The Preatures are a band who, as guitarist Jack Moffitt will tell you, haven’t put their foot on the brakes for seven years running. Between the tours spanning several months, two albums, and a platinum-selling single, they’ve also made time to support ideas they truly believe in.
From Izzi Manfredi’s constant campaigning for Keep Sydney Open to their continued involvement with Support Act (amongst many, many other initiatives), they’re a band leading the charge for a better, more understanding, and more inclusive music industry.
To celebrate their recent collaboration with Support Act, a limited edition charity tee released through Levi’s, we caught up with Moffitt to find out what drew them to the charity in the first place, what their recording plans are, and why they’ve always been the good guys.
Taking some time off following The Preatures’ most extensive tour to date, Jack Moffitt reflects on what the band, and himself, value most.
HAPPY: Hey! So last I saw you had wrapped up a pretty huge tour. What’s on the cards at the moment?
JACK: Just having a little bit of time off, man. It was a big tour, we did 40 odd shows around Australia throughout a three month block of the year and had a fucking amazing time doing it. And then, just taking a little bit of time off to rest, and doing some writing. Izzi’s on a big trip, until about December she’s having a holiday, so we’ll get back together at the end of the year and start piecing together what will hopefully be our third record.
HAPPY: Sounds great. I didn’t realise how big this break was until I looked it up. Was it a case of the bigger the tour, the bigger the break?
JACK: Haha, no! It was overdue, we’ve been pretty much on for seven years really, not withstanding a couple of weeks here and there between things. So this is our three months to say thanks for being able to do what we do for seven years.
HAPPY: It’s almost like a long service leave, or something.
JACK: Yeah I guess you could call it that.
HAPPY: During those years The Preatures have had a history of charity work, from Support Act to the Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and obviously Keep Sydney Open. Do you feel like you guys fell into this kind of work because of who you were personally, or was it some kind of obligation as you felt your platform growing?
JACK: I think we’ve always been mindful of… these things are just part of being a good person in the world, it’s pretty much as simple as that.
JACK: I guess we are kind of fortunate in that we’ve got a platform now. I mean, that word ‘obligation’ is a little bit irksome but if you’re out there and know you can do something about it, being compelled to do it is the first step in being helpful or drawing attention to something that people might not be aware of. We’ve had a lot of experiences, being in a band and being around musicians and being around creative people, that also goes hand in hand in hand with some pretty heavy emotional baggage.
HAPPY: No doubt.
JACK: You know, concerns that we weren’t mindful of when we started and were perhaps brought to our attention. Yeah, we were compelled to be involved in making change happen, and that goes for Support Act, or being privileged enough to share the Indigenous language… that’s out there too if people want to be more mindful of that stuff. It’s not about activism or chucking it in people’s faces, it’s just like ‘here’s this’. And yeah, we’re really passionate about it.
HAPPY: You touched on this, the stuff that you wouldn’t have expected to run into as a musician. I imagine balancing it with a 40-date tour is exhausting – what is there that stops you from going ‘shit, this is just too much work’?
JACK: Nothing stops us. I always dread the cycle, I dread it before every tour. I was just chatting with a friend of mine, we get coffee, she’s a psychologist. In everyday life you need to make space for your emotions, we have this phrase ‘hold it’, like make space for it. I think, not like a lot of other people, I’ve gone through most of my life compartmentalising feelings or saying it’s not time for me to feel that, or I can’t let myself go into that space of feeling blue or dark about something. But as I’ve gotten older and trying to be a bit wiser to my mental health – which is kind of all I have if I’m not physically healthy – you need to make room for the fact that you’re not always going to be on top of stuff and that’s ok. And you talk to people about it, just being emotionally present for people to share or express their feelings to you is really important too, but that’s a thing that takes a little bit of time and patience to become aware of. That’s an important step! It’s ok to not be ok.
HAPPY: Yeah of course, thanks for sharing. Yourself and other artists who keep an open conversation around these topics, you also open yourself up to fans. Have you found that dipping into this kind of work created a more rewarding relationship with fans?
JACK: I think so, any dialogue or any point where you can begin contributing, even if it’s just listening to a conversation about mental health, it’s a positive thing. I think it changes the way that we relate to one another, 100 percent. Someone’s having a shitty day, maybe you know the context, maybe you don’t. Like, start looking at the group… you do away with that sense of judgement, or that you don’t stand to learn anything from an interaction with somebody that you don’t know. Be open minded and open hearted about learning something, then you can share something with people that they hadn’t considered.
HAPPY: Music fans will hear about these charities, they’ll go to the gigs or they will read the interviews, but unless you’re a musician or in the industry you don’t get to see a lot of what these institutions do day-to-day. So I wanted to ask, have The Preatures or anyone you know had these charities come out of the woodwork when they really needed it?
JACK: Not necessarily come out of the woodwork. Definitely in my experience – recently a very painful experience in my broader community of friends of somebody taking their own life – it’s the strength of the community coming together and discussing what’s out there for people who might be unsure about what they’re feeling or who to talk to. Things like Beyond Blue and R U OK day, things that have become part of our consciousness as a nation… that sounds like a strange thing to say.
HAPPY: I think that’s fair enough to say, now.
JACK: I think it’s good that we’re starting to bring things up as a daily thing. It’s not like it’s one day of the year that you ask that question, it’s every day of the year, it’s a thing that’s always under the surface. These organisations coming out of the woodwork, I’ve never really had that experience because they’ve just always been around. They’ve given shape to something to something that I just thought were parts of being a good human being, or even just being a good friend, being there for somebody when they needed you.
JACK: And in that sense, hopefully mental illness won’t always be this blimp issue that always floats above the way that we talk about other issues in any community, whether it’s a creative community or the world at large.
HAPPY: Awesome. That’s pretty much all I had… oh, who took the photo on the new shirt?
JACK: Yeah! It’s this guy called McLean Stephenson.
HAPPY: I love Mclean’s stuff.
JACK: He’s an unreal photographer. We’ve worked with him a lot, he’s just a really good friend of ours and a really great photographer. He took that photo at The Lansdowne, I’m pretty sure.
JACK: We just wanted to make this classic, almost ’80s rock shirt, and I think we did it. Well, it looks cool to me.
HAPPY: It almost looks like it should be an album cover.
JACK: Yeah totally! It was actually designed by Miles from Bad//Dreems.
HAPPY: Oh sick! I knew he did his own shirt for this same initiative.
JACK: He’s a kickass designer. He’s done a lot of stuff for our last tour… aside from being in, well I think, one of the best bands in Australia at the moment, he’s an incredible designer and it’s kind of like, that’s pretty neat. Taking a photo like that, it’s pretty simple but I guess genius is a pretty simple thing. There’s always a simple solution that’s kind of the coolest thing.
HAPPY: Yeah definitely. Well, thanks for the chat.
JACK: Yeah thanks a lot!