The rather extreme Luke Frizon of the even more extreme Melbourne outfit, Jack The Stripper, lays a lot out in the open in this interview. Seriously, shit got real. Suss out our chat with the front man below!
So, how are you feeling about this new Australian tour – nervous? Excited? Both?
Definitely excited! We haven’t played some of these cities in a few months, so it’s good to be back on the road and getting our new material out there too. I’m very happy with the lineups we have for every city. A lot of them are really close mates and I have a lot of respect for every act, and can’t wait to see them all play.
Awesome! Now is Jack The Stripper a band that practice often and hard, or are you more naturally in tune with each other and are confident in your abilities on the live stage?
We’re pretty strict on our practising schedule and everyone does plenty of homework. Onstage it locks in comfortably, but the background work behind it is gruelling. As far as being in tune goes, I’d say we are. Personally, I go into my own place onstage. For example, at the last show, Tim threw his bass around and the headstock collected with the base of my skull at full velocity and I had no idea. I was only made aware of it when people were looking at the stain on his headstock, checking me for a concussion and looking at my neck with funny expressions on their faces.
Damn, dude! Now, you guys are heading on tour with Parkway Drive and The Word Alive in Europe after this Aussie run and then on to Japan to play with NoLA. Not to be rude, but how the fuck does that feel for a band of your calibre? It must be in some ways surreal, right?
Absolutely. There’s been a ton of ground work getting onto these shows overseas independently, even when I sleep I dream of email inboxes, but the magic isn’t lost on us. I’m still coming to grips with the fact that we are playing with almost all my favourite bands ever over the course of three days. NoLA are good friends of ours whom we met a few years ago in Melbourne and they’ve essentially taken a lot of the work on board themselves for Japan; booking the venues and helping us lock down whichever bands we’ve asked to get involved. Overall it’s totally surreal, as you say. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of facing these lineups being a completely unknown band over there.
Seeing as you are having a bit of trouble with the voice at the moment, it got me thinking, what sort of warm ups do you do prior to playing, if any at all?
I’ve been getting vocal coaching from Stu at Singer’s Workshop, east of Melbourne, for a few years now and he’s given me a full warmup regime I follow for every show. It’s awesome. The whole process takes almost as long as our set does and I look like a total idiot wandering around backstage doing it, but it works. There’s lots of stretching and diaphragm conditioning to do most days too. Stretching your diaphragm the first few times feels like you’re being impaled through the gut, but every vocalist should do it. We recorded Raw Nerve without having had any vocal training whatsoever and looking back on that, I regret not starting earlier. It’s the same as any other instrument, if you take it seriously, you have to respect the training process behind it.
I take vocal training very seriously. More so than most other aspects of my life. After shows, I try to get a few litres of fluids in, and marshmallow root tea before and after if at all possible. The stuff is magic for inflammation. I avoid any carbonated drinks where possible when we’re playing shows, and no booze. It sounds like a pretty uncool, “un-metal” approach to be discussing, but try doing two shows in a day with and without it and you’ll see the difference instantly. I’ve read plenty of interviews with singers talking about drinking Jager and milk and whatever to warm up. I guess they’re the cool guys and I’m the nerd. I’m singing every day, usually to bands like Type O Negative, Warning or one of Dax Riggs’ projects. It helps a lot with enunciation so that people can hear exactly what I’m telling them. I reckon that’s important, at least for our band’s message.
Cool! And what got you onto screaming in the first place?
I started screaming in a grindcore band when I was about 16-17, basically because I wanted to be JR Hayes from Pig Destroyer at the time. I remember seeing videos of them where the mic had cut out and you could still hear him over the fully amplified band and just being inspired to get that loud and worrying about everything else later. I also remember passing out about 5 times tracking our first demo. Glad I’m past that little problem now.
‘Nibiru’ comes off your 2013 album ‘Raw Nerve’ and dates back to an original release in 2012 and I’m wondering why the long wait before doing this video and releasing it as a single?
We always wanted to do this kind of clip for Nibiru but knew that it would take a lot of different elements coming together to execute it properly and make it look the way we wanted it. It wasn’t worth doing until we had all those present. Our booker, Eli at Wild Thing Presents introduced us to this amazing filmmaker from Brisbane named Adrian Goleby who knew exactly where to take the ideas we had. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t move on from Raw Nerve without having completed this clip. There’s new material on the way very soon, but we wanted that closure before releasing anything.
Oh, of course. So with the ‘Nibiru’ video, it’s very, very haunting and as someone who has an irrational fear of clowns and mimes and the like, it really stuck with me long after watching it. Where did the concept come from? Was it representative of the song’s themes or was it an idea that was bred out of the desire to be unique and ‘left of centre’?
Within the song, there are constant references to elements from sleep paralysis. If you’ve never had it, there’s plenty of accounts available that refer to seeing dark figures that feel menacing and overbearing. It’s terrifying. The helplessness you feel when that is occurring is similar to the hopelessness you feel when caught in a depressive and self-loathing mental bearing, which is essentially what the song is illustrating. We wanted to colour in that concept of sleep paralysis with something that reflected the lyrics and so everything went black.
I’m interested with the title of ‘Nibiru’. Nibiru is the proposed doomsday event where a planet-sized object collides with Earth and was founded by a lady who believes she has an implant in her brain that allows her to communicate with extraterrestrial beings. Does the meaning here link to the song as it focuses on the overwhelming feeling people get in this day and age from the amount negativity and content fed to us on an hourly basis? Much like one would get should they see a planet-sized object hurtling towards us!
You hit the nail on the head there, mate! Nibiru as a title and song subject is referring to the great hostile unknown. The unnameable feeling that sits just under the ribcage when you’re pushed to the edge of your being by negative stimuli from the outside, and how it refracts and shapeshifts into total self-hatred. Much like the idea of a darkened planet just waiting to collide with your world and obliterate everything you know. I illustrate it reverentially in the same way you welcome the end when you’re at your deepest levels of despair. The total mental collapse that occurs when subjected to overwhelming hurt and pressure.
Particularly, growing up with a personality disorder has resulted in an unending sense of foreboding, like something’s about to crash down and wipe out everything you’ve built for yourself at any given moment. I fill my life not with people, but with tasks to generally avoid being alone with that feeling. If I’m surrounded by people constantly, it only compounds that sense and quickly causes dissociation. A song I can recommend that addresses similar themes beautifully is called The Ghastly Silence, by Shining from Sweden. Bonus points to them for including a saxophone solo.
That’s heavy stuff, but very well said. Now, is there any particular reason for the long wait between records? Such as the need to make sure it was perfect and something worthwhile or has it just only now been the right time to do it, whether scheduling or financially wise?
We take our time with our music because it takes so much time and care in giving a sense of cohesion to so many disjointed, jarring noises. It’s not the kind of music you can just jam out with your mates, it comes from a place of extreme emotion so it’s sporadic and nasty. We also scrap a lot of songs entirely. For example, after the EP release, there were about 5 songs completed, some of which were played live regularly. A few things happened and the band stopped playing any shows for years. The lineup was essentially stripped back to Julian and myself, with us ditching everything we had previously written and with him writing almost all the music for Raw Nerve individually at his studio, so that took a lot of time.
This new release has been reworked heavily already. The current demos sound nothing like the originals. I’ve also been pushing to develop my vocal range concurrently to it so we can maximise that versatility and never look back on this record having been limited by any preventable factors. If you’re a musician, unless you’re Metallica and your latest release was the Black Album, it’s probably been a feeling that you’ve had towards your back catalogue at some point. I’d rather mitigate that.
Good point. So how far you along with the record are you and what’s the production team looking like?
We’ve done a lot of work on songs over the past 10 months- it’s being recorded at Legion Studio Productions by Julian. The music has taken a much darker turn than ever before. There’s a lot of melody and influence from early 90’s acts, crossing over with some different rhythm types, as well as a heavier focus on more extreme sections. The whole record has really taken shape and it’s currently seething with emotion. I can’t wait to complete it and show everyone what we have been up to, hence why we started playing a couple of new ones in our set, to give people an idea of what we’re about.
Is there anything in particular that you want to say about the upcoming album to get people hyped?
First off for the grind fans, there’s a lot of blast beats! For people who like things a little more introspective and soulful, there’s a triptych in there joined by both lyrical and by musical motifs. I was really figurative with the previous lyrics in Raw Nerve so I chose to be more direct with this one, so there’s a whole new lyrical style. It’s heavier in parts than Raw Nerve, the groove is more prevalent, there’s a really gothic element to the whole thing. The songs are charged with emotion. It’s still very much Jack The Stripper, but it’s not going to be something you’re likely to have heard before from us or elsewhere. We’re working hard on that.
Right on! Finally, this has always piqued my interest: Did you get the name from the 1960’s unsolved serial killer? Or was it just a play on words of Jack the Ripper? I ask because a lot of people don’t know about Jack the Stripper.
I joined the band after the name was chosen, but I’m pretty sure it was both a nod to Black Sabbath for ruling and to the mysterious killer from the 60’s who mutilated all those people and was given a comical moniker as a result. I think it’s a really interesting reflection of society, that we should make a mockery of something so ghastly, and in doing so cheapen the lives of the victims who suffered so acutely, just to assuage our own fears and get some level of closure on the entire mess. Just to put a lid on top of it and file it away in the back of our minds. I also draw a lot of satisfaction from reading about people who find our band online when looking for Black Sabbath and their extreme displeasure at having done so. Cop that, nerds!
Jack The Stripper are currently on their ‘Nibiru’ tour – tickets at oztix and dates and information below.