“We never want to take ourselves too seriously,” Lizzie Jack and the Beanstalks say of their artistry in an interview with Happy Mag.
By now you’ve probably heard Lizzie Jack and the Beanstalks’ most recent single Dumb Decisions (if you haven’t, what on earth are you doing?).
An indie-pop cut recounting the tale of a years-long situationship, the single borrows from elements of folk and fuzz rock, making for a head-banging anthem with surprising lyrical vulnerability.
Fresh off the release of Dumb Decisions, and with an EP or album already in the works, we caught up with Lizzie, Alex and Jayke of the Beanstalks for a deep-dive into their new single, their road to music, and their desire to blend “storytelling [with] a little bit of piss-taking.”
Catch our full interview with the Wollongong band below, and scroll down to listen to Dumb Decisions.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
LIZZIE: Today we are all working at our day jobs around Wollongong while sweltering through the 34 degree heat.
HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?
LIZZIE: Alex and I are regional kids from Wagga and Batemans Bay respectively, having moved up to the Gong about seven years ago, while Jayke and Pauly grew up around the Illawarra.
The scene in Wollongong is amazing, you can pretty much see a new local or touring band every night of the week and it’s easy to pop up to sydney to catch some more bands in the Inner West. Being home to Yours and Owls Festival and Hockey Dad, (more broadly) Pacific Avenue and The Vanns is pretty cool!
HAPPY: Describe an average day?
LIZZIE: We are all very busy bees, working full-time (some of us two jobs) plus band commitments, sport and other fun stuff.
HAPPY: Can you tell us about your musical background and how you first got started in the world of music?
LIZZIE: I am not from a musical family at all, but I always grew up listening to music. My Dad loves Suzi Quatro, Janis Joplin, Easybeats and The Beatles, and my mum grew up in the Sutherland Shire going to see Cold Chisel, INXS, Australian Crawl and Noiseworks.
I was always really confident from a young age and quite the (poor) performer, and always wanted to be a singer. I was obsessed with Missy Higgins and Delta Goodrem and begged for a piano, and got a little four octave Casio keyboard when I was 7. I went on to play piano all through school, competing in competitions and eisteddfods.
I always loved songwriting but found it really hard to sing and play piano at the same time, so got my brother to teach me guitar. I would busk around my hometown of Batemans Bay and fell off the music train for quite a while when I came to Wollongong, until I met Alex and we started jamming.
JAYKE: For me it was inevitable, I grew up with three older siblings who were musicians and also my parents. I learned piano from when I was four years old before asking for a guitar for my seventh birthday.
I picked up bass when I was fifteen and realised I love being a bassist most. My brother introduced me to a lot of my favourite bands when we used to drive around in his old Datsun.
ALEX: My parents have great taste in music and when I was starting school I was obsessed with this beat up upright piano they had in their music room. I started learning piano when I was about 7 and later picked up guitar in high school when I started getting into punk and metal.
HAPPY: Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how have they shaped your approach to creating music?
LIZZIE: We all have pretty different tastes and influences, but collectively we take influence from modern and classic rock, like Foo Fighters, Cold Chisel, The Angels.
Lyrically I get a lot of inspiration from Ruby Fields, Suzi, Gretta Ray, Alex Lahey, Gang of Youths and other Australian singer songwriters with a focus on lyrical storytelling, then more pop influences from Olivia Rodrigo and Baby Queen. And of course, the queen herself Taylor Swift.
HAPPY: Can you tell us about how the band originally formed and how you came up with the name “Lizzie Jack and the Beanstalks”?
LIZZIE: Alex and I met through mutual friends around 2018 when I was playing in an acoustic covers duo. He had come to a few shows and jumped up for a guest appearance one time, then at a party we got talking more about music.
We had another friend James, who had just started teaching himself guitar and jokingly talked about starting a band – now we just needed a drummer.
I had a friend and neighbour who I’d known for a few years, Paddy, and went to his house to use his washing machine and saw a drum kit in his garage and was like ‘what? I’ve known you for years, how have I never known you play drums? Want to join a band?’
And that’s how it started. I originally wanted to call us Lizzie and the Jacks, as it was me and three guys, but we somehow settled on the Beanstalks.
We had a really good run of shows and got quite the following before James and Paddy had to move away for work after uni. Jayke and Pauly are mates we had made through the local music scene, and luckily for us were more than happy to jump in.
HAPPY: You’ve been described as having a diverse sound, ranging from folk-ballads to punk anthems. How do you maintain cohesion within your music while exploring different genres?
LIZZIE: I think the main link between all our songs is storytelling and a little bit of piss-taking. We never want to take ourselves too seriously – which is where songs like Shiraz Mouth and Pyramid Scheme come in.
Then in songs like Small Town Life, Before I Go and Dumb Decisions, they are all very literal and 100% true stories, which I hope resonate with the listeners. I’m also a bit notorious for only ever downstrumming and palm muting chords, so that weaves a common thread between all our songs.
ALEX: I think the fact that Lizzie and I have been playing together so long and that we have similar backgrounds in music, means we can draw influence from completely opposite genres of music to meet in the middle and make it sound great. Jayke and Pauly are like this of course too, which makes it very easy to write songs!
HAPPY: “Dumb Decisions” has been praised for its relatable portrayal of everyday experiences. How important is it for you to connect with your audience on a personal level through your music?
LIZZIE: Similar to above, I just love telling true stories in my songs and singing about all these anecdotes that my friends can hear and smile about later.
The song that really got me back into music and songwriting was You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me by Alex Lahey. I remember hearing that song and it was so accurate to the situation I was in and I was like ‘how did I not write this myself?’ I want that kind of thing to resonate with our audience.
HAPPY: What was the creative process like for recording and producing “Dumb Decisions” at Studio 301 with Owen Butcher? How did this experience shape the final product?
LIZZIE: We’d been sitting on Dumb Decisions for about a year and had been playing it slightly differently pretty much every time, especially Alex’s lead lines. It wasn’t until Pauly came into the band that it started to properly take shape, and Owen’s insight was super helpful getting it fully polished.
ALEX: We went in with a solid demo of the song that’d we’d recorded at my place, but there were a few of those ‘let’s try this’ moments which ended up shaping the final mix of the song and took it to another level.
HAPPY: The new lineup, featuring drummer Paul Pozzachio, brings a fresh dynamic to the band. How has this change influenced your sound and approach to creating music together?
LIZZIE: Pauly is very honest with his feedback which is really good, and being a drum teacher he just knows music inside and out. He is very happy to experiment with different drum beats when we’re writing songs together and asking for genuine input, but we pretty much trust him to play whatever and he has really good ideas throughout all parts of the song, not just the drums.
The chants at the end of Dumb Decisions were Pauly’s last second idea and we actually added them in using a DIY set up before sending it for mastering. Similarly, Jayke is a guitar teacher and an absolute wizard in terms of music theory. He just knows what notes and harmonies are going to work together and it’s definitely elevated our sound.
HAPPY: Your latest single, “Dumb Decisions,” explores the risky act of getting romantically involved with a friend. What inspired you to tackle this theme in your music, and how did it shape the songwriting process?
LIZZIE: All of our songs are pretty much true stories and involve some kind of conflict (unrequited love, moving away, growing up) and I was like ‘huh, I should probably write a love song for my partner of five years’ and I guess the conflict was that we were best friends who got a little drunk one night, but it all worked out.
HAPPY: Your music has been compared to artists like Violent Soho and Cry Club. How do these influences manifest in your sound?
JAYKE: We all really love rock music and especially for me I love the early 2000’s Emo vocal style, so I bring that to a lot of my backing vocals. My favourite type of music is prog, so any time I can sprinkle some interesting harmony or a wacky rhythm into a song, I will.
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HAPPY: Your music video for “Dumb Decisions” is your first official release. How did the visual element enhance the storytelling of the song, and what was the creative process like for producing the video?
ALEX: We wanted the video to be visually interesting while painting the scene of being in a sharehouse after a big night. We found this really cool couch on Facebook Marketplace for free and littered the place we hired with empty bottles and streamers.
The fun part was dressing the set and basically trashing the place. Not so fun when you have to clean it all up at the end of the day!
HAPPY: Performing at festivals like Yours & Owls is a significant milestone. What do you look forward to most about sharing your music with a live audience?
LIZZIE: One thing we always look forward to is either having new people in the audience or preparing a brand new surprise song to cover that people haven’t heard us do before.
We have been practising heaps in the lead up to Yours and Owls and luckily have a couple gigs before the festival to iron out any kicks. The hardest part is narrowing our set list down to just 20 mins!
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HAPPY: Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for the band in the coming years? Are there any exciting projects or releases on the horizon that you can share with your fans?
JAYKE: We have a few more songs to record, so the next project is likely an EP or album. We’re also looking to play more shows further from home so looking at a potential mini tour.
HAPPY: Lastly, what makes you happy?
LIZZIE: Drinking in the sun with my pals, netball and music
JAYKE: Sharing music with people, through live shows and teaching.