Say Hello To… The Static Jacks – from New Jersey, USA via Leicester, England

April 12, 2012
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The Static Jacks with Ngawara Madison, Music ViceThe Static Jacks with Music Vice reporter Ngawara Madison

Name: The Static Jacks
In one word: Rousing
Genre: Indie Rock
From:  New Jersey, USA.

Band Members:  Ian Devaney (singer); Henry Kaye (guitar); Michael Sue-Poi(guitar); Nick Brennan (drums).

The Static Jacks are an American band that look like sweet hipsters from the burbs but sound like a Rock Band from the Midlands! In person they exude an effortless ‘brainy cool’ that belies their young years. Lead singer, Ian Devaney is a strong highlight of the group, and I would not bat an eyelash of suprize if he becomes a poster boy of his genre over the next few years. He has the hip thrusts of a young Mick Jagger, and a huge bellowing voice that belies any preciousness of appearance. I’m talking a real mans vocal here! Its really quite a contradiction for ears and eyes!

The Static Jacks are from New Jersey but they come across like a bunch of lads from Leicester. Beady Eye, Rifles, Kasabian, Gallagher fans alike will absorb their music with ease and enjoyment. My favourite tune? “Walls”. The lyrics are perfectly poignant, and blunt.

A unique blend of garage, punk, rock, and even soul influences has seen the Static Jacks shun fickle trends in favor of forging their own sound. Their debut UK album If You’re Young was released through Fearless Records on 5 March. The digital version features exclusive UK bonus track “Ink”.

The Static Jacks “Into the Sun”:

I caught up with the band for a chat about touring with the Wombats, string cheese, Take Five candy bars, and the differences between the UK and US indie circuits. Highlights are below:

Ngawara Madison, MusicVice.com, London – Where did the name ‘The Static Jacks’ come from?

Ian Devaney: We just liked the sound of it – there are a bunch of ideas around it… One dude in a local deli asked where we got the name, and the other dude behind the counter was like, “its the sound your guitar makes when you plug in your fucking amp!” So yeah, we were like, “cool, that works”.

Prior to the album you guys put out in the States in August, you did an EP with a guy I really admire (Andrew Maury) who is amazing at spotting breakout talent. How did that relationship come about?

Henry Kaye: He started off just doing remixes for a company called RAC, and we contacted him about doing a remix for one of our earlier songs. The result that he created was unbelievable, and that kinda just struck up a relationship, in getting that made. It was right at a time when we were talking about making an EP and working with a producer, that he got in touch with us. Up until that point we had done everything ourselves, with no added help. It was perfectly timed where we hadnt even said anything (to
Maury) and he emailed us and was like “I know this is a long shot and we dont know each other past virtual reality on the web. But I really want to start producing records and I love your music and I think I could help you out!”

Ian Devaney: It was the night we got together to talk about making the EP. We were sitting in Henrys living room and we were sitting there together when the email came through. We were like questioning who were were going to use to produce our EP – and then the email came through as were saying it and it seemed a little bit too perfect! So we set up shop in one of the rooms at our local church and built this studio in it…

A Church! I bet the acoustic were amazing… Speaking of records and recording, I put one of your songs on replay all the time. The song from your recent record – Walls. There is a lyric in that one that says “One day you and I will go to sleep and not wake up…” There is a simply poetic brutality to a lot of your lyrics. Who wrote that line?

Henry Kaye: It was Ian.

You guys sometimes write back to your fan base on the internet. Who is the person who deals with that side of things?

Henry Kaye: We all do a bit of it. I do a lot of it. We all control the Twitter…

Already the crowds you have been playing are pretty decent! You’ve also played on Carson Daly’s show in America. Do you think that your music would change if you experience crazy commercial hype and fame? Right now you are talking about your everyday experiences and observations and surely that subject matter is dependant on your realities…

Ian Devaney: I dont think so. Since the writing is done in Nicks basement, all of us just sitting there… it’s hard for us to have bloated heads when we are sitting in a blue basement with polka dots on the walls!

Henry Kaye: Unless we find success and we are writing in the countryside in France!

Ian Devaney: In which case [laughs] maybe! I guess we’ll have to see what as it arises!

Henry Kaye: Yes, when we are riding motorcycles with no shirts and just scarves! [laughs]

Ian Devaney: If someone doesnt get that reference they are going to think we are weird!*

[*Not sure… I think the guys are referencing Steven Tyler’s penchant for the combination of scarves and motorbikes… or perhaps a French hipster cliché. Answers on a postcard, please.]

The Wombats who you’ve been supporting recently, are a band that have built up their fanbase over a period of years. On the other hand you have bands that achieve overnight success, like The Arctic Monkeys, for example… Do you think if you gather your fanbase slowly its a better way to do it?

Nick Brennan: I don’t think its by choice to gather fans slowly. Obviously we do want to get that support the right way, but I think any band would love to have really great press right off the bat, and be getting tons of great fans off the bat – in a healthy way… It is different for every band because there are situations where one song could put you over the top, or  it could take a bunch of albums for that to happen – like The National. The National are probably now beyond their wildest dreams, but it took them a really long time to get there and I’m sure they would have preferred it to be an easier climb. I think we are moving at a pretty decent pace. A year ago we were making the album, and now we are playing before 5,000 people so we can’t complain!! Its pretty awesome.

Ian Devaney: In an Actic Monkeys scenario I don’t think its a bad thing because they were good enough to support the hype – they are so incredible that the vast hype didn’t turn as many people away as it does with other bands that have such a fast rise of fame. They had the songs and were a really awesome band…

7. I’m not sure if its the same in the States, but here in the UK it seems as though there are two or three people controlling what goes on the main channels! I know as a fact that my friends and I don’t buy the records we
see being played on main media! There is a huge difference between the reality of the bands that are selling out venues and the crap that the pop music ‘suits’ try to feed us! Whats the situation on your side of the pond? Do you think the America media supports the bands that young people actually care about?

Ian Devaney: It seems to me it depends where you are looking. There are a lot of outlets and ways to find out about bands you want to hear about. There are also a number of ways to avoid hearing about things and genres you’re perhaps not into. Thats the good of the internet I suppose! Sometimes you get situations – like when Arcade Fire won their Grammy – where the live music scene and commercial media link together. Other than that to me, it seems like separate worlds [commercial and live music]…

Nick Brennan: I think this years Grammy awards were pretty fair. Adele won every category – and every girl that I know in my life does actively listen to Adele. And same with Skrillex – I know a bunch of idiots who listen to
Skrillex [laughs]! To me it seemed this year that there was a pretty strange crossover of real music and the commercial world. Like Skrillex was on the cover of Spin and then he won a Grammy. In different years ‘mainstream’ music has definitely been out of touch, but I think whats going on right now is good. There is a lot of cross-over.

Record Sales are down from they used to be a decade ago, and this has just served to make touring even more increasingly important. You have to be selling merchandise, and selling out shows to make it financially viable to be in a band full time. If you guys had to choose a product to endorse and not be a ‘sell out’ by endorsing it what would you choose? [Laughs] It needs to be a good match for your music, and be true to your actual personal taste!

Nick Brennan: String Cheese! [laugh]

Ah yes! I like that too – it tastes like plastic but better! Ian whats your product?

Ian Devaney: I’m going to go with girls skateboards! A girls skateboarding company… and I would choose ‘Girl Parts’.

Mike Sue-Poi: I was thinking ‘Take Five’ candy bars.. I miss them! Its been a while since I had a good ‘Take Five’ candy bar. The candy bars are smaller here. I had a Nutrageous bar once that was huge!

Whats that?

Ian Devaney: Pretzels, Peanuts, caramel, Peanut Butter, Chocolate..

Mike Sue-Poi: Its sells itself!!

Sounds like a balanced meal!

Ian Devaney: Our driver Chris turned us on to ‘Percy Pigs’ [candy from the grocery store Marks and Spencers].

Mike Sue-Poi: What song for a Take Five? I dont know why but “Sonata'” seems  like a good beginning.

Ian Devaney: Percy Pigs, I’d say “This is me dancing”, that would fit.. seems pleasant.

You guys have toured with a stack of bands. Even though the album hasn’t been out very long. Futureheads, Biffy Clyro, Tokyo Police Club, White Denim, the Wombats… Who is the band you have toured with which is closest to your sound? Who has been the ‘safest’ link?

Henry Kaye: The Wombats, probably…

What about the craziest link?

Ian Devaney: Probably White Denim. They live show is very jammy. Its different to the album they have. A lot of the songs they stretch out and turn instrumentally minded…

How have the crowds differed between the shows in America and England. The Wombat shows I’m talking here…

Nick Brennan: Well we have toured with the Wombats in America and the UK now. Both the crowds are amazing. We had the most successful tour we’ve even been on, with them in America. Over here though the crowds are crazy, in a good way. The Wombats crowds are awesome.

© Ngawara Madison, Music Vice

Internet links: The Static Jacks

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