Boy Jumps Ship were touring support for Patent Pending recently and seemed to go down a storm in Glasgow at least. They were plugging their forthcoming album, Wake Up, which we reviewed recently and which comes out today. There’s a launch party at the O2 Academy in Newcastle tomorrow night which I’m sure will be rammed with local fans before the band kicks off on a few dates up and down our country in May.
We talked to them just before that Glasgow show and, around mutual backslapping between them and the headliners, we had a nice natter about their journey from beginning the band to recording their debut album.
We’ll start with the simple stuff. Despite playing Sonisphere, Vans Warped and some other little dates here and there you’re still an emerging band. So… who the hell are you?
Gav: We’re a bunch of friends who started playing music together a few years ago now. We’re from the North East of England, God’s country – Newcastle. Though watch out for Jonny – he’s a Sunderland fan! Mind, we’re shocking so I’m not going there! We all met at college, but we knew each other from the local music scene. We were friends before we were a band, but when we started writing songs together we just gelled. We’ve done a few EPs, but this campaign is to launch our first full length attempt.
It’s a totally different to doing a short EP which is just a snapshot of where your band’s at, to doing a full album. We’ve been able to play with the dynamics of the whole thing and write completely different songs.
How long have you been together as a band?
Gav: Since about 2010. Time flies, though. We’ve done so many bits and bobs in those years, but it’s really just been the last two years where we’ve had a good agent helping out and a good team around the band. We’ve had the chances to do things we couldn’t have before, like getting the PRSF funding to record the album. Without it we just couldn’t have done the album, at least the way we did. We’d have done what everyone else does – scrimped and scraped.
Would you have managed the album at all without it?
Jonny: Oh, yes. It would just have been a completely different process.
Gav: We might have demo’d it then shopped it to labels before recording it as opposed to recording it and being happy with the final product.
Jonny: Which can be the traditional way of doing things. Labels vary. With some, you have the feeling they’d just be standing over your shoulder, insisting you make changes here and there. Whereas we were lucky in that we could just put our heads down and crack on. We thought that was very important, especially for our first album.
How was the recording process? I guess also different from a quick EP recording?
Gav: Yeah, Larry who we worked with was superb. He knew what we were after but wasn’t afraid to suggest something or other then let us try it out. We learned a lot from him. He was one to question an idea. We were really pleased with how it turned out sonically, and as songs.
Jonny: When we’re home, we don’t stop writing. Before we recorded we decided that we wanted 25-30 songs to pick from with a view to picking 12-13 for the album. There was a period where we’d write, then rehearse for a gig – it was festival season – play, then get back to writing, then rehearse… Larry was great. He was as passionate about the album as we were. Everything you could want form a producer. Our practice room is in the middle of Sunderland and he came up a couple of times to work with us. When we did a festival down south and we had time the day either side of it, we’d go to his studio and write.
Gav: He was happy to suggest something, get us to do it and then say “Nah, your version was better – go back to what you did”. There was one song, “Lost and Found” the new single, that we wrote in a night. Larry came in the next day, we played it for him and all he said was “that’s fucking going on the album.” Other songs had a lot more time spent on them. By the time we’d finished working with him we were starting to ask the questions that he would have been asking of us – what would Larry thing about this? One thing was adding space in tracks. I used to think, “oh, there’s a gap here. I need to do a drum fill. It’s eight bars – I need to do a fill.” Now I realise I don’t need to. Just let the song groove.
Lyric-wise do you have any particular themes?
Gav: Si writes pretty much all the lyrics, but we tend to write about life and things around us. On the surface a lot of the songs seem quite dark but they tend to have a positive message underneath. Coming from the North East you often feel you have to shout louder to be heard in an industry that’s predominantly London-based and that became a real theme of the album, hence the title Wake Up. Larry got this as well and he’d sometimes ask Si to consider rewriting some of the lyrics, questioning what some of them were about – analysing them and really understanding them. We’ve never had that before.
We’re learned to much from him and it’s feeding us for album number two. As soon as we have some free time, that’s the plan – to start writing for that.
Do you think things are different in terms of labels than they were maybe twenty years ago?
Gav: I think labels now are more wary of taking risks. That’s coming from our experience as a young band going round with our album to various labels.
Jonny: Part of the problem seems to be that we’re not a pop/punk band. We’re not a metal band. Labels don’t like that we don’t fit into any particular preconceived genre. I think fifteen years ago when people still bought CDs they would have taken more risks with new bands. Mind, even if you get onto a major label that doesn’t mean you won’t get lost in the machine. I watched that Thirty Seconds To Mars documentary the other day. It was interesting to see how badly they were treated by the label. They got signed and so many people got fired from the label in the process of them recording the next album that they got frozen out as they didn’t know anyone at the record label any more. [similar to Black Stone Cherry’s story, as told to us by Jon Lawhon – Mosh]
Gav: That was one of the great things about the label we signed to – they’re North East based which is a great thing and they’re all passionate about the band. They also have their opinions on things which is better than just sitting on the fence, too.
When I got the album through I noticed that the MP3s were labelled “smooth” except for “Burn” which was labelled “harsh”. Is this you just categorising tracks?
Jonny: No, that’s the mix! We asked for a harsher into mix for “Burn”. We wanted something that kicked a bit more with it being the opener, so we had it remastered.
Is this the biggest tour you’ve been on? There’s a fair few dates on this run.
Jonny: No, I think the one we did with Arcane Roots was longer – two weeks in Europe and a week back over here. This is probably the most intensive tour we’ve done so far. It’s very hands-on. There’s only one day off, I think, with long drives. It’s brutal but it’s great! Going around Europe with Arcane Roots was something else, a whole new market for us. We’d turn up for gigs not expecting many people to be there, but the venues were full.
Gav: The first show was Cologne – our first time playing Germany – and we peaked out the curtain before the gig. It was a room like the one upstairs here and it was just full. Packed. It’s a European thing. They all come out to see the support bands. They’re super polite, they applaud and if they like you then they stick with you. When we went back, so many of them came out to see us again it was nuts.
How was last night’s hometown gig?
Gav: Probably one of the best Newcastle shows we’ve played. We’ve told Patent Pending they were all there to see us and just hung around afterwards to see this pop/punk band from America! It just seemed that everyone was up for it from the get-go, jumping and dancing. We’ve had Joe from Patent Pending on stage with us the last few nights doing a song with us and he threw Si in to the crowd last night and make him crowd-surf. Mind, the venue… don’t go there! It’s scary. We were downstairs on the balcony where the merch is and Patent Pending were playing. You could visibly see the roof above your head going up and down.
We’re picking up different things from all these bands we’re on tour with. We learned a lot from Young Guns and from Arcane Roots and we’re definitely learning a lot from these lads. Joe is the best frontman.
Jonny: The thing is he’s just like that off-stage. 100% non stop.
Gav: You see him in the morning and he’s just a ball of energy. If he’s walking around he’ll just stop and pick your gear up and carry it for you – “Fitness never stops!”. He’s a dude! Trains every day. He’s just a nice bloke. He’ll spend forever with fans – they just don’t care. With these meet and greets it’s been nuts. The fans will turn up and it’ll be like “Amy! How are you doing? You bought a t-shirt when we were here last year!” He remembers their names and everything.
You’re playing the same scary venue on the 23rd aren’t you?
Gav: Yeah, it’s the same room. Album’s out the day before.
Jonny: It’s pretty mental. We finish this tour on the 19th, drive home from Southampton on the 20th, 21st pre-production, 22nd we have a show at the HMV in Newcastle and the night after we’re playing the Academy. The week after release we’re doing a load of in-stores and the week after that we start on our headline run. We’ll be playing Stereo up here. We played there with Marmozets three or four years ago. Great venue – we loved it.
Any other plans from June onwards?
Jonny: It’ll be our first chance to take a breather and start work on album two as we said. We’re into festival season but once that ends we’re back into touring season… As a band we just want to tour as much as possible because getting front of an audience is our favourite thing to do. We are doing some festival dates but the only one we can tell you about is the Scuzz Stage at Great Escape. [They’re on 3:30 – 4:00pm at Komedia on Sat 21st May – Mosh]
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen on stage?
Gav: Marmozets putting the drum kit in the middle of the crowd at every gig and having a circle pit round it. Then smashing every venue up in a complete rock and roll way – guitars everywhere, smashing cabs… they just didn’t give a shit. It was amazing.
If you met a band who were at the stage today that you were six years ago, what advice would you give them?
Gav: Write a lot of songs. Some bands, particularly young ones – and we were guilty of this as well – spend too long focussing on social media, and how you come across, all that stuff. But what you really need to do is write.
Jonny: And make sure those songs are ones you want to write, not just influenced by what’s being played on radio. Play what makes you happy.
Sun 1st May – York Fibbers
Mon 2nd May – Liverpool Arts Club
Tues 3rd May – Glasgow Stereo
Wed 4th May – Manchester Gullivers
Thurs 5th May – Birmingham Academy 3
Sat 7th May – Tunbridge Wells Forum
Sun 8th May – St Albans Horn
Mon 9th May – Southampton Joiners
Tues 10th May – London Barfly