Spacey Jane's ‘Wild & Overwhelming’ Rise To Success

23 June 2022 | 11:33 am | Carley Hall

“There were a lot of things that kind of went horribly wrong."

(Pic by Sam Hendel)

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It’s pretty clear you’re doing something right as a young indie rock band from Fremantle if you’re dialling in from a sleek LA Airbnb on a hazy afternoon - while “grossly hungover”, nonetheless. It’s the seemingly never-ending ride that four-piece Spacey Jane have found themselves on since starting out only a few years ago with breakout singles that brimmed with warm, fuzzy indie rock and connected with crowds via honest and intimate lyrics.

Singer and guitarist Caleb Harper and drummer and newly self-appointed co-manager Kieran Lama (“there’s been a lot of – what’s the word – onboarding lately!”) admit it’s been a minute since the release of their first EP No Way To Treat An Animal back in 2017. Then, the shows were small, tight and sweaty. These days, the band are easily selling out large venues around the country and beyond, landing songs in triple j’s Hottest 100, winning ARIAs and covering The Wiggles for the star-studded Re:Wiggled compilation, not to mention playing a whole bunch of festivals along the way. 

Despite the crowds getting bigger and the stages getting higher, the pair says their recent run of shows in the UK proved that the chaos and intimacy of gigs past were something the band could still enjoy with their new fans in packed, petite venues.

“London was an obvious highlight for us just because it was like, you know, a big show,” Lama says. “It's kind of your first foray into that market. And it was just wild and overwhelming – like, it took us years to play a show that size in Australia. And to have our first trip to the UK be graced with something like that was pretty cool. So, I think that was pretty standout for me.”

“Yeah, London is kind of the crown jewel of that tour, for sure,” Harper adds. “But some of the places that we ended up getting to, like Liverpool were amazing, just to hear how loud crowds were and how warmly received we were, it took us by surprise. I mean, we're used to playing play shows in Australia. And that's it, we don't have a point of reference as to what it's like to play anywhere else.

“We played this Bristol show and there was like 150 people, the stage was like four inches off the ground. And you're like in the crowd’s faces. It was really special; I could just talk to people throughout the set because they were right there.”

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While the band was lapping up these moments overseas, Australia’s Prime Minister at the time was booted out of office. Spacey Jane have always been vocal on issues that affect youth, the environment and the arts. So, with the new governing Labor Party sworn in, Harper is hopeful for a fresher outlook from the Albanese administration.

“It's brought a bit of a shift in perspective, from one of just like outright despondency,” he says. “When you think of politics as a young person, it’s a little easier to feel hopeful and to feel like there's something that can change, rather than feeling dejected or alienated from the whole thing. And that’s what it’s felt like for a lot of people our age for the past, what, nine years.”

Considering the only previous overseas tours Spacey Jane have embarked upon had been to our NZ cousins across the ditch, these recent and upcoming shows around the globe highlight just how quickly they’ve gone from zero to hero. Still, their first foray to the UK was not without its challenges. The four-piece joke that they’ve clearly not rocketed to the level of stardom that makes them immune from the mundane and shitty side of travelling with a lot of gear in tow.

“There were a lot of things that kind of went horribly wrong,” laughs Lama. “The biggest logistical nightmare was like at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, flying out after the show to Birmingham. There’d been a baggage handler strike the previous week. And so the airport was in complete disarray. And we must have waited for like four hours to get through security and missed our flight.

“And there was literally fucking nobody - like no staff, it was like some post-apocalyptic sort of thing going on. So yeah, we spent 10 hours in the airport to get one flight.”

It’s somewhat of a relief then that the band is enjoying some much-needed downtime in sunny LA before the year mapped out for them unravels – their new, second album Here Comes Everybody has already fired up fans new and seasoned with singles It’s Been A Long Day, Hardlight and Lots Of Nothing. Hot on the heels of its release, the band will embark on a national tour, more international shows as well as a handful of major festival slots.

It’s a stark difference in comparison to how their debut Sunlight was unleashed in 2020. Despite a handful of previous EPs and single releases reeling in an entirely new fanbase, launching a first album in the foreshadows of a pandemic was hardly an ideal scenario. 

While the band couldn’t fully get that first album touring experience under their belt, the lockdowns meant that fans more readily clung to songs like Good For You and Headcold whose lyrics spoke of hope plagued by anxiety. The closed borders also gave the foursome space for their latest LP Here Comes Everybody to take shape.

“I think for the most part, in Western Australia, life just kind of went on,” Lama says. “You know, obviously, if you're from Australia, you'll know that our border was pretty staunchly closed to any state that had more than like, two COVID cases for a good year at least. And so, because of that, things just kind of existed similar to how they had before.

“But I think for me, when COVID all started, we were flying back from New Zealand and we were due to play shows for a couple of hundred people,” Harper explains.

“So we cancelled a tour, tried to redo it but it all fell apart. And obviously it got more and more severe as the weeks went on. And that's when the anxiety came and feeling like music was dead. And the band was no more because we love being on stage as well. We were needing to play a lot of shows and get out in front of people.

“It was super tough, watching bands that were trying to start or had just started in COVID. And we kind of saw what was coming and felt like that would be the case for us, I guess. But writing the album changed that. There was a frantic level of writing and feeling like I had to really produce and we had to do something. 

“I think what impacted the writing process more than anything, or like the pressure we felt, was probably the fact that we knew it was going to be the second record. The first record I remember being nervous about it - it was just exciting. It didn't feel like as much was at stake in some senses. But with writing for Here Comes Everybody, it was definitely a lot more like, ‘Okay, people expect something after you've done your first album.’” 

Lama adds: “But then in other ways, writing this second one has been as sort of full-time musicians.

“So there's been more time and like life has directed itself towards music more generally, where when we were doing Sunlight, it was like we working and studying between getting into the studio.”

The studio process for Here Comes Everybody saw the band jet over to Brisbane for some of the recording, narrowly dodging lockdowns. With producer Konstantin Kersting (Mallrat, Tones & I, The Jungle Giants) at the helm, the Spacey Jane gang embraced some new flavours and injected some of it into their new release. 

With the subconscious weight of the second album expectations resting on their shoulders, Harper says working with Kersting helped them naturally navigate a fresh take on their sound, rather than a complete 180 turn into a random new direction.

“I think the biggest thing about producers is to like the people that you like working with, right,” he says. “Obviously people can be really brilliant and not necessarily the right fit - they might have albums that have charted well, but it doesn't necessarily mean that that's what your record is going to sound like.

“So we got along with him well and enjoyed the process. We wanted something that was different. 

“One thing I really liked is that it did feel like a conscious choice to refresh the sound, but that, to me, is what makes it a natural change as well. It's kind of like the two are the same, in a sense, and it feels like, you know, without trying to do the craziest left-field turns and we're not trying to do one thing necessarily.” 

“It's a concerted effort to think outside the box at least a little bit, or think about the different people that would be involved or the words we want to approach,” Lama adds. “I mean, that's led very much to something that I think is important, because there's nothing worse than the same record being released five times in a row then wondering what went wrong.”

'Here Comes Everybody' is out June 24

Friday 5 August | Perth Arena, Perth WA *AA

Thursday 11 August | Big Top, Sydney NSW 18+/AA

Friday 12 August | Big Top, Sydney NSW 18+

Saturday 13 August | Big Top, Sydney NSW *AA

Wednesday 17 August | Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane QLD 18+

Thursday 18 August | Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane QLD *AA 

Friday 19 August | Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane QLD 18+

Tuesday 23 August | The Forum, Melbourne VIC *AA

Wednesday 24 August | The Forum, Melbourne VIC *AA

Friday 25 August | The Forum, Melbourne VIC 18+

Friday 26 August | The Forum, Melbourne VIC 18+

Saturday 27 August | The Forum, Melbourne VIC 18+