BACK: Hayley Mary, vocalist of The Jezabels, at Falls Festival Byron Bay 2016-17.
BACK: Hayley Mary, vocalist of The Jezabels, at Falls Festival Byron Bay 2016-17. Niche Pictures - Lyn McCarthy

The Jezabels happy to leave 2016 behind

UNDER an unforgiving sun, The Jezabels jumped on stage on Sunday at Falls Festival Byron Bay, but besides the hot weather, the gig had a sense of triumph for the band after a tumultuous 2016.

Synthia, their third album, came out on February 12, 2016, and includes hit single Pleasure Drive.



The Jezabels had to cancel their 2016 world tour shortly before Synthia,was released, as keyboard player Heather Shannon needed treatment for ovarian cancer.

Last July, the band announced that Shannon was "feeling strong again" and that they would start touring again.

Besides being part of the band for almost a decade, the tight links between band members extend to their childhood, spent in the Byron Shire.

Vocalist Hayley Mary (born Hayley Frances McGlone), keyboard player Heather Shannon and guitarist Samuel Lockwood all went to Byron Bay High School.

Mary and Shannon performed together as a folk duo in Byron Bay for a while.

Hayley Mary said is was great to be back playing music together again.

"We've been playing for ten years, and I am ashamed to say there were elements of our lives that we took for granted, until one of our members was dealt with a really rough time," she said.

"A cancer diagnosis when you are in your 20s should not happen, but it does, and having the floor pulled out from under you is tough.

"It's not just your friendship and your creative relationships but also your business, although your don't really want to think of a band as a business.

"It was every aspect of our lives, and there were many month when we didn't know if it was going to be all right, but it taught it to deal with uncertainty.

BAND: The Jezabels are Heather Shannon, Samuel Lockwood, Hayley Mary and Nikolas Kaloper.
BAND: The Jezabels are Heather Shannon, Samuel Lockwood, Hayley Mary and Nikolas Kaloper. Contributed

The vocalist confirmed the band will be writing new music soon.

"We used to plan a year in advance, but now we plan a couple of month in advance to acknowledge the doctor's advice and what Heather feels she can do," she said.

"We will get in the studio at some point, but no promises."

The Byron connection

After their Falls show, Hayley Mary said Byron Bay is still very much part of the band's DNA.

"Three of us are from Byron originally," she said.

"I met Sam (guitarist Samuel Lockwood) in High School and then we all went to Sydney Uni, so we are a Sydney band with Byron roots."

"Heather and I used to play music in Primary school, and then we played in High School, but the first time I encountered her we must have been 9 years old, at the Byron Primary Talent Quest," she said.

"She played an amazing song on piano,and I did a did a shitty dance to Fox on the Run by Sweet. She won but I still put it down to the fact that she run off stage crying," she laughs.

Asked if Shannon will hate her for telling this story, Hayley Mary agreed.

"Yeah, but we are like sisters."

Hayley Mary still has local connections.

"My mum just left after 20 or some years living here, my dad, my brother and my sister are still here, plus my aunties and uncles,"she said.

"I have to be honest I have always struggled with Byron Bay.

"Maybe it's to do with growing up here, and I don't mean to be negative about a beautiful place but I find there is something about growing up in paradise that you have to live.

"Also, I always found that there is this dark cloud over Byron, and I am by no means a hippie, let's not bring out the patchouli and I don't need dreadlocks, but there is a certain residual darkness from a supposed curse to do with the whaling," she said.