The Jungle Giants talk triple j Hottest 100 dominance and keeping their independence

ON THE RISE: The Jungle Giants are gearing up to headline the inaugural FKA Festival at Hope Estate.
ON THE RISE: The Jungle Giants are gearing up to headline the inaugural FKA Festival at Hope Estate.

WHEN one imagines a band celebrating the pinnacle of their success, not many would envisage them crowded around a portable speaker in a parked van, while “nervously chugging beers.”

Where’s the champagne and caviar? The five-star hotel?

Yet that was the situation Brisbane indie band The Jungle Giants found themselves in for January’s triple j Hottest 100 countdown.

“The entire day of Hottest 100, everybody else celebrates and has fun, but most musicians freak out a little bit,” Jungle Giants bassist Andrew Dooris says.

“We’re sitting there anxiously biting our teeth, especially if you think you had a good year.”

And what a 2017 it was for The Jungle Giants. Their third album Quiet Ferocity wowed fans and produced four entries in the triple j Hottest 100 with Feel The Way I Do (No.16), One Your Way Down (No.50), Bad Dream (No.57) and Used To Be In Love (No.59).

The result placed The Jungle Giants in the same company as US hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar, Kiwi pop royalty Lorde and Australia’s hottest young band Gang Of Youths.

The Jungle Giants - Feel The Way I Do

“The Hottest 100 is a really unique type of praise or reward, as it’s pretty democratic,” Kooris says.

“It’s not just sales, or a panel of industry types giving you a pat on the back for doing great, it’s actually the people.

“It’s the biggest compliment you can get in music around the world.”

The Hottest 100 success has seemingly propelled The Jungle Giants into that next echelon of Australian acts.

Their April national tour has more “sold-out signs” than not and the venues have gotten decidedly bigger.

“We already had a big Christmas-New Year’s with Falls Festival,” Kooris says. “I thought I’d be ready for a couple of months off, but I’m definitely not.

“I want to get back out and play as many shows to as many people as possible. It’s just so nice to have sold out [Sydney’s] The Metro in a day and doing three of them, three Melbourne shows and two Tivoli shows in our hometown of Brisbane.

“That’s where I saw my first gig, it’s an iconic venue. To be doing those size rooms, and we’ve been doing them for a year or two, but to be selling them out and having to put on more shows, is weird.”

Promoters have obviously become so confident in the appeal of The Jungle Giants’ electro-flavoured indie-pop that they were chosen to headline the inaugural FKA (Formerly Known As) Festival at Pokolbin’s Hope Estate on October 13.

Other acts on the bill include Ali Barter, The Belligerents, Kingswood, Luca Brasi, Maddy Jane, Tired Lion and Trophy Eyes.

The Jungle Giants might be achieving new-found levels of success, but it’s hardly been a overnight phenomenon.

The four-piece of Sam Hales (vocals and guitar), Cesira Aitken (lead guitar), Keelan Bijker (drums) and Kooris began in 2011 when they met at Brisbane’s Mansfield State High School.

The band’s early EPs The Jungle Giants (2011) and She’s a Riot (2012) and debut album Learn to Exist (2013) perfected their jangly brand of indie-pop, reminiscent of bands like fellow Brisbane act Ball Park Music and Perth’s San Cisco.

HEADLINER: The Jungle Giants performing at Newcastle's This That Festival in 2015. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

HEADLINER: The Jungle Giants performing at Newcastle's This That Festival in 2015. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Hales’ songwriting became more experimental on 2015’s Speakerzoid, incorporating elements of psych rock and rhythmic drum beats.

For Quiet Ferocity, Hales went in a completely different direction. He locked himself in a bunker between 9am and 5pm each day writing between 40 and 50 songs. 

The result was greater electronic production and tighter pop melodies.

Kooris says the rest of the band enthusiastically embraced the new direction.

“We’re all constantly around each other when we’re on the road,” he says. “We’re all exposed to whatever the other person is listening to.

“It kind of just happened. Sam has always liked electronic music, but I think we were in nightclubs a lot more. We had to DJ a lot more as those offers were coming in and all the sudden we started listening to more electronic music, tastes started going around the group and everyone brought new artists or songs to the table.”

Kooris explains The Jungle Giants’ ability to dramatically change from album to album lies in their independence. Despite greater mainstream success, they remain hesitant to sign with a major label.

“Sometimes people get wrapped up in a thing where it’s like being the hot chick at the party or best soccer player on the team,” he says.

“It’s like ‘well this team is looking to poach me,’ and it can be totally non-beneficial for your career. 

“People in the industry know we’re an old horse now, so fresh meat always gets snapped up. Everyone in Australia is like ‘whatever’.

“As far as overseas, we’d be open to working with people, but that would have to be the right people and the right relationship.”

Tickets for the FKA Festival are on sale through


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