Jet Break Up – Why Does Aussie Rock Never Survive?
News came this morning that one of our flagship Aussie rock bands of the last decade Jet, have decided to throw the sweaty towel in. We haven’t heard anything from the band since their 2009 release Shaka Rock, so the news left us rather emotionally unaffected here in the office… despite the fact Jet were a landmark Australian band! Sadly I think that reaction has something to do with the quantity of music we are filtering through our ear drums at any given time, and not to do with the band's Australian and indeed international legacy.
Their debut album Get Born actually went platinum in both the US and the UK (8 x Platinum in Australia), which is no mean feat. Here’s the official statement they released after announcing the break up today.
“After many successful years of writing, recording and touring we wish to announce our discontinuation as a group. From the many pubs, theatres, stadiums and festivals all across the world it was the fans that made our amazing story possible and we wish to thank them all. Thank you, and goodnight.”
We were having a chat in the office about why Aussie rock bands like Jet only have a certain life span, and why Australian rock - once the bread and butter of our beloved industry - is failing to realise great success beyond our shores….
Here’s what we came up with,
- Australian rock artists we champion in this country (as do the major record labels) don’t experiment with their sound enough to cut through into the overseas market. For example, The Living End, Eskimo Joe are bands that can still pull a huge crowd at any given Aussie festivals, but in truth they haven’t really evolved their sound in any way. The US have The Foo Fighters and the UK have Kasabian… there’s not much room in the market for the same kind of sound.
- Music sites like Pitchfork, or independent bloggers who carry a lot of weight in influencing music consumption, really don’t champion any sound that isn’t challenging or different (which I think is a great thing BTW) but it does leave rock without a real presence online. NME spans a broad enough musical spectrum to report on rock music of course – but they’re all about putting controversial spin on pre-established artists. Eg. Headlines like this: Deadmau5: “Madonna is a fucking idiot”
- Record labels seem to be too conservative to back bands trying different things in the country…. Granted it’s a small market here in Australia, unit sales are on the decrease and bank rolling any band is a risk. But until record labels start taking them, no precedent can be set! Bands can be selling out shows here in Australia before they take notice. It’s really no wonder we find bands like The Jezabels and Cloud Control heading overseas to cut into the market.
- Following on from this, it’s a generalisation – but rock artists don’t seem to be as savvy as electronic music producers in this country when it comes to promoting their music online. When Jet’s debut album broke in 2003 – you know there was no facebook! If you think about it: time spent online Vs time spent jamming in the garage – the conclusion isn’t revolutionary.
- Aussie rock seems to slip through the cracks where radio air play is concerned. Can you think of a station where new Aussie rock makes up for a large portion of their format? There are stations dedicated to rock music of course; but largely older classics dominate.
- Is straight up rock as a format old hat in this country? You only have to look at how strong the indie/pop/electronic underground scene is, where up and coming bands are pulling sonic influences from a myriad of different places… everything seems fusion! Personally, I think that’s a great thing - but does it mean that the younger generations of music makers are done with reworking a sound that’s been around for ages? Doing a quick survey round the office, Papa Vs Pretty were the only band we could think of who’ve managed to have some kind of success without straying too much from the genre.
- Australian rock music just doesn’t have the kick it used to… on hearing Artic Monkey’s new track “R U Mine?” it did get me to thinking how long it’s been since I’ve heard a really solid tune like this from an Aussie band – like Jet’s "Are You Gonna Be My Girl"… can you? It would have to be something off Wolfmother’s Cosmic Egg, “White Feather” perhaps – and can you believe that was released all the way back in 2009!
- You tell us… sometimes I have no idea why bands don’t make it… and sometimes it is by no means a slight on the quality of music they’re producing… let us know what you think.
In any regard, Jet, it’s been real and we’re sorry to see you go. Perhaps there are some exciting side projects in the works...