Manchester five-piece A Band Called Jack make melodic indie folk rock music. They’ve supported post punk new wave legends The Chameleons and opened for Paulo Nutini at Castlefield Bowl. The band have signed to MST Sounds and are currently in the studio recording a new album. We found out more.
We may not get another album so we have to make sure this one is the best that it can be!
First up, tell us bit about yourself - what led to you forming A Band Called Jack?
I was always interested in music and it was always around me from a very early age. My mum used to play piano so my brother started playing guitar and I started out on drums. Needless to say there was always something noisy but musical going on in the house.
The dream was always to be on stage in front of a huge crowd with everyone singing your songs. With this goal in mind I have been in some form of band all my life which has ultimately evolved into abandcalledjack.
Your heritage is drawn from the Manchester art scene, hanging out with Elbow, David Gray and Bryan Glancy. How did that scene influence your music?
It had a massively influence on our music. The b-side to the ‘Kiss Me’ single is a cover of Bryan’s ‘Harry’ and we love all of their music. We want to continue that Mancunian acoustic guitar based indie sound that Elbow broke through with in 2009 which reminds people of local pubs and good times with mates.
How has your style developed since you formed in 2010?
We are a lot tighter as a band now and we all have our own element which we bring to the songs. Back in the early days one of us would bring a finished song to the band and each would learn their part. Nowadays an idea will be played and each member will come up with their own parts which culminates in something special. We have a very good shit filter so some songs or parts don’t last long!
@Danny. You’re the son of Manchester artist David Vaughn famed for his artwork on The Beatles album Magical Mystery Tour and The Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’ release in 1967. Why did you want to write a song inspired by when he looked after Paul McCartney?
There was a big revival of his work a years ago when my sister, Sadie Frost, helped to fund a movie about his life which came out at the Raindance Film Festival in 2016. We were in touch with the director Dean Brocklehurst and talked to him about recording a track for the movie, which didn’t come together in the end but we still wanted to write something about him. He was a big artist from an area in Manchester that you would not expect to produce someone like him and we felt that more people should know about him. We are hoping to make use of some of his long forgotten artwork for our future releases.
You’ve gone from playing in empty boozers to playing in front of 10,000 people supporting Paolo Nutini. How did you motivate yourselves through those early gigs and when was that?
It is really easy to motivate yourself to play gigs when we all love making music. Whether there are 5 people or 10,000 there we still enjoy getting together and performing. We still do smaller gigs but we make them as intimate as we can.
Any real horror stories?
There is a venue in a Manchester suburb called the Blue Cat that we played a few times in the early days. The owner insists on original music and is not happy if any band plays covers. On one particular gig, we took along our own support band who with hindsight we should have vetted better. They were due to play for 30 minutes and the first song went reasonably well but the second track they played was something like ‘Sit Down’ by James which didn’t go as well when the owner threatened to turn them off. He eventually calmed down and let them continue with a promise that they would not do any more covers. So they only started a very bad cover of “I wanna be like you” from the Jungle Book! The owner went purple, turned the PA off and threw them out! We did our gig which went down extremely well and never went back!!
And how did you find supporting Paolo Nutini? What did you learn from him?
Paolo is a great guy! To give an opportunity like that…to let us play a gig as big as that without ever seeing us is such a risk – just look at the previous answer! Paolo refuses to follow what everyone else wants and he has a unique sound. He does his own thing and has a great fan base and he is an amazing live performer. If we can do that, we will be happy.
Playing in front of a crowd of 10,000, how did that feel?
Wow – it was such a buzz! It was like taking a day out of our normal daily life and stepping into a different world, a bit like the old cartoon tv show Mr Benn. We stepped through a magic door and became a professional touring band for one day. It was raining when we started but the sun was out by the time we finished and we got the most amazing reaction from the crowd with people singing along to tracks they had never heard before. We will always treasure that experience and wish that it could have lasted for a bit longer.
You’ve joined label MST Sounds. How did that come about?
After the Paolo gig, Matt from MST Sounds got in touch with us. We had several meetings with him but we were talking to other labels at the time and it took a long time from the initial meeting to finally sign with them. We had a lot of internal soul searching about where we wanted to take it and we wanted to be 100% certain that we were joining the right label for what we wanted to do. We really liked what they were trying to do with their label, the sound that they wanted to create and the whole ethos of the label and we are massively positive about the future with the label.
You released single Kiss Me plus B-Side (is this correct?) Harry on May 12th. What are they about?
Spot on. ‘Kiss Me’ in a nutshell is our representation of a drunken Irish love song. It’s about getting shitfaced and professing your undying love to the one!
‘Harry’ on the other hand is a cover of a dear friend of ours, Bryan Glancy, who sadly passed away before hitting the big time. The song is about boring Sunday afternoons where the only highlight is Harry Seacombe (hence the title) presenting Songs of Praise. We always said we would try and keep Bryan’s music alive and this may be a name that crops up not too far in the future.
What are your hope for these songs?
They are a great introduction to what we are trying to do and the music that we are trying to create. We just hope that people give them a listen and if they like them then great! We are also really pleased that the people that have supported us and have heard us playing these tracks live for a couple of years can now take them home. Our support has been amazing. It has steadily grown over the past few years and it is important to us not to forget the people that came to watch us playing pubs and open mic nights.
You’re currently working on your debut album. How many songs have you written and how do they develop your sound?
We have lots of tracks in various states of recording already some of which we have been playing for a few years. It will be a tough decision when we come to decide which ones we have to leave off the album. Working with MST Sounds is having a big influence on our sound. We are trying to base everything around a vintage rhythm section with an old school flat wound strung bass and a back in the old days drum kit, layer the acoustic guitars on top and finally add melodic lead guitar and violin parts. Everyone loves a good rock out but we are trying to make sure that what we are doing is a finely crafted piece of work that we will all be proud of. We may not get another album so we have to make sure this one is the best that it can be!
When can we expect to hear the album?
We are hoping to finish most of the recording by the end of June, which should mean that we will hopefully release it at the end of the summer.
When and where can we expect to see you on tour next?
Our big focus is on the album and we are trying not to get distracted by other things at the moment but we will be back gigging in the Autumn to promote the album release.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
It would be amazing to collaborate with John Cooper Clarke, the Salford poet. He lives and breathes his art, and some of our new tracks are crying out for some spoken words!
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
It would have to be Christmas 1984 which was when one of the earliest forms of ABCJ began playing U2 covers and we were expecting an Orwellian dictatorship under Maggie Thatcher but we got Paul McCartney’s Frog Song ‘We All Stand Together’. It would have been to say ‘don’t listen to your parents… you don’t have to get a proper nine-to-five… continue with the music as it can be a career but don’t forget where you came from… and buy shares in Apple.”
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen to the band in 2017, what would it be?
It would be amazing to get into the Official Indie Album Charts.
Listen to A Band Called Jack on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates visit the A Band Called Jack Facebook page.