Aussie upstarts don't believe the hype
Jet at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Monday (August 11). $10. 416-598-4753. Rating: NNNNN
You can’t blame nic cester, front- man for Aussie next-big-things Jet, for being a bit wary of the press. In the last six months, his band has been reeling from a shitload of mega-hype touting the kid rockers as everything from Australia’s answer to the Strokes to the second coming of either the Stones or AC/DC. While that might seem like every up-and-coming rock star’s wet dream, there’s a snag: a quick glance through the weedish lads’ press kit reveals that Brit music rag NME is responsible for about 85 per cent of the buzz.
With such hyperbolic proclamations as “2003 will belong to Jet!” and “the world’s hottest new band,” the Brit tabloid seems hell-bent on building up the Aussie rockers beyond their capabilities.
“Every week they decide there’s someone else who’s the best band in the world,” snorts a sleepy Cester, on the line from his temporary digs in San Francisco. “we don’t really care about that.”
“They expect you to be this big cliché as a musician, and if you’re not they twist it so you come off like that anyway. Everyone has to be Liam Gallagher over there! It’s so stupid.
“Some NME guy followed us in Japan, and we’re just sick of it now. It was like, do you actually want to talk about the music at any point during this interview?
“They wanted to start a fight between us and the Vines, and he was baiting us to get us to say bad stuff about ’em. I mean, we’re not huge Vines fans but we don’t fuckin’ hate ’em! They’re nice guys, man. We were like, ‘Fuck off – we’re not just gonna say stuff to help you guys sell magazines!’ But the writer edited stuff we’d said to put a totally different spin on things. Bullshit.”
The soft-spoken Cester is too polite to say it, but his band’s definitely more talented than their one-note Nirvana-rip-off Antipodean predecessors.
You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the hype – as he notes, the absurd AC/DC comparisons come from folks who haven’t even heard Jet’s upcoming full-length – but the band has a knack for both sweaty knee-shakin’ rawk rave-ups and remarkably sweet roots-tinged ballads in the vein of Travis or Neil Finn, both of whom Cester cites as major influences.
Believe it or not, he’s also a huge Sloan fan. “I saw two of the Sloan guys when we were in L.A. at a Supergrass show. Man, I’d love to hang out with them,” raves Cester, who claims Navy Blues “was pretty much everything we were trying to do” with their forthcoming full-length debut disc, Get Born.
Slated for a fall release on Elektra/Warner, Get Born is a self-assured debut, polished without sounding overproduced, and very fuckin’ catchy. They also managed to avoid the nu garage pitfall of writing an album’s worth of tracks that sound like the same song, which might have something to do with choosing Dave Sardy (Supergrass, Marilyn Manson) as producer.
“Not to sound arrogant,” says Cester, “but there were a lot people we could’ve chosen. Given that Sardy’s done so many different styles and genres, including Marilyn Manson, the Chili Peppers and all sorts of strange stuff, we thought he’d be able to bring some cohesion to our album.
“He’d say stuff like, ‘You guys have got this trick where you stop all the music and it just goes back to the drums. You’ve done that about 20 times now,’ and we’d be like, ‘Fuck, you’re right, man!’ So he helped us fix things.”
While he grudgingly admits that Jet falls into the current retro-rock trend, Cester’s eager to separate himself from the crop of poseur hacks, arguing that his band has been honing its style since he started it in his teens.
“It’s the same thing that happened with grunge. It was very raw and very real with Nirvana, but now we’ve got Nickelback and all that crap.
“Hey, wait! You’re from Canada. We were at a bar in Toronto and in the space of about three minutes we saw 30 guys wearing goatees – you know, that chin-and-‘stache combo just like the dude from Nickelback. What’s up with that? Is that a Canadian thing? It was insane!”