The Jezabels – Synthia

News reaches Sonic Breakfast that Australian band, The Jezabels, are having to cancel all of their world tour that’s been set up to promote the release of Synthia, their frankly incredible forthcoming album. The keyboard player in the band, Heather Shannon, needs some immediate treatment for an Ovarian cancer that she’s been dealing with for the past three years. 

Heather said – “Up until now, I have preferred to not let this diagnosis get in the way of getting on with life. I feel a deep frustration at this new roadblock, as I now have to take a step back and undergo treatment. The band means so much to me, and cancelling the tour has been a very sad decision. I am hopeful that in the near future we will be back on the road again playing music we love. This album means so much to us, and we were so looking forward to sharing it live with everyone.”

Cancer is a bugger isn’t it? I have a story to tell. 

At some point last year (I can’t exactly pinpoint when), I noticed a ‘thing’ on my leg that didn’t want to go. Like a cigarette burn, it would threaten to heal and scab over. After a night of restless dreaming, the scab would often peel from my leg leaving my sheets dotted with dried blood. 

A course of antibiotics (for a separate injury) didn’t heal the damned spot. Reluctantly, I trudged to my GP. 

Immediately, I was referred to the Dermatology unit of a local hospital. A qualified doctor informed me that I had a perfectly treatable skin cancer; it was either a basal or squamous cell carcinoma. 

‘Perfectly treatable’ it might have been but it didn’t stop my head playing all sorts of games and tricks on me. The ‘C’ word had been uttered. Even though, I knew the risks were low, my mortality still felt challenged by the events. This was freefall. I didn’t deal with it well. 

Just before Christmas, I went back to the dermatology unit for an operation; the spot was removed and sent to specialists. I’m now sporting a war wound, seven stitches in a scar on my thigh. I’m yet to get the all clear but it feels good that it’s removed. 

Now, I can be dramatic sometimes but I’m in no way comparing this minor cancer thing with the Ovarian cancer that Heather is dealing with. I do know though that having close friends to be able to call upon was fab when I was in freefall. And I bet that Heather is chuffed to bits that the rest of The Jezabels are supporting by not touring without her. 

I spent much of yesterday listening to ‘Synthia’ on repeat whilst sat in my comfy armchair. It’s a dense, intricate record full of twists, turns and deviations that you simply aren’t expecting. Songs build from an electronic base into rock symphonies. It’s powerfully ambitious, drawing upon influence from a spectrum of the strongest women in rock and pop.  With nods to Kate Bush, Chrissie Hynde and Florence Welch, this is confident, strident and emotionally appealing. The National have that knack for writing something that’s not immediately obvious which then gets into your core on repeated listens. I’d file Synthia in that sort of league. 

And with that, I’m going to get back to my comfy armchair and press play again. 

Thinking about you Heather.. 


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