Australia's Jet weathers career turbulence

Family tragedy, internal strife follow band's initial success

After selling more than 3 million copies worldwide of their first album, there was really only one way Australian rock band Jet could go.

Crash and burn.

Not only did the second album sell only 900,000 copies, but the band also was struck by family tragedy, drugs, business turmoil, internal bickering and the obligatory problem girlfriend.

"You grow up reading those books about (troubled classic rock bands), and then all of a sudden you find yourself in that cliche. It's pretty surreal," drummer-singer Chris Cester said in a recent interview, accompanied by his older brother Nic, the band's singer-guitarist.

Now, the brothers -- along with guitarist Cameron Muncey and bass player Mark Wilson -- are preparing to unleash their third album, fairly confident that all the cracks have been repaired.

"Shaka Rock" comes out on Aug. 25, preceded by the single "She's a Genius," one of several new tracks the band unveiled on a brief promotional tour to remind everyone that its self-combustion was short-lived. Jet also dusted off such hits as "Cold Hard Bitch" and "Are You Gonna Be My Girl."

While its previous albums, 2003's "Get Born" and 2006's "Shine On," were released in the U.S. by Warner Music Group, "Shaka Rock" comes out on the band's own EMI-backed label Real Horrorshow Records. The band is now managed by industry veteran Allen Kovac, who resurrected the career of hard rockers Buckcherry.

In the wake of the disappointing performance of "Shine On," whose dark sound was influenced by the death of the brothers' father, Chris Cester said the band dumped the music industry "jerks," "parasites" and "leeches" along for the ride.

As for his longtime girlfriend, whose initials remain tattooed on his ring finger, "We fired her first!"

More seriously, Nic Cester had his own problems.

"I got caught up doing way too many drugs and hanging out with the wrong people," he said.

He recounts his experiences in the new song "Goodbye to Hollywood," which he insists is not a slight to his brother's adopted hometown.

All the while, the bandmates had largely stopped talking to each other.

"There was a good eight or nine months where I can honestly say that I didn't think there was gonna be another record," Chris said. "That's the truth. I found it so hard to talk to Nic. I found it so hard to talk to everybody. Everyone had (screwed) each other so many times that it just felt like it was all falling apart."

Eventually, they had a summit of sorts at Nic's home in a small Italian village.

"We had a few moments where we yelled and screamed at each other, and a few tears and a few hugs," Nic said. "We got rid of the past, basically."

They ended up in Austin, producing and financing the album themselves, with all four members contributing to the songwriting.

Chris described the album as "a big-beat rock 'n' roll record," with a little seasoning from some electronic elements.

"But we didn't go all Killers, or anything, on the record," he hastily added. "I don't dislike the Killers, but they are very synth-heavy. That's a very trendy thing right now."

The band expects to "tour our asses off" for at least the next 18 months, Chris said.

"There's a lot of goodwill that I have noticed for our band, a lot of people who really want this to go well, which I'm really grateful for," Nic said. "We're not trying to fool anyone. This isn't like a marketing campaign. We're just a good band, and we write good songs and we love what we do. It starts and ends there."
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