," although featuring hard-as-nails guitar riffs, serpentine bass lines and walloping drums, Nic confesses "It's lyrically horrible; lyrically it's the weakest song on the album. That's the thing, it's a big dumb rock song. It's not supposed to be lyrically involved. It would be even more ridiculous if that song was lyrically complicated." Although pure rock'n'roll has never been poetic, just lighthearted amusement to quicken your pulse while you speed down the highway.
Get Born has an inviting unpolished sound that leaves in bits of studio chatter in between songs, coughs, questions and the like. "Normally that stuff happens when you record, but bands normally chop it off. We wanted to keep it on there to remind people that it's just four guys, in a studio, playing their instruments, you know? We just wanted it to sound really, real. So we kept it in there. There's a bit of that on the Beatle's Let It Be, and I always liked that."
Jet will be winging their way to the West Coast, and more specifically Los Angeles April 7th and 8th at the Wiltern on a quadruple Aussie bill including the Vines, The Living End and Neon, that is being dubbed the "Aussie Invasion Tour." "I'm not particularly patriotic or anything, but I'm more excited to be on tour with a bunch of guys that I know and we played with the Vines a bunch of times, and they're pretty good guys."
Their sound is refreshing, but in a familiar way. Jet makes rock that pays homage to the rock n roll greats. Many have accused Jet of borrowing from the bands of the 1970's such as AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, The Who, the Beatles, Led Zepplin, and The Faces, both in sound and looks, with their crunchy guitars and sexy disheveled look but Jet aren't afraid to admit it. And Jet might not reinvent the face of rock, but it is bringing rock back to the forefront of popular music with a stripped down line-up of drums, bass, guitar and a singer with a whole lot of attitude and their potential is undeniable.