STA is now Ten Years Old

Andrew Post-Truck Festival Interview

'If you want to buy new a new car then go see EMI'

A post-Truck festival Q&A with Andrew from Jetplane Landing with Kirsty:

How (and when) did Jetplane Landing begin?
Jamie and I were in another band together and when that one broke up (Cuckoo) we didn't really want to stop writing songs together - we had a good partnership going and we wanted to see where we could take it - that was in 2000.

Where did the band's 'DIY' ethic come from - is it a political statement, or a way of retaining control over the way you work (or something completely different!)?
It came from a propulsion to do things our own way, to our own timetable and to survive or fail on our own merits. We didn't want anyone to blame but ourselves if our records didn't sell or noone came to our shows - some people read that as a political standpoint - I think it's probably more an attitude to life really.

How much do you think your independence matters to your fans?
I think it matters a whole lot to some people and some people really don't care, ultimately we're a band and the primary pursuit is to  write better songs than we've written previously. Being independent means that people truly feel like they get it direct from us rather than it being filtered through any packaging or marketing process. Personally, I like it when I feel like the music has come from the most direct path possible - it's more like being at a gig then - which is the most exciting format there is.

Before Jetplane, you were signed to Geffen with Cuckoo - how did that experience differ from what you do now?

It was a great apprenticeship in the industry and I was lucky to have it when i was 18 and willing to absorb everything it threw at me. Some of the people I worked with then I work with now at Smalltown America, which proves that there are some very independently minded people that work at, or for huge labels. Ultimately, everyone who wants to work in the music industry because originally they fell in love with a band, or song or album. We all have that in common. this band is a lot more successful than Cuckoo was, so we're a lot busier now than we were then and we have an inversely proportional amount of money at our disposal to carry out that work. I was able to be a full time musician when I was signed to Geffen, that's not possible now but it makes little difference to be honest.

How did Smalltown America come about - and how does it work?
It was conceived to release the first Jetplane Landing record and it simply continued - again, it's a labour of love - it functions entirely through the good will of our volunteer staff and our customers who relentlessly purchase every release. it's a DIY label but we try and do everything to the highest level we can afford and have time for, we've had good successes and some failures but I love being involved in it. The next Jetplane Landing record will be the largest thing we've attempted on the label so i'm very excited about that as well as our other releases and gigs.

Is it hard to get artists to donate 20% of their earnings to help out other artists?  Why is this important?
it's not really that hard - because we just deduct it at source as soon as the records are sold! We're in the process of changing the way we pay our artists because the profit share process was too time consuming, we're moving to a model where none of the bands get money handed to them - they simply get stock, which encourages them to tour. Smalltown America does not exist to make money for people, it's simply a vehicle through which bands can release the best records they can possibly make. this process means that by releasing your record via our mechanism you pay for the next person in line. If you view music as a heritage or lineage and not as a means of becoming rich then we're probably a good place to hang out - if you want to buy new a new car then go see EMI.

What obstacles do you come up against in your work (with the band and with the label)?  How do you work around them?
The main stumbling block for me is the fact I have to work full time and fit the band and label in around that - I've tried to blend the two, but it didn't work and it was mega stressful. I'm frustrated of course that I can't spend every working day on the label and working on tracks, but you've got to accept your limitations and do the best with what you have. I'm really happy with the way the next Jetplane Landing record sounds, so perhaps the protracted nature of the way we work has some advantages. the only practical tip I have (annoyingly!) is that to get anything done you must tackle the big things first and chip away at the little tasks every day rather than let them build up. My wife calls the STA office 'the vortex' because once the bit of paper goes in there it may not emerge for a few months - I'd like to think that we get everything done eventually though!

Has your attitude to the music industry changed over the years?  If so, how/why?
If anything I like the music industry more now than I did when I was 18. With the internet we have truly taken the power back, there are so many great small labels out there now doing fantastic work Marquis Cha Cha, Big Scary Monsters, Monotreme, Studio Penguin - none of that was really possible 10 years ago on the scale it is now. But with the internet has come a voracious audience, a plethora of information and industry comparisons at your fingertips; and the means to do things with as much front as you want no matter what age you are! It was intimidating for me to speak to A&R guys when I was 16, now I can mail people with as much confidence as I can muster on any particular evening.

- Kirsty Marais, Unpublished