“It’s all very exciting, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s happened overnight.”
For me, it kind of felt like Spacey Jane blew up overnight. Not too long ago, they were this cool new band from Perth taking out our Needle In The Hay vinyl competition. Then, with what felt like a blink, they were playing Splendour In The Grass, getting announced for the Laneway tour, and placing in the Hottest 100.
Of course, for them, it hasn’t felt so sudden. They’ve been releasing music and touring around the country for years now, steadily building a following, and further refining their writing skills. So we caught up with the band to chat about the journey that led them to this point, house parties, and their debut album, Sunlight.
HAPPY: I saw that video triple j put up of you playing Laneway the other day. It looked massive.
KIERAN: There’s a lot happening in that video, it’s great. I’m stoked about that.
HAPPY: Would that have been your biggest crowd to date?
CALEB: I think Brisbane would’ve been a bit bigger. Sydney was a bit of an earlier set, so I think a few people would’ve missed us.
ASHTON: But Sydney was kind of bigger because there were people listening on the radio.
CALEB: Yeah, in effect, the Sydney crowd was bigger.
HAPPY: The millions listening at home!
KIERAN: I hate that shit. You never know what’s going on at the other end. It’s just people sitting in the bath with an old wire radio for all I know.
ASHTON: Is that how you imagine every triple j listener?
KIERAN: Yep, in the bath with scented candles.
CALEB: It’s weird when people say “for those of you listening at home.” I don’t think anyone really listens to the radio at home. It’s always in the car.
KIERAN: Yeah, they should say “for those of you listening in transit.” Or “for those of you on-site.”
HAPPY: As you know, we’ve been fans of yours for a long time. But I don’t think I realised just how gangbusters it had all gone. I remember one afternoon I was sitting at this pub, and I was talking to a girl… she said she was going to see Spacey Jane later that night. I asked her whereabouts. She said the Paddo RSL. I said, “fuck, that’s like an 800 capacity.” It was sold out. Has this whole process felt sudden or gradual to you?
KIERAN: It’s been gradual in terms of years. It’s always felt like there’s something exciting on the horizon. Of course, there were big moments like Splendour and this Laneway tour…
CALEB: BIGSOUND was another big one.
HAPPY: So it’s still felt like a bit of a slog…
CALEB: Yeah, it’s a bit of slog. We still love it and it’s all very exciting, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s happened overnight.
HAPPY: You’re not tired of it yet?
CALEB: Nah. It’s still so exciting.
ASHTON: It’s so sick.
CALEB: And it’s still all evolving so quick. Nothing’s ever the same, so there’s no chance to get bored.
HAPPY: I read briefly that your first show was in your backyard, Caleb. Could you paint a picture of that scene for us?
CALEB: Yeah, it was just like a house party.
KIERAN: How much did we pay for that PA?
CALEB: A fair bit, like 400, 500 bucks. I just got a bunch of palettes and made a stage. Then I threw Dad’s really nice Persian rugs on top, but they all got buried in mulberries. They were ruined forever.
HAPPY: Mulberries? Were people throwing fruit at you? Surely you weren’t that bad…
CALEB: (laughs) Nah, there was a mulberry tree right above the stage. It was in season.
KIERAN: I bought about $500 worth of alcohol that night intending to set up a bar. We ended up just getting really drunk and giving it all away. We didn’t make any money. The guy who was responsible for it all gave it all away, except for about $70, which he kept for himself. Terrible return on investment.
HAPPY: What kind of material were you playing back then? Anything that’s since been released?
KIERAN: I think we were playing Thrills.
CALEB: Nah, Thrills came later.
KIERAN: Still Running was on there. Feels Better was on there.
CALEB: And there were a few others that will never see the light of day. There was a blues jam in there too.
PIPPA: Love a blues jam!
CALEB: It wasn’t really blues though. That’d be kind of disrespectful to proper blues musicians.
HAPPY: You guys have been recording your debut album. Is it all done?
CALEB: It’s all done!
KIERAN: We got the artwork and everything back the other day.
CALEB: Yeah, thank you.
HAPPY: Was there a large demoing process? Or did you go in with an album already written?
ASHTON: We recorded about 18 songs. Then we got to pick and choose the best.
KIERAN: It really took a while. We went in for our first session in February last year. From that point, we just went in for a week or two each time and did three or four songs. We built it up slowly, then eventually we decided it was going to be an album.
CALEB: Initially we had this idea that we’d have it all recorded by mid-way through the year.
ASHTON: We had that period where we put out Good Grief and Good For You, where we weren’t really thinking about an album.
HAPPY: Are they going to be part of the album?
CALEB: Yep. We were still working towards an album at that point. I guess the point when it became an album was when we didn’t have any more time to record.
HAPPY: So was it not always intended that these sessions were going to lead to album?
CALEB: No, I think we were always pushing towards that.
HAPPY: Are Good Grief and Good For You the only singles that you’ve put out that are going to be on the album?
CALEB: Head Cold will be on it as well.
HAPPY: Have you been playing much of the unreleased stuff live?
KIERAN: No, not at all. We haven’t touched it.
PIPPA: No, we did that one song.
KIERAN: Oh yeah.
CALEB: I’m not even sure why we played that. I guess because it was easy. It’s the only one we didn’t really have to rehearse. We’ve got figure out a lot of backing track and sampling stuff before we do the album tour.
HAPPY: Are you going to keep it all under wraps until you drop it?
CALEB: I think so. I’d really love to do a practice show somewhere in Perth. That’d be cool.
HAPPY: Is there any timeline for a release?
KIERAN: I’m not really sure what we’re allowed to share. It’ll be pretty soon. All the details will be out by the end of the month. But yeah, I’m not sure how much to share about all that.
HAPPY: Yeah, don’t worry, I’m not looking for the scoop. Unless you wanna give me the scoop? What’s Spacey Jane’s rock bottom?
CALEB: This morning.
KIERAN: Yeah, this morning. I actually didn’t see morning today. I slept until 12:30.
HAPPY: With the new album, have you approached the writing and recording of it differently to those earlier tunes?
CALEB: I think it’s changed a little bit, but it’s hard to say. We’re very attached to it, so I think it’d be easier for other people to digest how it’s changed.
ASHTON: We didn’t really get to play a lot of these songs live heaps, whereas we’ve always been able to that before. We didn’t get to roadtest these.
CALEB: The biggest thing for me was, we were in the studio to record an album. We really got to focus on doing that the best way possible. We went in with that one intention. That sort of attitude was quite different for us, and it really helped. We felt like we had a lot more freedom.
PIPPA: We could throw ideas at the wall, then take out the ideas that didn’t work.
HAPPY: You said you recorded 18 tracks. How many have you kept?
HAPPY: Was it difficult chopping them down?
KIERAN: It was weird, we all kind of agreed immediately.
CALEB: We still like those other songs though.
KIERAN: We still might release those tracks further down the line. It’s good to have B-sides in your pocket, but even if we never decide what to do with them, they’ll still be there as ideas.
HAPPY: You mentioned how this time you haven’t been able to test out songs on the road. Has that affected the way you write?
CALEB: It makes it more about the song. It’s not about what we can play as a band together, but about adding to the actual song.
PIPPA: We’re going to need to re-learn the songs as a band, too.
KIERAN: We’re going to need someone to play congas for us.
ASHTON: The roadtesting thing is more important for younger bands. It’s more important to learn how to write songs that are going to go down well live. We have a better idea of all that now.
HAPPY: So you’re not worried at all about how these new tracks will go down live?
CALEB: Ooh, we’re still pretty worried. But more about how much work is needed to get them to that point. It’s a big job.
PIPPA: But it’ll be a fun job.
HAPPY: So you’ve got congas on the new album… any other new instruments?
CALEB: There are lots of synths.
KIERAN: There’s a cowbell too. There’s nothing too out there.
CALEB: There’s a free iPhone synth app.
ASHTON: Yeah I’ve got this app on my phone that eventually became the main riff on one of the songs.
HAPPY: What’s the app? Can people recreate their own Spacey Jane synth sound?
ASHTON: It’s called ‘Synth One’.
KIERAN: Synth One? You literally took the first option.
CALEB: That’s like people who call their businesses ‘AAA Plumbing’ so they can get to the top of the Yellow Pages.
*Here Ashton played us a sample of the synth*
KIERAN: It sounds like a fucking alarm.
CALEB: Yeah, that sounds so shit.
Sunlight is available now. Grab it here.