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Not so serious

They care about real issues but the Jezabels can laugh and let their music do the talking, too.

Shakespeare wrote ''All that glisters is not gold''. Luckily this is not the case for the Jezabels.

Since their debut album, The Prisoner, went gold in March it's fair to say the Sydney band have become one of Australia's glistening musical exports.

So why isn't lead singer Hayley Mary feeling so lustrous when she speaks to Unwind from London? She admits to a hangover. Fair enough, given their successful international touring schedule.

Mary apologises, huskily, saying: ''You get this delirious thing going on and tell people things you shouldn't.''

This is a far cry from the charismatic lead singer who oozes passion and intelligence, and admits subscribing to all manner of ''isms'' whether it be feminism, Marxism or capitalism.

But today there seems to have been a shift in the notoriously serious and brooding Jezabels' camp. Despite the hangovers, the mood is lighter.


''To an extent I think too much self-importance is a bit ridiculous, and we do get criticised for being a bit over the top with stuff when maybe the world is OK,'' Mary says of her views.

Meeting at the University of Sydney five years ago as four ''angsty 20-year-olds'', Mary says the band, which includes fellow Byron Bay local Heather Shannon and Sydney, Nik Kaloper and Sam Lockwood were the kinds of people who were ''into'' the issues of the world.

''That's when you're discovering a lot of stuff and you have to say something really important.

''That's the type of people we are - we're very critical, emotional, serious people we do definitely have a sense of humour because we wouldn't be able to get by in life.

But their concerns have moved from the ''isms'' of the world to the more perfunctory worries of on-stage antics, Mary says.

''These days I'm wondering when I'm going to forget the lyrics,'' she says honestly. ''I've forgotten them once, which was quite funny.''

Too much self-importance is a bit ridiculous.

For the woman who can spellbind an audience with her signature dramatic pop sound, Mary is wary of losing her audience at performances.

''Most of the time I'm trying to convince people that they should be interested,'' she says.

Away from the stage, the conversations between the four-piece have become more relaxed and less political between the four ''headstrong'' members.

''Most of the conversation are ridiculously comic and one-dimensional like base fart jokes,'' she says.

''It's a bit full-on to be intense all the time and talking about important shit all the time.

Over dinner a serious topic may come, but they have learnt to quickly move on, aware of their opposing views.

''When you're young and at uni you just think you're totally right and can't see how people don't agree with whatever thing you're preaching.

''You get the zeal of a convert and then you just grow up and realise truth is not objective and you can't convince people of your beliefs, you just can't.''

But they are convincing people on their music. In March this year, acclaimed US Rolling Stone music journalist David Fricke described their album as ''a fresh blast of vintage turmoil: a robust spin on the echo-laden romanticism of early-Eighties New Wave rock.''

Yet like political views, you can't convince everyone of your music.

Winning the Australian Music Prize in March led to a kind of test; Mary admits the band received far more criticisms than acclaim over the win.

''It was very grounding having to experience the backlash of winning an award like the AMP,'' she says.

''People were saying, well the award has [now] gone down the drain.''

''But that's not what it's about. It's great to be voted in by peers with people actually analysing the music; you try not to take too much of it in,'' she says, before continuing, ''It's an honour.''

A touch of class

With a song title like Endless Summer you might expect a film clip to contain bikinis, blond surfers and at least one beer.

But as the dappled sunlight falls on the four-piece band dressed in Victorian-era garb, each riding a horse, you quickly realise this film clip has nothing to do with summer. This is class warfare. There is violence, blood and even death accompanied by throbbing guitar riffs and Hayley Mary's haunting gothic-esque vocals, which soar over the upper-class violence towards the proletariat.

With a whiff of disappointment, Mary admits most people don't get the film clip's message.

Mary sees no incongruity in the band members dressing as ''lower than working-class'' when they have been so successful of late: a gold record and Endless Summer making the top 10 in this year's Triple J Hottest 100.

''To be a musician, is to be an observer,'' she says. ''Your best position in society is close proximity to the experience of more people, even if a musician makes a lot of money, they have to experience life on a level that a lot of people understand.

''I think that entertainers transcend class.''

The Jezabels will play at the Hordern Pavilion on June 9. For more information go to premier.ticketek.com.au