Today’s track of the day comes from London’s five-piece Whistlejacket, fresh out with the release of their brand new EP ‘Oh Brother’, featuring the hypnotic and just-as-angry-as-you-want-it-to-be ‘Hotter Than Heaven’.
With the release of their second EP, Whistlejacket return with a body of work that may be harsher, shorter but just as sweet as February’s ‘What I Ate on Sunday’. With the previous EP remaining nonchalantly relaxed throughout, ‘Oh Brother’ picks up the pace with harder guitars, louder drums and enough reverb on the vocals to bring their thrashing, underground gig right into your home.
Amidst the busy run-up to their European tour, GIGsoup caught up with frontman George Matheou for an insight on the band’s workings and exactly how they tick:
Firstly, congrats on your new EP! What’s the general feeling of getting a new body of work all wrapped up and together?
Thanks, it’s weird you know? The EP is finally out there after what feels like such a long time. It’s bittersweet because the writing and recording process was something that happened a number of months ago so the triumphant feelings you get when you initially write the songs, record them or even listen to them as an EP for the first time, are gone long before anyone else hears it. The EP is out there forever now; and this is what we’ll be judged on. We can improve or get worse with each show but this is it, this is something you can’t take back – it’s a weird feeling. We think these are our best songs to date though, so we hope that everyone else likes them. Now however, we’re feeling like “it’s done, what’s next?” – I’m already planning the next release.
How did Whistlejacket all come together?
Danny and I met in sixth form and started a band. We’ve played in various different line-ups since then. Danny met everyone separately at university and slowly brought us all together one by one. We’ve no plans to change anyone else.
And talk me through the dynamics of working together. What’s your songwriting/recording process, are rehearsals frequent? Is it along the lines of “you’re the drummer, you’re the writer” etc. to keep everyone focused or more a collaborative effort?
The songwriting itself is an extremely isolated process. I record the songs as demos and send them to the rest of the band. That doesn’t mean it’s a solo project by any means though, things often end up changing slightly. For starters there would be no band without Danny – it would just be me recording songs and doing nothing with them. I never had the balls to actually play them before Danny came along.
We generally work democratically and I’m often outvoted. If the band don’t like a song I’ve written, I find it difficult to take a step back from the songs and I think I must be difficult to work with sometimes. I love and respect them all for putting up with me. Rehearsals on the other hand? Uh… sporadic.
Your new EP contradicts itself nicely, with the thrashing on “GB Ache” and then the mellow but incredible guitar on “March Hare”.
With an EP you have such a short amount of time to make any sort of statement. I don’t know about contradiction necessarily but the mood does change. But so do I, and that’s the theme for the EP, I guess – my life since the last EP. I don’t think the songs sound too dissimilar though – I think there’s a unifying sound to them, and that they work as a set. They’re part of a bigger picture and there are more songs that we might put out one day, changed and improved, but basically I didn’t want to restrict myself to one sound or feeling.
Speaking of “March Hare”, what made you decide to rebirth an older song for your EP?
We first put it out on a self released EP and for that reason it didn’t get presented to much of an audience. The song gets a great reception live and our label thought it deserved a real release. That simple really!
My personal favourite on the EP is “Hotter Than Heaven” – I got exaggerated Manfred Mann vibes from that (in the best way possible – think “Blinded By The Light”). Where is the track coming from and how did it come together?
You know Springsteen wrote ‘Blinded By The Light’? Fucking love Springsteen. I felt like a lot of the lyrics for our new songs were quite direct and unconcealed thematically. I was listening to a lot of later Beatles and late 60s stuff, Dylan etc, and they all have great imagery, for instance “cellophane flowers… rocking horse people”. ‘Blinded By The Light’ is similar, Springsteen wrote it with a rhyming dictionary, but it’s line “fleshpot mascot was tied into a lover’s knot”. That’s the kind of thing I wanted, I wanted the words to have more effect than just their meaning.
I watched your live Cavalcade set you did back in July, and you entirely aced it. Does that kind of harmony in working together on stage come naturally?
Playing together is such a natural process. We’ve never forced anything. It’s the best part about being in a band. I’m glad you think it looks natural because the lights and cameras felt extremely unnatural, but at least we had each other; we always have each other. It’s easy to forget everything else when you’re doing what you love with the people you love.
Excited for the upcoming tour? Got a pre-show ritual/meal to keep you going?
Excited doesn’t begin to explain how I’m feeling about the tour. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Pre-gig meal and ritual: we have different tastes. I don’t eat animal products, Doug’s vegetarian, so we don’t usually eat the same things. We have a cuddle and relax together but that’s it really.
And finally, any contemporaries that you’re keeping up with and really into?
The acts we play with and love are Krush Puppies and Bare Pale. In terms of current bands we’re listening to – Ty Segall, Wand and always, Tame Impala.
Whistlejacket‘s latest EP ‘Oh Brother’ is available now via Fierce Panda | Sept 19th London tickets available HERE