11 Years Later, The Jungle Giants Are Still Best Friends
For a Halloween show next week, Brisbane, Australian-based band The Jungle Giants are playing at The Urban Lounge. The sound of The Jungle Giants’ most recent album that was released in summer of 2021, Love Signs, builds off their indie-rock roots and successfully embraces a catchy, electronic dance sound that wasn’t fully-formed yet on 2017’s Quiet Ferocity.
Sam Hales, lead singer and producer of Love Signs, says the most obvious lyrical theme is love. “I just became engaged with my partner,” he says. “We [share] a creative relationship where I can show her a song, and she can show me a song, and we can … work together on stuff.” Hales’ partner actually helped him co-write Love Signs. “That was a really positive time in my life where I was just thinking, ‘Love is fucking sick,” he says, “and when you’re in love, you feel like you can kind of do anything and especially when you can let that person into your music.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced Hales to write, record and mix Love Signs completely from his home, he says the idea of making a home studio and recording an album that way was underway before the pandemic hit. This enabled Hales to challenge himself since, with previous records, he was always in a studio with an engineer. “I just wanted to see if I could just go from the concept of the song, then go to the pre-production, then produce [it] all in one kind of space,” he says. “I really liked what it did to the songs because it was more in-house that was more what I wanted, as opposed to anyone else.”
“… we love each other, we love the music, and we have really happy memories … We were kids, you know what I mean? And now everybody’s still best friends.”
The first song he released from Love Signs was the lead single, “Heavy Hearted,” all the way back in 2019, which includes a choppy piano and a house-y electronic beat. “People reacted really well to that,” he says, “so I was like, ‘Oh, okay, awesome. Like, I think people like the sound I’m going for [and] no one can tell it’s a bedroom-produced song.’” One big difference of working all by himself, Hales says, is being able to figure out how to get into the mood. Unlike when you’re in a booth and someone else is in the studio, alone you’re unable to consistently receive feedback on whether a take was good or what to try differently. “So , I had to tunnel vision to create that kind of setting in my mind,” he says. “I tried a lot of crazy things: I stood in the bathroom, I walked toward the mic and walked away like I was just playing around.”
Hales says that even though the pandemic physically isolated him from his bandmates, they were supportive of his process and the decisions he was making with the new songs. “I feel like we’re weird because we’re such good friends … I know a lot of bands that are mates, but they don’t really hang out all the time,” he says. “But Jungle Giants … we went to school together, we’ve grown up together. Every minor or major thing that’s ever happened to us in our lives, we’ve always been there for each other.”
Hales recalls the final day of recording Love Signs before the mixing process began: “I was just a little bit downbeat,” he says. “I was like, ‘This has just been crazy.’ I was alone and I don’t know. I was going nuts.” Bassist Andrew Dooris came up with a creative way to show an act of kindness. “He texted me, he was like, ‘Man, I just drove past your house, and I’m sorry to tell you but someone’s done graffiti, like all over the front door and over [the] front of your house,’” he says. Hales rushed out to his front door only to find a huge care package box from Dooris. “It had beers in it. It had a sandwich from a deli I like—it had a couple of joints. It just was like, the best package ever,” he says.
Beyond their recorded music, The Jungle Giants are known to be especially talented at putting on great live shows because their passion is palpable. “We’re big-energy people, so we really get into it,” he says. “… We move all around the stage because we’re actually having heaps of fucking fun,” Hales says. He adds that the newer songs including more pop and dance elements translate well to live performance. “When I’m writing I always imagine being someone in the crowd,” he says. “I make music that I think would sound like the most fun, like the most up, big for live.” Although The Jungle Giants have toured the United States three times, they’ve never played in Salt Lake City. “When we got the tour dates, I was like, ‘Oh shit, cool, Salt Lake City,’” he says. “It feels good to be hitting a new city.” The last tour the band played in the U.S. finished in March of 2020, right when the pandemic first hit, so another run has been long overdue.
“That was a really positive time in my life where I was just thinking, ‘Love is fucking sick,” he says, “and when you’re in love, you feel like you can kind of do anything and especially when you can let that person into your music.”
The Jungle Giants released their first music 11 years ago in 2011 when they independently put out their self-titled EP in March of that year. Hales says when the band was making their setlist for America, they put some thought into including some classic, older tracks that people in the U.S. like such as the self-titled track for their second EP, “She’s a Riot.” “It’s funny when you think about the time that’s passed … it’s still a good song to me, but it is so far from where we are now musically,” he says. Although the band still has so much more they want to do, Hales says they’re in a good place as a group right now. “Because, you know, we love each other, we love the music, and we have really happy memories,” he says. “… We were kids, you know what I mean? And now everybody’s still best friends.”
You can find tickets for The Jungle Giants performance on Oct. 31 at The Urban Lounge here. Follow The Jungle Giants on Instagram @thejunglegiants and listen to their 2021 album, Love Signs, as well as the remixed version the band dropped this past summer on all streaming platforms.
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