FOCUS: Jungleland

Atop the backdrop of a glacial January, Matt Andrews caught up with Jungleland, the Nottingham rock upstarts hoping to set the local scene alight.

“One, two, three, four” are the words that open Jungleland’s debut single, Playing on My Mind – a sharp guitar-led track that announces the welcomed arrival of Nottingham’s newest rock band. Taking notes from such stellar artists as Oasis and Bob Dylan, at the helm of the band’s song-writing process are frontman James Warner and guitarist Charlie Conduit – a writing duo brought together at the University of Nottingham in 2019. The unlikely acquaintance of the two musicians serves as a dot recognisable only in a retrospective consideration of the sequence of events which constitutes the origins of the five-piece now better known as Jungleland.

Beginning 2021 as they intend to go on, the aspiring rock band has seen coverage from Dean Jackson at BBC Introducing for their debut single, Playing on My Mind. The track, perhaps tellingly, hinges on Warner’s vocal hook of “come with me, come with me,” which serves as an invitation inside the gritty and crashing minds of Jungleland. The single was born of a lockdown-induced moment of decisive restlessness amongst the band – “we couldn’t let ourselves just sit around, we were sick and tired of waiting for the scene to get back up and running when we had songs we believed in.” The universal stasis produced by lockdown was, in a somewhat subversive, yet Jungleland-typical sense – since the band itself only knows musicianship in reverse – the trigger, the provocation, which the five-piece needed in order to start recording the catalog of music on which they sit; the “wind in the sails,” as drummer Ollie Melville puts it.

“We push each other to do that. Paul McCartney and John Lennon say similar things, and we’re better than they ever were.”

The band were not hesitant to admit to the reversed nature of their ongoing emergence in Nottingham, and indeed to their lack of control over it – nor were they hesitant to admit the admirable amount of success they have had in spite of everything. Speaking on the nature of inspiration, Conduit says, “[songs] do come like that. Two of the EP’s tracks were written within three days of each other over Christmas. They do just come out of nowhere a lot of the time. And these aren’t throwaway songs either, they’re good material. I think if you wake up and decide you’re going to write a song you’ll get nowhere. You have to let something else take it out of you. Over lockdown, those bursts are especially recognisable – the lads will get one voice note one day and fifty the next – we’ve been bombarding each other with these ideas. When we’re writing we do go through these peaks and troughs – we always have – the lucky thing is we seem to have them at different times. I think, subconsciously, we push each other to do that. Paul McCartney and John Lennon say similar things, and we’re better than they ever were.”

The “new EP” which Conduit mentions is scheduled for release on March 26th and, consists of four tracks of equal parts rock and roll, promises to deliver an exciting prophecy for the band. One, it seems, of talent and permanence. Chasing the springtime release of their longest output to date, Jungleland are prepared for further uncertainty: “Moving forwards, it’s just a case of taking the next couple of months as they come and being responsive to the changing situation… we’d love to get gigging off the back of the EP release but that really depends on the Covid guidelines over Easter and the venues that remain after lockdown. We’re very hopeful that the majority are able to continue to weather the storm.”

Jungleland, though introduced to the world of music in some blurred and twisted reversal, are here to stay.

Written by: Matt Andrews

Edited by: Louise Dugan

Article image courtesy of Jungleland via Facebook.