It’s always great to watch a band organically grow and mature over the course of their career, especially in a way that’s unresponsive to outside pressure or trends.
It’s always great to watch a band organically grow and mature over the course of their career, especially in a way that’s unresponsive to outside pressure or trends. One of the best bands representing this trait currently is Edinburgh indie rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks, a band entering it’s thirteenth year together that’s been steadily rising its stock since releasing their debut record in 2009. The band’s sound is very reminiscent of the bands and contemporaries the quintet is so eager to discuss, but despite these sonic similarities, they’ve still been able to carve out a sturdy musical identity over the years. Their natural progression over the years has become almost easy to chart, something that helps them stand out from other bands in the scene willing to abandon an aesthetic just to fit in to whatever movement is gaining traction, and it’s one that really makes the next few years crucial for the band with fans eager to see just what comes next.
Currently, the band is still touring behind their October 2014 album, Unravelling, a record praised for its varied sound with spacious production that gave each instrument a deep, almost throbbing sound. While it’s only been out a year, the band’s plans for a follow-up has been a popular topic of conversation, especially as the band has started to reveal teasers here and there on the road. Talking to vocalist and guitarist Adam Thompson, it became clear that the band was willing to move on from Unravelling as plans started forming at the beginning of 2015, only a few months after their junior album was released to the public.
“Once an album comes out, I’m very much done with it. Then like a couple months off, get right back into it and move onto the next one. It really is a relief when the final mixing and mastering is done. It takes a while to switch off from it because it is all I think about for weeks on end. I’m quite good at switching everything off afterwards and removing myself from pressure – especially if I’m happy with it.”
Still, despite the band’s debut of new material and their openness over the fact that it’s forthcoming, Thompson himself still had little details to offer up about what it could be or when it could even come out. “I really have no idea! Depends on how long we take to finish writing it and how quickly we get it set up to release.” It’s a stark reminder that musicians constantly live months, sometimes years behind their releases with the process from creation to mastering to release being a tediously long experience. Despite this uncertainty, Thompson did offer up some ideas on what the band would like to incorporate moving forward in their seamless musical evolution. “Different instruments and sounds. We’ve relied quite heavily on the same bank of instruments and sounds so we have plenty room for maneuver now. Higher highs and lower lows also.”
Thompson may seem bullish on revealing specifics for the next album, but when you learn about how the band crafts a song, it makes this vagueness come to light a bit more. “We definitely need peace and quiet off the road to do it. We don’t really write music on laptops or individually. We work songs together with our instruments and like to settle into a routine of writing back home.” For a band that’s been touring non-stop for nearly thirteen years, it’s amazing that they’ve been able to put out the music they have already considering Thompson stressing their need for a stable environment to help facilitate the songwriting. Still, as much as touring can get in the way of new music, it’s also the secret to their success thus far with their strong touring reputation the reason they landed on Brighton’s FatCat Records in the first place. After all these years though, the band still find ways to take joy in travelling with Thompson telling us what’s really still surprising to this day. “[The] people who have driven hours to see us or people who think that we are something special.”
Finally, it wouldn’t be a conversation with We Were Promised Jetpacks without hearing from bands they’re currently into. The band loves any opportunity to gush over labelmates like Frightened Rabbit (who also helped give the band their first big break) as well as other Scottish contemporaries like Biffy Clyro. So what’s Thompson currently into these days? “Man of Moon from Edinburgh and Pronto Mama from Glasgow are two young Scottish bands and have bags of potential.”
It’s odd to hear Thompson describe a band with bags of potential because even today, that’s exactly what We Were Promised Jetpacks have. They’ve developed a strong start to their catalogue thus far, but really, the future is wide open for them with all the tools needed to really catapult themselves into stardom. Their often cited musical influence Biffy Clyro didn’t really cement their status their fourth record in 2007 and that’s just the kind of cross roads Jetpacks is at right now. Still, it’s hard to compare the two, especially as Biffy Clyro subtly subdued their sound over the years while Jetpacks have mastered the art of refining their sound each year without taking away any crucial elements that their fans have grown fond of.
One thing’s for sure though – we all better keep a close ear on what comes next for We Were Promised Jetpacks.
We Were Promised Jetpacks play The Southern in Charlottesville tonight alongside openers Seoul. Doors are at 7pm and tickets are still available for $14. For more information on the showm click here.