Interview: Nic Cester (Jet)

“After eight years of not doing anything I’m pretty hungry for the first time in a while.” 

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“I’m good but cold”, Nic Cester remarks with a smile. It’s no surprise that London’s winter air feels biting to the Aussie rocker considering he’s spent the last three years enjoying the balmier climate of Milan. Cester already has a mighty 6.5 million album sales under his belt with Rock and Roll band Jet, and now he returns with his debut solo album, Sugar Rush. In the corner of the bustling Boogaloo pub in Highgate, we settle down to talk writing new music, becoming a father and life after Jet.

So Nic, tell us everything that’s been going on in your world.

I’ve been in London now for the last month. My first solo album came out a few months ago and I did a show here about a week ago. I’ve been living in Milan for the last three years, so I just wanted to come over here and be present while it was all happening and hijack this as an opportunity to move here with my family for a while, change scene and do a bit of writing. 

How’s that working out? I’ve seen you meet up with a few other notorious names on the scene right now. 

It’s been weird, man. A lot of things have happened that I wasn’t expecting. When Jet split up, which was eight years ago now... 

Is it really that long?
I know, surprises me too, man! A really long time ago!

…I literally walked away from everything. Literally, the day after the band split up me and my wife got on a plane and went to Jordan - 48 hours later I was on a camel in the Jordanian desert! Fast forward eight years and here I am with a solo album. Being back in London has awaken a lot of old memories like meeting up with people I used to see all the time and hadn’t seen in eight years. I’ve been reconnecting with some old friends and meeting some new ones. It’s been a wild last three weeks!

But you’re going back to Milan on Monday, so what happens from there?

I’m not really sure. After eight years of not doing anything I’m kind of pretty hungry for the first time in a while. I wrote a load of tunes while I was here, which I’m really happy about, so I guess I’ll just keep writing.

And what are the influences there?

You know, it’s weird because the solo album is nothing like Jet at all. I mean, there’s traces of it because it’s still me, but a lot changed after eight years so obviously the music was going to be different too. Nowadays, I don’t approach anything with an agenda or a plan. That being said, I had the intention of picking up from where I left off from the solo album, but when I got here all these things are happening. You know, it’s autumn and I just became a father nine months ago, so my little baby girl is here as well. 

Amazing, congratulations!

Thanks! So, despite all of my intentions and plans, what happened was that I just started writing all of these sort of nursery rhyme inspired, melancholic, really weird songs! But it’s been really nice reconnecting with old friends. I met up with a friend of mine called Howie Payne, who was in a band called The Stands. When Jet came to Europe for the very first time many, many years ago, the first European tour we did was with The Stands. And what happens when you’re on tour is that you form really strong bonds, and particularly for us at that time because it was a really significant moment. We were in Europe for the first time and we were super young. At one point we were travelling from Austria and we stopped the tour bus because we’d seen snow falling from the sky for the first time. 

But you hold on to that, don’t you? When you spend so much time with people, especially on tour when there’s so much travelling around. You fill each other’s time.

Yeah, it’s such an intense experience touring. Especially for us as young, Australian guys experiencing some pretty serious stuff for the first time. You know, I have really, really strong memories of that moment. So anyway, I called up Howie, and I hadn’t seen him since that tour actually, and I met him at Café Italia last week and it was amazing; meeting this guy again after all these years. But it was weird because it felt like no time had passed at all. And then three days later we were in the studio together working on some songs. One of the great things about being in London is that those things are possible. You know, I think there’s one Australian living in Milan… and that’s me!  

Nic Cester’s debut album, ‘Sugar Rush’ is out now.

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