STA is now Ten Years Old

Andrew Talks To Crud Magazine About The 'Tour Of Extremities' Tour

We put our music out through STA records but essentially everything that happens is our own doing –that’s a nice feeling. We’re only as big as we want to be.

If Jetplane Landing aren’t coming to a venue near you on the 2003 Tour of Extremities, then damn it you are missing out and its all your own fault people.

Last year Andrew, Cahir, Jamie and Raife spread the word on their website, ‘tell us where you want us to play and we’ll do it’. To be quite honest what other explanation can there be for a tour that includes not one but two dates in the Shetland Islands, not to mention a night at the Blackwood Miners Institute?

So those of you oblivious to the crowd pleasing ways of the ‘plane –pay close attention cos we’re off for a few beers with smiley front man Andrew Ferris.

This time last year Jetplane Landing were championed by BBC Radio One, more recently they’ve received support from Kerrang!, Rocksound and NME, their video for ‘Acrimony’ reached the top of the MTV playlist for 2 weeks and yet the foursome remains resolutely underground...

What’s that all about huh [being DIY]?

The processes, the way we do things are just as important as the music we make so we choose not to be signed to any label. We put our music out through STA records but essentially everything that happens is our own doing –that’s a nice feeling. We’re only as big as we want to be.

But surely every band dreams of signing that big deal?

Speaking for myself, I’ve done that with Cuckoo (Rock band for the kids, signed to Geffen Records just after the Nirvana explosion). Being such a corporate rock animal didn’t suit me, we weren’t dissimilar to Hundred Reasons or Hell is for Heroes. I mean, the album was produced by Ed Beuller (Pulp, Suede). 

Don’t you miss the involvement of big names such as Bueller? 

I don’t think you need their involvement really. We loved recording Zero For Conduct (JPL’s first album), it was literally in a garage, two of us trying to figure out the equipment and set up a mini studio, ‘Straight-To-Tape’ – I think it gave us a lot more control and freedom with the music and it was really something we wanted to get off our chests so we bought the gear and off we went.

Doesn’t that get kinda expensive without a record label backing you up?

Yeah it does – when a lead costs 20 quid and a mic costs hundreds etc etc –that’s why we all work and the more popular we become the prouder I am for us holding down our jobs. We keep things low budget –the video for 'Acrimony', that cost 750 quid as opposed to the usual music video thousands. Still, somebody has to put up the money and maybe it’s not the stereotyped rock and roll image, my working [full-time], but I’m glad it’s [that way].

So you keep yourself busy then?!

Definitely. I write on the tube to and from work and before I go to bed – we all do. We’re in the studio every weekend without fail and last year I think we did more than a hundred gigs.

Now, I can vouch for the sheer brilliance of Jetplane Landing both on stage and on record, they rock but in far sharper, fresher and more down right entertaining ways than the clones of the ‘rock revolution’ ever could but do they ever think ‘is it really worth it’?

We played at Reading 2002 to 3,000 people and I just couldn’t believe that a band with this little money could play to that many people but it was all the fans we’d visited in smaller gigs throughout the year, they’d come back to see us. Of course it's worth it – we love what we do regardless but a response like that – wow.

You never think ‘there must be an easier way’, not even on a Sunday morning and you’ve got to get up and drag yourself to the studio?

Sometimes it doesn’t go well, you record all day after working all week and you have to just wipe it but that’s the situation. Take your fucking oil. (Translation: ‘take your oil’ = ‘get over it’).

But offering to play wherever your fans want you to, surely that’s going to involve visiting the deepest, darkest corners of the UK –why set yourself such time consuming, knackering projects?

The Tour of Extremities set out to deliberately play the corners of the UK – hopefully the tour will amplify the music scenes in each area we visit and eventually really big bands will go. We think it’s unfair that kids who don’t live in London etc can’t see a decent act. Maybe with the fans booking this tour it will encourage them to get more involved in their scene and that’d be fantastic. The DIY way Jetplane Landing does things hopefully says to our fans ‘whatever you want to be just get out there and do it’ and if they really want to get involved then STA is always looking for help and new bands to support – get in touch’.

Playing live is really important to you isn’t it?

Yeah it is. Playing live is phenomenally important; it’s the lifeblood of any band. Its not really about racking up numbers, its about trying to make every show count – leaving a bit of us behind every time. We had a few problems to begin with – I think we were really nervous and just concentrating on getting the music right rather than working with the audience. Part of that’s due to the music we were touring with at the time – 'Zero For Conduct' was a very introspective album. One night we went on stage (supporting Hundred Reasons) and it just clicked – we could actually play for the audience and that’s had a massive effect on Els Quatre Gats (JPL’s current, must-have EP).

Can we talk about the records – Zero For Conduct and Els Quatres Gats share your intricate, intelligent lyrics but its very much indie vs. rock isn’t it?

Zero For Conduct' was really us wanting to make a singer/songwriter record. We needed to make that album but as soon as it was done we were off on to something else. Certain things will hopefully always be there - I love attention to detail. I think a good lyricist writes about the everyday like Bob Dylan. We’re rooted in the mundane but its real, warts and all.

Of course Raife and Cahir joined the band full time and they had their own impact on our sound. Els Quatres Gats is much more audience related and really good fun live. I guess the difference in the sounds is a result of our experience over the past year.

So what kind of music do you listen to?

I like soul music. I like John Spencer Blues Explosion, Fugazi, Pavement. Pavement’s song Trigger Cut is actually the best example of spontaneous rock I’ve ever heard. Just brilliantly played – or in Pavement’s case terribly played but nobody else could sound like them! A good song has to have good lyrics and a good groove as well – I really want people to dance so we fill our music with drum breaks and guitar solos that people enjoy.

So there you go, a three-pint introduction to the true meaning of the DIY ethic and we’re off out in to the Camden cold again (albeit a bit pissed). If you’ve made it this far you can claim ignorance no more, if you miss them on the Tour of Extremities catch them supporting Biffy Clyro this month, or you may as well hang up your music fan hat. No excuses. Sat 22 March - Liverpool University.

- Kim Hollingdale, Crud Magazine