Interview :: Sister Jane
November 5th 2013
Sister Jane spend a lot of time in the bush.
The five-piece psychedelic powerhouse band hailing from the Blue Mountains make music on mountaintops (appropriate!), go for bush walks and jam with owls in the night. FBi’s Lucy Smith sat down with Lauren from the band to chat about their new single ‘Whole Wide World’, Velvet Underground, Spanish mountaintops and touring the big smoke.
LS :: I know it’s pretty cliche to start with this, but I was intrigued – how did the name Sister Jane come about?
SJ :: Well I wasn’t in the band when it first started… but to my knowledge (and Dan likes to be illusive), these are my two guesses: One is; of the first two recorded demo tracks of the band, one was called Wake Up Jane and the other was called Hey Sister. So I thought, maybe it’s a combination of that? But then equally it could be that Dan and Liam’s favourite Velvet Underground (RIP Lou) songs of the time were Sister Ray and Sweet Jane. So I don’t know! I think the first two tracks were a coincidence, I think it was more likely to be the Velvet Underground reference.
It’s all very mysterious! Because at first I thought Sister Jane was the name of some sort of nun.
(Laughs) No, a lot of people think that!
If Sister Jane, your band, were a nun – what type of nun do you reckon she would be?
I think she’d probably hide away on the mountaintops in some beautiful nunnery in Spain.
Nice. Speaking of mountaintops, you guys are from the Blue Mountains. How do you think that kind of setting – because it is obviously a beautiful area – informs your songwriting or provides inspiration to your sound?
It’s very hard to say. I think maybe inadvertently it does… I really don’t feel like it’s necessarily the scenario that inspires you to write music, but sometimes it does make it easier to have moments away from everything to let sound come out. When you’re in the city there’s so much to do… so it’s very hard to have those little quiet moments where nothing’s happening, and suddenly all of these sounds that you’ve been hearing, and things happening in your head, are able to have that moment to turn into a song.
In this particular song, “Whole Wide World”, Dan was telling me he had an inspiration for the rhythm guitar part and the general drive and feeling of the song; but it wasn’t until he was on a bushwalk in Woodford that the melody and the lyrics actually came to him.
So with the new album coming along, how have you learnt from the recording process in comparison to Mercy – because I did read that took several years to record, and the original recording was scrapped?
We came into this one – because of the experience with Mercy – with the intention of it being fast and furious and intense. We also didn’t really know any of the songs beforehand… It was really soon after Mercy and we’d done a few little tours for that, so we went, “Okay, we’re all ready, we’ve got heaps of songs,” and we went straight to Wauchope. It’s a really great place out in the bush, and we arrived at night which made it even better, because there were owls on lamp posts on the way out there and it was really atmospheric and spooky and we were ready to make noise in the dark.
And so really, that was so much more intense because we put down the bed tracks for every single song in one week, in this location. Some of the songs didn’t even have a structure, so while we were out there it was a hugely creative time as well as just having fun with songs. And because you’re already in a sort of intense situation, we’d get so excited playing around with guitar sounds and bringing up references so we’d know what we want the song to sound like, start jamming it, and get a structure together… I don’t think the new album would be what it is without having that really intense week.
That definitely gives us a good impression of what to expect from the new album.
We’re really happy with it! It feels like it’s more of a blend of really early Sister Jane and Mercy. We’ve found an in-between but also a completely new direction, with a lot more angular sounds. We look forward to learning how to play them live – ‘Whole Wide World’ we’ve been playing at the last few shows that we’ve done. It’s an absolute riot to play live, it’s so fun!
Why was ‘Whole Wide World’ chosen as the first single to be released off the album?
It wasn’t really something that the band had thought would be the first single. We were a bit too close to the whole thing, and so basically once it was mastered and finished we gave it to the record label and ten of our friends, and said “What would be your single picks?” ‘Whole Wide World’ was the one that came back from everybody, it just left a really good impression on everyone and they wanted to hear more of that song.
So to wrap things up Lauren, if you could go anywhere in the Whole Wide World right now, where would you go?
Hmm, right at this moment? It’s totally not that interesting, but I would go to New York. I can’t resist it!
Sister Jane’s ‘Frontier’ will be released early 2014 on Broken Stone Records.