To Die For
one of the most stunning albums you will hear this year is JJ72s
extraordinary second effort I To Sky. The superb Irish three
pieces drummer Fergal Matthews explained how this incredibly spiritual
collection of beautifully crafted tunes came into being:
AD: First of all, sorry to interrupt you, because Ian (Cheek) said youd
probably sitting there having a good smoke and watching the porn channel
(laughs) Nah, the porn in British hotels isnt really up to scratch.
You have to go further into Europe for any half decent stuff!
AD: Ill bear that in mind. Now then, the great Alan Moulder
mixed your wonderful new album. What do you personally feel he brought
to the recording?
FM: It was just that we loved a lot of stuff that Alan Moulder had
done before, and hoped he would be able to emulate the weight that he
brought to those other records. We feel hes done that. I think
a big thing about both Alan Moulder and Flood who also played
a big part in the production of the album is the fact that they
are both producers that listen. They are extremely open to anything
that you want to do, and wont dismiss anything as ridiculous or
too difficult. They give you a bit of guidance but realise at the end
of the day that its us who are making the record.
AD: And the results are stunning. Perhaps unusually for such a young
band, religion seems to shape a lot of the album. Are you very religious
yourself, and does it worry you how critics and fans alike will respond
to such a bold move?
FM: I suppose it is a bit of a concern, but no, Im not religious
at all. I think its not necessarily religious in the biblical
sense of the word; its more about the whole fantasy idea of religion
and having something, not necessarily a God, but something to believe
in. I suppose sometimes the album might be a kind of plea in ways. Going
back to your question about whether we were worried about critics, I
think the only real concern we have as a band is to make music that
we WANT to make, and has a soul searching depth to it. We want to make
sure our music is different every time. Were not a kebab shop
AD: Thank goodness for that! Staying on a religious theme, if you
could choose what youd be reincarnated as, what would it be?
FM: Definitely the Popes best friend, because then Id
never have to pay for another drink in my life. Then Id just hang
out at the pub the whole time.
AD: Nice work if you can get it. Now, I get the impression that you
drew on classical music for I To Sky. Am I right?
FM: Certainly. Were not classically trained
is slightly, he played violin when he was younger but gave it up when
he was about twelve, but the rest of us arent. Rock music has
its limitations and theres a whole lot deeper you can go with
classical music, so its a good thing to take inspiration from.
AD: How often do you visit your own websites, and have you seen that
site where some weird bloke keeps writing poems about Hillary? I quote:
If you were a fish oh Hillary, I would still love you, for your
pouting lips would kiss mine, and then blow a bubble and then eat Tetra
Fin, I always thought it was strange how fishfood smelt of fish, are
they cannibals? Do people like that worry you at all?
FM: No. Not at all. I dont think Ill bother telling
Hillary about that one though
might frighten her a little. But
yes, I look on our website a few times a week, read it and have a good
laugh about it. Theres always some kind on amusing rumour up there
AD: A strange thing I read about recently was that there has been
a Nobel prize awarded for an investigation into the cause of belly button
fluff build up. Whats the most likely thing that you could win
a Nobel prize for?
FM: I think I could hijack a plane for a false hijacking. Being
in a band you obviously get to go on aeroplanes a lot, and Ive
always thought it would be a really easy thing to do. All youd
need to do would be wait until they come around with the drinks and
get a can of Coke. Once youve finished it, you just squeeze the
can and youve got a weapon just as effective as a knife, so then
Id just storm off into the cockpit
Im not convinced this would win you a Nobel prize
FM: Really? Erm
youre probably right. (Fergal
sounds worringly disappointed at this observation).
AD: Good answer though. Now, your eponymous debut album was regarded
as a very dark one, although personally I actually found it very uplifting.
However even I would admit that I To Sky is almost joyous
in comparison. Was that something the band made a deliberate effort
to achieve or did it just happen?
FM: Well, you know the funny thing is that we only realised after
we released the first album that everyone said it was miserable. We
just thought it was a great record. But yes, it was deliberate this
time around. We wanted an aspect of hope to come from the songs and
I think weve achieved that even down to things like the
lovely little backing vocals on tracks like I Saw A Prayer.
AD: So how long can JJ72 go on?
FM: Forever. As long as we all stay sane, well keep searching
for that not quite perfect tune, keep creating and writing songs, and
talking about it. Its just fucking brilliant fun. Put me back
in the normal world and Id be completely lost. I think we were
very lucky though. We were just in the right place at the right time,
coming straight out of college and getting a record deal. Marks
distinctive voice and our strange image of two guys and a girl definitely
helped though. But anyone can do it you just have to have that
little thing that someone likes. We can go on forever. Youre never
over the hill.
AD: Which comedy characters resemble yourself, Hillary and Mark the
FM: Me Ricky Gervais, Mark Bill Hicks why?
Youd have to know him!, Hillary one of the teletubbies!
I dont know why exactly. She says things that she doesnt
intend to be funny, but they are, and we all fall about laughing like
AD: Im not sure Id class the Teletubbies
as comedy characters, but still
anyway, finally, if you were appearing
on Room 101, what would be the first three things you would get rid
FM: Number one, Gerry Adams. Number two
really bothers me that much. Sod it, Ill just put Gerry Adams
in three times!
Cant say fairer than that. One things for sure though
anyone who chooses to put either of JJ72s albums on the
conveyor belt is probably either wearing a straitjacket or listening
to New Kids On The Block at this moment in time.
The bands ridiculously good album I To Sky is out
now on Lakota Records.
Interview and Transcript by Tone E