‘As long as we’ve got a good fan-base, we’ll play to anyone.’ An Interview with Jettblack

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While Jettblack were in Southampton on their sell-out co-headline tour with CrashDiet; I was lucky enough to sit down for a chat with bass player Tom Wright and lead singer Will Stapleton, talking weird fans, changes in musical style and how they avoid boredom while on tour.

So, to kick things off, how did you guys get together?

Tom: Well, we’ve had a few different names over the years, but it’s always been the four of us together. We all met at school and we just started playing music together. Anything we could play at first, I think we started out with instrumental Green Day covers! From that point we just developed, we got better and a bit faster and started to throw in some solos.

Will: Yeah, we just grew up, really and carried on getting better until we reached the stage we’re at now.

Your musical style’s certainly changed a lot. When you played as Skirtbox, you had more of a post-grunge, Nickelback kind of sound. Was there anything in particular that made you want to change to the more traditional hard rock you play now?

Tom: Yeah, we changed a lot in those days! When we started out we were about 16 and doing really fast punk stuff, and then there was one album which was completely different again. We didn’t really know what we were doing to be honest! [laughs]We just recorded anything we wrote, and as we worked up our sound and got better at playing we changed our name and just completely changed our sound again.

Will: We did do an EP which kind of bridged the divide between our two very different sounds a bit better, but it never got released, so there’s this kind of gap between the way we played then and the way we do now, but we never stopped performing live. The change in name was quite sudden as well. We did a tour with Airbourne, as Skirtbox, and then two months after that we changed our name because the music was so different, and the old name didn’t really work anymore.

You toured with massive bands like Papa Roach and you’ve been on the Kerrang tour. Do you enjoy playing bigger venues, or do you prefer playing smaller venues where you know the crowd’s there to see you?

Tom: Personally, I prefer it when they’re here to see us! We’re not really that bothered though, as long as we’ve got a good fan-base, we’ll play to anyone. If the gig is there and we think it’s going to be good we’ll play it. We’re not bothered about genres and things like that.

There’s a big eighties influence in a lot of your music. Was there any one band in particular that inspired you when you were growing up?

Will: We’ve been listening to some of the classic rock since we were about 12. Bands like Metallica and Skid Row have always been there as massive influences, but when we started we weren’t that good! I couldn’t really sing or play guitar or anything, so we just played what was easily accessible to us, which is why we started with bands like Green Day. I’m not saying they’re crap or anything like that though!

Tom: Yeah, it’s really as we got older we got better at playing music and then by the time we started playing in a band properly we’d kind of played their back catalogue to death! As we got better we added in more solos and things like that to the kind of fast, punk playing style we had. It’s early nineties bands that are our real influence now, because that was what was around when we were young teenagers just getting into music. Anything up to 1996 really, we really like the Use Your Illusion Era Guns n’ Roses and the Metallica Black album.

Have you ever had any really weird fan experiences while you’ve been out on tour?

Tom: I can think of one! We were in Glasgow and a woman made [guitarist]Jon sit on her back while her sister took loads of photos, that was pretty strange. I didn’t actually witness that though.

Will: She asked me to get on her back as well, but I declined, I thought it was a bit of a health hazard to be honest!

Tom: Jon gets a lot of strange things happen to him actually. One woman’s created a Facebook page just for him, but the stuff she puts on there is quite bizarre and a bit terrifying. If I was Jon, I’d be worried, put it that way.

Will: And there was that time we were all just drinking in a bar together and this guy came up to Jon and said ‘ I know it sounds a bit creepy, but I want to be you.’ The weirdest thing was, this guy had never even heard of our band!

What sort of thing do you when you’re chilling out on tour?

Will: Take the piss out of each other mainly! [laughs]

Tom: Yeah, that’s mostly it. A lot of bands just plonk themselves in a van and get their laptops out, but it never really happens to us. We mainly just mess around and do nothing!

Will: It’s amazing we don’t run out of things to talk about really, but we have been hanging out for years.

And finally, if you could go on tour with any band ever, who would you pick?

Tom: I’d like to go on tour with Prince, I think. That would be pretty cool. Or Metallica

Will: I think it would be pretty cool to have toured with Black Sabbath back in the day. Back when they were a bit mad!

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