Blaine and Will talk festivals, new albums and those Jetrospective shows at Latitude 2017.
Mystery Jets are festival veterans now. With a back catalogue capable of uniting a field packed of different generations, they've just announced plans to play the whole lot - an album a night - as part of their Jetrospective series of shows
. We caught up with them by the Latitude lake to find out what's going on.
How does it feel to be back at Latitude? Has it been a busy summer for you?
Blaine: It’s great, we’ve been to Latitude quite a few times over the years. I think we first played it maybe ten years ago, and then we did it a couple of years ago as well. It’s one of those festivals that’s grown in a really cool way. We saw it in its infant stage, and it’s now in its boisterous adolescence. I love festivals like this, it’s kind of like all the best bits of Glasto in a smaller space.
Is the extra art stuff inspiring to you?
Will: Yeah, it’s a festival that embraces all the arts in all its different facets, spoken word, poetry and music. I like to think we sit somewhere between; we do get quite performance art in our rehearsals. Every now and then, yeah.
How was the set for you guys? Did you enjoy it? How was it playing on the big Main Stage, is that something you’re getting quite comfortable with?
Will: We enjoy small gigs as much as big gigs, they both have a different kind of energy. I think playing on a big stage like that your job is to unite all the different tribes here at the festival and bring people together. Create some musical glue for everyone there. We loved it; we had a great time. There are a lot of young kids here letting go, off the leash and on the lash. It’s great to be a part of.
Is it quite nice to see different generations showing up to your gigs?
Blaine: When we were making the last album, I don’t think anyone had in mind that it would be the soundtrack to GCSEs. In some ways it turned out to be like that because we played a load of festivals last summer, places like Truck Festival, and the crowd there was just as young - half the tent was like under 18, and then the other half was 18 and up to 50. I think it’s really cool to see that.
Will: It means your music’s not too gloomy.
It must be nice to see that effect with young people still?
Will: Once you’ve been around for a few years, made a few records, as we have, you’re aware of different generations discovering your music at different times, and it’s really exciting. A career in music is like a journey, and different people join that journey at different stages and follow it through.
Blaine: And sometimes get off that journey too.
Will: “I’m not that keen on ‘Serotonin’ or ‘Radlands’ you know, I got really into my nu rave at that point, but I came back to it on the albums after." It's quite interesting to see how peoples taste moves and changes. I’m the same with my bands; I fall in love with a particular album. I’m never that loyal to the band. Or rarely I am. I tend to just love that period of work, then go elsewhere, then come back.
It’s been a while since your last album came out, how does it feel looking back on it now? How does it feel playing those tracks?
Blaine: I think as Will said, when you’re making a record you’re never really thinking about who this is going to connect with or who the audience is for this collection of songs, but I think we’ve noticed it connecting with a younger generation which is cool. When we play live we always try to include things from different eras of the band. Today was quite new album heavy, but there’s all sorts of stuff in there from previous records. We try to find a way for all these songs to inhabit the same musical space.
Was it nice to get those plaudits on the last album?
Blaine: Yeah, we put a lot of work into that album. A lot of work has gone into all of them, but that one was definitely born out of adversity. It was the longest time off we’d had between albums, so we were always a bit unsure coming back because we’d been away for so long, and we didn’t know how people would feel about us, maybe they’d forgotten about us. Maybe they were all listening to The 1975. It was very rewarding.
Do you see this as a fresh chapter for you as a band? A new era?
Will: In a way. We’ve started writing a new record; it’s well underway. We’re in that new creative headspace, but it’s great to be still doing festivals. Having that in the back of your mind when you’re going into the studio is very healthy, thinking ‘How’s this stuff going to translate live?’ Trying to incorporate that into your creative songwriting process. The live experience is such an important way of sharing your music with people. When you make records, for the most part, records are digested in a very insular way. People listen to your records on headphones, on the way to work, or in their own private environment. Where when you play live, it’s something everyone shares with everyone around them. Your job is to create this music moment for everyone.
Blaine: I think it does feel like a new chapter for the Mystery Jets, but I also feel like we’ve re-emerged into what I think is a new chapter in the music industry, and the way music’s digested now. When we were at the end of the ‘Radlands’ album, 4-5 years ago, or even 6 years ago, the emphasis wasn’t so much on streaming and social media. Obviously, the internet was a massive presence 4-5 years ago, but now it’s all about social media, streaming, the right tracks on the right Spotify playlists, the right radio stations. It feels like the hunger and the energy, and the speed of which music is consumed is 100% faster than how I remembered it 6 years ago, when I would still go down to Rough Trade and buy my weekly CDs and by and large digest my music like that. That’s totally gone out the window. It’s all there, and it’s instant, and you can react to it immediately, and find out about it immediately. I feel like that’s something that’s really been apparent over the past 18 months. Certainly, for us, we’ve had to work out new ways of operating.
The Jetrospective shows, what was the feeling about doing those shows now? How does it feel to be looking back on those albums?
Will: We’ve always been a band that has perhaps shied away from dwelling on the past too much, almost peering around the corner to see where we should be heading next. But it feels like a time that we could allow ourselves that glance over our shoulders, to examine the path that we’ve led up to this point, and perhaps that can inform where we’re going to go next. We were talking about a life spent in music as being a bit like a journey, and people getting on that with you for a period, and other people discovering your music at different periods. I think in that sense our records in our lives have been musical milestones; they’ve marked out that path that we’ve taken, sometimes you need to retrace your steps and examine your path. It almost creates a map, and once you can see that map, it creates a picture, and that can lead to a thought process of where you need to go. I think also, every record that we’ve made has perhaps had songs on it that haven’t had their chance to shine. They’re songs; they’re songs you haven’t necessarily played in your live set.
Blaine: It’s one of the frustrations you have of being in a band. You work so hard on every aspect of the music when you’re recording, and then the album comes out, you do an album launch, play the album in its entirety once, and you’re straight into the greatest hits. That’s the bit I find a bit annoying. It’s nothing really, but this is great opportunity to get back into the headspace of each of those albums. And they’re all so different; they’re such different endeavours. One of them we made in Austin, Texas, and it had this American flavour to it, this gospel, preachy, southern state thing. And the others are in as much their own way, different. So I think it’s going to be really interesting for us to explore it, and hopefully for the audience as well.
It’s good to revisit that now you’re starting again on something else.
Will: I think just to reacquaint ourselves with the sort of headpieces we were in at all those different times, and that our audiences were in as well. I think there are going to be some really nice surprises. Songs we didn’t think were going to amount to much, that perhaps people quite like, maybe they’ll sing along. That’ll be nice to see.
What are your plans for the rest of the day? Are you sticking around?
Will: Most of the time when we’re at festivals it’s quite in-and-out because you might have two on the weekend, so this summer because we’re mainly in the studio, we really wanted to hang out. Absorb everything else that’s on. Today we’ve got The Horrors who are friends of ours; we’re going to see them play.
Blaine: I’m going to watch The 1975.
Will: Mumfords are on tomorrow; they’re old pals too. There’s lots going on; we want to try to soak it all up.
You can read our report of Mystery Jets' Latitude 2017 set here.