Nic Cester on The Jaded Hearts Club, working with Muse's Matt Bellamy and why internal divisions still plague Jet

TALENTED FRIENDS: The Jaded Hearts Club are, from left, Matt Bellamy (Muse), Jamie Davis, Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets), Graham Coxon (Blur), Nic Cester (Jet) and Sean Payne (The Zutons).
TALENTED FRIENDS: The Jaded Hearts Club are, from left, Matt Bellamy (Muse), Jamie Davis, Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets), Graham Coxon (Blur), Nic Cester (Jet) and Sean Payne (The Zutons).

WHEN you've sold 6.5 million albums worldwide, experienced the highs and lows of fame and success and gone through the ringer of a fractious band split, the magic of music can wane.

That's been the experience for Nic Cester, best known as the frontman of Melbourne rock band Jet.

At 41 Cester has rediscovered the sheer delight of playing music with a little help from his friends. In fact, a band of very famous friends.

Cester (vocals) along with Muse frontman Matt Bellamy (bass), Blur's Graham Coxon (guitar), Jamie Davis (guitar), The Last Shadow Puppets' Miles Kane (vocals) and The Zutons' Sean Payne (drums) formed The Jaded Hearts Club supergroup in 2017 to initially play a Beatles show at Davis' birthday party.

From there the six-piece morphed into a living breathing band, who a fortnight ago released an album of '60s northern soul covers, You've Always Been Here, which features classics like I Put A Spell On You and Reach Out I'll Be There.

It's 6am in the Italian fashionista capital of Milan - where Cester has lived with his Australian wife Pia McGeoch since 2012 - when we speak to the Jet singer, but his voice is full of enthusiasm for The Jaded Hearts Club.

The Jaded Hearts Club - I Put A Spell On You

"It was born from a party, so that kind of set the tone for everything," Cester says. "For everyone involved the great pleasure is this is a vehicle for everyone to return to a level of music appreciation that was there in the beginning of everyone's career.

"Despite everyone being in different levels and moments in their career, everyone began in the garage. This is back to where we began in the very beginning."

Cester was invited to join The Jaded Hearts Club due to his long-existing friendship with Davis, which dates back to the early 2000s when Jet first toured the UK. Cester and Bellamy are also firm friends after Jet and Muse crossed paths in music festival green rooms.

Back in 2008 Cester famously joined Muse on stage at Milan's San Siro Stadium to perform a cover of AC/DC's Back In Black.

Bellamy also served as the producer of You've Always Been Here and curated the 11 tracks with Davis. Cester says seeing Bellamy - who boasts hits like Supermassive Black Hole, Hysteria and Knights of Cydonia in his songbook - work in the studio was an educational experience.

"We'd done stuff together before but I've never had the chance to watch him up close and that was interesting because he's extremely ambitious overall and quite fearless," he says.

"One of the successful things about this album was that he managed to bring together a lot of old sounds, but blending together a lot of contemporary sounds as well."

The majority of the recording for the album was complete when Cester arrived at Los Angeles' Red Room Studios to lay down his vocals. However, he did witness Coxon's visceral guitar performance on I Put A Spell On You, which left him speechless.

"I knew he was a great guitarist but I didn't realise how great until I was there watching him play," Cester says. "He's absolutely unbelievable."

The COVID-19 pandemic scrapped The Jaded Hearts Club's intentions to tour Europe this year. That has led to plans of a second album being fast-tracked.

RE-BORN: Nic Cester on stage with Jet in Newcastle in 2018. Picture: Paul Dear

RE-BORN: Nic Cester on stage with Jet in Newcastle in 2018. Picture: Paul Dear

An album of original material was also discussed, but Cester says it's unlikely.

"That would bring into it the obvious pressures and there would be enormous expectation on absolute quality, given the people involved," he says.

"It's a possibility. One of the reasons this project got super serious all of a sudden was because Muse decided to take a year off, and I know for Matt, it was the first time since the beginning of Muse where he hadn't felt that pressure to come up with new material for Muse or any project."

Fans of Jet also shouldn't hold their breath waiting for new material. The Are You Gonna Be My Girl hit-makers may have reformed in 2016 for live performances, following their 2012 break-up, but Cester says old animosities still linger in the four-piece, which also includes his brother Chris (drums), Cameron Muncey (lead guitar) and Mark Wilson (bass).

"We've tried a few times to get things going," he says of new Jet material. "There's a lot of internal issues in that band unfortunately that we never really resolved to a level where we could commit to putting out new material of absolute quality.

"I guess until that changes, it'll be on permanent hold."

The Jaded Hearts Club's album You've Always Been Here is out now.

This story Jaded Hearts Club supergroup renews passion in Nic Cester first appeared on Newcastle Herald.