The Preatures have returned with their bold second album Girlhood, in which vocalist and frontwoman Izzi Manfredi sifts through some candid questions about the female experience. Guitarist and producer Jack Moffitt explains how he learned when to listen and when to lean in.
In understanding The Preatures’ new album Girlhood as an opportunity for vocalist Izzi Manfredi to ask herself a series of questions – ‘Who am I in the band? What do I really think? What’s bugging me?’ – Jack Moffitt says it was the notion of the ‘modern woman’, and the spear-attack of angles that idea can sprout, which started Manfredi’s lyrical exploration. “There’s so many things happening at this invisible layer for women, every day, that men simply don’t comprehend – for lots and lots of reasons,” he says. “I can identify some of those things now, from having had these kind of conversations with Izzi about getting to the heart of things.
“It’s got a lot do to with things like identifying with feminism in different ways to how it has been identified with in the past, and identifying with community, and knowing what’s important about the way that we relate to one another. That goes in so many different directions. Often for a sensitive person like Izzi, it can mount up really quickly, and that can be really overwhelming. She’s such a direct and tenacious person. She’s going for truth, you know – that’s what she wants to get to.”
The producer and guitarist says that to work through those tenets with Manfredi and the band, the most important stratagems were communication, and also allowing himself the space to be green. “It’s not like I need to understand everything straight away; in fact, a lot of the time it was great to not have that understanding, and just marvel at how something was coming along, and go, ‘Great, this is the thing that I will eventually arrive at my own understanding of’, and just try to be clear and direct with my work and my part in our relationship,” he says.
He asserts that seeing Izzi “grow into this space of being the kind of writer that she’s hoping to be, that she’s working on every day” was mightily exciting, and has deeply affected the way he listens to others: “My whole world’s really different now,” he says. In that way, like many bands who have worked together for several years – The Preatures’ first single was 2012’s Take A Card from the EP Shaking Hands, at which time the group were still known as ‘The Preachers’ – Moffitt believes being honest about having a hairy time is paramount. “Some days are good, some days are bad – I think we talk a lot more than we have in the past, and that’s because as a unit, our closeness is also our protection,” he says. “If you’re having a tough sort of day, it’s better to just be out with it: ‘I’m having a sh-t day and this is why.’”
And it did get rough; Moffitt laughs as he considers whether his perfectionist ways set any forehead veins popping, and eventually admits: “I lost my mind – I’m not sure where I left it. I think there’s always one. One of us has to lose their mind in order for the rest to stay above water. They’re fine, man! I’m a shell!”
Girlhood is also a chronicle of the influences that Moffitt, Manfredi, and their bandmates Thomas Champion (bass) and Luke Davison (drums) adored and absorbed during their time growing up in Sydney. Moffitt says they’re “absolutely shameless” about who they’ve loved, because: “Whatever goes, you know? Just throw it in there if it feels good.” He adds that these days they’ll listen to Rihanna one moment and sidle up to Texan Thai-funk band Khruangbin the next; along with their old loves, this is why Girlhood can move from the Divinyls-inflected title track, to the Gary Numan-esque Magick, to the country-roots feel of The First Night with such panache.
“There was a real mood in Sydney at the time that we [were growing up], and it felt like it was directly inspired by things like The Birthday Party, and Ed Kuepper… Nevada Strange, and another band called Broken Dolls, and an awesome band from the Blue Mountains called Bells Will Ring. Seeing these young Sydney people absorbing and reinterpreting this energy – which is basically all it is, a certain energy, a certain attitude – I think it really left an impression on us. There were so many venues to go and see that kind of stuff. It’s funny that that’s seven years ago now. I feel somewhat nostalgic for it. But that’s how we came to be playing that kind of music with that sort of heavy, languid feel. It feels great to play in a room when you’re f-ckin’ half cut.”
In track Yanada, there’s another nod to the very first denizens of the band’s hometown; Manfredi uses the Darug language, the language of the First Australians originally living in Sydney, within its lyrics. “I think there’s a big hurt, and a very disenfranchised mob, and that’s a shame,” Moffitt says of our Indigenous people and their ongoing treatment. “We’ve got a really great opportunity in our lifetime to turn that around. We’ve got to stop ignoring community. I hope [the use of the Darug language] sparks an interest in people taking a bit more pride and being respectful to our Indigenous community.”
Like his approach to learning about Manfredi’s unique frustrations and grievances, Moffitt says that it’s all about listening. “I guess I’m at the start of my learning. I’m just trying to keep my eyes and ears open to things, and I hope that in time, things will look different.”
Girlhood is out August 11, on CD and JB-exclusive black and silver vinyl, via Universal.
The Preatures are touring nationally throughout September; see below for all dates and ticketing details.
THE PREATURES | GIRLHOOD ALBUM TOUR DATES
Presented by Chugg Entertainment & Select Music
Friday 1st September – The Forum
With Special Guests Polish Club and Hair Die
Saturday 2nd September – Enmore Theatre (All Ages)
With Special Guests Polish Club and Hair Die
Thursday 14th September – Brisbane Festival (All Ages)
Friday 22nd September – HQ (All Ages)
With Special Guests Polish Club and Rin McArdle
Saturday 23rd September – Capitol
With Special Guests Polish Club and Boat Show
YOURS & OWLS FESTIVAL
Saturday 30th September and Sunday 1st October, Stuart Park, Wollongong