Juke Kartel are a talented band of Melbourne men who followed their dreams to the United States where they are currently living and making music.
I wish I could say I got to sit with the guys for a good coffee to get to know them better; instead, I caught up with frontman Toby Rand online in this recent interview.
Michelle: I’m sure there are many people, like me, whose attention you came to as a contestant on Rockstar Supernova but I believe Juke Kartel pre-dates Rockstar. Can you tell us how you and the guys met and formed the band?
Toby: We all met by playing in different bands around Melbourne when we were teenagers. I actually auditioned for Tommy and Dale’s band when I was 16…they said no…5 years later they auditioned for mine, I forgave them!! haha
Michelle: How do you think your time on Rockstar Supernova has changed your career?
Toby: Rockstar gave me and JK the platform to move our music to the states. It opened up all the doors we are walking through now. But, we had to hone our talent and focus.
Michelle: What is your favourite memory from your time on Rockstar Supernova?
Toby: My fave memory would be walking out onstage every week to lights, cameras and an amazing audience. I love being onstage, and when you’re playing for 20 million people around the world every week, it’s pretty incredible.
Michelle: I would think the Rockstar Supernova experience would have taught you a massive range of things, what do you think is the most valuable thing you learned from the experience?
Toby: I learned to believe in myself and who I am…TV, entertainment industry can change people…but I used it to enhance who I am and where I wanted to go.
Michelle: One last Supernova question, did the experience change the relationships and dynamic with the band?
Toby: They changed a little…I guess the boys respected our journey a little more and it gave us faith to take on the world. Everyone stepped up and practiced their instrument even more.
Michelle: Juke Kartel have recently moved to America, all of you together, are you all living together and spending an extremely high amount of time together? What’s that like?
Toby: It’s amazing…I live with Dale and Tommy and their partners. I love being around them all. It’s important for creativity that we are close by, particularly when writing and talking about all matters JUKE. Jay lives pretty close too, we are like brothers.
Michelle: While we’re on the big move, what do you miss the most about living in Australia?
Toby: I miss the food, the people, the beaches, the space, the air….and, of course, my fam and friends!!
Michelle: The other side of that coin, what is the best thing about living in America?
Toby: Opportunity to grow JK and experiment with different avenues of creativity. The music biz is way more fruitful here and there’s movie opportunities. We are treated very well here and my senses are alive here, my energy has never peaked as high in any other country.
Michelle: Spending so much time together there’s got to be some little known facts so I’d like to ask a couple of questions about the band. Who has the most annoying habit?
Toby: Jay has a habit of not listening, I don’t like repeating myself too much.
Tommy loses everything and we spend a lot of time being annoyed by him asking where his stuff is (laughs).
Michelle: Who would you say is the most vain?
Toby: I’m pretty vain…me or Tommy. It’s a lead singer thing I guess
Michelle: And what’s a quirky fact we wouldn’t know about you?
Toby: I just asked the boys and they said “Toby is a princess” – I guess that’s because I like to make sure we are all looking semi good and I like shoes…????
Michelle: While we’re talking about you, what do you like to do when you’re not writing, rehearsing and performing?
Toby: I love to surf and hike. I’m very sport orientated. But mainly my life is thinking about my music and poetry.
Michelle: I follow you on Facebook and I love to see the news on what gigs are coming up and quite often there are venues that I have heard of in relation to some of my favourite 80’s bands and I think how amazing it would be to see a gig there. Where is the most inspiring place you have played a show?
Toby: Radio City Music Hall in New York was so amazing…Michael J Fox actually requested coming to meet me and the boys in 2007 and we jammed in our band room. That was so amazing. Other highlights have been sharing the stage with Slash, Fergie, Ozzy and Ronnie Wood in Norway. We are blessed to have so many incredible memories.
Michelle: Along the same lines, what would you say has been the ultimate high point of your career to date?
Toby: A highlight for me is when the audience knows the words to our songs and sing it back to me! No better feeling.
Michelle: Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
Toby: I’m inspired by the relationships I have with people and then learn stories through them…I’ve become very in touch with my spiritual side and get to release it on paper. A lot of the lyrics and poems I write are based on life’s journeys and recognising who we are and how to elevate ourselves to happiness and helping others.
Michelle: Speaking of your songs, this could be quite a difficult question to answer, of all the songs you have written and recorded which is your favourite?
Toby: No favourite!
Michelle: Now for the question on everyone I knows lips, when are Juke Kartel coming back to play in Australia, and more importantly (to me anyway) in Adelaide?
Toby: End of the year, and yes, Adelaide for sure (Michelle loves this answer. Little woo hoo moment happening)
Michelle: Another question on everyone’s lips, are there plans for a new album anytime soon? When can we hope to get some new Juke Kartel tracks to sink our teeth into?
Toby: We have been writing for the next album and we have about 30 solid ideas to present for the producer we choose. However, we are going to work LEVOLUTION in the US for a while longer.
Michelle: Before I wrap this up, which I really should do, I’ve been keeping the best until last. I hear you’ve been doing quite a bit of charity work recently, for Breast Cancer Research. What made you choose Breast Cancer?
Toby: My Aunt is a survivor as is Jay’s (drummer) mum. And I have met numerous women around the world who come to me with their stories. I guess I have taken on the role of helping to inspire people, and for that I am honoured.
Michelle: Brightest Star, I’m sure I remember seeing somewhere, is involved in this. Can you tell us about Brightest Star and how it fits in?
Toby: I thought by writing Brightest Star it would inspire those who have suffered breast cancer. And sure enough we have had amazing responses to the song we continue to raise awareness for the cause. Jay’s mum, Fransie, is recovering well and she says the song has helped her a lot. Music has an amazing way to cleanse and inspire people.
(Michelle just wants to add here that I think this is an amazingly inspirational song and it gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it)
Michelle: One final question, that can’t be missed, what’s next for Toby Rand and Juke Kartel?
Toby: We are currently about to blow up in USA so we’ll be touring our butts off and producing new music along the way!! You can get our music on iTunes.
The album is JUKE KARTEL – LEVOLUTION
The song Brightest Star is also available on iTunes with proceeds going towards the Susan G Komen Race for a Cure
For more information and to keep up with all the Toby Rand and Juke Kartel news you can find them at: www.jukekartel.com
After all of this I thought of other questions I would have liked to ask. So, if you had the opportunity to ask a question of Toby Rand, Juke Kartel front man, what would it be?