Johnny Borrell and Jack Flanagan discuss Jealous Nostril’s approach to authenticity through sound

By Brett Herlingshaw

When someone says the words Jealous Nostril, what do you think? If nothing else, it catches your ear and draws you in for more. The heavy art-rock band is fronted by Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell and supported by Jack Flanagan (Mystery Jets), along with drummer Ellis D. So far they have three singles out in the world, including, ‘Phase 6,’ ‘California in the Kryptonite,’ and latest single ‘Problems.’ We caught up with Johnny and Jack over Zoom for a fantastic chat (sans some minor Zoom difficulties).

The question on everyone’s lips is how did Jealous Nostril come to be? While speaking with Johnny, we got a good idea of how things just sometimes fall perfectly into place. It began through hanging out with Jack, and the two started writing songs. Johnny also remembered seeing Ellis play a long time ago for band called Strange Places and his solo act Ellis D. “We got in the room and started playing it, and yeah, it was the right vibe.” The line-up was vital to Johnny, as it can make or break a band. “The identity of the players is so important, and well, that’s music for me.”

The band was going for a more back-to-basics approach to recording their material and playing live. The press release even describes their recording methods as ‘more Jack White than Jack White.’ What was the big push for Johnny to do this? Johnny tells us how he had been invited to shows where the band are playing along to a click track (e.g. pre-recorded backing vocals and strings) and how he doesn’t click with it. “I just walk out – I’m not interested. I wanna’ hear music, and I want to hear musicians.” Jack had similar thoughts, with the emphasis on just the band, their instruments, and the room they’re playing in. “The sound of the band is like the three of us in a room, you know. We try and keep that the creed for it, not do too many overdubs and work within the limitations of what a three-piece band is, which can be quite a challenge, says Jack.”

Success is not new to either Johnny or Jack, so what does it mean to them? Especially coming from two influential indie bands from the 2000s. Johnny tells me it’s when the audience is totally on board with the band, and the feeling when you know something is “clicking and working.” Other times, it can be meeting someone who has taken something positive from his music. “The other peak moments in my career have been when people who make music themselves, whether its teenagers or people in big bands when they pay you a compliment or they’ve taken time to learn your riff or something like that, I love that.” Johnny also laments on the downsides of becoming more and more successful, saying, “you end up playing arenas and big theatres and it just gets more removed.” Success in Jack’s eyes is similar, but it’s more about the ability to make music to be creatively fulfilled and pay the bills. “I just like to keep doing it, and if it pays the bills, then that feels successful to me. That’s just the goal, to be able to create music for as long as possible.”

We also ask what art the two are currently enjoying. Jack mentions listening to the first Elliot Smith record Roman Candle and the second Red Hot Chili Peppers album ‘Freaky Styley.’ “They’re very different, one’s like loud party funk music, and the other one’s like man lamenting in a bedroom.” Johnny gives a much more concise answer about how he enjoys art from people who are authentically themselves, or in his own words, “people who aren’t bullshitting.”

The band plans to release more music and play at a few festivals. “We’ve got some more things that we’re gonna’ release, and there’s going to be a lot more to come over the summer and more live dates. I think we’re playing a few festivals as well.”

You can find tour dates for Jealous Nostril here