One of the most underrated names, in what is a vast and healthy local market for heavy music, Jack The Stripper are preparing for a solid 2014. Having released impressive studio album ‘Raw Nerve’ last year, the band is planning to push their music to fans and new listeners alike. Ahead of this Thursday’s show at NEXT, Killyourtereo.com chatted with vocalist Luke Frizon to discuss where everything currently stands.
G’day Luke, thanks for taking the time for an interview.
No problem Kane, my pleasure.
A solid headline show at the Bendigo Hotel before Christmas and now a show at NEXT this Thursday night, as an easy starting point, how are things in the Jack the Stripper camp at the moment?
Great. After so much time writing, recording and everything else that has to come together to make an album it’s great to get back to playing shows again. We’ve had some good ones so far and we’re always trying to make each show more extreme than the last.
‘Raw Nerve’ was certainly well-received. KYS readers loved it as evidenced in the album of the year poll. Looking back, how much of a relief was it to finally get the new music out?
We are stoked that it got such a high ranking. It has been highly cathartic having Raw Nerve out in the world. We were all in some pretty dark places while making it and the album became somewhat of a lifeline for us. So much time and effort was put into crafting that record, and despite us keeping it behind closed doors for so long the reception thus far has been beyond anything I’ve experienced before. We intend to get it out there as much as possible over the year.
One thing I’ve observed is how strong your live shows are. In your opinion, how important is it for a band to have an equally strong live show to go with what they put out on record?
I believe it’s paramount to push yourself as hard as possible in a live performance. The public isn’t there to watch you bring out a rehashed, tame set that looks like you’re a bunch of awkward dudes with instruments waiting for a bus or something. Worse still is the band that pulls out the same stage talk, the same punk jumps at the same pre-conceived moment that they’ve been doing since they saw someone else pull it off in 2008. People are more savvy than ever thanks to social media, ease of access to music and an over-saturated market. If you’re a performer and you don’t prove [to] the world you believe in your music by putting in that effort, the world will see right through you. It makes listeners feel jaded and the industry suffers as a result.
You guys have been around, in what can be viewed as a competitive music scene, for quite a few years now. Do you feel heavy music, domestically, is in a better or worse place than when you started?
Oh man. The mere fact that seven years is considered a long time, and that most bands don’t make it past three [years] in this country, floors me. Tiresome gimmicks abound in heavy music more than ever. Take the whole kvlt phenomenon in hardcore of using occult imagery, pretending you’re all the most grim black metal dudes ever and being prohibitively esoteric- all just to mask your lack of people skills and because stealing Miles Away’s riffs isn’t fashionable anymore. I know it has a lot to do with this terrible, terrible approach to music focused purely on getting as popular as possible in the shortest period of time. Sure, you want to sound like the bands you love because they set you on the path in the first place. But if you’re breaking up your band every two years because you’re “bored of the music you’re making” (read: afraid of the hard work involved in making something meaningful) and you “want to be more cutting-edge” (read: copying the riffs and image of some European band not many people will hear about for the next six months so when they’re exposed in Australia you’re the cool guy and your Instagram follower count triples), or if you’re changing your message every month according to what bands Rise or Deathwish are signing at the moment, then you’re a joke and nobody should listen to what you have to say anyway. Take up pottery or something instead.
It’s funny, from the outside looking in, hardcore and metal look like they’re cut from the same cloth. However, in terms of audience, metal fans tend to stick to metal shows, while club kids tend to stick exclusively to those types of shows. For a band like yourself, who cross both genres, how hard is it bridging the gap between both audiences?
I’ve found that there really is no gap for us. We have managed to work successfully with bands of many different styles and as long as we work our hardest to deliver ourselves to the audience 100%, there has been a positive response. That being said, it’s sometimes a bit harder to engage with a nightclub audience simply in that as a musician you’re generally just an accessory to their overall night, rather than the purpose of their outing. With experience you find ways to overcome that boundary however.
What’s the priority in 2014? Play as many shows as possible? Hit the studio again?
Both for sure. We have a great advantage in that our guitarist Julian Renzo runs a studio in Melbourne called Legion, where he recorded and produced Raw Nerve, so studio time is happening constantly in order to get inspired with new material. We plan on releasing more music, more film clips, performing in more cities, and creating the most extreme live shows imaginable.
Now that 2013 is in retrospect, just some quick ones to finish off with:
Favourite album of 2013?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’d say a tie between Mind Control by Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, and Carcass’ new album Surgical Steel. Both blew me away.
Most disappointing album of 2013?
Shining’s One One One, simply because I thought it was the black metal band Shining when I saw it and got really excited for the release. It took three minutes of listening to it in total confusion before throwing a tantrum like a petulant 5-year old brat in the supermarket. Then I bothered to look up the facts and realised it was a different band. It’s not even a bad album. Most of all I’m disappointed in myself on that one for my lack of research.
Best new musical discovery of 2013?
I only found out about Hell recently when my girlfriend informed me of a power metal band that has a singer that dresses as Pan, on stilts. There’s something about a 13-foot tall stilt dude with massive ram horns belting out glorious Candlemass-esque epics that really gets me. Curse and Chapter has been on constant rotation and the whole time I imagine what happens if he needs to sit on a toilet.
… in terms of this year:
Most anticipated album of 2014?
Cattle Decapitation have announced they are writing a follow-up to their fantastic Monolith Of Humanity. They absolutely killed it touring here and I can’t wait to hear what they’ve got to offer this year.
I’ve heard Body Count are bringing something out too. Bring on the Ice-T!
Band you think will explode in 2014?
It’s been on the up-and-up for a while now for Ulcerate but I really feel they’ll come into their own this year. People are really starting to see how excellent they are and I can foresee a lot happening for them.
Favourite song to blare in the tour van?
This year it’s going to be Real World by Queensryche. Vocal harmonies need to be brought back into heavy music in a big way. I found a copy of the Last Action Hero soundtrack in a neighbour’s garage and ever since have been inflicting 1993-era cheesy rock on anyone who dares enter a vehicle I’m driving.
One song you’ll die a happy man if you never hear again?
I’m going to have to say anything by Lily Allen. She comes on at the gym every time I forget to bring my own music. Despite so much serious shit going wrong in the world and the prevailing fact that I should be thankful I live in a country where I’m not persecuted for my beliefs, at the time it’s the most punishing thing imaginable and those three odd minutes are the worst thing going on ever and I refuse to do anything until that awful moment is over. Julian’s gym does not have Lily Allen on their playlist and I hold that fact directly responsible for why he is bigger than I am.
Hypothetical: Ronnie Radke emails you saying he is a big Jack The Stripper fan, what do you type in your response?
In this hypothetical situation I was going to talk about the amazing hip-hop collab he and I would hook up where we make songs about lusting after pre-teens at pool parties and clubs and shit, but then I remembered I’m an adult who has too much good shit going in his life to even consider being associated with such a downer of a human. I’d probably read it, ignore it and get back to working out how to be a better musician.
Thanks for your time mate, really appreciate it. Looking forward to Thursday night.
No problem. I’ll see you there.
Jack The Stripper play NEXT this Thursday. Details here.
"This record will tear your eardrums to shreds from beginning to end and once it’s over you’ll probably ask for seconds." – KYS review of ‘Raw Nerve‘ (out now via MGM).