It's such a waste to always look behind you / You should be looking straight ahead."
- Jet 'Move On'
"Everyone talks about rock these days" sighed Keith Richards in 1996. "The problem is, they forget about the roll." How rock's greatest living sexagenarian must love Jet. As their debut album 'Get Born' proves, this Melbourne four piece (Nic Cester (guitar/vocals), Chris Cester (drums/vocals), Cameron Muncey (guitar/vocals), Mark Wilson (bass)) stand for everything that is raw, primitive, direct and loose about rock music. Like all the best bands they trace their influences to the source.
"I think we were always interested in tracing the roots of this music", explains Chris. "We wanted to look beyond the sixties and the seventies and find out where that music came from. That's why we do a cover of Elvis' 'That'sAlright Mamma' at the shows. It's just a natural exploration for us".
Jet are steeped in rock folklore. Like The Kinks, AC/DC and Oasis before them - all major influences - they feature two photogenic brothers (Nic and Chris Cester). Their name is on loan from Paul McCartney's frazzled post-Beatles peak from 1973, whilst their debut E.P. 'Dirty Sweet' (Rubber Records) took it's name from T-Rex, sported The Stones' 'lips' logo on the sleeve and in acoustic highlight 'Move On' had the song The Faces were too hung over to write. But then that's what happens if the first album you ever heard was 'Abbey Road'.
"My parents had some bad records", explains Chris. "But that one always stood out as great. I'd sit there banging on these cushions with a pair of chopsticks playing 'Mean Mr.Mustard'. We formed an entire imaginary band, where we'd play guitars on tennis rackets and do gigs. We were called The Boys I think?"
Such fantasy infuses Jet. Just as Liam Gallagher remarked that BRMC deserved their early Oasis support slots because they 'dared to look like a rock'n'roll band' so Jet see rock music with a clarity only available to those who grew up five thousand miles away. Where British bands subconsciously obey the whims of a media for whom rock's central texts (Beatles, Stones) are somehow seen as passe, Jet bring with them a lucidity and freshness that comes from both youth and sheer Oz-centric bloodymindedness. Jet don't know the rules, and even if they did, they'd break them. After a decade of club culture, it's hard to imagine a British band putting to tape an hilarious, scabrous put down of the excesses of superstar deejays ('Rollover DJ') but with Jet it's easy. They don't care.
Beginnings. Having grown up in the suburbs of Melbourne on a strict diet of classic rock, the Cester brothers (Nic is two years older at 25) found disaster looming. A terrible blight was about to hit the youth of the Melbourne suburbs. Grunge.
"I couldn' t stand stuff like Nirvana and Pearl Jam" continues Nic. "To me that was real slit your wrists music. It didn't relate to this idea of rock'n'roll I had in my head. I'd grown up loving The Who, The Easybeats, The Faces and The Stones and these guys were taking music somewhere I didn't want to go. They didn't have that feeling in the music that all great bands have got. Oasis were the last ones".
A long spell in the netherworld of the Melbourne live circuit followed. Gravitating toward a sixties-centric scene centred around cult legends Manic Suede (whose guitarist Andre Warhurst provides a mean slide on 'Get Born') the band flirted with the customary raft of bad names (Duosonic, High Fidelity, erm, Mojo Filter) and looked on in horror at the global rise of Austin Powers.
"At the time I think we felt we weren't ever going to break free from that scene," explains Nick. "That's why songs like 'Radio Song' have got that feeling of resignation about them. At the time it was unimaginable that a band like ours would get any recognition at all."
As with everything, timing was all. Having recruited towering bassist Mark Wilson and sworn to "get serious" Jet's first few shows coincided with the global success of local heroes The Vines. With the A&R feeding frenzy fuelled by a breathless review in the NME of debut single 'Take It or Leave It' describing it as a hybrid of the 'Rolling Stones and the balls-out stadium rock of ACDC' the band duly signed to Elektra, the very birthplace of classic American rock.
The result is 'Get Born'. Produced by Dave Sardy (Dandy Warhols, Marilyn Manson) at the legendary Sunset Sound Studios in LA, 'Get Born' is a reminder of rock at its most primal, vibrant and honest. At its frantic best: 'Get What You Need'; 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl'; 'Get Me Out Of Here'; it hits you straight and deep in a manner to rival The Ramones. Elsewhere, with the Nic-penned 'Look What You've Done', the elegiac 'Radio Song' and the ELO-ish 'Lazy Gun' they suggest the wistfulness of everyone from Badfinger to Todd Rundgren after he called time on The Nazz. Lyrically it's home to an epic wantonness to match legendary Oz-rockers The Saints. When Nic growls "I know we ain't got much to say" in new single 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl' or "Dance little deejay c'mon" in 'Rollover DJ' you can almost hear the female knees buckle and feel ten years of club culture whither on the vine.
"We wanted to make a contemporary album," states Chris. "We didn't want to make a one dimensional rock'n'roll record either. Albums should be able to reflect all sides of your personality, that's why songs like 'Timothy' and 'Radio Song' are on there. We're trying to get the same amount of emotion you get when you listen to an album like Goats Head Soup. There are quieter moments and others where you just want to go crazy."
Proof of their success came with a call halfway through recording from The Stones camp offering the band the support slot on the Australian leg of the Rolling Stones world tour. Clearly, Jet have got the roll.
"I like the idea of 'Get Born' having two meanings" adds Chris finally. "Like 'Rubber Soul'. It's basically a reminder to forget your problems and celebrate the moment instead. It's a rejection of all those feelings of negativity or depression you might get. It's a heartfelt thing, and that's where that primal energy comes through the music."
The choice is yours. Or, as Nic puts it so succinctly on 'Take It Or Leave It': "You better roll with whatever you know / You better move / If you don't know what to do, just groove."