Australian band The Jungle Giants are hot on the airwaves with the release of their 2017 album Quiet Ferocity. They’ll be heading to New Zealand for a one-night show in Auckland.Our writer, Grace Hood-Edwards caught up with lead guitarist Cesira Aitken to chat about dealing with the heat, their writing process, and the bond between bandmates.
The Speakeasy: How are you doing?
Cesira Aitkin: Yeah good, just got back home. Timed it perfectly actually. Thank God.
SE: It was announced that you guys will be a part of the Spilt Milk Festival in Canberra. Are you excited about that?
CA: Oh, yes! It’s so good. There are so many of our friends on the line-up too. It’s actually really exciting when festival line-ups come out, ‘cos usually you see which of your friends are playing – in Australia at least.
SE: And Childish Gambino?
CA: Yeah I know! Oh my god, I’m so excited about that.
SE: Yeah. He’s doing the Pharos festival here in NZ, which is, like, $300 for a ticket. Still debating about buying (them).
CA: Who else is playing?
SE: Currently it’s a secret.
CA: Oh cool. I have no doubt that’ll be sick still. It better be good for that much money anyway.
SE: So, how’s it going over there? It’s very cold over here, so how are you guys dealing with it?
CA: Alright, it is cooling down a bit now in Brissy, but I don’t know… I feel like you’re either one of two things. You either really love the cold because you’re so sick of how hot it gets, or because you’re so used to how hot it is you hate it when it gets cold. But I’m one of the people who loves it when it gets cold, because I feel like summer lasts for like 8 months. It can never cool down fast enough.
SE: I actually am exactly the same.
SE: I actually just bought myself a denim jacket. So I’m really excited about that.
CA: Yes! Wearing jackets is also friggin’ awesome. I always love when I can pull a coat out.
SE: So this is your Used to Be in Love tour. Are you excited about what’s coming up?
CA: Yes. It’s kind of like the part two of the Australian tours we did in May. That was so awesome. So it’ll be actually really cool when we get this festival started, and then move on to the New Zealand shows. That’s, of course, at the end of the year in like October or September?
SE: I think it’s in (October).
CA: That’s actually really soon – I’m excited! It’s going to be cool to pick it up again and try get in the roll of shows. Yeah, I’m really excited.
SE: Were you surprised by the success of Used to Be in Love?
CA: Yeah, totally. You know, everyone who has kind of willed it to happen, it’s really exciting that the single is doing well off the record. Everything is always surprising. I can’t believe that we get to do all these awesome shows and things.
SE: What’s your favourite thing about performing?
CA: I don’t know… well, getting a guitar in my hands and performing is always just, you know, the best of it all. But I think being with the fellas in the band and such awesome people – my brothers – and having that camaraderie every show. I always really look forward to hanging out with them, and busting out together, you know?
SE: You guys have known each other since high school, right?
CA: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
SE: So that’s pretty great, I mean, that you’re not sick of each other.
CA: No! Not at all. We hang out in the week… definitely always seeing each other and talking to each other. We’re pretty hopeless, but you know we’re a fam. It’s really great.
SE: That’s really sweet. And that’s the best way to have it really.
CA: Oh my god. Yes. I couldn’t imagine being one of those bands that don’t like hanging out with their bandmates. That, to me, sounds like … hell. [Laughs].
SE: Yeah, I mean you have to spend so much time with each other.
CA: Yeah, totally. Even more worth it when you actually look forward to hanging out with each other.
SE: Has it been cool to grow together and develop your sound and your attitudes towards music?
CA: I feel like we’re in a minority of bands that actually have that. Start really young together and get through a bunch of records and a bunch of touring, and still remain the same. Friends, and people, together – I think that’s really rare. That’s been one of the biggest perks of being in this band. Just having the fellas, having everyone together and doing it, and – you know – keeping it hot at the end. [Laughs].
SE: How did you actually come up with the name The Jungle Giants?
CA: I think we’d finished recording the first EP, and we had all these really terrible band names kicking around, and we were getting the EP mastered and whatever… We were like ‘Oh we still have no idea. What if we get it mastered and figure it out later?’ We actually didn’t realise that you have to have your band name to get your work mastered. Sam called me and we were shooting a list of names, we were all texting back and forth, and trying to figure it out, because we frantically realised that we actually had to have a band name to get this stuff mastered. That was the one we liked the best out of a list of pretty awful band names.
SE: Do you remember any of the old, awful ones?
CA: Oh, yes. Petty Party. That one sticks out because I was like ‘Oh my god – that is so terrible.’ It makes Jungle Giants seem amazing. [Laughs].
SE: Definitely got something with the alliteration.
CA: Yeah I know, we were only 17. We were like – let’s do something really cute.
SE: And then you get stuck with it, don’t you?
CA: Yeah, you can’t change. There’s no changing it, you’ve just got to live with it. But I guess there’s worse band names. I hear that Dave Grohl thinks that Foo Fighters is the absolute worst band name ever, which I don’t really think so, but I guess everyone has it.
SE: Imagine if he changed it? That would be just…
CA: I know. You can’t do it. You’re so stuck. They should teach it in school. Pick your band names wisely.
SE: To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make a decision.
CA: Yeah, it’s rough.
SE: So you’re coming here soon, and you were here last year, but have you been to NZ before that?
CA: No! The first time was with the show last year.
SE: Did you get to see anything good?
CA: No, we were so in and out. It was kind of upsetting. (Andrew) Dooris and Keelan actually booked a little holiday beforehand, so me and Sam and the rest of our touring party met them over in New Zealand while they were on a four-wheel-driving-camping trip. They actually saw a lot. I’m not exactly sure what they did, but when I saw them they were covered in mud and had a dirty, old four-wheel drive.
SE: Do you think you’ll be doing anything like that here? Trying to do something while you’re over?
CA: I would like to, but I’m not sure what Dooris and Keelan did is exactly my kind of flavour. I really like hotels, and I don’t like camping – which is what they did.
SE: I’m exactly the same. Wouldn’t go camping anywhere.
CANo! No. I’m so anti-it. I hope to have my mind changed one day, but I don’t know… I’m hopeful.
SE: It’s like you’re paying to live in your backyard, which just seems ridiculous.
CA: Yeah when you put it like that, it doesn’t make any sense.
SE: I really love Bad Dream. It’s probably my favourite of your guys’ and I just wondered if you could tell me any more about it? The writing of it? What it’s about?
CA: When Sam was writing all the music for this record, we kind of did it in a way that instead of going and recording in one space for big, large blocks of time, we’d – as Sam had these songs ready –go and record them together. We’d maybe done 8 songs on the record, and we were still going and needing more. Sam had a listening party. He played a couple of songs and they were really great. Then he played this one and he pre-warned us saying ‘I’m not really sure about it. It’s not fully finished yet…’
We were like ‘Just play it!’ He played it, and that was the song. We were all just like ‘that was magical’ and we had him play it again for us – two times in a row. The following week we recorded it and finished it.
SE: It is pretty magical. I love playing it when I’m driving. The perfect song for a long drive.
CA: Totally. It was totally a piece of magic from Sam.
SE: Do you have any music you like to listen to specifically?
CA: I’m listening to a lot of jazz stuff, in the background of doing housework and moving – I’m moving house at the moment. It’s actually quite nice. Sometimes it’s nice to just click off and not have to think about what the next song you want to play is. So there’s a lot of jazz at the moment, which is pretty douchey – but great! [Laughs]
SE: When you’re coming here will you be playing stuff from Quiet Ferocity or anything else?
CA: At the moment we’re doing nearly all of Quiet Ferocity, plus a bunch of older songs. But we won’t give away too much. We are playing a lot of Quiet Ferocity.
CA: Yeah! Good news.
The Jungle Giants will be playing at The Studio in Auckland at 8.30pm on Friday Oct. 19th 2018.
You can get your tickets here.