Mile High Music Festival Q&A: Jet

Jet is eager to get back onto the road. More than two years after the release of the Aussie rock outfit's last album, Shine On, the band will be stopping for a slot at the Mile High Music Festival before continuing on a world tour to promote the August release of their new full-length, Shaka Rock. Jet lead singer and guitarist Nic Cester spoke with us yesterday about the challenges the group faced during the interim between their last two records, and explained why the band is feeling eager to get back out into the thick of things. After a period of personal turbulence and drama, Cester says recording a new album and playing a variety of venues has helped the band reconnect with their roots.

Westword (A.H. Goldstein): Can you talk a bit about the progress of the tour so far?

Nic Cester: We've only really just started. We did a few shows in Melbourne a few months ago, and it's always important to us that we start things off in Australia first because that's a respect thing, I guess. It's a different place to start and regroup for us, because we're always in different places. It always feels like a good starting place.

We're in our second week of touring. Touring, especially when you're releasing an album, is kind of like starting a fire. You start with the kindling and then you throw the logs on. So, we're at the kindling phase.

WW: How big are the shows that you've been playing so far?

NC: We've just been doing club shows, just getting used to playing again. It's been awhile. We're working out the kinks and just reconnecting with the real fans who have been with us for the past five years.

WW: What you see as the advantage of playing a larger festival like Mile High, after starting out with relatively smaller club shows? Is that going to be another step in getting out into the touring schedule?

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NC: To be honest with you, we've toured so much over the past five or six years that we feel quite comfortable doing any sized stage. We've done a lot of big shows, a lot of small ones. The thing that keeps it interesting for us is the variety, because when we go on tour it's for a year. To be able to mix it up really keeps it interesting and fresh for us.

WW: On that note, is it a relief to get out onto the road after the process of putting together a new record in the studio? Is it a relief to be out and mingling with fans?

NC: I guess the nature of us being musicians is you get used to one medium and then you get frustrated and want to go out and play live, and then after you play live you just want to get back into the studio again. But we're definitely at the phase now where we really are enjoying it. The instant gratification, you never get sick of that. I hear actors talk enviously of musicians because you do get that immediate response playing live, which you can feel.

WW: Is it a boon to go out armed with new material from the forthcoming album?

NC: It's good. I feel like you always have to strike the right balance between new and old stuff, you know. As the album gets released and more people become familiar with the new stuff, then it gives us more options. Any time you do a new album it's great to have a burst of fresh material that you can explore. I think you do kind of have to learn how to play the new songs live - which ones work, which ones you can drag out and really milk it. It's a fun process.

WW: Have there been some learning moments so far on this tour for that reason?

NC: We take what we do very seriously -- we pride ourselves on being a good live band. We're having a lot of fun at the moment. The shows have been great and the response to the new stuff has been fantastic. I feel like we're really at top form at the moment; everybody is really fresh and excited. We played last night in L.A., and it was one of the best shows we've ever done.

WW: Was it just in terms of the audience response, or the chemistry between the band? What made it one of the best performances?

NC: I think there's a new hunger in the band. We went through a really difficult period with our personal lives and when we started writing songs on this album. Before we could write anything, we really had to just become friends again like we were when we were sixteen-years-old, and get that hunger back. Me, Chris and Cameron -- we spent a month living together, like we did when we were sixteen-years-old. We didn't even write a note for a month, we just laughed and carried on like we did when we were kids. That spirit has remained from the studio and now onstage as well.

WW: Going back to the big festival format, for some of the advantages is being around so many other acts and communicating creatively. Is that a bonus for Jet, playing at Mile High?

NC: Absolutely. You kind of live in a bubble a bit when you're in a band - you and your guys and your crew. And you live on a bus together and it is fun when you get to talk to other musicians. We've made a lot of friends over the past six years, too. It's like a reunion sometimes.

WW: When does the current tour wrap up?

NC: In a year, I guess.

WW: That's pretty significant. That's a year of your life that you're not at home. Do you have time to think about it that way?

NC: This is just what we do. If I stop to think to far ahead, it just gets too much sometimes. We're just really, really excited to be playing again and we're looking forward to doing as much touring as possible. We've done it so many times now we really look forward to getting back to these places again.

WW: Do you have any particular memories associated with Denver?

NC: I do. I went bowling there, had a heck of a time. You've got an excellent bowling facility.

Jet performs at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday, July 19 at the Mile High Music Festival on the Main Stage East.

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