If you flipped through British music magazines last year, you’d see that it was all about Kings of Leon, four sons of a Southern preacher who play good, old-fashioned rock.

NME said the band’s debut album was the best in a decade, and the band members are celebrities in London. The press eventually spilled over into the U.S., where Rolling Stone predicted Kings of Leon would be one of 10 artists to watch in ’03, along with Damien Rice, The Exies, and A.F.I.

So, what does all of this have to do with this week’s HotStar? Last year, Jet supported Kings of Leon during its U.S. jaunt. It was Jet’s fourth visit to the States, but this time the band was playing to more than a just couple people at a small bar. Quietly, the band from Melbourne, Australia, started getting noticed. While Kings of Leon still rules the roost in the U.K., Jet is getting the lion’s share of attention in the States.

First, the band’s single “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” started getting spins at radio stations. Then, the song showed up in commercials for Apple’s iPod. Next, the band landed on “Saturday Night Live.”

Jet’s drummer, Chris Cester – brother to singer Nic – spoke to Pollstar from England after finally wrapping up the North American stretch. They had been on tour for about 16 months straight and were about to head back to Australia for more dates.

“In America, we could sneak in and play supports for The Vines and the Kings of Leon,” Cester said. “There was no expectation at all, so we had an awesome time on that tour. We didn’t have the pressure of being the headline act and having all this press to live up to and stuff.

“And their (Kings of Leon) press was super crazy. I don’t understand that whole thing, but I had a good time and they’re a good band.”

Jet landed support slots for The Rolling Stones’ recent visit to Australia, where Keith Richards gave the band one of the coolest compliments ever. He said that most bands these days know how to rock but Jet is one of the few bands that knows how to roll.

Growing up, the two brothers in the band rarely listened to anything past the grunge era. The songs unashamedly leapfrog from AC/DC guitar licks to Iggy Pop bass lines and back to riffs straight out of The Faces catalog.

Now, they too are taking off in the U.K., according to The Agency Group’s Russell Warby.

“Jet is sort of gaining on [Kings of Leon] rapidly,” he told Pollstar. “They’ve got Brixton Academy coming up which is about to sell out. Generally speaking, they’ve doing well everywhere, to be honest. They’ve got a great reaction in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Holland, they’re all good.”


Cester had some praise for Warby, too.

“Russell Warby. You know who he reminds me of? And you should print this: Inspector Deltoid from ‘Clockwork Orange.’ He looks just like him.

“[Warby] is a really eccentric guy. When he goes on tour with The White Stripes, he wears a cape. And when he goes on tour with us or The Strokes, he wears denim jackets and denim jeans. I’m not kidding. He’s got a uniform for every band.”

Along with being the responsible agent for Jet, The White Stripes and The Strokes, Warby handles U.K. booking for Ryan Adams, The Vines, The Thrills and other high-profile acts. What kind of mojo does this guy have, anyway, that makes him such a favorite with all these artists?

“I think he just knows how to talk to them, you know what I mean?” Cester said. “It’s so obvious to me that he would be the guy the kids here would like because he does know how to talk to us. He doesn’t come across as a big cheese-dick.

“And he actually does love the music. I don’t care what anybody says, it’s so easy to tell when somebody’s really into you and when they’re not, when they’re just doing it for the money or whatever. I’m sure all the bands are worth something to Russell Warby in the financial way, but he just loves the bands. He comes to all the shows and he hangs out afterward.”

Jet is co-managed by Australian companies Major Box Music and Winterman & Goldstein. The latter is run by Andy Cassell, Andy Kelley and Pete Lusty, with offices in the U.K. and Los Angeles, as well as downunder. Wherever the band plays, they can make a phone call to somebody on the same continent.

“If we’re in America and we’re doing Conan (O’Brien) or something like that, Cassell might fly out to New York, but he pretty much stays in L.A. I prefer it that way, anyway,” Cester said. “They’re great managers, they’re really great, but, yeah, it’s true, you kind of want to keep it to as close as it was in the beginning as you can. It’s important.”

Warby said the band will probably take a break this summer, after it is done with the European festivals, giving Jet a chance to record.

Cester wasn’t so sure, but he was certainly hoping. There was talk of going back to the U.S. again, but there’s nothing on the books.

“We’ve been on tour forever, man. I think they’re holding off on that to see if we’re actually going to be able to do it physically. We’re really tired. We never stop. … We actually don’t own apartments, homes or anything like that. When we take a week off, we stay in the hotels.”