Big Cheese Magazine Talks To Andrew About JPL, STA & Other Such Acronyms
RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN
Jetplane Landing have always aimed for the jugular, their music is abrasive, high octane and in your face. Their first two albums set them up as a peerless DIY band, running their own label (Smalltown America) and making music that smashed harmony and discord together with no care for the consequences. For their third album they've re-written their own history; punk is replace by funk, thrash by rap and its wrapped in a 'couldn't give a shit' garage record. It confuses, elates and ultimately staggers. We caught up with head honcho Andrew Ferris to try and get down to the core of this elusive record.
Your new album is called Backlash Cop, and you’ve stated the need for every aspect to be ‘backlash’, is this a reactionary gesture, if so, what against, if not, where does the sentiment originate from?
Yes, our new album is called 'Backlash Cop' and it is that most seventies of dubious ideas - a funk concept album. If I dig into the title - being 'backlash' means ripping up everything we've done before. Not to devalue our previous albums, but to push into fresh territory and to make more spontaneous music. Perhaps the title was a preemptive strike to disable the scene police before they nailed us with their post-hardcore pepper spray.
Jamie came up with the title whilst we were on tour, we wrote under that banner for a couple of years and this is the result. I'm really happy with the record, it dances along and is a good soundtrack for a late-night, after-bar party. This has been tested. A couple of times.
There’s also a deep interest in jazz and free-music expressed via song titles and narratives, where did this stem from? Do you feel the music has stepped into the realms of jazz?
It's pretty easy to join the dots between "The Shape Of Punk To Come" by Refused and "The Shape Of Jazz To Come" by Ornette Coleman. I read a fantastic interview with Ornette recently in which he said that as soon
as he picks up the sax he knows he's going to create something new, regardless of whether it's any good or not. That's a pretty liberating concept - too many artists get caught up in a scene or sound because it's been previously successful. All of us in the band identify with that 'fuck it' mentality - life is much too short. If you're going to go down for making a bad record, you might as well go down fighting. You'll never regret taking a risk.
At the same time there’s obviously still punk here, are you worried you might be considered a bit nu-metal as a result?
It's a dangerous road to travel I'll grant you that.
How has your staunch DIY approach affected your third album, the label has been expanding its roster too, how has the label fared as a result and the time you can commit to it and yourselves as a band?
Our career path to the outside observer must seem pretty suicidal, we could have had a much easier ride. Being DIY gives Jetplane the opportunity to release whatever it wants on its own label; the penalty is reduced sales, as STA doesn't have access to a large marketing budget. We're very much a niche band, but happily each one of our records turns a small profit for the label enabling us to put out records by other bands that we love.
As time has progressed our infrastructure has improved and we're able to help even more artists. This year we will have done albums with Oppenheimer, The Young Playthings, Jetplane Landing and Clone Quartet - that's pretty edifying given our small setup. The label is never going to make loads of money - but working on the label has inspired me in more ways that I can say. There is always someone that springs up that makes me want to write a new song. The more time I commit to the label, the better my own stuff gets - it's weird.
What’s your five year plan for the label, the PSB series has ended, any ideas to do something in a similar vein?
In time we'll have an international distribution network and access to the 'large marketing budget' I spoke about earlier. PSB has been a great thing to work on, we're going to replace it with an 'STA Sessions' set, that will concentrate on single acts and focus on live performance. A great live take gives me shivers, I want to try and
document as many of those as I can - there are some brilliant bands in the UK and Ireland that have that unknowable attribute: Look See Proof, Make Model, Hooray For Humans, An Emergency, Crayonsmith, Rollo Tomassi, House Of Brothers...
How have your experiences with ‘the industry’ changed since your second album came out? Is it in a different state now to how it was when Once Like A Spark came out, is it better or worse, do you have
even any interplay with the larger mechanisms of the industry?
We don't really integrate with it; we lick the jam from the sandwich and leave the crusts behind. That terrible analogy aside, the music industry is quite like any other corporate in that its offices are staffed mostly with people who hate their jobs and are endemically lazy.
For independents, the proliferation of digital technology allows us to connect to people better than ever before. Recording costs have plummeted since we made OLAS, the tools of music production are available to most of us quite cheaply which is a great, democratic thing.
If your music is good it's relatively straightforward to get it played on MTV2, Radio 1 and get reviewed in NME (splutters) without ever having to speak to anyone. So take heart - the majors would have you believe it's a secret sect - it's anything but; these outlets need you more than you need them.
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- Fighting With Wire
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