Since winning 2011's Australian Music Prize, the Jezabels appear ready to take on the world. The Sydney-based quartet won the coveted title for its debut LP "Prisoner," a slick collection of rock songs that's gotten the band acquainted with some of Australia's most famous musical talents.
" Gotye was sleeping in my bed when I wasn't there because he's good friends with my flatmate," reminisces frontwoman Hayley Mary, whose own set of powerful vocals serve as a centerpiece for the band's anthemic alt rock.
Along with guitarist Samuel Lockwood, pianist/keyboardist Heather Shannon, and drummer Nik Kaloper, the Jezabels formed in 2007 at the University of Sydney. Their first big connection was with charismatic producer Lachlan Mitchell, a friend of their manager's who guided them through their first three EPs. Early live staples like "Be a Star" and "Easy to Love" gained them exposure as a D.I.Y. act, as did local showcases in Brisbane and Sydney, and American slots at CMJ Music Marathon and SXSW. Despite the attention of industry executives like Seymour Stein, the band has skillfully progressed on its own.
"We're independent in Australia and we always have been," says Shannon. "That allowed us to come here (to the United States) and play gigs and sort of start out on our own terms."
For their debut LP, 2011's 'Prisoner,' sticking with Mitchell as a producer was a no-brainer according to Nik Kaloper:
"We thought, well, it's been so good up until now, let's not risk it and try to do something different. We all wanted to hang out with Lachland, anyway. He's a life coach as well as a music coach."
"It's a wonderful feeling and we obviously feel very encouraged by it," says Kaloper. "We want to live up to whatever it is these people see in us. It felt very encouraging and quite humbling."
The success of 'Prisoner' has made the band regulars on the worldwide festival circuit. Summer 2012 included stops at Chicago's Lollapalooza, New York's Governor's Ball, Scotland's T in the Park, and Montreal's Osheaga. The final months of 2012 include a multitude of gigs across North America and Europe, though for the band, the positive energy of a summer fest is tough to top.
"I love the feeling of playing to people who've never heard us before," says Lockwood. In the near future, the Jezabels figure to be doing plenty of that.