You may or may not have heard of a little indie band out of Edinburgh, Scotland called We Were Promised Jetpacks. You also may or may not have heard of Edinburgh, but I can assure you they are putting it on the map. As they gear up for a short stint in the States, lead vocalist/guitarist Adam Thompson took some time to chat with me about everything from new material, touring, growing up in Scotland, and even his views on the industry. The transcription is below:
I recently had a friend ask me how I would describe your sound, and I said, “Guitar music at different volumes.” Now, how would you classify it?
That is a pretty good description! Normally when people ask me I say guitar music and screw up my face.
I read that there is really no crazy backstory to the band name, contrary to what many may believe.
That is true!
It seems like you guys gained such rapid success. Does it ever feel that way to you? I’m sure you’ve been working toward this for years.
It doesn’t feel that way because it doesn’t really feel like we’ve been successful. I suppose we’ve been relatively successful, but there isn’t a swimming pool in my house yet. I don’t even have a house yet.
How was the music scene growing up in Scotland? Were you all friends before becoming bandmates?
We were friends at high school but the music sort of came hand in hand with our friendship. We had a great time when we lived in Glasgow for a few years, met some nice bands and people.
You guys formed back in 2003, yet didn’t release an album until 2009. What creatively went down in those six years?
There was never any need in us putting out an album. We just wrote songs and played gigs every once in a while and pestered friends to come down. I feel pretty bad about that now. Nobody knew who we were and we weren’t bothered about wasting our own money recording one and we would have no idea what to do with it. We were still at university when FatCat signed us so we maybe would have done one after if no label signed us.
If you could go back in time, what advice, if any, would you give your young musician selves to prepare for this business?
Nothing different, really. We’ve had the same managers for maybe around five or six years and we completely trust them. We only work with nice people who we trust and I think that is very important. We’ve never really done anything or not done anything I’ve regretted.
Rumor has it that you are releasing a new live album and tour DVD this fall. What made you decide to go in this direction for the next release?
If it was up to us, we’d probably never release anything ever! Too much hard work! Our label thought it was a good idea, as there is probably going to be quite a gap between our last album and next one. So why not? Some folks might like it and we are pretty happy with how it is sounding.
I think it will be a cool change for the band and the fans, especially for people who have yet to see you live. Are you guys constantly writing or only when you plan on a new release?
Before our first album, we just wrote whenever. But after touring so much we tend not to write too much in the gaps between tours. So we usually write in concentrated periods of time after we have some time off. We barely wrote two songs in two years after recording the last one but we are on it now.
How much extra material would you say you have in the Jetpack vault?
We had maybe 30 songs we went through before the songs we put on our first album. Some are dreadful, some are bearable. And we’ve maybe got five or six songs we are working on for the next album.
Would you say you have a most memorable tour experience? Or perhaps a favorite tour?
I have two favorite tours. The first tour we did in the U.S. when we were on a bus with Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad. That was the only time we’ve been on a sleeper bus. It was a seven-week tour and I had the time of my life. We played first and then watched two of my favorite bands and drank their booze whilst they were playing!
And the tour when we supported Jimmy Eat World. We played for 40 minutes to a big crowd in beautiful venues with absolutely zero stress, and those guys were nice. We also play a lot with a band called Bear Hands, who are one of my favorite bands and favorite bunch of dudes. So any tour we do with them.
I’d have to say my favorite tracks are “Sore Thumb” and “Roll Up Your Sleeves.” Are there certain songs you enjoy playing live more than others?
Yeah, there are. I always like playing “Sore Thumb,” “Boy In The Backseat” and “Thunder And Lightning.” But there are other ones that come and go but those three are constants.
Which track gets the crowd the rowdiest?
“Quiet Little Voices!” It’s the simplest song and took five minutes to write, maybe that is why!
You’ve accomplished so much already in your young careers. Anything you still have yet to check off the bucket list?
I would love to keep playing bigger venues and find our true sound. I don’t think we’ve quite nailed it yet.
If you could plan the future, would it be playing music forever?
No, I don’t think so. Although it’s fine for just now!
Any advice to people who have yet to see We Were Promised Jetpacks live in concert?
It can get quite loud, so if you’ve got sensitive ears, bring earplugs and don’t moan at us about it on Facebook or Twitter!
Five parting words?
Have a really nice day.
We Were Promised Jetpacks will be playing live at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on June 13, and at Maxwell’s in Hoboken on June 15. For more information, visit wewerepromisedjetpacks.com.