I first met Jade McInannly and Tim Harvey at a bar side table in Brisbane. It was 2017 and Jade Imagine had just recently released What The Fuck Was I Thinking. But even then, hot on the heels of the EP, Jade and her guitarist were already enthused about returning to the studio for a full-length debut. “Such momentum,” I thought.
Currently, it’s 2018. We’re again sitting at a table, different bar. Burning question is, “Where’s the record?” Well, it’s coming they assure me. Let’s just say they’re still perfecting it. And fair enough, right? Putting together sonic statements is no small task.
But there’s still a fair bit to discuss, and it turns out a fair bit has transpired since last we’ve seen them. After entertaining a shifting roster of players, Jade has finally solidified a line-up. Bassist Liam ‘Snowy’ Halliwell has permanently signed on and so has drummer James Harvey. Both are present and it’s James who explains that the band have been busy touring. Earlier this year they played across the United States in the company of Jess Ribeiro, RVG and Totally Mild.
As conversation continues, more highlights trickle through. Not least of all is a snubbing of Jade by Steve Kilbey, but the band also touches on topics diverse as Pink Floyd’s flying pig, rural mermaids, tattoos, a steady supply of chicken and – you know what? Maybe it’s just best to hear it all directly from the band themselves.
At BIGSOUND 2018 we sat down with Jade Imagine to chat musical icons, being weirdos, and the band’s long-awaited debut album.
HAPPY: I had a chat with Jade and Tim when they were here at BIGSOUND last year. What have you been up to since then?
JADE: We have been working on a record! So yeah, we recorded it at the end of last year and this whole year we’ve been mixing and finishing it and…
HAPPY: Perfecting it?
TIM: We just got it mastered, two weeks ago? So we’re still getting used to it and seeing how it fits. But it’s feeling pretty good!
HAPPY: What is the album all about, relative to your debut EP What The Fuck Was I Thinking?
JADE: I think the EP felt… like it was a germination of ideas and this album feels like an exploration of the same kind of feelings. But also, an extension of all of those things maybe?
TIM: Totally! Similar themes, different musical content mostly.
JADE: [Prepares to speak but notices James might have something to add] Sorry, did you have a thought?
JAMES: Also, after starting the recording process, in the middle of that territory, we went overseas! We went to South by South West and did a whole lot of that sort of stuff which took up some time.
HAPPY: Of course! I saw that when it was happening but had forgotten. How was that experience?
JAMES: It was a sort of a wild ride!
JADE: Yeah, it was really good.
HAPPY: More generally, how did you find the USA?
JADE: I love the US, parts of it. We were touring with a big group of people
HAPPY: With Our Golden Friend?
JADE: That crew. There was RVG, Jess Ribeiro, Totally Mild, and us.
HAPPY: Were there any hijinks that happened with all those lovely people all together on tour?
JADE: Any what?
HAPPY: Any hijinks! Ones that you’re happy to share, of course…
JADE: Ah, nooooo!
HAPPY: Ah okay yep. So everyone was well behaved. Everyone went to bed early…
JADE: Yeah, exactly! Yup, very well behaved. But yeah, with the EP it was like there were a lot of rotating band members. There were a lot of people playing on it and it came together over a longer period of time. We recorded it on and off at my house and at Tim’s house. Oh, and Dave Moody from Courtney Barnett’s house.
TIM: We were trying to figure out what the band was as we went. What we thought it was going to be.
HAPPY: So on the new record is the band serving the songs you’ve written or is it the other way around?
TIM: Well that’s an interesting point. We were talking about this yesterday. It seems like on the EP we were sort of working all that out whereas on the record, it feels like, “Ah we’ve settled on the right people.” And now the sound of that record is the sound of people playing in a room together in that studio, at that time. With that set of songs!
JAMES: Yeah! Because we had all of Jade’s songs before that and then, which is great, but we weren’t sure what the record was going to be really until we did it. It’s totally the sound of us doing that in that moment. It’s really a back and forth between everyone.
SNOWY: It’s interesting. Those tapes started the recording process, but it really felt that during the recording process we were still fleshing out a lot of those things, pushing some of the ideas and exploring stuff. But in that nice little bubble of the studio where everyone was super focused.
HAPPY: The album, the album! We haven’t heard a skerrick of music! Is there a narrative or some way you can sum it up? A feeling? A vibration? Or…
JADE: Well were going to try to put some songs out before the end of the year but if we don’t do that it will be early next year. But it’ll definitely be out before the middle of next year.
JAMES: But for starters we’ve got a few faster songs. It’s just like, a different set of musical influences that we’ve all sort of arrived at, that we all like. And exploring some of the similar lyrical and conceptual themes.
HAPPY: I guess with you having played a bit more live, when that happens bands tend to want to throw in a few more fast, rockier songs into it all as well.
JADE: But there’s definitely some slower ones.
JAMES: More softer tunes.
HAPPY: Well the band definitely has its own tempo. I feel it’s a little laid back…
SNOWY: I think that’s challenged on the record. There’s a lot more variation in that tempo and that pace. I think there’s some really beautiful slower ones, but there’s definitely some more upbeat ones, some tougher ones which have a bit more, I don’t know grit and psychedelia in it.
TIM: And some more electronic-y things as well, it’s like…
JADE: It’s like if a mermaid went into the city and got a day job!
JAMES: And some tattoos!
JADE: And then the mermaid got really depressed because she lived in the city and then she started writing songs about the ocean again.
HAPPY: Tell me about BIGSOUND this year, it’s your second time around. “This year’s BIGSOUND has been _____.”
JADE: More organised than last year and more exciting.
TIM: And more settled.
JAMES: I wasn’t here last year!
SNOWY: James wasn’t here last year!
JADE: James wasn’t here last year. James is here now.
SNOWY: We’ve got some chicken in the fridge.
JADE: And! Some canned tuna.
HAPPY: Who are you most excited to be seeing or playing with this time round?
JADE: And No Mono! I want to see them. They’re really good, we played with them earlier this year.
JAMES: Ella Hooper’s great! I really want to see her!
HAPPY: Who in the band has the weirdest taste?
JADE: In food?
HAPPY: In anything.
HAPPY: There’s always a weirdo, right?
SNOWY: We’re all weirdos, I think we all have our specialities at being weirdoes.
JADE: Yeah, I think that’s why we get along so well! We definitely… go into a downward spiral when we’re together…
JAMES: Definitely down!
JADE: Into weirdo land.
HAPPY: Another question for each of you. Who is your biggest musical hero?
JADE: My biggest musical hero used to be – okay I’ll just say it now – Steve Kilbey [from The Church]. But I played a show with him and he snubbed me! I got really sad. We were both playing a show that was a tribute show to The Cure and he sat in the bandroom. He offered me some of his gin which was really nice, but then he sat in the corner on his iPhone. I really wanted to talk to him because I love The Church!
HAPPY: He’s just like that I think.
JADE: He seems nice…
HAPPY: We did a great interview with him the other week for another tribute show, an R.E.M. thing. He just said he smokes a joint everyday and then figures it out, you know what I mean? He’s an interesting guy! He’s also got a book [Something Quite Peculiar]!
JADE: I haven’t read it…
TIM: Is the book about him?
HAPPY: He wrote it. I don’t think it has a beginning a middle or an end, he just sat down and wrote about his life…
JADE: I also really like St. Vincent. I think she’s really cool.
TIM: I don’t know! Can I abstain? Can I go last?
JAMES: I’ve got a two-pronged attack. I think Ringo Starr. I love him, and I love the personality in the playing.
HAPPY: A very distinctive style!
JAMES: But also, I’m a big Pink Floyd fan. I saw Roger Waters when he toured! That production! And him trying to constantly… push boundaries.
HAPPY: It’s amazing what you can do with a couple of million dollars, right?
JAMES: But his attitude with trying something new blew me away.
HAPPY: Plus a flying pig!
JAMES: It looked delicious!
SNOWY: [Motions that he has nothing to comment.]
HAPPY: I guess one final question is that besides the new album, what’s coming next for you guys?
JADE: We have a tour in November and we’re going to come back to Brisbane. We’re going to play Melbourne, regional shows and Sydney and Byron and Brisbane! So that’s November. That may or may not be a single launch. And then the next thing I guess will be a few shows through summer. But at the moment, we’re just focusing on finishing the artwork and the visual stuff for the album and then that will be out early next year.
Fri 26 Oct – The Eastern, Ballarat VIC
Sat 27 Oct – The Bridge, Castlemaine VIC
Sun 28 Oct – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
Fri 9 Nov – Leadbelly, Sydney NSW
Sat 10 Nov – End Of The Line Festival, Wooloongabba QLD
Sun 11 Nov – Byron Bay Brewery, Byron Bay QLD