Interview: The Jacarandas

We had a little sneak backstage the other weekend whilst at Northampton’s Roadmender to catch The Jacarandas before they graced the triangular corner stage with their presence.

There were balloons all over the floor as we walked into the venue and you just know it’ll be a happy affair when there are balloons present. The Jacarandas set was as delightful as said balloons, but the chat we had previous was the highlight of my night. We were holding a few cider blacks, each band member walked out at least once and I’d like the set the record straight that Spindle isn’t responsible for any future band tensions based on kicking and marrying.

We start talking about Dad jokes and how both Jack and myself were born in Northampton General Hospital…

So are you guys from Northampton?

Jack: Well, I was born in Northampton General Hospital, a little sprog, crying, and cold…John: Oh hurry up.
Jack: Then Northampton wasn’t enough for me, so I went after the brighter pastures of Birmingham.
John: He’s from Northampton. I’m from Birmingham. We met each other. I was playing in a park and then he said he likes the songs. We had two people in the band then I met him (points at Hamish), he’s from Birmingham. Here we are, two Birmingham people and one Northampton person.
Jack: One fake Birmingham person.

Can you do the accent?

Jack: Burrrminghem. Was that good?
Hamish: Will that come across in an interview? (Oh, it will).
Jack: (Still doing the accent) With The Jacarrrrrandas band.
Hamish: Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

What’s nitty gritty about you guys?

Hamish: Loads of stuff.

Go on then…

John: Oh no no no.
Jack: It’s too dark for your publication. If only we could tell you those gritty things we get up to.
Hamish: Not even that, I’m on about the songs and the concept behind the band.

What’s the concept behind the band?

John: The concept, you gotta go to this guy.
Jack: The concept. So we’re laying down the concept…
John: Fun. No not fun.
Hamish: No, just good pop songs.
John: Just good pop music. Economy of melody. Make sure you have that in bold underline…

And what about the song writing?

Jack: John writes the songs.

Who were you trying to get rid of?

John: You what?

In the new song ‘Get Her Off My Mind’…

John: Oh right.
Jack: “YOU WHAT?” (Laughs).
John: I thought you meant in the band. Well, it’s not some heartfelt love story.

Is there anyone you take huge inspirations from?

John: The Las who did ‘There She Goes’

The Parent Trap, great film.

John: A lot of 60s music as well. Slightly Beach Boys.
Jack: It’s a forgotten era. Like the dinosaurs, land before time.
John: It’s not a forgotten era,
Hamish: The BBC remember it ever year.
John: We’re not just trying to remind people of 60s songs. We’re a band that is in 2015 and we’re not trying to resurrect or trying to do a nostalgia trip. We’re a modern band that might happen to sound like other things that people like. Ha ha. It’s something else. Its new and its now.
Jack: I would say it’s lazy journalism to say “this band sounds like Oasis”.
A magazine once asked us to be more contrived because we weren’t contrived enough. They asked us to be more like a certain genre. “They’re nearly Britpop, but they need to be a bit more Britpop”.
John: They came to see us at our gig and then they wrote up that we don’t sound Britpop enough, which doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
Jack: He wanted us to conform to a genre a bit more.

People get scared when they can’t pinpoint bands in a specific genre.

Hamish: It’s a broad term ‘Britpop’.
Jack: He was actually putting the word out going “you guys need to be more Britpop” which is strange.
John: I was saying earlier that it might remind people of things like Britpop, which is a good thing, it’s just people need to understand we’re not Britpop. We’re a band in 2015 and it’s relevant.
Jack: Bands hate getting categorised anyway.

What’s Watergun about?

John: It’s a love song for when it’s pissing it down with rain.
Jack: So John, through his lyrics, he tries to romanticise normal things in life. It’s like “oh yeah its raining”, that’s a bad time, but he romanticises it and makes it a great thing.
John: Hopefully people go outside in the rain when they hear that. I don’t, I still stay inside.

How was your London gig? The one you did a few weeks ago?

Jack: London is a very interesting place.
John: They were good but I think…
Hamish: I think people put a lot of emphasis on a place as somewhere to play. If you’re not an established act and you go down there and you do a gig, it can be a very underwhelming experience. And also we didn’t think the gig was actually going to happen because the promoter didn’t turn up for hours and hours and hours.
Jack: We were sitting there for ages twiddling our thumbs like “is it on?”
John: Just hanging out in Camden.
Jack: And also, the bar staff need to improve their attitude in Camden.
John: (Down the Dictaphone) Did ya hear that?!
Jack: They’re not very nice at all. Not even just to us, to general customers they’re very standoffish.
Hamish: They’ve got this indifference to your presence. All they want to do is ignore you completely; they don’t care about anything that’s going on around them.
Jack: It sucks. Just loosen up.

Where’s been your favourite gig?

John: We’ll put this into the context of Hamish being in it, because we’ve had a few lineup changes. What’s been your favourite place?
Hamish: Probably The Sunflower Lounge.
Jack: So we’re playing The Sunflower Lounge, it’s a very intimate venue in Birmingham, kind of like a basement basically. We sold out and I think it almost went over maximum capacity. And then all these people invaded the stage on the last song. Loads of people like “woooo” hands in the air singing along. I think John was actually joined on lead vocals.
John: I did a duet. One of my mates came up on stage.
Jack: So that was a duet for everyone to see. It’s really good when people wanna feel extra close they just rush on the stage.

Can I get on the stage later?

Jack: Yeah of course.
John: Get on, go on!
Jack: Do a duet with John.

You would not want to do a duet with me; I’m the worst singer.

John: I do.
Jack: He’s looking for another person to duet with.
John: Bristol was my favourite gig.

Why Bristol?

John: Because it was so shite.
Hamish: No, no, Bristol was your favourite because it was so bad that there may have been potential of me leaving because it was my first gig. So it’s your favourite because I didn’t.
John: It was my favourite because it puts these things into context and you should never take yourselves too seriously. There are many spinal tap moments when you’re doing gigs.
Jack: That’s definitely something that we’ve experienced as a band.
John: You know In The Night Garden? (Yeah) Well, there was a miniature festival going on in Brum, One Beat, a few bands play there. I was getting on my high horse, I was driving there and then a woman with a clipboard, I thought she was going to come up to me and go “Oh you’re here for the gig? Right this way. You’re in The Jacarandas”. She came up to me and said “Are you here for In The Night Garden?” I was like “whattt”. This children’s party going on for the day or something. I was like “oh no no, I’m here for the gig” and she went “what gig?”
Jack: That’s actually happened a few times, when we’ve turned up and not even the promoters or the people working there know that there’s a show on. So we once played Tramlines Festival in Sheffield, this was before Hamish joined, people were coming to see us and they were asked the stewards and stewardesses where this venue was because we were playing on the outskirts of Sheffield. The promoters at Tramlines festival didn’t know where this venue was. They just didn’t know. They were like “I don’t even know if that exists”.
We’ve had a few bummers, but some good shows too.
John: Have you got any favourite bummers? 

Why we talking about bummers, what about some good ones?

John: Okay, good gigs.
Jack: We played in Manchester the other day and that was really really fun. We had loads of people dancing around.
John: And also, we don’t want to slag off playing in London too much because it was good fun. The Lock Tavern was a good gig, it was good fun.
Jack: I was actually really nervous at Lock Tavern because to the left of my peripheral vision was these five Japanese girls and they were all just giggling uncontrollably. I think it was at me trying to play the bass and look cool. They were like “so funny” because obviously I looked like an idiot. So I was just really nervous.

I’m sure they were laughing at you.

Jack: I’m sure they were.
Hamish: The Distillery was a good one. I think The Distillery is a good gig to pay attention to because some of the responses we got were very indicative of how people respond to our music. I think it’s very sort of incongruous with the current climate of indie music. Everyone is so rapped up in a pretense, effectively we try to undermine that and give you a very raw deal. And definitely when we came off the stage at The Distillery, I wont actually tell you what he said, because it doesn’t bode well for Jack.
John: It does man, it was funny.
Hamish: He paid particular attention to Jack’s overall…
Jack: Stage presence.
Hamish: More generally, he compared us to a number of different genres and styles and was unable to locate our sound.

That isn’t a bad thing.

Jack: He came up to me and said, “You on stage yeah, you look like a fackin epileptic beanstalk up there on base, wiggling away”. I was like (hesitant) “…Thank… You…” I’m gonna take that… An epileptic beanstalk.

Are you excited for tonight?

John: Of course we are.
Jack: The fans of my hometown man, playing with some hometown heroes Fox Chapel. Northampton’s great, people just don’t realise. Bauhaus are from Northampton! Alan Carr is from Northampton as well.
John: All the big names…
Jack: And Alan Moore, also a graphic novelist.

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Obviously you’ve only released two songs officially, have you got an EP planned?

John: No EP. Just maybe record another demo.
Jack: We’re very conscious not to over share things then people are like “pfft, tired of ya”.

So what do you play on stage?

John: We’ve got six songs that we’re going to play tonight, and more on the way.
Hamish: I think we’re in a transitional period definitely at the moment. When I came in, I sort of inherited all these songs that they’d already written. And now we’re in a new writing process, generating new tunes. I think if there is a new demo, it’ll probably be another one of the old batch. But we’re trying to cultivate a new crop of tunes at the minute.

So no EP on the horizon?!

Jack: I think when you do an EP, you want it to be a special event. You want a label behind you and you want to have a big release.
John: Not necessarily a label. I dunno man, but you’ve got the right idea.
Jack: We don’t want to do it half-assed basically.
(Hamish whispers in the Dictaphone: I love Spindle).
John: Spindle magazine helloooo, we are The Jacarandas.
Jack: Spindleee.
Hamish: Swindle.
Jack: Swindle?
Hamish: I said swindle then…
John: I love Swindle.
Jack: I love Swindle.
Hamish: I love Swindle.

Time for some would you rathers.

Hamish: These aren’t quick fire are they…

Would you rather have hair everywhere or be completely bald?

John: Bald.
Jack: Completely bald.
Hamish: Completely bald. Cleaner.
John: Yeah, it would be clean.

Would you rather never use the Internet again or never watch TV?

John: I would rather die.
Hamish: Never watch TV, absolutely.

Would you rather always lose of never play?

John: Always lose or never play?
Hamish: Always lose. Always lose.
Jack: Always lose man.
John: I’d win mate.

But you’re never allowed to win.

Jack: He’s just trying to mess.
Hamish: Always lose or never play?
John: (defeated) always lose… For fuck sake.

Would you rather eat three handfuls of hair or lick three public telephones?

Hamish: Write this down… Hamish walks out of the interview. (He does actually walk off).
Jack: I’d rather eat the hair. Can you chose where the hair is from? So it’s just from random people? Can you mix the hair in another dish like spaghetti Bolognese or something?
Hamish: Jack has a very funny history with hair.

Have you? Now you’ve opened a can of worms…

Hamish: He used to have masses of the stuff.
Jack: I used to have very long hair, very curly hair.
Hamish: So did I.
John: I never did.

I don’t believe that’s you.

John: That was very quick getting that picture up…

He knew he was going to get it up tonight.

Jack: It was in recent apps. It was in recent apps.
John: What was the question?

Would you rather eat three handfuls of hair or lick three public telephones?

John: I’d rather do neither.

You’re just not complying with the rules of the game.

Jack: He’s not even playing ball. We’re going to eat the hair, we’re going to eat the hair.
Hamish: No, lick telephone boxes.
John: Why would I?
Hamish: Why? Because you got this question.
John: Good point.
Hamish: Also, the hair would be a lot more uncomfortable than just licking, done.

Marry or kick the other two?

John: I think I’d have to kick Jack because he’d react better, but also if I was to marry Hamish I could imagine you being really good…
Jack: In bed.
John: No actually, as a partner around the house.
Jack: He’s thought about it.
John: Of course I have. I think about these things all the time. When I dream, I sleep, who am I gonna kick? Who am I gonna marry? One day these questions will be asked.
Hamish: I’ve already left so you can’t ask me anything.
John: its just Jack, and he can only answer in tongues.
Jack: (does some believable tongues and proceeds to make a dramatic exit).
John: He’s not the kind of guy that walks off dramatically and the comes back.
Hamish: Marry both.
John: No, what was the question Hamish as you were telling me earlier.
Hamish: I’d probably marry Jack because he’s already down after John kicked him. And I’d kick you for being such a bastard to Jack.
John: Fair enough. But we’re already married because I married you.
Hamish: But I mean like, it was already an abusive relationship anyway.

Jack makes a return. Marry or kick?!

Jack: Kick Hamish.
Hamish: I just married you as well.
Jack: But then he would just beat the shit out of me and I’ve lead a very privileged life and I’ve never known what real pain was like. I’d marry John because he’s just so goddamn good looking. He’s got an angel face. And he’s got beautiful eyes and he’s got good music taste, whereas Hamish just listens to techno all the time. John just has the better music taste, I’m sorry. “Have you heard this new techno record?” itsh-itsh-itsh-itsh-itsh.
John: You’ve caused band tension.

Everything goes to pot and Jack and Hamish and John continue to squabble over who’s kicking who. It’s fine; we’ve established they all at least get married once and kicked once.