Spacey Jane want you to give yourself a break

The Fremantle band have filled rooms and scaled the Hottest 100 with their jangly, empathetic indie rock. On new album ‘Here Comes Everybody’, they want their fans to know it’s OK to not be OK. Words: Alex Gallagher

It took a year for Spacey Jane to enjoy a victory lap for their debut album. The Fremantle four-piece released ‘Sunlight’ in the middle of 2020, a few months after the pandemic began, and it quickly resonated: fans gravitated towards its jangly, brightly textured indie rock and lyrical frankness at a time of major uncertainty. Four of its songs placed in the 2020 Hottest 100, including sleeper hit ‘Booster Seat’, which came in at number two.

But it wasn’t until Spacey Jane took those songs on the road some nine months later that it sunk in just how deeply they’d connected with their listeners. Among those tour dates were an incredible six sold-out shows at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre – not bad at all for your first time playing the venue.

“You can see the numbers on streaming, but until you’re actually in front of people and at a show it’s hard to really understand,” frontman Caleb Harper tells NME over Zoom from Los Angeles, where he and drummer/manager Kieran Lama are based for the time being. “It makes it tangible.

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“We didn’t really think it was possible to make something out of this… We worked super hard at it for a long time and sacrificed everything that ever got in the way of it. It was always our priority as individuals and as a group.”

With their debut UK tour under their belt, and their new record ‘Here Comes Everybody’ dropping this Friday, that victory lap is starting to feel like it’s extended into a marathon. Spacey Jane told NME last year they “haven’t wanted to stop and slow down” since ‘Sunlight’ arrived, and now that pandemic restrictions aren’t the existential threat to live music they used to be, the only limits for the band are the ones they set themselves. It’s exhilarating.

“We worked super hard at [music] for a long time and sacrificed everything that ever got in the way of it”

Harper began writing the songs that would eventually make up ‘Here Comes Everybody’ before ‘Sunlight’ had even been released. He’d been locked down and was seeking a way to combat the anxious feeling the band had lost the momentum that had been propelling them up to that point. “We panicked a lot, and writing was the first thing I did to feel like I was still working in some capacity.”

Once Harper’s early demos were fleshed out with his bandmates – Lama, bassist and vocalist Peppa Lane and guitarist Ashton Hardman-LeCornu – ‘Here Comes Everybody’ was recorded with ‘Sunlight’ producer Dave Parkin and the more pop-oriented Konstantin Kersting, whose production credits include Mallrat and Tones And I. Across its dozen tracks, the band level up their songwriting and get considerably more adventurous.

Spacey Jane
Credit: Sam Hendel

Traces of album one are beneath the surface (“Sunlight speckles through the trees across the road,” Harper croons during the opening line of ‘Haircut’) but the melodies are more distinct. The songs are more textural though they never feel overly dense, such as the glimmering synths that adorn earworm opener ‘Sitting Up’. Ballads like ‘It’s Been a Long Day’ and ‘Not What You Paid For’ show the band’s willingness to slow down some of the urgency of album one, trusting listeners will appreciate the slow burners just as much as the anthems.

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Altogether, the band sound far more in sync – Lama and Lane’s rhythms interlocking, guitars swirling around one another. “It was a more considered, deliberate approach to building rhythms than we’d really thought about before,” Lama explains.

The result is that if ‘Sunlight’ was a collection of very good songs, ‘Here Comes Everybody’ is an album: a coherent, focused experience. To that end, Harper says being able to approach songs as part of a larger whole was liberating. “It’s trusting the first instinct, and then disregarding the doubt that you have after the fact.”

Thematically, ‘Here Comes Everybody’ revisits similar subject matter to the introspective ‘Sunlight’ – the anxieties that come with being young, navigating relationships and holding yourself accountable. But the songs on ‘Here Comes Everybody’ feel more like part of a conversation than their writer’s internal monologues, Harper the lyricist serving as a conduit for tapping into those feelings.

“I came out the back end of this period of my life with a real lack of identity, not really knowing who I was, and having really had a good early 20s,” Harper says of his transition into young adulthood.

“There’s so much more to be excited about, and it’s just a case of getting up and doing it, rather than hoping that it works out”

“I think a lot of people were having a similar experience to me in that sense, where it’s actually kind of grim, especially with COVID for young people trying to graduate and trying to figure out what to do with their life. The not knowing is so strong, and so difficult to navigate, and I guess that really stuck with me.”

If ‘Here Comes Everybody’ has a mission statement, it’s give yourself a fucking break. So often, people are expected to articulate their pain in a neat, easily consumable way. They’re also expected to have an idea of how they’re going to ‘fix’ the ‘problem’, to move forward with a concrete plan.

‘Here Comes Everybody’ refuses to play along, insisting that mental illness is not a defect to be solved, but a natural part of being a human being. “There’s nothing wrong, I just feel low,” Harper sings on ‘Hardlight’. It’s OK to feel fucked up, it’s OK to not know exactly why, and it’s OK not to, as he puts it, “scramble or panic to try and fix that, as if there’s something wrong with you because you don’t feel right”.

“For me, things that have changed around my life have been physical things I do in terms of how I get up and exercise, or cut back on drinking, or manage my time better and set goals,” Harper says. “But I still do those things and I still feel shit sometimes, a lot of the time, and I’m not like, ‘God, there’s something wrong with me.’ It’s like, no actually, I’m doing fine, and it’s OK.”

Spacies, though, are feeling like there’s slightly more of certainty in their lives now than the year following their rise. In August, the band will tour in support of ‘Here Comes Everybody’, playing some of their biggest venues to date, including a massive hometown show at Perth’s RAC Arena. Then, in October, they’ll embark on their debut North American run, packing 23 dates into a month-long tour. They’re going full steam ahead.

“To basically have the limits set by our ability to extend ourselves other than other factors is a nice feeling. It feels like there’s so much more to be excited about, and it’s just a case of getting up and doing it, rather than hoping that it works out,” Harper says, pointing to two years of havoc wrought on the music industry by COVID-19.

Lama agrees, acknowledging that while there’ll still likely be the logistical complications of the virus in some form, for some time, he’s only felt that renewed sense of purpose, the feeling that there’s something on the horizon again, in the last six months. “It’s so much easier to feel hopeful for the future.”

Spacey Jane’s ‘Here Comes Everybody’ is out Friday (June 24) via AWAL Recordings

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