THERE was at time at the beginning of this decade when The Jezabels appeared poised to become Australia's next big band. Like Silverchair, Powderfinger or Tame Impala big.
The Sydney four-piece's debut album Prisoner won the 2011 Australian Music Prize, peaked at No.2 on the ARIA charts and introduced their dark and anthemic brand of new wave to a worldwide audience.
Endless Summer, powered along by frontwoman Hayley Mary's stirring vocals, became a radio favourite and they graced the stages of festivals like Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Glastonbury (UK), Lollapalooza (US) and T in the Park (UK).
Then came The Brink (2013), which was largely considered a misstep and in 2016 The Jezabels released their synth-heavy dream-pop record Synthia. While it was critically-acclaimed, the record failed to match the commercial appeal of Prisoner.
Keyboardist Heather Shannon's battle with ovarian cancer also prevented the band from touring and promoting the album immediately after its release.
The past 14 months since the end of their Synthia American tour in December 2017 have been relatively quiet.
Mary moved to Scotland and Shannon has been busy writing classical music for the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
But last Sunday The Jezabels returned to the stage for a national tour that passes through the Queen's Wharf Hotel in Newcastle next weekend.
"We felt like we went pretty hard for 10 years so after our third album we wanted a bit of a break and a breather," a breathless Shannon tells Weekender after riding her bike home from her part-time job teaching music at TAFE. "We've been doing bits and pieces, studying and writing.
"All of us are still writing for various things, but hopefully in the future we'll get back together and do another album."
The time for The Jezabels to become Australia's biggest rock band feels like it's seemingly past. The mantle was long ago claimed by Kevin Parker's Tame Impala, who are preparing to headline a night of Coachella next month.
Shannon says The Jezabels remain an ambitious band, but one who won't forsake their creativity for the demands of the music industry.
"I think with that stuff, you have to separate the commercial interests from the creative energies in some ways to be able to function as a band," she says. "Sometimes the industry forgets that and that creativity can be quite fragile and it's very personal.
"I don't think The Jezabels have an ambition that goes beyond fostering our creativity and putting something out into the world that has meaning to us.
"Just keeping that in check with our creative ambition, is something that's really important to us."
Work is yet to begin on album No.4, but Shannon says the 18-date tour for Corona could result in some brainstorming sessions.
"We do have demos flying around," she says. "There's always music floating around our heads and emails, but as far as a solid vision of what we'd do next, we haven't gotten that far yet."
The Jezabels' music has long promoted positive femininity and gender equality and Mary, in particular, is often seen as a strong female role model.
Demonising the old male world leaves a bad taste in my mouth, that kind of angle of it.Heather Shannon
However, Shannon admits the band, who also features male members Nik Kaloper (drums) and Samuel Lockwood (lead guitar), are uncomfortable with the more divisive debate around gender issues, which has emerged in the music industry in recent years.
"Gender topics and discussing women in music has always been really interesting for us, but we always approached it [inclusively] as we're not just a girl band," she says.
"Men and women working together was a big important thing for us and something we believe in. Demonising the old male world leaves a bad taste in my mouth, that kind of angle of it. I think men and women when they work together can make really cool shit."
The Jezabels play at Queen's Wharf Hotel on March 31.