Following the launch of third album The Ceiling, Birmingham boys JAWS were back on the road with city neighbours and Mic familiars Sugarthief. Despite having van troubles the night before and missing a much-needed rest, The Mic was able to catch up with the band ahead of their sold-out show at Rescue Rooms to discuss the album, their current tastes, and the pressures of the modern age.
Following the release of sophomore record Simplicity, it’s fair to say that JAWS went quiet on the new music front. However, almost out of the blue, Driving at Night was released along with the plans of an upcoming album, much to the joy of the fans who had been left wondering where their favourite band had gotten to. Although Simplicity was a corker of an album, an explosion of angst and confusion delivered with excitement and skill, The Ceiling matched it punch-for-punch and is proving a hit amongst JAWS fans, old and new. However, while Simplicity painted a state of late-teenage muddle, The Ceiling echoes the internal conflicts of someone who knows where they want to be but can’t quite get there.
“You grow up hearing about our parents’ generation, where they’ve got everything sorted by 21,” Connor explained. “Knowing about your house, kids, jobs – but we’re like 25 and 26, and now it’s less straightforward.”
"We have jobs and we have a real life, and that’s why it takes two-and-a-bit-years to do a record.”
In particular, I was keen to know how their maturation, and indeed Connor’s relocation to London, had affected their creative process. “Creatively it wasn’t that different,” Connor admitted. “It didn’t really affect how we did things; we’d write or record a demo, send it over, and work on it when we meet up.”
“I think we’re sort of cursed by not our success but the illusion of our success. I think a lot of people see us as a bit of a name, but we don’t feel like an established band. We have jobs and we have a real life, and that’s why it takes two-and-a-bit-years to do a record.”
While they may have taken their time to release more music, the final product was something to be proud of. The album was not only a pleasure to listen to upon release, it was incredibly well received on the live circuit, with new tracks Please Be Kind and Do You Remember? generating as much energy and vigour as old favourites Stay In and Gold. Alex was quietly confident about the albums from the start. “I remember when we recorded it and thinking that this sounded way cooler than anything that we’d done before. I left that feeling a lot happier than I had with previous ones.”
"We thought ‘Why did it need to be such a standard bandy sound?’ – it’s not what I listen to."
“When we did Simplicity, we thought that we’d really struggle to do that again,” echoed Connor. “Sometimes that’s why it takes a couple of years to really re-find that energy, but with The Ceiling, it was like new life. It wasn’t like we’d just written 12 more songs, it was a new lease of life into the music that we were making. We put something different into it that made it fresh.”
It may have been the subtle changes to the album which made it so intriguing. Alex and Connor were right not to reinvent the JAWS wheel, and their natural integration of their newer tastes displayed a deal of intelligence and maturity.
“I’m terribly bored of band stuff,” proclaimed Alex. “When we went from Simplicity to The Ceiling, we thought ‘Why did it need to be such a standard bandy sound?’ – it’s not what I listen to. I listen to more of the soundscape stuff, so it felt nicer being in the studio experimenting.”
“When we did 17, the end of that song was meant to be the intro of us going down the path that Fear came from. It was meant to be a real throwback to the 90s scene,” Connor admitted. “I’ve always been into that sort of music. I’m not going clubbing all the time but, from being into music production, it’s just a style of music that I thought would work for us.”
Judging from the sea of bodies jumping from the first song to the last, it’s evident that JAWS are still a hit. Unsurprisingly, their new album stands the test of the live show and it brought an abundance of youthful energy to Rescue Rooms. Although Connor later admitted that they haven’t written much in the way of new music since last September, I am eager to see how the next chapter of JAWS book unfolds.