Interview:
Jetplane Landing

Bright Sparks

Yes we have featured them several times before, but let’s be honest here, how many other bands have released a debut album that rivals, say, “Surfer Rosa” or The Stone Roses’ eponymous effort? In fact, in this humble writer’s opinion, “Zero For Conduct” was even BETTER than those two classics, and their stunning follow up, “Once Like a Spark” is equally as good. Guitarist Jamie Burchell remembered the early days…


AD: It's great to see the progress you've made, and how much your fanbase has been growing recently. It always amuses me to think though, that no matter HOW successful or well known you become, you will NEVER forget that gig you played at the shed with my old band, Duffmonkeys. Be honest – what exactly went through your mind that night?

JB: I do remember that gig really well. It was on our first UK tour. I booked that tour myself and that show was the last one I booked. I think it came to us because some other band had dropped out. I think it was a Saturday night, so we thought, 'Saturday night in Leicester, should be a few people in.'

Not only was that gig one of the smallest crowds we ever played in front of - just the Duffmonkeys, their wives/girlfriends and the bar staff watching; but it was one of only two shows that we have played when we didn't get paid. I remember asking if there was any money, the guy running the door just said, "there's nobody here." He had a point.

It was hard back in those days to keep your spirits up, but one thing I do remember was that you guys, The Duffmonkeys, were really nice and stood and watched our show.
I also remember climbing into the camper van that we toured in back then and feeling like it was going to be a hard road ahead.

AD: Anyway, whatever DID go through your mind, you still picked up a huge fan (me) that evening. It's the first time I've HAD a favourite band since I was a huge Pixies fan. You seem to be picking up the odd celebrity admirer here and there too – most recently Phil Jupitus. As I think I've mentioned before, Tim Wheeler (Ash) and Funeral For a Friend are hugely impressed with JPL too. How does that make you feel and do you think the impetus is even stronger now for you to go out and take your career on to that next step? And what IS that next step?

JB: Celebrity fans, oh that's just odd. We found out the other day that Rick Rubin had been given a copy of our new record, things like that just crack me up. Andrew WK reviewed one of our singles in Kerrang! - that was a weird one. I do like the idea of say, Jon Bon Jovi dancing around the room to 'I Opt Out', maybe taking it into the rest of the band and saying, "We got to do some shit like this boys, back to the 'Keep The Faith' days!" Seriously, It has no effect on me apart from laughter.

As for our career. People say to us, "I really hope you make it." But to us, we have made it. We have made two albums that we are very proud of, we can put out our own records, we can play in any city in the UK and people come to see us, we even get played on the radio these days. I suppose they think we should try to be rich and famous. I don't want that. All I want is for us to make enough money to survive and to carry on making better records than most of those bands who think they have made it.

AD: I believe that "Zero For Conduct" is the greatest album ever made, and the more I listen to "Once Like a Spark", the more I am convinced that you have made the TWO best albums of all time! That may sound a little OTT but I mean it! Anyway, OLAS is about six billion times heavier than ZFC. What made you take that decision?

JB: The band changed a lot between both albums. The band on "Zero For Conduct" was really just Andrew and me, as songwriters, recording a backlog of songs we had, whereas, "Once Like A Spark" is a real band. We had toured for over two years, played hundreds of shows and we have a new member - Cahir on guitar. All of the songs on OLAS are credited to the band and all of these events account for the change in sound.

I would also say that I hate the idea of a band making the same album over and over again. I see this happening all the time. But the bands I love, change, evolve, push themselves in new directions. I think that Jetplane will always be like that. We will probably make five different records, but hopefully you will be able to see some kind of common thread, when its all over, that hangs this thing together.

AD: When I first played your debut album, I was positive that, had you released "The Last Thing I Should Do", you would have had a massive hit record on your hands, yet to my knowledge, you never DID release it. I wondered whether there was a reason behind that….did you decide it was perhaps a little too commercial or had it just never struck you as a single?

JB: That's very kind of you to say, maybe we should stick it out now... make a million! A lot of people like that song. We released three singles from our first record. (This is not revolution rock, summer ends and what the argument has changed.) There was some talk about putting out "the last thing I should do." But by the time we came around to it the band had moved on so much live, we kind of thought that it would be unrepresentative of what we were doing at our shows. Oh, well, I could do with the money of a massive hit record now.

AD: One of the things I love about the band is that you're actually SAYING something in your lyrics. Many of your songs are overtly political (presuming I've been taking them in the right context!) and treat the listener with some intelligence, unlike billions of other bands I can think of. How important is it for you to put your viewpoint across effectively in your recordings and live performances?

JB: The band is formed on the idea that it's pointless to write a song unless it is saying something real. It doesn't have to be relevant to everybody's life, but it has to be real to us. We work very hard on that in our lyrics, we find a little bit of truth goes a long way.

AD: The video for your latest single features two homeless people going about their business in an everyday situation. Tell us how this idea came about and your experience making the promo.

JB: The video is filmed by photographer Mischa Richter. He came up with the idea. Basically, he took his camera and spent twenty four hours with a homeless couple he met at King's Cross Station. The film is just a reflection of what happened over the time he was with them.

The video itself had a somewhat confusing effect on people. I don't think people could quite understand why we made it. For me, and the reason I still love it, is that it was a totally uncompromising and uncomfortable watch. Too many bands, new bands out there, are well lit, well groomed, dying for the publicity, dancing around in their promos. It's a Cult of Celebrity.

This film was a reaction against that. Forcing people sit in front of their televisions and watch two people facing a real 'reality', cold and clear. People couldn't understand why we weren't in our own video - the song is called 'I Opt Out' and as a band we do.

AD: Are you at the stage yet where JPL has become a full time business or are you all still working?

JB: No, we all still have to get money from outside the band just to live.

AD: Because the bands that tour with you tend to be ones you have chosen yourself, I have been checking some of them out, and the results have been astonishing. I particularly like Distophia and Jarcrew. Which others would you recommend to our readers and why?

JB: I love a Scottish band called Fickle Public (web site), they are great. They are just one of the bands that appeared on our label's first compilation, "Public Service Broadcast No.1" I think they are on the second one too which is coming out soon. If you get a copy you will see what I mean. Plug. Plug - web site.

Jetplane Landing are on tour April 21 - May 26.

Interview; Tone E

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