Despite the 17-hour time difference between Sydney and Chicago, meeting Nik Kaloper of The Jezabels via Skype shed some light on topics like the band’s choice of name, touring with Tegan and Sara, and why they don’t want to be boxed off as just one genre.
With three EP’s out and an album on the way, The Jezabels—consisting of Hayley Mary on vocals, Samuel Lockwood on guitar, Heather Shannon on keys, and Kaloper on drums—hail from Australia, where they all attended the University of Sydney.
Like many college students, Kaloper was working at a coffee shop—but a chance encounter let the former barista leave his job in order to play drums for the band.
“I met Sam at the coffee shop where I worked, and he told me about the band needing a drummer,” said Kaloper. “The band was already formed when I joined, since they had all known each other from before and had been playing in pubs in Sydney.”
The Jezabels formed about four years ago, using a modified version of the name Jezebel, a Biblical figure.
“It was the intended name chosen by Hayley, who thought that Jezebel was misrepresented in the Bible,” he said. “I think it was also the name of family pet, though I don’t remember the whole story, but I like the aspect of the name—it fits the well with the band.”
The lyrics featured in songs like “Dark Storm” and “Easy to Love” are simple, yet reveal a depth that can be felt as if you were reading a well-written poem; each song also encompasses an equally impressive profoundness heard in the band’s overall sound, which is the result of a time-consuming, yet fruitful collaboration.
“Lyrics are Hayley’s domain, but we all write our own parts for every song,” said Kaloper. “It can be stressful at times because we all try to do our own thing, but we build up on each other’s ideas and then collectively put them together.”
Although the band members have considerably different musical taste from one another, it could help explain why they don’t label themselves in a specific category.
“The band I played for prior to this one was metal, Sam’s really into country and bluegrass, Heather likes concertos, and Hayley likes the 80’s,” he said. “I guess that’s why we don’t write for or stay within a genre; being placed into one is too vague a description, and really subjective since different reviews come up with their own genres.”
Having performed in both the west and east coasts of Australia, Kaloper recalls one show that The Jezabels will never forget.
“We once played a show at Wave Rock in western Australia, and it was like this big hippie fest,” he said. “There were thousands of people there and it went on for about four hours, but it was such a fun experience that we all really loved.”
Touring with Tegan and Sara, however, proved to be just as important.
“When you go on tour with other bands, you get inspired whether you do or don’t like their music,” said Kaloper. “We were excited about touring with Tegan and Sara, but we didn’t know how much we would really like playing with them and gaining the admiration of the work they do.”
For Kaloper, writing and recording music builds up to the full experience of being a performer.
“There’s no political message in our music—we just play it to as many different people that listens,” he said. “My favorite part of being in a band is the fantastic feeling I get after we play a good show; there’s just no other feeling like it.”
And after playing the drums for years and joining this up and coming band, Kaloper offers aspiring musicians a piece of advice.
“Being in a band is like being in a relationship; you’ve got to make compromises and always keep working at it,” he said. “There are no shows that are too small to play in, and you can never practice too much or too hard.”
The Jezabels plan to tour U.S. cities starting next month, including their 21+ Chicago show on Mar. 17.