Jez Mead coming to Bangalow Hotel
IMAGINE that you’re wading through a swamp, your heart is pounding hard against your ribcage and Tom Waits is whispering in your ear.
Now put that to music and you’ve got Jez Mead.
The Perth-born-and-bred, husky toned troubadour has just released his fourth album, Beard of Bees.
Sure he may consider going out on tour, but the truth is Mead never really stops touring, thinking of it as more of a lifestyle than a day job.
“I’m not actually based any-where. I have a campervan and friends all over the country so I make home wherever my show is gonna be,” Mead told Pulse.
The bearded guitar aficionado began writing songs and playing in early adolescence, but admits he didn’t indulge in any rock star fantasies.
“I wasn’t one of those kids who always wanted to be a singer y’know; I mean I probably wanted to be a fireman.
“It seemed strange that you could make a living out of [music].”
Dashing his preconceptions, Jez Mead has finger-picked, hollered and stomped his way onto the grassroots blues/folk scene.
Flying just under the radar, he maintains his travelling bluesman ethic.
Growing up on a well-rounded musical diet of Australian classics and psychedelic art/rock gave Mead a good foundation.
“I come from the land of cover bands, so there’s a little Bogan in me. I had the usual AC/DC and The Angels, but David Bowie was one of my first cassette tapes.”
Nowadays, Mead tries to steer away from listening to artists of his genre – folk/blues solo acoustic style – and opts for more electronic types of acts like Massive Attack.
“There’s a fear of becoming inbred!” he laughed.
Beard of Bees is another fiery, guitar-driven album and features Julia, from folkies Angus and Julia Stone, on the track, Devil.
The album tackles the universal theme of love lost but Mead told Pulse that there was something joyous and upbeat here, as opposed to the bitter edge of his previous album.
As for the business side, things are getting easier for the casually spoken Mead.
He recently signed a deal with EMI who have been taking care of all the ‘paperwork’ while Mead is left to the studio, recording under his own label, Belly-Up Records.
“I now have far more reach. And it’s nice to finally have people take over. Some artists spend so much time booking gigs, etcetera that it takes away from the music.
“I’m [also] getting better at [recording]. It’s pretty easy really.”
But essentially Jez Mead is a live performer.
His howling vocals, the muddy heartbeat of his stomp box and dizzying guitar finesse are a wild spectacle.
He remembered a reporter once commenting that they were sick of staring at the top on his head, but hunched over his guitar is all part of ‘getting in the zone’.
“I just get into a little bubble and it’s up to the crowd if they want to come in, come out, whatever.”
Jez Mead performs at the Bangalow Hotel tomorrow night from 8pm. Entry is free.