For JAWS album number two was make or break, we live in a time where success is fickle. Yes the B-Towners had amassed a strong, dedicated following but after a short sabbatical (that felt like an eternity) between their debut and their latest, it was uncertain that they would achieve similar results the second time around. But there was no need to fear, ‘Simplicity’ is JAWS at their most assured and triumphant best. A mix of the jangle pop of ‘Be Slowly’, soaring dynamics and fierce surf-rock, all led by the confidence of Connor Schofield’s brazen call.
We talk about new beginnings, fresh mindsets and laying it all out on the line with JAWS’ guitarist and drummer (Alex Hudson and Eddy Geach) before the band played a rollicking show at Manchester’s Sound Control.
Coming off the back of the success you had with your debut record, was it an easier process to go into album no.2?
Eddy Geach: Yeah. [With] album one and [before album one] touring in general was new to us, so going into album two we knew what we’d be doing after it was released but as far as the recording of it, it’s pretty different.
Alex Hudson: Veterans now, aren’t we? Veterans in the game… [Eddy laughs]
Did you feel any pressure to outdo your previous works when you were recording ‘Simplicity’, or was the attitude more to let the art dictate the path?
EG: There wasn’t a lot of pressure.
AH: Yeah I wouldn’t say that its pressure, I just really wanted to make a better album.
EG: I think we were confident that we wouldn’t anyway because the first one is, I suppose, the soundtrack to the first few years of us as a band so it’s got the songs but looking back it’s not that great. It’s not as good as it could’ve been. So when we were going in to do the second one, I think we knew that we’d do a better job.
There’s an unprecedented depth to the lyrics on ‘Simplicity’, did you feel it was necessary to delve deeper on this record with what you’re saying?
EG: That’s a Connor question.
AH: We write no lyrics at all. [Eddy laughs]
EG: But speaking on behalf of Connor, I think he wanted to do something that had a bit more substance to it, instead of just ‘oh its sunny today, let’s go down to the beach’. So these songs [on ‘Simplicity’] actually have a meaning and people can relate to it which is cool.
AH: Musically as well I wanted to do a lot more. Like on ‘Be Slowly’ apart from [say] two songs I just play like three notes a track [laughs] and I’m not a bad guitarist so I didn’t want to just do that again.
Do you feel that working in the music business spurs you to age or mature faster, mentally, then maybe other career path’s would?
EG: No. Definitely not. [laughs] We’re still messing about as if we’re still in school; we’re given a backstage [room] with loads of beer. This isn’t the profession [you choose] if you want to go and mature yourself.
AH: Oh dear…
I’ve read in other interviews that when you were working on the new album, new approaches and working methods started to form which informed a change in the writing/recording process. Can you expand on this?
AH: On this album we had twenty-odd songs already written…so like ‘Home’ on the first album we did like a day before we went into the studio.
EG: With the first album [we were] desperately trying to fill the amount that was needed so anything that was written was going on it. Whereas this time, we had a lot more to choose from so we could pick and choose [the tracks] that were actually good, instead of writing for the demand.
AH: We had a bit more of an influence on this album than we did on ‘Be Slowly’ because on a lot of ‘Be Slowly’ when we wrote it was like ‘that’s class man, let’s do that’. There are a lot of songs on this one and a lot of the songs [which] we didn’t release, where Connor would come in with a skeleton and we’d add our own little influences to it, and we’d go off from that.
So did you have many songs that didn’t make the cut for the album?
EG: There was quite a lot, yeah. Not to say we won’t ever go back to them, but we probably won’t ever go back to them. [laughs]
AH: We recorded three songs…‘Bad Company’, I’m pretty sure for a while that was meant to go on the album and we just thought ‘nah, I want to put this one on instead’.
EG: Yeah ‘Bad Company’ was intended to go on this album, but you never know how it will pan out [in the end] so when we got to the end of the recording sessions, we were like ‘I don’t know whether ‘Bad Company’ is going to fit on this because there’s so many other good songs that we’ve wrote’, so it was nice that we had so much to choose from.
You’re fortunate to have a very dedicated fan base that supports you endlessly, having sold out the majority of this tour already. We all know that the fans are excited about your return, but what’s the feeling in the band about this new chapter?
AH: It’s incredible. We’ve had such a long time out [so] to come back and have [only] two shows that hadn’t sold out, it’s just…
EG: It feels like we’ve had a metaphorical shower. It’s kinda like we’ve washed it off, we’ve washed off ‘Be Slowly’ and we’ve got this new colour on us, this new feel. We didn’t know what to except really when we announced the tour [and then when we saw] that they were selling out and everyone’s still there waiting for us, it’s amazing.
How have you been preparing for this tour? I saw that you’ve been enjoying facebook live streaming…
EG: Yeah we practise as much as possible, I mean we all still work. We make sure we have a practise at least once or twice a week.
AH: I’ve been working Saturdays so I’ve had extra holidays for touring. [Eddy laughs]
EG: Just practise, practise, practise because that’s really important to me and the rest of the band, and that’s all you can do really.
What are your rehearsals usually like?
AH: We all go to Subway (there are other sandwich places) but we all go to Subway, our Subway. Ed sets up his drums, he takes forever, and then we blitz through the whole set like once, [run through] any little ideas and then we normally just…
EG: Call it a day. [laughs]
AH: Just go and watch facebook video’s. And go back over anything that we thought sucked. Pretty much what we do.
I’ve noticed that you’ve been closing the set with ‘Gold’ on this tour. Does that song still feel as wild to play now as it did back when you first wrote it?
EG: Yeah I don’t know what it is with it. I kinda didn’t want to end with it because it was starting to get a bit predictable but then I realised the lads were right and you can’t really end with anything else.
AH: I hate it when you go and see a band and the song that you want them to do last and go big, they do like two songs in.
You’ve announced a three-date tour for next year that sees you heading to Manchester, London and Oxford. Are you planning to build more dates around these initial few?
EG: I think we may be…nothing that I will be able to tell you about now but again I don’t really know. Surprisingly despite me being the drummer, I don’t get told a fat lot. [laughs]
AH: I think they’re almost big warm-up’s for festival season because it trails into a couple on that weekend. I think it will be just those three, Manchester sold out so quickly and London sold really quickly [on this tour].
You’ve built this band from the ground up. What have been the life lessons – the learning curves that have seen you grow as people and as a band?
AH: I just think it’s made me more grateful, more than anything. Every single person that turns up and buys a t-shirt, that’s class, that’s really important so it’s made me super humble.
AG: Yeah it’s made me humble…but also in the years before the band even started, I had been gigging for ages in various different bands, you know you think ‘this is what’s gonna do it, we’re gonna make it doing this’. Then when I started this band, we didn’t really think about it too much because we didn’t know what to except so it was kinda a piss about. I think in not over-thinking [it] that it helped us grow as a band and I think because of that, we’re where we are today. If you enjoy it, you’ll get somewhere. If you believe in the music, don’t try and be anything. We’ve never tried to be a [different] band or sound like anything [but ourselves], we’ve got our influences and we wear them on our sleeves…
AH: Quite literary. [Alex reveals a tattoo on his arm of David Bowie]
EG: Yeah quite literary, Hudy has the David Bowie tattoo. Yeah we just like to play music that sounds good, whether that be heavy or whatever.
JAWS’ new album ‘Simplicity’ is out now. Stream and purchase the record here.