JAWS talk to Natalie Whitehouse in this exclusive GIGsoup interview. Edited by Adam Skirving. Header Photo by Martyna Wisniewska.
The last night of any tour is always a special one, but Wednesday evening’s gig held even more importance for JAWS, returning to their home city of Birmingham for a sold out show – no less than they deserve.
“It’s like a round off of the tour, a celebration,” remarks Eddy, JAWS’ drummer, “and it just so happens to be our hometown,” interjects Connor, the band’s front man and lead guitarist.
A JAWS gig is somewhat of a chaotic affair. A sea of bodies cascading into one another, often ending up on the floor as they chant along to each and every song the band has to offer. And that’s not just in Birmingham: they’ve proven to be highly popular all over the UK, taking their breezy indie pop from Newcastle to Southampton, the atmosphere just as electric at every gig.
But off stage the band are more relaxed, agreeing that the tour has been chilled out, with “no wild stories” – just a few shit hole venues to contend with (weird smells and bad toilets a plenty) – but they’re taking it all in their stride:
“It’s been so relaxed and easy to do – the most comfortable tour,”Connor recalls, “Which is weird… all the shows have been great, but some of the venues are horrible. And you think, if you can be comfortable in some of those places, you know you’ve had a good tour!”
On stage, however, you imagine that JAWS will have no complaints. Their fan base has grown considerably since the release of their debut album ‘Be Slowly’ in 2014 and the reaction at gigs shows constant approval of what the band are doing:
“I just like playing songs when people lose their shit. When the whole crowd’s going mad you’re obviously going to enjoy it more,” notes Eddy, and Connor has his own favourite moment of JAWS live shows:
“I’m always massively satisfied when we play ‘Think Too Much’ because the chorus has the ‘duh duh duh,’ and everyone sings the words. Even when the crowd aren’t going wild they’ll always sing. It’s a bit awkward if they don’t sing. Then we just stop and get off stage…”
But even bad gigs aren’t that awful when you love what you do: “I wouldn’t call it a bad gig if they’re not singing, ‘cause some people just don’t like to sing,” says Eddy.
And Connor agrees: “There’s gigs where like three people have watched us but it’s still not a bad gig. It’s like saying do you do this to look cool or do you do this because you enjoy playing guitar or playing drums?”
“It’s the second one,” confirms Eddy, before Connor continues: “It’s why you do it. If I was doing it to look cool, then we’d have had a lot of shit gigs!”
But JAWS definitely don’t do shit gigs. What they do, they do well, and people enjoy it. After working hard since releasing ‘Be Slowly,’ their second album is now complete (“I could literally pull out my phone and play it to you now, but I’m not going to!”) with just the nitty gritty, boring tasks to go before we get to hear the album in its entirety.
For now, we’re treated to three new songs on the tour’s set list, which have been getting a pleasing reaction:
“They [the songs] are really good,” laughs a modest Connor, “half way through the first song they [the crowd] are clocking the new song and they’re like ‘oh, this is alright,’ and then they always go off to the last chorus.”
But he admits that may be down to how he’s improved as a front man: “I’m way more confident on stage than I ever have been, so I think when people see four guys rocking out it makes them way less awkward as well and they sort of enjoy themselves more.”
And they’re enjoying live shows just as much as they love recording. They agree that their second LP is JAWS at their best, and previous song choices are tinged with a little regret, even if the success they achieved from ‘Be Slowly’ has helped to propel them to where they are now:
“This album was easier. ‘Be Slowly’ was a bit rushed,” admits Eddy. “You have to realise that none of us think our records are perfect,” Connor adds, “if you know the flaws in what you previously did, even if at the time you think it’s great, that helps so much when you write the next thing.
“’Be Slowly’ is good. It’s good enough. But if I could have a time machine it would have different songs on it… I wouldn’t have recorded it when we did so that the week later, I would’ve wrote a better song.
“If you think of it as a continuous evolution rather than ‘that was successful so let’s do it again’… you have to always try and move forward.”
And moving forward is exactly what JAWS are doing: their second album is ready to go, and any fan of the Brummie band is more than eager to see what they have in store:
“We had a massive response to ‘Be Slowly,’” adds Eddy, “we’d just love to go back and tweak it,” “and we’ve just recorded our best songs ever,” teases Connor, “we just want people to hear these new songs!”