Keeping Bluejuice Company

Since the release of Head of the Hawk in 2009, Sydney band Bluejuice have become synonymous with infectious pop, crazy outfits and even crazier live show antics. This November marks the release of their third record Company, and with it being available to stream early online, as well as earning a spot as Triple J's feature record, the reviews have already begun coming in.


With a record showing the band's progression toward bigger and punchier sounds, drawing from influences across the board, Company may just feature some of Bluejuice's best work to date. To find out more, Sose Fuamoli gets in touch with Jake Stone to get the lowdown.


"I think we've made a good album, to be honest." Stone says as he tries to find a quieter place to talk. "I don't think it's a five star album, but I do think the music of the album…it definitely has its merits."


With Company following the band's 2009 release Head of the Hawk, there's a definite impression left with the listener that this is Bluejuice's attempt at a fully cohesive studio album.


"We were definitely trying to do that," Stone agrees. "If that came across, then that's good, because that was the intention. Basically, I simply tried harder to make the songs better individually so that you wouldn't just have one big punch and a medium sized follow up. So you had a number of quality songs on the record and an overall feel that tied them together. I think, to varying degrees, we've achieved that and I'm very proud. It [ Company ] represents this band applying its trade at a high level."


The original five-piece band called in an array of guest musicians to help out and add to the forcefulness of the material on Company, but according to Stone, the process was more akin to a bunch of mates just hanging out, making tunes without musical egos and social awkwardness reigning during the process.


"They were just friends. The only person I didn't know well before was Julian [Hamilton]. After a couple of days of writing, I would consider him a friendly acquaintance, you know? I know him better than I did before, he's a very nice guy and very professional and easy to work with. There wasn't a great deal of pressure in the collaborations, most of the collaborations were chosen because of the lack of pressure. I feel like I haven't been talking enough about Eric J [Dubowsky], who was the producer. He was very much a part of the band and involved across the board in everything and was playing on everything. I guess we did argue a fair bit, but I tend to argue with the producer a lot, no matter what's going on!"


"It was a very relaxed setting where we just felt like we were hanging out for two months, making an album then getting people in who we thought would be really good for it. It certainly made my life a lot easier because I didn't have to stress about people turning up and it being socially awkward."


Lead vocal duties are traded between Stone and Stav Yiannoukas once more on the record, and already have provided some irresistibly catchy lyrics on songs including Cheap Trix and Act Yr Age. For Stone and Yiannoukas, their writing processes are as different as their vocal range.


"We did write differently for some of the songs. Stav writes lyrics with vocal melodies on his own; it would be kind of weird to be working together, although we do sometimes do that. He doesn't play an instrument, like for Cheap Trix, that started because I was playing a 90s piano riff on the keyboard and Stav got up and sang that vocal melody and lyrics on it, which he'd had from some time before. It's a confluence of things when writing with him, because you need instrumentalists to back him, which usually means me writing with him or Jerry [Craib] working with him."


"Usually I want to get a whole song, bring it to the band and go ‘This is what I think of the whole song, what can you do to make it more complex or give it a bit more colour?' The three ways that happened on this record was: Stav having a vocal melody that the band worked to, Jerry having a piano part of keyboard part that we worked to as vocalists, and me bringing a song."


Not surprisingly, there are moments on Company which are addictive to listen to purely resultant of Bluejuice's cheeky grasp on pop and funk. For this interviewer, one of these moments comes with I'll Put You On, which is straight up about sexual frustration, backed by a delicious 70s-esque back beat.


"That one actually has a story!" Stone reveals. " That was about being in America, I was away from my girlfriend from some time and I was really fucking horny and just distracted. I went to see two palm readers and they told me some weird shit that was quite true and it was scary. I was like ‘Fuck, I don't want to deal with this', really horny and there was this weird sense of fatalism dominating everything!"


Sex drives aside, Stone admits that the production of the band's third album has been fun in terms of performing alongside such a larger team of musical players. Players, who he says will be coming out on tour in the upcoming year.


"It becomes fun in the studio and it becomes fun live because you're singing with a choir, basically. That's been an interesting part of it, layering it, taking my sister [Elana Stone] on tour and having a big band. The touring band for this record is actually a big band and so we're playing basically, not orchestral arrangements, but arrangements for a medium sized group. Like the guitar, three or four keyboards even, drum machine, drums…there's a lot of shit going on."


With spots on festival bills rounding out the band's 2011 and kicking off their 2012, audiences are going to have this new-look Bluejuice thrust into their faces, even more so than before. For Stone, it definitely seems like he and his band mates are enjoying the ride Company is taking them on.


"It's got its own little world and I think we're all enjoying have that change from just being a three piece band with two singers."

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