Juke Kartel is about one thing only. Forget the branding, strip away the hype. All that matters is the music.
Rocking loud and hard, with a respectful nod to the blues, Juke Kartel is a charismatic blend of talent, passion and dedication with a downright mischievous streak.
They have chased the dream across three continents, survived a reality show near-split and become apparent overnight sensations — stadium rockers, sharing a stage with Tommy Lee.
But, as music critics point out, these are "no fresh-from-the-garage amateurs." The five musicians from Melbourne have been paying their dues for more than 10 years. As young teenagers, front man Toby Rand, guitarists Todd Burman and Dale Winters and bassist Tommy Kende first came together to forge what became Juke Kartel.
For the last few months the band, including new drummer Jason Pinfold, has been in the US working on its debut album, Nowhere Left To Hide, at Seattle´s renowned London Bridge Studios with legendary rock producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, 3 Doors Down, Nickelback).
"Juke Kartel is one of the best rock bands to come out in a long time" says Rick. "They definitely are on their way to being a commercial arena rock band with a 60´s, grunge-like quality that gives them an edge."
Even before the album launch propels them into the spotlight, it has already been a whirlwind 10 months for JK; a period which saw them celebrate a million plays on their MySpace page, and become the first unsigned band to play the MTV Awards in Australia.
Their meteoric rise in popularity, a signing with international management firm HJM Management and a 2008 worldwide record deal with Emporium Music, means a bright and distinctly stadium-like future.
But the band played its fair share of small clubs and pubs for nearly seven years before Nickelback asked them to open two stadium gigs in Melbourne last year.
Then Toby left the band to go on a little US reality show called Rockstar Supernova — and came perilously close to winning.
Looking back, Todd says "We came off stage at the Nickelback gig and I literally grabbed Toby and said dude, you can´t fucking go now."
But he did, and for the normally carefree singer, Toby´s progress on Rockstar was as torturous as it was exciting. Winning would mean instant fame and the opportunity to play in a band with his icon Tommy Lee. It would also mean having to leave JK for good.
"I had the time of my life on the show but what was eating me up what was going to happen afterwards," says Toby.
Luckily he didn´t have to turn down Mr Lee, Clarke and Newsted. A firm favourite on the show, Toby came in a strong third, with his credibility intact and an unexpected bonus: JK was chosen to support the Rockstar Supernova stadium tour across the USA, Canada and Australia.
In case you were wondering, Juke Kartel, translated means "music group." But this is more than a musical connection; JK is nothing less than a self-proclaimed band of brothers.
Like brothers they finish each other´s sentences, bicker, bait and wind each other up, but the fraternal love is self-evident, along with the mutual admiration and respect.
"We´re more than just band mates. We´re a family that chose each other."
There´s Dale, the self-confessed dad of the band, Todd, the cynic and a rebel to the core, quiet determined Jay and the terrible twosome: Toby and Tommy. The only single guys in the band, they are as forgetful as they are disarmingly charming, loving nothing more than to win over their audience, whether it´s a 20,000-strong crowd or a lone female.
Juke Kartel has arrived and if you like your rock real, raw and dirty, there really is nowhere left to hide.