Interview: Jake from Bluejuice

Chatting to the effervescent Jake from Bluejuice about their new album Company.

See original interview here

“We’re not Radiohead exactly, you know what I mean, but in doing the record we want to try and do it as well as we can, as well as what we can do. We tried as hard as we could to be the best version of us as we could on this record really. I hope that people put it on and enjoy the songs just as pop songs which is what they’re supposed to be. Just 2 and a half minutes of fun or a certain type of mood that you can enjoy in your day and it’s not supposed to be a big deal.”

With the release of their new album, Company Jake Stone from Bluejuice gets a (little) bit serious and sincere yet still has time to talk ironing, pashing old women and Phil Collins.

Hey Jake, how you doing?
Yeah not too bad, just ironing a shirt. I’m trying to do a good job cos I always do such a bad job of ironing.

Oh me too don’t worry, I don’t even bother these days.
Yeah it’s pretty hard to get the creases right..

I’m just like you know what it’s gonna get creased anyway so might as well just leave it
Except some people make fun of you when you turn up with an un-ironed shirt, and you’re wearing like a nice thing and they’re like oh nice job on the ironing oh you’re like “ah fuck” so that’s why I’m really trying to get this right this time.

Well good luck with that… So, this new album, Company, it’s great that you’ve managed to grow up slightly with your topics yet you’ve still kept the song so sharp and witty in that Bluejuice way
Oh well I’m glad to hear that, cos that is what we’re trying to do..

It’s fantastic because it’s refreshing, it’s still you guys but take the track The Recession for example, that it’s brilliantly upbeat despite the topic of recession. How did that one come about?
Well it’s based on Steely Dan’s Peg, which has similar kinds of chords and I really love the song, just thinking about how they write, not that different to us really, they kind of write cheesy sounding songs with really sometimes pretty dark or weird lyrics. And I had the line “now is the winter of our discotheque” I thought that was really funny, and I was like ok well I want to put that line in a song, and with everything sort of going wrong in my life and being blah and whatever.

I wanted to make a disco song about something amusing, you know make a fun song about everything being shit…and then I just thought well The Recession is a great title for something and I’ve got these kind of KC and the Sunshine Band Give It Up style chords slash Steely Dan style chords, maybe we could just make a full on cheesy 70s song about the recession, no one’s writing about it really so we thought we give it a go.

And it works, it works brilliantly, love it!
Good, I’m glad!

You also had a few friendly co-writers on this album, you had Alex from Sparkadia, Julian from The Presets… these are mates of yours so they were happy to help out?
Yeah yeah it happened pretty easily. Julian I don’t know as well so I was kinda trying to establish a writing relationship with him by asking that question by saying you know can we write together and stuff and he was keen on that which I was surprised about. And then with Alex it just happened, we just went and hung out at his house for two days over summer about 18 months ago and wrote Act Yr Age and Shock there and it was just easy you know.

I’ve never really co-written with anyone other than the band before and it came out really easy with him so I kind of thought well, maybe we should just extend this concept to the rest of this record, because it was fun and what we need after 10 years of doing it. It’s more fun, vary it up like a marriage, when you get bored after a while, you know?

Everyone’s gonna get a bit bored after 10 years in any relationship so we kinda needed to do something that would make us not just go “oh we’ll make another record, we’ll just go to BJB [studios] and do the same thing that we always do” and we didn’t really want to do that. You could tell by talking to the other guys that nobody really wanted to just do the same thing so that seemed to be a good solution, plus we also wanted to get more out of the band and make it sound bigger.

We wanted the record to sound like a professional pop record and not just make a kind of garage record. So then we were like “well if we’re getting other writers then we should get other players” cos we know all these fuckin jazz players who are good like Tom Rawle who is a fuckin evil, evilly good guitarist, so why don’t we get all these talented people to contribute to it because we’ve got a budget we can pay them and they’ll make it sound better, it will be better to have better people on it..

Yeah it’s refreshing for you guys, you need a new take on it sometimes, bring other people in it’s like alright let’s get it happening. As you say 10 years is a long time, you need a new spark every now and then..
Well that’s right, you know it could’ve been terrible… The songs that we were writing as well at the end of the last record, they weren’t that different to one we just made and we needed to take a break from writing the same type of songs and go away and listen to different types of music, have a think about what we want to be and do you know. And luckily that’s what happened in that process, that really did work, it definitely worked for the band to do that.

Ok, so that pash scene in the Act Yr Age clip… brilliant use of a red balloon and a mesmerising sequence all together…
The clip was really an idea who’s time had come, and it wasn’t a big deal performing the kiss. As long as it’s sincere and romantic, it’ll find it’s way to being funny on it’s own. The actress Christine was awesome, and our director Sam Bennetts was his usual disgusting self. It was fun.

The other track I wanted to ask you about was On My Own which was written with Julian from The Presets. It’s beautiful, it’s still in the Bluejuice vein but it’s yet so thoughtful..
Oh I’m glad you liked it! You’re the only person who’s actually bought that song up and I’m really glad that you liked that one. Our record label likes that song and yet I don’t think critics like it cos I think some people think it’s a bit too cheesy or something, or a bit too pop or mainstream indie sounding but I like it too. I think it’s a commercial sounding song to me as well.

I think it sounds like it’s not really a triple j kind of tune I think it’s more of maybe a commercial radio song which is why some people might be a bit like “woah don’t want to talk about that cos it’s too clean” or maybe cos it has woahs in the chorus or it might sound a bit Temper Trap-ish or something and people are like I don’t want to touch that stuff.

But I mean for me, when we were writing that, the intention was to make it sound like Steve Winwood’s Valerie and a bit like Joe Jackson and the late 70s synth white guy music, and it does do that and then also make it a bit like LCD Soundsystem’s All My Friends as well which is kind of a synth white guy dance music. It’s like a mix of the two time periods of synth white guy dance music and I think there’s something very funny about white guys making dance music and crying so that’s kind of Bluejuice-y to make something funnily sincere but it is sincere.

It is written about the end of a relationship and at the time it was a theoretical idea but what I’ve come to realise is actually I was probably writing about the end of the relationship as it was ending and projecting what it would be like after that. And I can tell you now in the process of coming out of that relationship and missing my ex a great deal, she has moved overseas. I think this song is quite good because it’s having things resonate in a way in my brain and I do actually feel like that and somehow managed to get the feeling of that back in time to before I felt like that, a bit confusing I know… But I’m glad that you feel like it’s sincere cos it is and even though it’s cheesy I mean it.

My big hope for that song, to be honest, is that it gets on the radio and that everybody gets to hear it and it finds an audience because it’s easy to dismiss that song and I think that’s what some critics will do. I think there’s something in it. I’ve listened to it a few times since we wrote it and I remember when we wrote it I thought “I like the verses, I don’t like the chorus so much, I don’t think we’ve got the chorus exactly right” and then I went back and listened to it a number of times and I was like “you know what, I kinda think this is a fairly sincere and sweet song” and then after a while I was like “hmm it’s pretty good” and then eventually I said actually it’s one of my favourites now on the record so my feelings for it changed a lot

It closes the album beautifully
Well yeah it’s a closer, that’s exactly what it is. It was always going to be last, it had that feel. Like the whole time you listen to this band be a bit funny and a bit sort of off-hand with serious issues like taking a larrikin approach to semi-serious or serious things and then at the very end of it you get this song with the genuineness there. We’re not dense in terms of the content but there’s still that moment of emotional clarity that happens at the end where you feel something genuine has happened emotionally for you throughout.

It’s like, you know when you watch a play, and then at the end of the play they have the bit at the very end of the play where they explain everything that happened to some of the characters after the main good or bad thing happened? Well that song is sort of like that really.. you have all this action that happens throughout the record and it’s all very physically intense and exciting, so that song is like the moment of quiet to reveal what was actually going on underneath all of that the whole time…. But no one’s going to look at it like that cos nobody really cares to that extent.. [laughs]

So how about this little Phil Collins moment you had in the shower about the track Shock?
[laughs] Yeah well we all have ideas in weird ways and one of the ways I tend to get random ideas, you can get them anywhere, sometimes it’s getting them in the shower! And that song was kind of like, I dunno, I was just thinking of Phil Collins and then I got in the shower and it was cold and that lyrical hook happened.

It’s not that complicated but it sounds weird. I was thinking of the Phil Collins style of writing and what Phil Collins does. He would do this awesome piano part and I’ve got this piano part in my mind and I’m thinking “how would he do it?” and I was thinking of him just as a guy and as a concept and what he does and I like his music. I like it cos it’s daggy and classic and he does a lot of new sounds with classic feels and he writes real tight pop lyrics, no one ever really hates him…

Anyway, then I got in the shower and it was cold so I was like “fuck it’s a shock” but I have to have a shower, just jump in it will be over soon. Then I was like hmm that’s a good lyric “it’s like a shock then it’s over” then I was like well that’s a Phil Collins kind of lyric and I was like man that could be great [laughs]

There was a mention in the press release about track Can’t Keep Up as a bit of a jealous tip on rookies The Jezebels, they’re mates of yours, they went on tour with you guys. Do you feel a bit of jealousy towards new kids these days?
Well it’s cynicism because we’re old but at the same time, you know The Jezebels were always going to get noticed and they made their name in much the same way we did you know just tour the shit out of it for ages. It’s sort of a joke you know, we’re jealous of them but we’re also friends with them so it’s not a big deal really and it would be wrong to overstate it. I’m always jealous of bands that I admire. There’s nothing wrong with them and I love what they do.

I think it is easier for bands to get noticed now but it’s much much more competitive so it’s hard, in a sense, that you can get noticed but you might get noticed too soon or, what you’re getting noticed for might not be ideal. And there are the same pressures that there ever was on bands but the methods of ascending the ladder has become much more political because everyone is trying to do it and everyone thinks they can be in a band, and as soon as you find out about the band that’s when you form an opinion about them now.

It’s not like it used to be when you’d have to wait to hear a song by them or then once you heard the song and you liked it then you’d go to see them. Now it’s more like, you get them on the blog straight away, if it’s on the right blogs then you might be into it, if it’s on the wrong blogs you might not even listen to it, it could even be the same song but you might like it or dislike like it based on how it’s placed in media now, where it comes to you from and there’s so many more avenues for it to come to you that that media and marketing space has become a key component as to how bands are taken on by the youth market.

I think that’s sad cos it always was like that, like once MTV started or even as soon as NME started as a magazine it was becoming the way that people got music, but then whether or not they liked it often was based on whether or not they liked that stuff you know or whether they liked MTV or whatever. But I think also, it is a bit sad cos for some great bands people won’t notice them…. But then again, people will eventually notice a great band cos great bands always rise to the top. You know, you can’t really keep them down and I think it’s a testament to the fact that for a little while triple j didn’t play The Jezebels, they weren’t getting that much support on radio and now they’re one of the biggest bands on that radio station so… and you know there’s people who will argue that radio is no longer a way that people get into music at all and kids aren’t listening to alternative radio and all that.

I’m just jealous cos they’re better than us and they’re bigger than us [laughs]

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