Interview with Henry Kaye of the The Static Jacks

New Jersey indie rock band The Static Jacks has just given the UK a double treat in the release of their new double A-sided single ‘Into The Sun’/‘Mercy Hallelujah’ and a virtual whistle stop visit to these shores to put on a handful of warmly received and acclaimed gigs. With the release of their debut album If You’re Young on Fearless Records in the UK also impending The RingMaster Review had the pleasure whilst the band were here to ask guitarist Henry Kaye about the visit, single and about The Static Jacks themselves.

Hi thanks for talking with us at The Ringmaster Review and welcome to the UK.

This is your first time here as a band and individually?

Henry:  Yeah this is my first time here! As well as Michael and Andrew’s first time.  Nick and Ian have been to the UK before though on vacations.

It may be a silly question but what is it about the UK that excites you and makes you guys think, as we do, that your sounds will hit the right key with audiences and ears here? 

Henry:  I think it’s exciting that the other night we played Koko in London and in between bands they would play The Vaccines and MGMT over the speakers.  In America you go to a club and they play Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.  It’s nice to hear indie rock music at clubs.  It shows there’s a real interest for it.

Within a day of arriving you had your first show, how did that go?

Henry:  Ahh yeah, we played at 100 Club.  It was a blurry show.  We all felt dead after stepping off of the plane but knew we had to still bring it that night.  Let’s just say after all of the plane ride’s turbulence Ian still didn’t get sick all over the crowd.

Did you find the crowd had a stronger knowledge of you and your songs than you expected?

Henry:  Yeah I think we find that recently everywhere we go there are surprisingly people there that know who we are.  This is all so new to us.  It’s mind boggling to see people singing along to “Into The Sun’s” final chorus.

What are you expecting or hoping to achieve from your brief visit to the UK, for yourselves and the band?

Henry:  It’s been a goal of ours for a very long time to come over here and play shows.  We were just hoping a few people would come out and give us a reason to come back again and again and again.  The reaction so far has definitely exceeded our expectations.  We’ll be back.

Can we go back to the beginnings of The Static Jacks, how did you all meet and what was the aim starting out as a band?

Henry:  I met Ian and Nick when we were 14-years-old and freshmen in high school.  We started writing songs together in an early version of what would become The Static Jacks and playing at school events and in clubs in New York we weren’t old enough to get in to.  The aim was just to write rock songs that friends could relate to and sing along to.  One of the first shows we ever played was in Nick’s basement, where we have practiced since day one.  It was just a ton of our friends surrounding us in a corner singing and dancing to every song.  I think that set a good tone for what we were trying to achieve.  After graduating high school we decided we wanted to push forward with the band idea where we met Michael who grew up in a town over from us. And so the adventure continues.

The songs carry a great and effective mix of influences and genre flavours, how would you describe your music to someone never having heard a track?

Henry:  I would call it rock music with hooky melodies and a punk spirit!

What are the influences that have helped form your music and sound?

Henry:  I think Arcade Fire have really helped remind everyone what a band should sound and look like.  Also, their subject matter is something we all really connect to.  All of these ideas about growing up in the suburbs, riding bikes with friends, parties.  It’s all there.

Your debut UK double A-sided single ‘Into The Sun’/‘Mercy Hallelujah’ is just about to be released here, that must add extra excitement to the shows?

Henry: Definitely! We’re big fans of the 7” single.  It’s amazing to come over here and have an exclusive to give out.

Do the two great songs making up the single give a good representation of what people can expect on your impending album If You’re Young released here soon?

Henry: Yeah I think it’s a good lead off for what to expect from the whole thing.  Big choruses.  Sing a longs.  That kind of stuff.

Mercy Hallelujah’ carries a melody that we cheekily said you ‘borrowed’ from The Cure, would it be too rude to ask if that really was where the inspiration for the hypnotic melody came from.

Henry:  Haha, it wasn’t intentional but if there’s a place to steal from I think The Cure is a good spot.

You are very much an independent band in thought and ethos, continuing the punk DIY intent. Would you relinquish that control and instinct if a big time label came in with an enticing offer which included them having control of most things?

Henry:  I don’t think we’d ever feel comfortable in a situation where we weren’t in control of most things.  I think we’d no longer be this band if we didn’t have a say in what songs made an album, what the package looked like and where our music winds up.  I want to be as big of a band as possible, but it has to be done the right way.

Lyrically your songs are emotive and intelligent ‘story telling’, what inspires the majority of the themes?

Henry:  This album is mostly about being 20 or so and growing up and moving on from your hometown and relationships that you’ve built there since you were a child.  Everyone you know, including yourself is moving in opposite directions and it’s a tricky situation to “figure out” the rest of your life and where you want to go.

How does the songwriting process work within the band?

Henry:  There are ideas flowing in from all directions.  We all can bring song ideas in individually, in which case they are then fully worked out as a group.  Or I’ll come in with a riff and structure idea.  Every combination has happened.  We definitely have a lot of material because everyone writes.  It’s so much easier then depending on one guy.

Is there a final voice that makes a decision when things cannot be agreed amongst you or are moments like that left to concentrate on other aspects of the band and music?

Henry:  Usually the band can just vote on it and we can figure it out internally.  But when things can get more complex we talk to our management and listen to their ideas.  It’s definitely not a final say, but it at least gives us another opinion to sway the arguement.

What is next for The Static Jacks on both sides of The Pond?

Henry:  More and more touring next year!  Constant touring.  Our debut album “If You’re Young” should be finally coming out over here.  And we’ll definitely be coming back to play more shows soon.

Do you set yourselves targets or simply concentrate on the now?

Henry:  We have goals for sure, but I think it’s important to just keep blinders on and plow through the moment.  I don’t like to get caught up in long term plans or strategies.  Save that for the labels.

A big thanks for sparing time to chat with us, and good luck for the remaining dates with hope your return is swift. Would you like to finish with a message for the UK and your existing fans everywhere?

Henry:  Thanks for coming out to see us and showing us that people do know our music!  We’ll definitely be seeing you again next year.  Come say hi at the merch table!

And finally what special treat are you sneaking back to the US in your luggage?

Henry:  I think Ian will be sneaking back a few bags of Percy Pig candy.

 

Read Single review@ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-static-jacks-into-the-sunmercy-hallelujah/

Ringmaster 30/11/2011
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Careless – Coalition

 

To all extent and purposes Coalition the debut album from US rock band Careless has been 25 years in the making. With half of the tracks that make up the album written and recorded in the 80’s and the remainder post 2008, the album has been on a long journey to realisation but now it has unveiled its great rock sounds the album is a definite welcome addition to this year’s releases.

The journey began in the early 80’s when guitarist Walt Kosar and drummer/vocalist James Collins met whilst attending a college in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Finding mutual musical minds and loves the duo began writing and recording music together. Bassist Nolan Ayres was added to work on these initial songs and their home recording via a Tascam 234 4 track cassette machine. These songs ‘Curtains’, ‘Boundaries’, and ‘D.F.M.’ open up Coalition continued by tracks ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Blackened Walls of Freedom’ which were also created at the time. Life, circumstances, and opportunities etc came into play and the guys went their separate ways, losing touch over the years. Despite the members being in different geographical regions 2008 saw Kosar with the aid of modern technology find and make contact with his band mates. This resulted in the band revisiting the older material and working on brand new songs, the result becoming Coalition

As mentioned the 80’s written songs make up the first half of the album and apart from the actual song quality the notable thing is how easily and seamlessly they play against the newer material. There is not a majorly distinct difference to the sound quality to tell the music was created and recorded two decades, apart at no point does Coalition particularly feel like an album of two parts. Opener ‘Curtains’ reveals the band’s influences and love of 80’s new wave of British heavy metal bands with its clean and melodically powerful guitars which often unveil intriguingly surprising meanderings and the strong but never indulgent vocals of Collins. The other thing that shines is the great bass play from Kosar; every track pulsates with his honed ability and imaginative lines.

The early songs like ‘Boundaries’ and ‘Out Of Control’ continue this flavoursome rock sound , vibrant and fresh sounding despite the material’s age it engages the ear eagerly ensuring all classic/hard rock fans will find much to get excited over. These songs carry a Maidenesque essence too that ignites thoughts of the times the songs were spawned from.

The newer songs have firmer steel to them, a metal edge that demands attention without deliberately abusing the ear. Tracks like the excellent ‘Against Stupidity’ and ‘Contend In View’ with its commanding riffs and frisky solo, stand as confident examples of the quality songwriting and individual skills of Careless. The new songs also feature a grouchier bass from Ayres, his riffs veining these later songs with even more depth to feed all primal needs.

For all these great songs the ones that actually made the deepest mark are the three instrumentals on Coalition. Each is strongly different to themselves and the rest of the album to show the diversity of the band. ‘As Time Passes…’ is an emotive piece with wonderful guitar work from Kosar against atmospheric keys, its beauty sparking emotions within the listener. ‘Between the Mayhem’ is a similar piece with this time the delicious bass of Ayres having full reign minus the keys. To some these tracks might feel like fillers or indulgences but with their quality and satisfying effect they more than deserve their worthy inclusion. The third ‘5ive’ is the best, a cyber energised rhythm creation from Collins that would grace any sci-fi movie soundtrack. As with the other two it explores and gloriously reveals the talents of the members of the band.

Coalition is diverse, strong and most of all very enjoyable. With all indications that the album is the start of a sustained stay by Careless it suggests future glories as well as current pleasures that will light up the senses of all rock lovers.

RingMaster 30/11/2011

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