With sounds more contagious than any virulent disease Brighton ska punk band The Junk released one of the liveliest and infectious albums of the year in Problem Reaction Solution via 12 Step/Bad Mood Records. Renowned for their rousing live shows and heart pumping fevered ska core sounds The RingMaster Review had the pleasure to find out more about The Junk with vocalist Jake.
Hi and a big thank you for taking time to yap with us here.
Could you introduce the band members and give some history to The Junk?
Sure. So on drums we have Lee aka “butters” and on bass…..Perity. The guitars are supplied by Bill and Skinner and our horn section is made up of Moff on trumpet, Colley on trombone and bean on sax. Oh and me (Jake) on lead vocals. Me and Perity started the band as a side project to an old band early 2008, it took off almost instantly so we dropped everything else and hit the road. We have been touring relentlessly ever since.
Was the band eight strong from the start and has there always been a brass section?
No we were actually very briefly a 3 piece: just me, Butters and Perity, but by the time we played or second show we had found the horn section, soon after that I stopped playing the guitar and Skinner joined. The last addition was Bill, who joined literally 4 weeks before we recorded the album last year. It’s crazy to think how much it’s all changed in such a small amount of time.
Your home town of Brighton is renowned for bearing great bands for decades now, has it had a big influence on the band and sound as one would imagine?
I don’t think that it has affected our sound so much, but it’s definitely given us a lot to live up to. Like you said, Brighton is such a good place for music and I think it has made us all work a little bit harder. I know what you mean about certain places having a sound or a scene but I think Brighton is more a melting pot than and influence….In a good way.
Give us some insight into the most potent influences that has led to you all into ska-punk.
Wow, that one’s tricky! There are the obvious heroes that bare their mark like Capdown, Streetlight Manifesto, Link 80 and Lightyear, but there are so many more that have inspired us. Anyone unlucky enough to be stuck in the tour bus with us would be shocked and sometimes maybe appalled at some of our tracklists. Me for instance I love a bit of gypsy swing, Bill is a metal boy through and through, whereas Colley is into classical. We all love anything with passion though! None of this Radio 1 bullshit (that sort of stuff is really making kids stupid). That being said it is hard to say what influences the other JUNKs to do what we do, but for me I think its older punk bands like NOFX, I remember seeing them when I was maybe 13 or 14 years old and just thinking WOW!” These guys are just having so much fun! That same week my best friend lent me a Sublime album and I was hooked. When I discovered bands like Capdown and King Prawn not only existed but played regularly an hour down the road from where I lived I really caught the bug.
Is there a dedicated audience for your shows and sounds or do you pull in a good cross section of people at your shows?
We have a pretty interesting mix I think. Students, anarchists, young kids, old stinky punks… the list goes on and grows all the time. I recently discovered from a fan that she took her dad to a show and that now he goes without her: I met him soon after at a show in London and was so chuffed that this guy a generation older than us and no former fan of punk or ska had tapped into what we were doing a genuinely loved it! What a ledge! The best thing is we have AWSOME fans and friends wherever we have been. Oh and the after parties have never been a let down either.
How does the songwriting happen with such a large band to bring elements to the songs?
Nine times out of ten I will write the songs and the guys will add their parts and it’s just done quick and easy. Lee has written a couple on the album (Left For Dead and Nick Griffin Is A Cunt) and a beautiful reggae track which is gonna be on our next release. I Really love writing music with the Junk because they are all such talented people. I am always so excited to bring a new tune to practice to see how it will change and grow as each member gets hold of it. I guess it should be harder with more people but we have always just clicked and worked quickly with each other.
Personally, that we kept that ruff edge to the sound and that we stuck to our roots with the songs we put on it. Over the last few years of touring we have met a whole lot of people and they have all had their advice and opinions to give. A common philosophy given to me was that it is a good idea to be a bit more radio friendly with the songs on your 1st full length, we didn’t do that! We made a balls out ska punk record and we kept it dirty the way we like it and the way that our fan base likes us to sound. It was a risk I guess as a lot of bands these days are going for a slightly more shiny production but it paid off and I am glad we did it, loud and simple the way it should be. Also I would like to think it has its own sound you know? But then maybe I have to say that being in the band and all. Too many ‘bands’ write for a specific audience – people that will buy their songs and keep them afloat. With that though, I think you really lose a lot of the passion of writing because you want to. We just let loose with whatever came out, and what we feel passionate about. ya dig (yeah, it is cool to say ‘ya dig’).
How would you say your sound has evolved between your acclaimed 2009 debut EP Novus Ordo Sectorum and the album?
It’s grown for sure. The original sound of the junk is definitely still in there but with new sounds layered in. There Is a more hardcore influence and bits of metal even in places and we didn’t shy away from letting the dub and reggae come through as well. We have already started working on material for the second album and the sound still seems to be evolving it’s very exciting!
Does the album truly capture your live sound or is there more in the live environment that can only flourish there within you?
I think it does as well as any album can but for me you can never truly capture the energy of a live show in a record .Don’t get me wrong I am more than happy with the record we made but there is something magic about a live set that I don’t think you can recreate or even record, it’s just something between the audience and the people onstage: our gigs are usually pretty mental whether you’re in the pit or on the stage and that’s what we feed off as a band
There is a core sound to the ska punk genre but how have you or what do you add to make yours distinctive?
We have our own sound within the genre I think, but what it is that makes that? I have to admit I am unsure .Maybe having 8 completely different people with completely different tastes is the key. One thing for sure is that nothing is off the table when we are writing; we are constantly trying to find new ways of dragging in new sounds and ideas. An example being a new unfinished track which jumps from double time punk into live samba/drum n bass…..That sounds weird when you say it out loud! Basically it’s all about having fun with the music for us and I like to think that comes through.
Your songs often strike aggressively with lyrics about emotive subjects socially and personally, how do you make that seriousness work easily with the contagiously fun sounds without either losing their impact?
Whenever I write lyrics I always find myself leaning towards a slightly sarcastic tongue in cheek place, I think that goes well with ska punk and what we do; even if I am singing about something serious I am always trying to find ways to poke fun at it. It helps that we are such good friends too, if I am singing about something personal the guys all know what it is and get in the mood with me and kind of play that way I guess, it’s hard to explain but it all just seems to click together.
Tell us about your notorious live shows.
I think I can speak for all of us when I say that the live shows are the best part of being in the junk! Like I said, it’s all about energy and as much chaos as we can cram in, and the more the audience get into it the more we do. I actually have a fair few trumpet shaped dents and scars from our shows. Moff can boast a broken ankle and Lee actually ended up in hospital, and all his finger and toe nails fell out after a show last year in Marseille, France – true story. When we started out we always had the ethos that even if we only had 10 people in a room we would play as if there were 1000. We are really lucky as we always seem to have such energetic fans these days and it just makes us push even harder when we know people are enjoying it as much as we are.
One imagines your sound is universal especially with the tours and shows you have made so far but are there places you have found where it does not have the same impact culturally or any you imagine that would be a test?
Actually not yet. I am sure there are plenty of places that would just think we are noisy crazy people though, happy to give anywhere a go just once. Maybe a RAF base or some old woman’s house in Croatia should be next on the cards….
How has the album promotion gone and what has it consisted of so far?
Really well thanks. There was a nice long press campaign and the reviews that came back were just awesome! We just couldn’t believe it! Got some great pieces in Big Cheese mag and Rocksound too. We have toured both UK and Europe again since the release and plan to do so again in the new year. It has had a lot of radio play and we will be releasing videos for 3 of the tracks off the album around Christmas. Myself and Lee have really plugged it hard through our own label “12step plan” and our label in Switzerland “Bad Mood Records” have done the same the other side of the water. It has all been hard work but the response has been overwhelming and we are all just made up that people are enjoying our music.
What is next for The Junk?
Going to as many water parks as possible- we love swimming. We wanna have the new album out as soon as possible too! It’s mostly all written now and we plan to record and produce it all ourselves. On top of that we just can’t wait to get out touring again so if you see that we are coming through your town, come and say hi! I have been speaking to various record companies about next year and the album and it all looks really positive. There is talk of a U.S tour which would be a new adventure so fingers crossed!
Thank you for talking with us it has been a pleasure. Would you like to leave us by revealing the one song that you feel really epitomizes The Junk?
Thanks to you too! Anytime! If I had to choose one I would say “Scream Your Dreams” it’s got all the energy, sarcasm, different styles and sounds in to represent us I think. Also it was one of the first songs we wrote so it’s a special one. Thanks again for having us!
For more info on Problem Reaction Solution go to http://www.thejunk.co.uk
Review of Problem Reaction Solution @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/the-junk-%E2%80%93-problem-reaction-solution/