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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Read our interview with Nik Kaloper below!

Image: Supplied.

Iconic Australian four-piece The Jezabel sare celebrating the the 10th anniversary 2011 Australian Music Prize, ARIA & AIR Award Winning, ARIA #2, iTunes #1, Gold Album, Prisoner, with a national tour. We caught up with drummer Nik Kaloper to chat about the bands return to the stage.

Kicking off in Fremantle on June 4, the tour will continue on to Byron Bay, Brisbane, Canberra, Newcastle and Sydney, before wrapping up in Melbourne on June 24. The run of shows will mark the first time The Jezabels perform the record in its entirety live on stage.

To mark the occasion, they will be releasing a limited collectors 7" of a live recording of City Girl, captured at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne in 2011. The 7" will only be available to ticket buyers to purchase. Head over to for details.

You and your band mates are about to hit the road for your Prisoner Ten Year Anniversary Tour, How like stoked are you guys to get on the road for this special celebration?

Incredibly stoked. Yeah, definitely. It's it's technically the eleventh year, funnily enough [laughs]. ten just sounds better, right? We're really excited. I mean, to travel again in the name of music, let alone travel at all is really exciting of course. Revisiting this album has been really fun. The rehearsal process too, I've just been practicing drums this morning and will probably get back to it after this. I'd say there may have been a year or two in there where I really didn't touch the drums at all. So it's sort of like a rediscovery of instruments and, rediscovery of our first release and yeah, it's really nice.

That is so special What’s in store for audience members attending the shows?

What we're trying to do really, we're gonna play the album straight through. So from track one, all the way to track fourteen in the same order as the album. I guess what we're trying to do is recreate the experience of the album itself as much for anyone who enjoyed listening to it, just to come out and see the album itself live. And there may or may not be an encore with some older EP songs in there.

That sounds very exciting! Which three songs off Prisoner are you most looking forward to playing live on this run?

I think you might get a different three tracks from all of us actually, but for me it's the deeper cuts that really didn't get played much when we were writing our second album. That's the problem with a set list, you know? You gotta cut things outta your set mm-hmm to make room for the new material and songs like Horsehead and Deep Wide Ocean for me are like really exciting songs and so much fun to play. So it's nice to get them back in the set list for sure.

It marks your first tour since 2016, how have you guys gone about crafting a live set after so many years and especially after so much change in the world and with live music since the last time you played live together. How have you collectively gone about creating like the perfect live experience for your audiences?

The perfect live experience for our audiences? Wow. I mean just the premise of the question is fantastic. For us, it's always been a fun challenge, but a challenge nonetheless, because when we record, typically we go the whole hog or whatever, the expression. Full hog! [laughs. We really utilise the track limit of Pro Tools, you know hundreds of tracks creating that big, big wall of sound that we like to create. So the challenge typically is figuring out how to rewrite our own parts in a way that just four of us can play. But now we're gonna have a bass player for these shows too, to make sure that is all taken care of. But I think that the audience can definitely expect me to be sweating up a storm behind the drum [laughs]. Because I can't make it through the album without breaking a big old sweat. So they can expect a sweaty six foot five dude up the back of the stage at the very least. That's all I'm going to promise.

Love it! How important is live music to you, not only when it comes to showcasing your art but also making that in person connection with audiences who resonate with your music?

It's so important to us. I mean, we've often had a habit, especially on tour, of hanging out near the merchandise stand after the show really. It feels sort of funny every time you walk out and sort of stand there as if you're something important or special, but nonetheless people seem to come up. It's so nice to me, people will come up after show and what's crazy about our fans is every single one of them is just really nice people, like really kind, enthusiastic, good people that we really enjoy talking to. So that connection with people who are actually listening to the music sort of changes your connection with the music as well, I guess the music that you write. It's one of the most important things I suppose, is getting to perform live. There's something pretty magical about live music, I think. And there always has been.

Of course, that is so lovely. Obviously you’re in rehearsals for the tour right now, playing the songs again and hearing them all together. What are your thoughts on Prisoner now, listening back to the collection of songs a decade on?

See, this is where I get a little bit, cause I know as a musician you're expected to be pretty humble I think and express some humility in so many ways, but that doesn't gel with the fact that I just think it's an awesome album. I really think it's one of my favourite things we've ever released. It's one of my favourite things we've worked on. How we feel about the album? It's it's really good, I think, to reengage. It's my favourite release I reckon that we put out with some of my favourite songs on it as well. For me, it's the height of some of our more melodramatic, it sounds like typically a bad word, but I think it's fantastic in so many ways, especially when it comes to certain types of music. We're not cool people. Well, no, I'll speak for myself. I'm not really a cool person. So ditching the idea that we gotta worry about making it cool or a hit for something like that is really nice in favour of just really going like, 'well, how do you feel? What do you want it?'. Just making stuff that's sort of big and dramatic and grand, you know, it's the grandiosity I think, in the album that I have so much fun with and draws me towards some music.

And so, you know, being back together, working on this tour, has that ignited any want for new music for you guys?

It is interesting, isn't it? Definitely. Yeah. I mean in so many ways it has, but yeah I won't go on the record making any promises whatsoever [laughs]. You know, Hayley's got her own thing going on now, which is so cool. She has so many different facets to her personality, musically and for her to get something out of other stuff that you wouldn't really get out of The Jezebels. Like if you asked me to play a pop beat, and I'll find a way to try and complicate it and make it twice as fast as it should be. So for her that's been awesome. I've pursued a career in education, I'm a math and science teacher at the moment. Taking a little little time off. My point is I guess we've all really grown in our personal lives as well over this past three or four years massively. So I mean, knowing that we're still, I don't know, like developing or working on other parts of our life. So when we write music, it's really, it's a pretty all encompassing affair, you know? It takes us quite a long time to write music and we get lost in the details and stuff like that. So I wonder, I mean, I do think that if we were to write new music, we probably have to experiment with different kinds of writing because historically what we've done is just locked ourselves in a room for as long as possible until we come out with some songs on the other side. Not really compatible with us in our mid thirties to forties.


Biggest influences?

One of my favourite drummers of all time recently passed away. His name was Gabe Serbian and he was in a band called The Locust. Which is absolutely nothing like The Jezabels, but their music had a great, great influence on me and how I tried to drum.

Album that has had the most impact on you?

I got Diamonds And Pearls by Prince as the first album I ever bought with my own money. I would like to think that some way, even though I don't listen to Prince as much as I should probably cause it's amazing, but I think that might mean a lot to me as it's the very beginning of my interest in music.

If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?

The Lobster. It's such a bizarre film it's by this great director Yorgos Lanthimos, It's this very strange film and it's very, sort of absurdist and sufficiently dark and creepy. So I would like to try and make music for that kind of film.

Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

Miley Cyrus, I guess.

What was the first song you loved to play?

When I first started drumming, I was using a lot of my, and still like my sort of emo grunge kind of phase in music. I played along to Diary by Sunny Day Real Estate, quite a lot.

First concert you went to?

Hot Water Music at the Annandale Hotel.

Best concert you have been to?

Future Islands in London.

Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?

I'm thinking Spice Girl, cause I really wanna lean into, you know, they get characters more than the Backstreet Boys.

If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?

Neurotic Spice

What are you thinking whilst performing?

Oh, that's such a funny question. Sometimes your mind drifts, which is really bizarre. Like it sort of wanders off in a way. But I, I really, really, really focus on every single thing I'm playing [laughs]. I don't know why. It's I just like, I watch myself play the drums to monitor to make sure I'm doing the right thing. Sometimes it gets annoying frankly, but yeah, I'm really thinking about druming itself. I don't think I can multitask that well. So I think trying to even comprehend anything else in the moment would be a little bit difficult for me.

Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?

I haven't thought about these things for such a long time in so many ways. You know what, actually there's a film clip we have for All You Need, and our guitarist Sam Lockwood turned some tour footage into a little tour diary music video. There's a brief shot in there of us playing Dark Storm, I think at the main stage of Falls Festival in the evening. That's memorable because I was really like crapping my pants the whole time.

Do you have a guilty music pleasure or if there's nothing you feel guilty about, maybe something that you listen to that those close to you would question?

I'll tell you what really sticks out of what I typically listen to, which I honestly love, is Missy Elliot and Busta Rhyme. So like two of my favourite artists, causeI like metal and hardcore-emo and all these kinds of things that just sort of, they stick out as sort of outliers in a way.But in my head they're not at all. Cause I think they do some of the most interesting things with hip-hop, and still have done some of the most interesting things with hip-hop. But everyone I know also thinks they are awesome. So no one would question me on that, I don't think.

An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.

Wondering if it's like Beethoven or someone like that. No, you know what? Let's go with Kraftwerk for sure. I mean, what they did with synthesizers and synthesis, how they really ushered in a pretty new era in sounds that are still very prevalent today. I'd say they deserve some notoriety in that field.

What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?

Eat less, American sugary cereals. Yeah. I just had some, I just had a bowl of cereal that's essentially like little mini churros [laughs]. But it's like, this isn't breakfast food. It's dessert for sure. And it's delicious.

The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

There's this photo of me from when I'm really young. I'm like rocking out on air guitar, I'm pretty sure it was Lenny Kravitz, song. I would've been about ten or something at the time. And it sort of stands out like, you know, air guitar and trying to perform the song or something, that sort of stands out to me as a time when yeah, that was probably becoming a goal for me throughout my life.


Fri 3 Jun, The Gov, Adelaide SA

Sat 4 Jun, Metropolis, Fremantle WA

Thu 9 Jun, The Northern, Byron Bay NSW

Fri 10 Jun, Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane QLD

Sat 11 Jun, UC Refectory, Canberra ACT

Sun 12 Jun, NEX, Newcastle NSW

Sat 18 Jun, Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW

Fri 24 Jun , The Forum, Melbourne VIC


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