Jet’s Nic Cester on flying solo and his new record, Sugar Rush
A few years away from home was enough for Jet frontman Nic Cester; enough time to refine his craft and reconnect with his heritage, both musical and personal. His debut solo album, Sugar Rush, is the product of that return-to-roots.
Music Insight spoke with Cester in the lead-up to Sugar Rush’s release, and he was quick to reflect on the old days. Simpler times, when the now internationally-acclaimed guitarist and vocalist was finding his feet on Jet’s debut, Get Born.
“The first time since that experience, I was able to get to that place again, where I was completely free and I could try stuff,” Cester said with joy.
“There was a naivety, a genuine interest and passion.”
I found myself in this rock-and-roll band called Jet, that had become something bigger than any of us had ever planned for.
The sea change from Melbourne to Milan was not an experience of eye-opening inspiration, but rather, it presented Cester with a potent mix of anonymity and free-rein.
“Whenever you leave the place where you’re from, and you’re experiencing something new, there’s a sense of freedom that comes with that,” he said.
“That was the influence I was allowed; breaking free of normal routines and situations, and just having the freedom to start from scratch, be anonymous and rethink everything.”
The grand move was brought on by several bittersweet factors, from familial loss to a quest for ancestral knowledge.
“I moved over to Europe in the first place when my father passed away. Being of Italian descent, in that moment it became important to me to explore my European roots, so that was the first thing,” he said.
“On top of that was the fact that I found myself in this rock-and-roll band called Jet, that had become something bigger than any of us had ever planned for.
“There were certain restrictions that came with that.”
To be in a situation… working with people from different countries, speaking different languages… it was just exciting, it was fantastic.
Eventually feeling burdened by the strain of band life, Cester felt it was time to spread his wings and fly solo, with satisfying results.
“After the first Jet album, everything became complicated,” he said somberly, before his tone lightened.
“I don’t want to intellectualise [this album] too much, it was just really fun.”
Cester stated that his time with Jet presented a somewhat isolated, narrow scope; a scope that was widened by Italian funk band Calibro 35, who assisted with Sugar Rush’s creation.
“Despite the fact that we were able to have success with Jet, our experiences were really limited,” he says.
“We’d been friends since we were kids, all we’d ever known was each other.
“So to be in a situation, ten or whatever years later, working with people from different countries, speaking different languages; it was just exciting, it was fantastic.”
With this freshly hatched ambition came a somewhat strategic, or as Cester would put it, “really lazy”, approach to naming his first single, Psichebello.
“It’s a play on words, it’s like ‘psychedelic’,” he says.
“In Italian, when something’s really beautiful you say ‘Si, che bello!’, so I just made a play on words between the two languages.”
Fundamentally, Cester doesn’t want to change his musical methodology from teenage years.
“I don’t have any grand designs to be super famous or mega successful. It’s quite simply trying to communicate something that other people appreciate.”
Leadbelly, Newtown, NSW (18+)
Tuesday, 31st Oct 2017
Nemo Music Hall, St Kilda, Vic (18+)
Thursday, 2nd November 2017
Hear Cester as you’ve never heard him before, in the trippy clip for Psichebello.