When Jet formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1996, they did so with a sense of purpose. They wanted to attract girls, and the ladies they were interested in weren’t going to club shows.
“The whole rock scene had died down, so we wanted to get people out of the raves and back into the bars,” vocalist and guitarist Nic Cester said. “We figured that if we were gonna do that, we needed songs that girls would want to dance to because if the girls come to the shows, guys are gonna come, too.”
To accomplish their goals, Cester and his brother Chris started writing exultant rock songs that blended the raw energy of garage rock with the hooks and structures of classic bands including the Who, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. When they had penned enough material, they hooked up with their friend, guitarist Cam Muncey, and went through several bassists before finally finding Mark Wilson. They chose the name Jet after flipping through their record collections and pulling Paul McCartney & Wings’ Band on the Run, which featured the hit with that title.
“I love Wings, man. They’re great,” said Cester. “Also, when we’re doing shows with a band with a huge name like the Polyphonic Spree, they have to stretch out our name to fill up the same amount of space in an ad in the newspaper, so we always look huge.”
Jet also sound pretty huge. They’re not afraid of mixing bruising rockers with yearning ballads, and they play instantly familiar melodies in ways you’ve never heard before. “We wear our influences on our sleeves, and it’s not something we’re ashamed of,” Cester said. “We could have gone out of our way to disguise them, but we actually went the other way to make it more obvious. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know who we’re into. We’re really proud of our influences.”
“Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” the first single from the band’s debut album, Get Born, is a simple, catchy song that blends the intro from Hall & Oates “Maneater” with bluesy ’60s rock guitar, shuffling drums and raspy vocals. Cester wrote the tune two years ago about a situation he and nearly every other male regularly experiences. “It’s about the girl you can’t have,” he said. “There’s always someone at the bar and you think she’s really great, but she has a boyfriend and she’s off-limits. Everyone’s experienced that, probably even Brad Pitt.”
The video for “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” was shot by Robert Hales, and mixes black-and-white performance footage with surreal animation that sprouts from the microphone cord, floor and bandmembers, mirroring the artwork of Get Born.
“We didn’t have a huge budget, but because Robert liked the song so much he pulled in favors from friends,” Cester said. “We ended up getting a lot for our money.”
Of course, the money Jet saved on video costs was promptly spent on, err, entertainment. Like many bands that skulked around the Sunset Strip in the ’80s, Jet are motivated by girls and good times. They refuse to offer details of their exploits, however.
“All I know is I’m incredibly hung over right now,” Cester said. “We had a show in Minneapolis last night, and we got drunk before and after. We’ll probably do the same thing again tonight.”