The photo shows Sam Hales and Cesira Aitken playing their instruments and singing.

A Casual Interview with Sam Hales of the Jungle Giants

By Caroline Janes
Music Journalist

Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, the Jungle Giants are currently on one of their largest U.S. tours to date. Since their formation in 2011, the four-piece indie pop group have been met with great success in their home country headlining many major festivals and receiving the Best Independent Album Award at the AIR Awards for Quiet Ferocity in 2018. 

With each LP, the band’s sound morphs from laid-back indie pop/rock to high-energy indie pop, but each project is always musically and lyrically precise and layered in an interesting way.

I caught their show at Stubb’s earlier this month—which was truly a dream come true since I’ve been a fan since the beginning! They played a mix of older and newer tracks and put on a fantastic show despite being on a much smaller stage with less production than their shows back home. I sat down with frontman Sam Hales after the concert for an interview while they reflected on past projects, their US tour and what’s to come for the band. 

Caroline Janes: How does Australia compare to the United States?

Sam Hales: They’re similar in a lot of ways. I mean American people are much more open and less shy. A lot more people talk to you on the street, which I always found is kind of funny. We’re playing at a different scale here, but we’re putting on the same show. We’re very happy to be going back to club shows, you know, that’s where we came from. That’s how we like doing it. We love America and we’ve been finding that American audiences seem to fit with the music, which is good.

CJ: Is this your first American tour? 

SH: It’s our first big one. We’ve done a little American tour where we did like New York. 

CJ: Are these the first dates in Texas?

SH: Yeah, first couple of dates in Texas. Watch out, there’s some beer on the floor there.

CJ: That’s okay, PBR, we love it!

SH: PBR, it’s built in the genes. 

CJ: Absolutely! Could you describe each of your albums in one word?

SH: Learn to Exist: pure. Speakerzoid: scared. Quiet Ferocity: growing

CJ: When’s your next album bound to be out?

SH: Mid-2020. Nearly finished with it now, I’m finishing it in the back of the bus actually, which is kind of awesome. I like it. 

CJ: In the back of the bus, really!

SH: I’ve got most stuff recorded, I’m just editing it now. But it’s like super hummy (Sam makes rattling sounds). But if I put a towel or blanket over my head, I can do like shakers and things. 

CJ: I love that! How would you say your song-writing process has changed with each album? 

SH: It’s gotten more and more singular and I’m more focused on a singular vision. I’ve got better at combining production and song-writing and melding them together so I can rely more on myself and not have to outsource things and that was always an issue because no one’s really gonna help you create your vision except for you. 

CJ: Do you write most of the songs?

SH: Oh I write everything and produce, yeah. 

CJ: Would you say you have a favorite song per album?

SH: That’s a hard one. I would say my favorite one at the moment from Quiet Ferocity is “Quiet Ferocity.”

CJ: That’s what you opened with, I was a little surprised to hear that one first!

SH: Yeah! It’s a bit of a weird one, it’s kind of weird, but kind of fun cause it’s like “Baby, I!” Kind of shocks you, kind of shoots out of nowhere. Usually we have lights that move and stuff, but we have no lights [in the US]. Cause we have a lighting guy at home, next time we come back we’ll have a lighting guy, but we got all black and it goes “Baby, I!” And it goes boom! (describing how the lights come on) Imagine it! Everybody close your eyes and open!

CJ: I can see it! Where do you see the Jungle Giants going from here? You’ve been making music since, what, 2010, 2011?

SH: Yeah, we’re just only getting started now really. It was like 2010, or 2011 when we released. Only getting started now ‘cause we were babies when we were first getting started, we were like 17 when we first started and I only ever learned how to record music properly when I was like 18. I’m always learning and always changing style, I’m not scared of changing style per record. I think you have to take big risks. 

CJ: Favorite Jungle Giants song of all time?

SH: It is…”Quiet Ferocity” maybe—I change it! “Bad Dream,” it’s “Bad Dream.”

CJ: Your favorite artist right now?

SH: Confidence Man.

CJ: What song do you recommend?

SH: “Does It Make You Feel Good.”

A big thanks to Sam for taking the time to chat with me. Stream their latest single here.

Featured image via Briste D’Lucen.

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