WHEN Spacey Jane's celebrated debut album Sunlight was released during COVID's first winter, it brought a ray of sunshine that was so desperately needed.
The Perth four-piece seemed to tap into the hopelessness and anxiety many teenagers and early 20s-somethings felt as the supposed "best days of their lives" were being robbed of human connection.
Songs like Booster Seat with frontman Caleb Harper's succinct lyrics about anxiety reducing him to the feelings of being a young child struck a chord. The track clocked in No.2 in the 2020 triple j Hottest 100.
For album No.2 Here Comes Everybody, written during the early days of the pandemic, Harper wanted to expand his focus to his Generation Z. A group of young people, who felt frustrated and lost, during this period of upheaval with COVID and climate change.
"There's not really a plan for that part of people's lives, I think, as there is for long-term goals people make about getting married and getting a house," Harper says from Adelaide during a six-day six-city tour of record store appearances.
"This is the chaotic five or six-year period post-high school that isn't as much fun for people as everyone makes it out to be."
Before Spacey Jane became one of Australia's most popular indie-rock bands, Harper was a struggling uni student, studying chemical engineering and finance while he battled anxiety and depression.
Spacey Jane provided a creative outlet. In the space of six years Harper and bandmates Kieran Lama (drums), Ashton Le Cornu (lead guitar) and Peppa Lane (bass) have exploded out of Perth, conquered Australia selling out multiple venues and have become triple j darlings.
They also sold out shows in the UK last month and will tour North America in October, where tickets for eight gigs are already exhausted. That sort of rapid success, naturally, added a layer of pressure for Harper ahead of releasing Here Comes Everybody.
"We put the first record out and nobody cares or knows what's going to come and they listen to it with indifference, and if they like it, it's a bonus," he says.
"There's a sense that people want to like this record now as the band and the last record meant something to them. Now with this record there's already a space for it in people's minds, so it's like you're writing to fill that space.
"That was definitely nerve-racking. You don't want to disappoint people that you care about and have given you this gift of this career in a sense."
Fans of Sunlight won't be disappointed by Here Comes Everybody. Spacey Jane have recommitted to their strengths of producing jangly guitar and melodic indie songs, complete with Harper's emotional and universal tales of relationship issues and anxiety.
Some reviewers have criticised the album's similarity to its predecessor, but Harper says the band favour steady evolution over complete re-invention.
Now with this record there's already a space for it in people's minds, so it's like you're writing to fill that space.- Caleb Harper, Spacey Jane
"I feel unless you want to totally flick the switch on this, it would be hard to deviate too far from what you originally did," he says.
"For us we still want to be true to what that first record was and how people know us and introduce changes and bring people on board in an evolving band, not give them the final product."
The album's name Here Comes Everybody was taken from the working title of US Americana heavyweights Wilco's 2001 classic album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
Such was Harper's respect for Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy that he wrote an email requesting his blessing.
"The email I sent went through a few people, like someone who knew someone who knew someone and then it came back the same way, but it landed in a weird folder in my email inbox," Harper says.
"I missed the email essentially for five weeks. I was waiting, waiting, waiting and thinking, 'damn, he's not keen on it or he doesn't care enough to reply'.
"It was a really nice message and he said he'd love to catch up sometime."
The next six months are hectic for Spacey Jane. After their Australian tour and the 24-date North American jaunt, there's a summer of festival shows at Spilt Milk, Lost Paradise and Falls.
"It's really nice to feel like you've achieved success in something you care about," Harper says. "That's what a lot of people strive towards and it's something I've always wanted.
"It's tough in music. There's a lot of people who have a real go and don't make it as far as they'd like to.
"I know for me personally it's helped ground my sense of identity in the music and who I am. I feel like I'm supposed to be here and I'm supposed to be doing this."
Spacey Jane's Here Comes Everybody is out now.
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