Interview: Jake and the Jellyfish

jake“Gigs, drinking beer, meeting people ... with beer.” Little else is needed to surmise the laid back attitude of DrunkenWerewolf favourites Jake & the Jellyfish. Credit Cards & Overdrafts is the debut album from the dreadlocked frontman Jake and his rejigged line up of jellyfish. Definitely graduates from the Beans on Toast school of thought, Jake & the Jellyfish thrum through tracks about the highs, lows and mediocrities of life in England.

But, of course, this isn’t England – or at least, this isn’t the England promised to those of us who started university at the brink of a credit crunch we all expected to end by the time we graduated. This is a country of police kettles and occupations, of protest songs and dole queues, of never-ending debt and too little overdraft at the end of each pint. A cracking album, DrunkenWerewolf’s Alice Slater wasted no time in having a quick chat with Jake before he and the band embark on a hectic spring tour of the UK and parts of Europe.

It feels like an age since the release of Folk You – how does it feel to finally have a completed album under your belt?

Great! We hadn't really planned on doing an album and were just going to carry on doing EPs for a bit, but our old drummer (Chris – now in Dear America) pushed for the idea and it seemed like good move.

Some of the re-recorded tracks are almost four years old now, right? Why did it take so long to get an album together?

The oldest on the album is "Spare Change", which was written in early 2011, so not quite that old! The band how it is now (Jake, Caffs, Rich + Steve) is only really just over a year old. I've had a lot of these songs kicking around for a while, and when the band finally came together we worked on them more and more. It sort of felt like the right time to re-record some of the old tracks, as they've changed (at least for us) a lot during that time. The album feels like the definitive record of us now, rather than just me!

Your music often has a whiff of the protest song about it, but are you politically active?

We probably could be more politically active if I'm honest! I think it’s important to have issues like that raised in songs, and I've always been more of a social commentary type song writer than love song. I don’t know if it changes anything, but it’s good to keep it talked about and on people’s minds.

I have a lot of friends involved politically, and I like to help them out where I can, I keep up to date, and have played in occupations down in London. Though I wouldn't say we’re necessarily a political band.

Does the sociopolitical commentary threaded throughout your lyrics come from a sense dissatisfaction? What would you change about England, given the chance?

I think it does come from dissatisfaction, but I think that’s something that would happen no matter where you’re from. That’s a hard one, maybe free beer and a framed picture of Harrison Ford (film of your choice) on the rider for all bands – mandatory. Ha!

What causes are particularly close to your heart?

The arts. We all did Music degrees, and I think it’s important to keep it alive and going.

The Colgate Collective: what the fuck’s that all about?

Haha! That’s a bunch of old mates from back home who were just fucking about. We were originally going to do a really elaborate Barbershop Quartet reply, but never got round to it. Maybe we should!? 

‘Credit Cards & Overdrafts’ is the perfect soundtrack for a triple-dip recession: do you think the arts are taking a back seat as twenty-somethings struggle to make rent, or does creativity in fact flourish during hard times?

It’s a bit of a weird one. A lot of the themes on the album were very much taken from our own experiences of coming out of uni and thinking “What next?”. As well as the struggle to get a job – something we've all experienced.  I think it’s very hard for a band to keep a good balance between getting a job that pays the rent and also being able to sod off on tour for months on end. And that’s definitely a reason why so many bands split up, or go separate ways.

So... a bit of both!?

 Where do you write? Do you have a writing routine?

I usually write the lyrics and the shell of the song with some ideas of where it can go and then take it to everybody else, who figures out their part and we’ll work on it together from there.

The music and aesthetic of Jake & the Jellyfish seems to be an amalgamation of several different cultural and musical movements, encompassing punk,reggae and folk. How do you choose which direction to take each song?

I think the reason for that is it’s just what I write! Sometimes I feel like writing something in a certain style, and that’s sort of what happens.

Is there any particular show from the upcoming tour that you’re especially psyched about playing?

Well, obviously the album show should be awesome in Leeds. But usually we’re excited to play every show! There’s certain venues we always like playing, but that’s just as excited as playing somewhere new with new bands – something we’re doing a lot on this tour.

What was your most memorable gig experience?

Hmm, there’ve been lots of interesting ones. Probably supporting The Skints at The Cockpit in Leeds, it was very rushed and when we went on, there was about 20 people there, after about 2 songs, it was nearly 500!

What’s the plan, post-tour? Will you be working on any new material?

We’re writing new stuff at the moment actually, we’re working on a new Reggae track and few other folky-punky bits – so very jellyfish!

What advice would you give fledging musicians?

Keep gigging. Just keep gigging! And be friendly.

And finally, what inspires you to keep going?

We all love it. And it’s awesome that other people do too!

Credit Cards & Overdrafts is released on March 25th. Jake & the Jellyfish will be playing Mothers Ruin in Bristol on April 4th as part of a European tour


One Response to “Interview: Jake and the Jellyfish”

  1. Payton local 11/04/2016 at 11:40 am #

    Amazing Story…Very inspiring !!

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