The Jungle Giants stopped by to talk to us about Love Signs, their production process, and wrapping up their tour at Outside Lands!
Australian indie rock group The Jungle Giants is one of a kind. The energy they exude on and off stage is both welcoming and contagious, and we were ecstatic to have the opportunity to catch up with them after their electric set at Outside Lands. After two days of consistent fog, the bright blue sky made an appearance Sunday afternoon just in time for The Jungle Giant’s set just after 1pm. Attendees packed the Lands End stage beyond the sound booth, and general spirits were at an ultimate high in the crowd. As soon as the band took the stage and began playing their first tune, smiles were in abundance, and dance moves were flowing.
With a large discography to build a set from, The Jungle Giants played a high-energy ten-song set. The set included everything from earlier releases like “Used To Be In Love” and “She’s A Riot” to newer productions from Love Signs like “Something Got Between Us,” “Send Me Your Loving,” “In Her Eyes,” and of course the crowd favorite, “Heavy Hearted.” They also included their most recent releases, “Rakata” featuring RENEE and “Trippin Up,” which was a special treat to hear those records live for the first time.
With Outside Lands being the final stop on their Trippin Up tour, we couldn’t wait to catch up with them about their favorite moments so far, to dive deeper into their production process, and the importance of being supportive friends in an emotional industry. If you haven’t heard of The Jungle Giants before, give their newest release, “Rakata,” a listen and learn more about the band in our full interview below!
Stream The Jungle Giants – “Rakata” featuring RENEE on Spotify:
Hello! Electric set and thank you for taking the time to speak with me here at Outside Lands. This is the last show of your Trippin Up USA & Canada tour. What has been a major highlight on this tour, and what makes you so excited to bring it to a close at Outside Lands??
Sam: Outside Lands was the whole reason we really did this tour. We put this tour around Outside Lands, and so when we booked this show, we were really stoked. It’s one of the biggest festivals we’ve played in the States so far.
Andrew: We can’t believe we’re here.
Sam: We are absolutely stoked to be here. It’s a dream lineup. We played the main stage at a beautiful set time. We shared a door with Lil Yachty, one door away from a dream. So we’ve been on a bit of a run, and we’re excited to get here. A highlight of the tour so far…
Andrew: Honestly, I think this is the highlight. It’s pretty crazy to play to so many people.
Sam: Yeah, and we’ve definitely had a couple of highlights. We love food just as much as we love music. If we keep it San Francisco-based and focused, we ate at a beautiful place last night.
Cesira: Mossiere Benjamins.
Sam: We played the after-party last night; It was sold out, and it was so loud. It was a great set, and we went on around midnight. There were a lot of people who couldn’t get tickets for Outside Lands because it was sold out, but the show went great. We had a beautiful meal. In our little over 24 hours here, it has been incredible, very welcoming, and everyone has been very fun. Everyone has been chill, and we’ve eaten well and had beautiful drinks.
Zach: I have to imagine Mosierre Benjamins is a French restaurant.
Sam: [Laughs] It is, what gave it away?
Zach: What did you guys order?
Cesira: A whole hen, some beef short rib, some beautiful croquettes.
Sam: Also, some sourdough bread and dessert.
Love Signs is the album that put me on to you, and I’ve been diving down the music rabbit hole ever since. It’s the first album you (Sam Hales) wrote, recorded, performed, and produced alone. What was one of the highest highs of this process, and, contrasting, what was one of the lowest lows (if you don’t mind sharing)?
Sam: I’ve got them both, and they’re very close. I’ve got a lowest low first. I make lists when I’m producing a record. I have three circles for everything: kick drum, circle circle circle. High hat, circle circle circle, and there are a lot of things in a record. Three circles for everything, and you think you’re getting it right. One time, I went to Andrew’s house during lockdown and was deep in the zone. I thought I had finished the record thinking, “It’s done, dude, it’s done. I’ve got the tracks, this one, this one, this one,” and Andrew said, “That’s nine; it’s not ten.” We counted, and it was nine, and I was like, “I gotta go,” and stormed out of my house.
The highest high is getting to the top at the end of all of this. I call it the mountain. There’s base camp, and you look all the way up, and there’s so much to do. Pretend it doesn’t exist, and every day you walk up a little, a couple of meters. When you’re exhausted for that day, you stop. Then eventually, there’s nowhere left to climb. There’s nowhere left to go. You check the list, and all your triple ticks are checked. That’s the high high, when you get to where you’re going.
Speaking of Love Signs, it has a higher-energy more dance-forward vibe than some of your earlier releases. What inspired the shift in the energy of the new album?
Sam: R&B. Ashanti.
Sam: Timbaland, yeah. A lot more R&B. I tried to seep in a fair amount more R&B. Dance and band dance can be complementary to R&B.
Cesira: Slick melodies and the restraint of R&B.
Sam: Yeah, slick melodies, and it doesn’t always have to be big verby guitars. It can be quick, short guitars. So the restraint of R&B definitely inspired it, too.
Andrew: Also, the dancier drums were something we were experimenting with a lot of times.
Sam: And that piccolo snare. So Keelan is our drummer. Keelan and I are longtime drummers. Piccolo snare is that tiny short, fat snare that looks like a timbale. It’s very short. It looks like a pancake. It’s short, and it’s high-pitched, and Love Signs is all piccolo snares. Piccolo snares and rim shots. Those are high, so the bass has room to breathe. No fat snares, no Phoenix snares.
It’s really admirable that you are all so close. What is the biggest advantage of working with your best friends, and how do your strengths complement one another?
Andrew: I think the biggest thing is we really want to be here. And I just want to say that we didn’t produce the last record. We were there metaphorically, but you (Sam) made the record yourself. Our environment is one that allows each one of us to be ourselves.
Cesira: Everyone nurtures the environment.
Sam: Whatever we need to do, we will do. The Jungle Giants always get to the finish line.
Andrew: All that being said, I just want people to know that Sam produced the last record in a very holistic way. Also, being in a band is not all about the music. It’s about so much more than the music.
Cesira: It’s so interesting to hear of some bands that don’t like each other’s company because we’ve heard stories like that and that’s just something we don’t relate to.
Sam: Actually, a good story – I’m about to finish the record; It’s the last day, and we have a deadline. Andrew drove by my house and told me “I’m sorry to let you know, but someone has graffitied all over your house.” I immediately paused and put my headphones down. I stormed out, opened my front door, and there was a box. Inside the box was a beer, a margarita, a joint, some salty meats, some cheese, and a little note.
It was very supportive, and this is what being a band is. It is like you say (Andrew), it’s all the things outside the music. It’s the support. It’s the momentum. It’s believing in each other and being there emotionally. It is an emotional business. That’s what carries us.
You recently released a single called “Rakata” with RENEE. How did the creative process open up or change producing a multi-lingual song?
Sam: I would say it was pretty consistent in terms of energy. The only thing that was a little different was the bilingual thing. Working with someone who spoke Spanish. I always liked the sound of Spanish, but I didn’t know if I could sing a word of Spanish. RENEE taught me there are a lot of different types of Spanish. Mexican Spanish, South American Spanish, Barcelona Spanish, and Spanish Spanish… all these different types of Spanish. She wanted to do Mexican Spanish and we spoke about what the wording would be.
So there was a whole lot of translating, and that was really fun. A great exercise for the brain. It was an interesting exercise. It was not so much a challenge because it was so much fun. She’s now a friend, and it feels great to make music with your friends. And that’s also a testament to the band. I brought it up to them, saying, “The next song we’re making is Spanish,” and they were all like, “Sick!” It’s a testament to the creativity and the energy behind the band. Throw them a curveball, and they go with it.
You’ve remixed a handful of tracks while also having your originals remixed as well. What are the things you look for in a solid remix?
Cesira: What stands out in a remix is an initial scream reaction. In the first 20 seconds, bang, it catches you. If it’s just ripping from the start. I love that about a good remix when it immediately attaches itself to you and when it’s just a good expression of the original.
Sam: We’re very selective, too, when it comes to who remixes our songs, but we just want that artist to splurge. Do your thing and f**k the song up. That’s also the sign of a good remix, fuck what the song was, do your thing, and take it away.
Andrew: It’s a really fun process to hear the remixes back. To hear what people make with what we’ve given them. It’s a true act of creativity because there’s creativity born of yourself, and then there’s the creativity of getting something and flipping it. That’s what’s really great about remixes, hearing something that’s so meaningful to you be reinvented and take on a whole new meaning.
You all have impeccable style. When choosing your outfit to perform in, what are the most important factors you take into consideration?
Cesira: Personally, I take into consideration a loud but comfortable pant. It’s got to be a nice pant. A really nice structural pant because with a good foundation, everything follows. Also things of color, but we also like to engage with monochrome and tonal stuff together. We all like the same labels, and it’s a fun thing for us.
Andrew: Also, it’s a lot about making sure there is unity among us.
Sam: Yes, unity and self-expression. We all want to feel like we are wearing clothes for a gig, but you need to feel comfortable, so there’s a middle ground. In the end, we all consider it together.
Are there any exciting future project details (new music, collaborations, merch, etc.) that you can divulge to fans to make them even more excited for the future of The Jungle Giants?
Sam: We are finishing a new record over the next couple of months.
Cesira: A big festival season coming up.
Sam: Secretly producing an indie rock tune for a UK band that made us want to be a band. We also just finished building our studio so it’s studio time. We’re back home for a couple of months which is quite a luxury. We’re just excited for writing time and to finish these new records so there’s more new music for people to enjoy.
Lastly, when you do get home, is there a specific establishment you are excited to eat or drink that will make you feel like “yea, this is home”?
Sam: Oh yes, good question, you go first.
Cesira: It’s got to be Taro’s Ramen in Brisbane. Best ramen ever.
Sam: Mine is Marquis of Lorne. It’s the best pub in the world. It’s in Melbourne. It’s a pub that smells like a pub and the food is elevated.
Andrew: Mine is the Char Siu House. It’s just down the street from my house. Tastes like home.
Keelan: Goldie’s Pub.