TWO years ago Sam Hales was freaking out about how Jungle Giants fans would react to their single Heavy Hearted.
It was a bold new direction for the Brisbane four-piece, who began life in 2011 banging out indie-rock tracks like Mr Polite and She's A Riot filled with jangly guitar and conventional rock drums.
Heavy Hearted was a complete 180-degree turn. Gone were the guitars, replaced by synths, drum machines, Hales' falsetto and a tribal beat more reminiscent of Pnau.
"I was pretty scared that night before we released that," Hales says. "I thought maybe some people might be like, 'what the f--k, I saw you and you guys used to be indie rock'.
"It's been such a slow progression to suddenly jump into there's no guitars on this one. People did not get annoyed and people didn't freak out. People were really supportive."
Jungle Giants fans were more than supportive. Heavy Hearted has attracted 29.6 million streams on Spotify and polled eighth in the 2019 triple j Hottest 100. Then last year the track won song and pop song of the year at the Queensland Music Awards.
Jungle Giants have continued their transition to electronic dance band on their subsequent singles Sending Me Ur Loving, In Her Eyes, Treat Me Right and Love Signs. Each feature minimal guitar and Sending Me Ur Loving (eighth) and In Her Eyes (89th) polled in triple j's 2020 countdown.
It's naturally filled Hales with confidence that Jungle Giants' fourth album Love Signs will find a receptive audience.
"It's been a phenomenal response with our Spotify stats," he says. "Overseas these songs have been connecting better than anything we're had before, which is really exciting and makes me feel really good because it's the first record I've officially produced, engineered and written in a studio on my own.
"It was kind of forced because it was half in lockdown, but on the other side I really wanted to do that with this record and really push myself and it's been connecting with people, so that's really exciting and boosting the ego for sure."
Jungle Giants began their shift towards a electronic dance sound on their 2017 album Quiet Ferocity led by the singles Used To Be In Love, Feel The Way I Do and On Your Way Down.
It was during Jungle Giants' tour for Quiet Ferocity that Hales realised his enthusiasm to move the band in a new direction was shared by their audience. The dancier numbers were providing the barnstorming moments on stage.
"Fans will follow you as long as you come correct and informed whenever you make a change in your sound," he says. "As long as you research the sound you're going for, really experiment with it until it sounds like you and if you believe in it yourself, people will follow along."
However, what about Hales' Jungle Giants bandmates Cesira Aitken (guitar), Andrew Dooris (keys) and Keelan Bijker (drums)? Did they approve of the shift away from indie-rock?
"Luckily the guys are so supportive," Hales says. "I'm pretty sure they'll follow me into the dark corners of where ever I go, which is amazing."
Jungle Giants' album Love Signs is out on Friday.
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