Fresh from two massive national tours, one with Boy and Bear and the other with Ball Park Music, Andrew Dooris – bassist of fresh Brisbane indie band The Jungle Giants – settles in for a chat with Tone Deaf ahead of their own headlining tour in support of new EP, She’s A Riot.
Dooris delves right in to the nitty-gritty of making a living from a sometimes harsh and unforgiving industry, divulges some sage words beyond his young years and, perhaps subconsciously, likens performing to finding a great cup of coffee.
“What I really look for in cafes is consistency. If you screw up, to me that’s like… honestly, I would not go back if I got a bad one. That makes me a terrible critic but the moment I have a bad coffee, they’re on my blacklist,” the 19-year-old explains matter-of-factly (for the record, he swears on Brisbane’s 5th Battery Coffee Roasters as the best he’s ever had).
From childhood memories of dancing around in his undies to cheesy 80s and 90s music to entertain those around him, Dooris has always had a penchant for making people smile.
“I’m a total people pleaser,” the sunny bass player admits, “I always want to give my all for the people I’m doing it for. So it doesn’t matter if a crowd isn’t enjoying a show at the start, I aim to make them enjoy it by the end.”
In keeping with this ethos, Dooris keeps something his sister once said in passing close to heart, “’when you see bands, you know when they’re having fun and it’s really good to see them on stage with a big smile.”
The youngest child vehemently agrees, “The only way you can expect a performance to be good is if you yourself are having fun and you really can’t fake that.” If you’ve seen The Jungle Giants perform live, the pleasure they take in playing music is no secret.
“You know, sometimes you’re not always able to,” he continues in the same breath, “but you should never leave it to chance, never leave a stone unturned. You’re better to do it and fuck up than not do it at all.”
After rattling off so many clichéd expressions, albeit with meaningful intention, Dooris relents about the exhaustion he and the band felt after the immense Boy and Bear tour. “I really didn’t feel like doing a gig for a while, I just wasn’t itching for it. But maybe when I’m old and jaded, I’ll be like, ‘urgh, touring’”, he croaks in an elderly man voice, “and then I’ll send a nasty email to our manager whinging, ‘Stop sending us on tour, I wanna sleep’!”
Imagining a heckling fist along with this impression, the determination and passion that exudes down the phone line is palpable… once he’s finished joking, of course. “We’re fun and games a lot of the time. Sam (Hales, lead singer) and I are now at that point in our relationship that we can have a full conversation using monosyllabic expressions, burps and stuff like that.”
“So, you know, in some ways we’re degenerative and getting stupider,” he cheerfully states, “but in more ways we’re getting better at this band thing and we’ve always been sort of furious about what we do.”
He elaborates, “our live sound has really progressed as we ourselves have grown as people and as musicians. It just comes down to putting a lot of work in, having band practices, constantly writing music, playing gigs, everything you have to do to become better. We’ve been given a lot of support and a lot of people have shown a lot of faith in us. If we could perform and record music for the rest of our lives that would be incredible.”
“But it’s not like that now and won’t be for a long while,” he laments, “we’ve all got jobs and half-jobs and pick up odd things here and there to keep afloat… I rely on my parents’ goodwill a lot,” he sheepishly finishes.
Well, what are parents for? Dooris agrees before adding, “It’s a dream and you’ve got to pursue those things. It’s that age-old thing, practice makes perfect,” dropping another wise old owl saying, “if you put a lot of effort into something, you’ll slowly see the rewards.” He pauses reflectively.
“We’ve just been really lucky that it hasn’t been so slow!” he laughs as an afterthought, “but I’ve still got this little fat boy attitude that no one’s really interested in what we do. I’m still young and in love with everything but at the same time it can also be hell. It can be very draining, like all work is.”
Ahead of another nation-scouring tour, with many shows already sold out and new ones being added, the young bassist bubbles up again at the very thought of returning to the great fatigue. “Now I feel really restless again,” he reveals with an audible smile, “I haven’t picked up my bass in a while so I’m looking forward to letting my musical mojo out!”
She’s A Riot is out now through Create/Control. The Jungle Giants are currently touring along the east coast. Full dates and details here.