Born to Be Wild

Jet brings booze, broads, and bickering brothers to the top of the charts.

Jet, with Sloan and the Anyones The Agora Theatre, 5000 Euclid Avenue 7 p.m. Thursday, July 8; $23, 216-241-5555
Jet brings a strip club's worth of debauchery to every - stage it plays.
Jet brings a strip club's worth of debauchery to every stage it plays.
It's all but impossible to ask the wrong questions when chatting with Cameron Muncey.

"A lot of times, when you fuck up, it's the best thing that happens," the easy-going Jet guitarist says in a polite Australian accent that could be marketed as a muscle-relaxer. "You learn that sometimes it's better to just chill the fuck out and not try and dig too deep. You can fool yourself into taking the smallest things and making them huge. You really have to take a chill pill and relax. Take a breath, you know what I mean?"

Talking with Muncey feels kind of like being in a Corona commercial -- calm and comfortable, with all worries as distant as the horizon. His outlook on life fits his band like a pair of thrift-store hip-huggers. In the past year, Jet has sold more than a million records by carrying itself as if it couldn't give a shit about selling a single one. The Melbourne band has become famous for its Oasis-like abandon: two bickering brothers, lots of booze and coke, and a preoccupation with sounds of the past. Nearly every article written on the band has them drinking whiskey till dawn, getting hit on by the kind of chicks you only see in magazines, arguing among themselves, breaking up, and then doing it all over again the next day. The group is like one giant hangover squeezed into tight jeans and black leather boots.

"Sometimes it gets me worried, like when you wake up in the morning and your heart's beating like a little rabbit, like it's afraid," Muncey says of certain excesses, stopping short of apologizing for them. "You sort of go, 'Wow, I better take my foot off the gas a little bit.' We're not trying to self-destruct here. We don't try and live up to anything. We're just having a good time."

Having a good time is the sole aim of Jet's debut, Get Born, from beginning to end and everywhere in between. The band is the inverse of Creed, coming with sweat-stained garage rock indebted to long nights and short attention spans. Their songs are all about girls, guitars, and the boozing inspired by both. These guys are as averse to pretense as they are to combing their hair.

Strutting frontman Nic Cester screams and shouts like a teen at curfew, and his brother Chris lays down a backbeat that could make a turnip dance. Muncey's riffs duckwalk in Angus Young's footsteps, while bassist Mark Wilson stands in the back, providing unkempt sex appeal.

Jet's radio hits "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" and "Cold Hard Bitch" have had the FM dial in a headlock since last fall, propelling Get Born to platinum status. The album throws in a couple of ballads to towel off to, but mostly it's an unabashed ass-shaker that freely borrows from Jet's classic rock forebears. "Take a look/At what I took/A leaf from everybody's book," Cester sings on "Radio Song," a fitting confession, since Jet took its name from a Paul McCartney solo album and titled its debut EP, Dirty Sweet, after a T. Rex tune.

For Muncey, the preoccupation with classic '60s and '70s jams began before junior high.

"My father died when I was young, and he left behind Stones records and Beatles records," he explains. "I got into music and playing in bands from a young age. When I heard 'Sunshine of Your Love,' that convinced me that I wanted to play guitar. We got together with a bunch of people and played the song at school, and it really got me into this vibe of 'Hey, I'm not a sports guy, I hate sports.' It was such a release and just opened my eyes a lot. We felt like we were alien. We felt very different. But in the end, you come to appreciate that."

These days, Muncey doesn't see much difference between what Jet's doing and what AC/DC did two decades ago.

"We just don't draw a line in the sand, as far as music goes," he says. "It doesn't matter if it was 30 years ago, 40 years ago -- in 200 years, who's going to care about the difference between 1960 and 2000? It's going to be minuscule. They're going to think about it in the same breath."

Whether or not Jet will be remembered in 10 years (not to mention 200) is very much open to debate at this point -- especially when their equally vaunted countrymates the Vines have seen their career vaporize in less than two years' time.

But Jet seems to prefer the uncertainty; it suits a band whose music and mindset are so off-the-cuff. Far from looking into the future, they're not likely to look past their next beer. At times, Jet's antics -- particularly the Cesters' feuding -- threaten to overshadow its albums, but Muncey seems largely unconcerned about it all. You get the sense the dude would be perfectly relaxed if his hair were on fire. A pair of squabbling siblings won't spoil his buzz.

"They got shit going back since they were born," he says. "At times it's good, because things seem to be a bit more open. Everyone is pretty honest about each other because of that brother thing -- and they're deadly honest about each other -- so it provides a good platform just to be yourself," he says, his voice brightening. "I'm just going to be Cam, you know what I mean?"

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