In our latest artist spotlight, we chat to Brighton alternative rock act Jumping Ships’ guitarist Kai Smith and vocalist Michael Williams about their hometown, influences and plans for 2012.
“Our new material is sounding BIG!” – Michael Williams S] If you could come up with a “Frankenstien’s monster” for Jumping Ships – for example, the head of Biffy, the left arm of Pulled Apart By Horses and the left leg of Reuben, for example, what would it be?
M] “What an opening question; the hair of Omar Rodriguez, the voice of Claudio Sanchez [The Mars Volta], the left arm of Mike Vennart [Oceansize], the right arm of Frederick Thordendahl [Meshuggah], the torso of Prince, the feet of Chris Pennie [Coheed And Cambria] and the booty of Beyonce! How does that sound?”
S] What locations and places, or people inspire you, and your songs?
M] “Living in Brighton is quite inspirational as it has such a vast cultural landscape – I’ve written a fair few songs about it and the people I have met here. Ray Davies [The Kinks] has been a recent inspiration for me as he creates characters and writes from interesting perspectives – It’s nice to change it up sometimes. Also Nick Cave’s 9-to-5pm songwriting work ethic is where I want to be.. eventually.”
S] You are recording a new record this year. How is that coming along?
M] “Good! We are writing our debut album at the moment – currently we have got about 25 songs down in various forms, Between 10 and 15 of which are nearing completion. We want to get as many together in the run up to the pre-production sessions – we have done a couple of demos of them and they are sounding big.”
S] How has your relationship as a band developed over the time you have been together?
M] “The relationship has only gotten stronger since the beginning, our drummer, Oli is a new addition as of 2012 after the departure of our old drummer Alex. The three of us know our playing and writing styles inside out which is making the writing process flow well.”
S] Have the band dynamics changed at all?
K] “The dynamic is great at the moment. Oli is an old friend of mine who I’ve wanted to work with for years now, so it seemed like the most obvious and natural choice. We’re just having lots of fun writing and having our first tour together! it’s been pretty hilarious!”
S] Who came up with the idea for the ‘Talisman’ video?
K] “We had this awesome director Ryan Mackfall [Crashburn Productions] who’s been on tour with Mastadon most recently. But he came up with the concept and pretty much nailed it! He’s got great stylistic vision, he’ll hear a song and know what he wants by the end of that tune.”
S] How important is that visual element to the band?
K] “I think it’s a massive thing to any successful band. When you’re at a gig you need visual stimulation as well as ‘hefty’ sounding tunes. You need people leaping around left, right and centre and the aesthetic needs to be cool. I think it makes the whole package!”
S] Is there a song that you are working on currently, new or old, that you feel best defines the state of the band right now?
M] “We have just recorded a demo of a new track ‘Alcatraz’ which we are really excited about. The newer material has more space for movement and is much more dynamic than our last EP. It’s really heavy in places and gentle and delicate in others. It’s more progressive and there are more big choruses.”
S] You’ve just got back from touring the UK with Gunning For Tamar who are also on your label Alcopop, tell us about it, what were the shows like?
K] “It was definitely our strongest tour to date. A lot of sweaty and rowdy shows with some hilarious onstage banter between the two drummers. There were great vibes across the shows and a massive ‘thank you’ to all the fans that traveled a long way to see them.”
S] Finally, it is nearly festival season, what festivals will you be going to either as performers or revelers?
M] “We are playing a couple of shows at this year’s Great Escape Festival and that’s all that we are playing at so far. We are heavily focusing on the album this summer and writing with recording will be paramount round that period. I am unfortunately away over the one festival I really wanted to play at, or go to.. and that’s 2000 Trees.. which has the best lineup out of all I’ve seen so far. Truck Festival looks good too.”
S] You do a lot of shows down south, are you planning on touring up north any time soon?
K] “We 100 per cent are.. we will be heading out on a short UK tour next month in the run up to The Great Escape Shows. We also plan to head back out on a headline UK tour in September time and hopefully will be hitting the north pretty hard. We are really looking forward to coming back to Manchester and York. We are also touring Europe in October time.”
For more information visit the official Jumping Ships website.