Interview with Sam Hales of The Jungle Giants

2015 was a huge year for The Jungle Giants. Not only did the band release a stunning second LP, Speakerzoid, to a worldwide audience, they also undertook a series of tour dates that saw them perform in front of adoring local audiences as well as large crowds in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Canada and the United States. Fast forward to early 2016 and The Jungle Giants are announcing their final run of tour dates on the back of Speakerzoid. The ‘Together We Can Work Together’ Tour will see the band perform a series of Licensed All-Ages shows in major Australian capital cities this coming June & July. In this short but sweet interview, frontman Sam Hales shares his thoughts on the band’s forthcoming album and tour, the backstory to the Speakerzoid album art and few other quirky topics.

It’s been nearly five years since the release of your debut EP. Have you ever caught yourself thinking ‘Oh wow, I’m in a band. I get paid to do this’?

We’re super appreciative of all the opportunities we’ve had so far, but I don’t really get off on looking back too much. I prefer to just keep working and writing..

What is something you wish you’d known as an emerging musician?

I guess the value of having a studio that’s not in my bedroom. Can get a lot more done if you don’t sleep in the place you work.

The cover art for Speakerzoid, along with its associated singles, features photographs taken at Salvation Mountain in California. Is there a particular connection between that location and the music, or was the imagery chosen more so for aesthetic reasons? 

It was mainly just an aesthetic thing. My friend Rahkela from Sydney was doing some shots for us at the time, and she showed me a bunch of photos she’d taken in the states. Everyone loved the Salvation Mountain.

The music videos for Kooky EyesCreepy Cool and Every Kind of Way are all directed and edited by the wonderfully talented Michaela Holmes. What was it like working with Holmes? Did you brainstorm together how you wanted the end results to look and feel or was complete creative freedom handed over to Holmes and her team? 

Michaela is so good at what she does. Before every video we’d sit down and have some drinks and just brainstorm with her. She’s great a making ideas come to life, so it was always a breeze.

Five fast questions for five fast responses:

  • What’s the kookiest piece of clothing/accessory in your wardrobe? A shiny silver Adidas jacket from the 80s, with wings on the back.
  • In seven words or fewer, describe your most recent dream. My girlfriend was getting angry at me
  • Which film or documentary has emotionally moved you the most? Before Sunrise by Richard Linklater. I’m a big sucker for it.
  • What was the first concert/gig you attended and where was it held? I think it was The Vines, at the Hifi in Brisbane.
  • Where’s the best place in Brisbane to share a beer with friends? Archive in West End. It’s got pool and ping pong if you’re into that.

How’s album number 3 coming along? Have you been working with Magoo again?

I’m writing it right now. I’ve got a new studio, so I’ve been demoing and demoing. We’ve had a couple listening parties so far and I think we’ll have a couple more before we make a list of what we think should go on the album. At the moment that’s where we’re at, after we finish touring for the year we’re gonna head to the studio. 

In June you’ll be hitting the road again for the final run of Australian tour dates on the back of Speakerzoid, followed by Splendour in the Grass. Is there a possibility that you’ll be slipping any new songs into your set list to test on your dedicated fans prior to them being released?

Not just yet. I’m not a fan of playing a song live before it’s finished. I try to give the song every chance to become what it needs to be before it leaves the studio.

When you’re on tour, do you ever keep a diary or take photos/videos to help process or reflect on your time away from home? 

Not really. I guess the best I’ve got is Instagram and it’s mainly just filled with a lot of dumb things.

Do you ever fear that your gear will be damaged in transit? Have there been any disasters or near misses in the past? 

We’ve been really lucky. I’ve had some friends who have arrived to a gig and found a guitar snapped in half, stuff like that. Nothing like that has happened yet so I’m gunna touch some wood now.

Your live shows are renowned for their intensity and energy. How do you go about preparing yourself for a performance?

4 gins, maybe a game of 500 and some good chattin’. Thats our usual pre gig thang.

Who would you love to see in the audience at one of your shows?

Kim and Kanye.

Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to your twelve-year-old self?Delete your browsing history, you dumb kid.

This interview was first published for Amnplify.

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