We Were Promised Chit-Chat

The chiselled cheekbones of the new Indie™ order might be the nightmare of any discerning music hack, but when Billy Hamilton caught up with the lads from We Were Promised Jetpacks he found their infectious patter a breath of fresh air…

Feature by Billy Hamilton | 25 Aug 2008
  • WWPJ1

Since the razzmatazz revival of modern-era Indie™, the guitar-clutching tune smuggler has become a nightmare to interview. Armed with pursed-lips aplenty and the obligatory quota of well-oiled retorts, a chat with today’s leather jacket adorning chancers tends to mirror their assembly-line melodies. It’s difficult not to feel short changed when every question is met with an ambivalent, numbskulled response and – despite what P45-avoiding scribes may protest - the thought of waxing lyrical with “the next Kooks” is as inspiring as a cheese-grater to the genitals.

It’s with a degree of scepticism, then, that I meet and greet with Glasgow-dwelling indie-pop ensemble We Were Promised Jetpacks. Sure, the quartet are blessed with a magnificent, dreamy-eyed moniker and exhale the type of fleet-footed songsmithery that led Kapranos and co catapulting up the charts, but such virtues don’t necessarily go hand in hand with an accommodating chit-chat. In fact, so concerned is The Skinny that our rendezvous will hit a dead end that I’ve scribbled down the token silence-filling contingency of every music journalist: “Describe your sound in three words”.

I should have saved the ink.

Huddled tableside in the pit of a sun-soaked Edinburgh tavern, Adam Thompson [Vocals/Guitar], Darren Lackie [Drums] and Sean Smith [Bass] are a breath of fresh air. As loquacious and antsy as a gaggle of primary school freshmen, the trio complete each others sentences and continuously answer questions before they’ve been fully put – particularly when discussing a certain blast from the past:

“We told a guy about it once and now it’s what everyone asks us,” interrupts a riled Adam as I enquire about an infamous and ultimately unsuccessful Battle Of The Bands competition where the group reinterpreted Jet's woeful dirge Are You Gonna Be My Girl. “We had two of our own songs played as well, it wasn’t just a Jet cover. It was one of our first shows and we tried to secure victory with our own stuff but we had our set cut short.”

They may still be reeling from this fledgling defeat but the Edinburgh-born group have certainly raised their game since moving to Glasgow three years ago: “I think there’s a lot more maturity to the songs now,” says Darren, only recently returned from a four month trek to Germany. Sean agrees: “Before, we wrote three minute pops songs but I think what we’re producing now is a lot more intense. When we started out we all liked things like Franz Ferdinand and Muse but now we’re listening to bands like El Padre – they’re amazing.”

Definite stamps of Franz-styled angularity can still be found in the jerking revs of Roll Up Your Sleeves but the thrill of sprightly jangling is beginning to wear off on the WWPJ boys: “When Darren was away we did a few low-key acoustic shows where we played different versions of our songs,” says Sean before Adam interjects: “We ended up having more people in the band than we normally do. We’ve introduced glockenspiel, organ, violins and bells – we’re trying to become a little more expansive.”

With such a sci-fi loving appellation are We Were Promised Jetpacks looking for lift-off into the charts? “We’ve not really thought about [mainstream success],” says Adam. “I don’t see us as an indie band and there’s nothing particularly experimental about us so I’m not sure where we fit in.” Sean continues: “The worst kind of question is ‘what kind of music is it?’ Especially when someone doesn’t really know what to compare it to.”

Sensing I’ll never get a better opportunity, The Skinny makes its play for those three eternal adjectives. Eyes are rolled and cheeks are puffed before a well-primed response is unexpectedly delivered: “Loud. Full. Fun”. Not quite a bravado-packed statement of intent but, then again, did we really expect anything else?

We Were Promised Jetpacks play:

Nice n' Sleazy, Glasgow, 29 Aug

Hydro Connect Festival, Inveraray, 31 Aug

Dundee University Student's Union, 16 Sep

Moshulu, Aberdeen, 18 Sep

The Mill @ The Caves, Edinburgh, 25 Sep

http://www.myspace.com/wewerepromisedjetpacks