In 2009 Adam Thompson, Darren Lackie, Sean Smith and Michael Palmer were a band of nineteen year old university students, bunked up together in a tenement flat in the West End of Glasgow. Fast forward five years, and We Were Promised Jetpacks release their third studio album, Unravelling.
Armed with an anthemic sound described as arena ready, the band are receiving rave reviews as they unleash Unravelling – their first album in three years.
We caught up with drummer Darren Lackie to discuss legacy, live performances and of course, the new album.
Here’s our We Were Promised Jetpacks interview:
LDM- I guess it’s somewhat natural for people to draw comparisons between yourselves and all those wonderful Scottish bands of the past two decades or so – the likes of Franz ferdinand seem to crop up from time to time. But, am I right in saying I detect a rather strong Smiths influence coming through also?
DL-You’re not the first person to mention them, but none of us listen to The Smiths so there’s definitely no influence that we know of. We don’t really listen to a lot of older music to be honest, we all have our favourites and our music tastes can differ quite drastically.
LDM- Do such comparisons add any pressure, or are they generally received as the compliment in which they were most probably intended?
DL- We don’t particularly pay attention to the comparisons that are drawn between us and other bands. If I’m being honest, I feel like a lot of publications and blogs compare us to bands that we sound nothing like, which I guess is what makes music great. Different people hear different things when they listen to songs. They certainly don’t add any pressure to us because we aren’t striving to sound like anyone. We’re just writing songs that we enjoy and, hopefully, that other people will enjoy… Otherwise we’d have to get a real job!
LDM- You’ve gone on record to say Unravelling is your best album to date. What do you think sets it apart from We Were Promised Jetpacks earlier work?
DL- The album was written in a totally different manner from the last two. The first album was a collection of completed songs that we had been playing live for a long time before we were signed. The second was written in a shorter amount of time, mainly in our practice room in Edinburgh, but the songs were never really demoed and looked back over before going into the studio. This time around we spent over a year writing about three days a week (sounds lazy but it can become counter-productive if we’re in any more days than that). We also spent eight days locked away in a cottage on the West coast of Scotland where we demoed some ideas that we had. We were able to listen back to the demos at a later date and isolate what needed to be changed. Working with Paul Savage really helped us too. He pushed us to think more about our individual parts in each song, more so than we ever had before. He made us look at what we were doing and ask ourselves if there was something better, more beneficial to the song that we could do and I think it made us create a far better album.
LDM- We Were Promised Jetpacks live performances are famously electric! It’s obviously something you all take enormous pride in as a group. Is that something which is at the forefront of your thoughts during the writing process?
DL- I wouldn’t say it’s at the forefront when we’re writing songs, but if we’re not enjoying playing a song while we are writing it then chances are we won’t continue on with it. There’s no point in writing something that isn’t making you happy, it completely defeats the purpose of being in a band. As much as you want the audience to enjoy themselves, you have to like what you are doing or that will come across when you play live. We do love playing shows, especially now that we have a whole new album of songs to add to our set. We even have some new rock moves!
LDM- We reckon this is the stand-out album of this autumn. Is that something that comes across in audience reactions when you preform the new material?
DL- Thank you very much! So far, at the time of writing, we’ve only played two shows since the album actually came out so people have been very attentive and respectful while we have been playing the new songs. I did notice at those two shows (Paris and London) that people knew the songs and were responding positively to them which is a massive relief. It can be a very scary thing, playing new songs to a crowd.
LDM- Do you sense any differences in audience energies from venue to venue when you’re on the road?
DL- Of course. Some shows you will have people who really want to jump around and dance while you play. Other people in the room often pick up on this and join in-usually the weekend shows when people have had a drink! But sometimes the crowd just wants to watch the show-both types of crowd are great. Touring is a long, strenuous process and just having people in the room watching you play every night is what keeps you going.
LDM- You seem to have done so much and have a world of material under your belt, yet as a group you’re still so young! Does the sense of having time on your side inspire you even further to keep on making that natural progression, setting the bar increasingly higher with each new release?
DL- We don’t feel young anymore! Is 26-27 young for a band these days? I guess we’re at a stage where we’re constantly looking at what we’re doing and thinking “shit, is this going to work? Should we be getting a job?” But we keep going out on the road and people keep coming to shows and it makes you happy with what you’re doing again. That sounds like we’re very pessimistic but it’s such an unpredictable industry, so I guess you have to keep getting better and progressing. No one wants a band to release the exact same material over and over again, it’s just dull. I think that’s what’s inspiring us to get better rather than having time on our side.
LDM- Finally, with all of this in mind, what might we expect from We Were Promised Jetpacks as you look to the future?
DL- Our album just came out a few days ago, so at the moment we’re not really looking too far into the future. We have a huge U.S tour which is starting tomorrow, then I’m certain that we’ll be out on the road for the vast majority of next year. It’s going to be a busy time for us but we’re looking forward to it!
Unravelling, the new album from We Were Promised Jetpacks is available now via Fat Cat Records.