Face to face with The Jar Family
The Jar Family are not an odrinary band. Comprising not fewer than five songwriters, the band boast diversity many bands don’t even dream of. The inventors of industrial folk know it all about penning quality music and their sophomore album ‘Jarmalade’ is swarming with these kind of quality tunes. A fourteen-track ‘Jarmalade’ comprises the songs as diverse as mighty, loud, confident ‘Machine'; tender, delicate ‘Paint Me A Picture'; upbeat, laid-back ‘Enough’s Enough’ or gloomy, ambient ‘Spreading Out The Pain’. However, sounding in the best traditions of folk with a lot of other influences thrown in the mix, ‘Jarmalade’ consists of the songs which complement each other and fit perfectly well together. How does it work? Let The Jar Family tell all about it themselves.
- ‘Jarmalade’ is out! What kind of introduction would you give to this album upon its release now?
Dali: Part 2 of the journey, the evolution of us all :)
Max: 2 disks, and mad artwork.
Richie: Ooooo you just gotta get on the machine to realise what this album, or even we as a band are all about… probably not the answer you were looking for but I’m sure the rest won’t be too bad. Big smile :-)
Al: I’d say if you’re looking for one album you can just play to death in the car, you need a bit of Jarmalade n yer toast. We’ve loved writing this album and we’ve put our full lives and hearts in to it…. The songs are honest, catchy..thought provoking. We love to write songs and play live…. Jarmalade tells a story.
Keith: An extravaganza, a cornucopia – the horn of plenty. How about 2 x 7 track CDs.
- What was the process of working on the album like for you – from the very beginning to the very final stages?
Dali: Practice practice practice some lunch more practice lol. We got about twenty song that we wanted to put forward to which we worked on and went through we then went to the saw mill studios to get it all down. We just set up in one room and live recorded every thing addin bits ov delays and stuff I hate the recording and sessions we did I’m a live show man it has to be done though plus more ideas come to ya in this environment :)
Max: I didn’t really think too much about it at the time, but lookin back it just flew by like everything else does.
Richie: It was most definitely an experience, we worked on each song as a live performance, which I think it’s the way it should be done these days, we had lots of fun as always, and then the mixing process was also cool, and very long especially for Keith as he spent more time than anyone working out which bits fit where the best.
Al: It’s a long process…I find some of the best songs I’ve written myself have been written in ten minutes….straight off the cuff when a moment has just grabbed me and I’ve had to run home and get my guitar. I could have wrote 300 verses to Poolie Strut!. But writing the lyrics and basic rhythm is one thing, then taking it to the studio with the rest of the band is where the work starts….the arrangements, the hours and weeks and weeks of rehearsals and then the studio. Because we record most of our stuff live with very minimum overdubbing, the rehearsals do pay off though obviously. And then once the recordings are done which tends to take a week or two, it’s just a waiting game and we go back out gigging the previous album…
Keith: Work on this album began during recording of the first album ‘The Jar Family Album’ so it’s been a long time coming. As producer it’s been creatively rewarding and stressful – but not a heart attack.
- What’s the main philosophy of ‘Jarmalade’?
Dali: A mixture ov singer/songwriters and genres all blended together and stuffed in a 10 foot jar rolled down the street and then let loose in the world ::)
Max: You can’t have one with five different opinions.
Richie: To be honest our manager, Andy, came up with this idea… at first I wasn’t particularly fussed on the name, but when you sit and think about it I suppose it could not have been a better title.. My take on the name is that jarmalade is a mixture of all ingredients ie jam plus marmalade equals exactly what we are as a band, a mixture of all genres all rolled into one.
Al: I’m not sure, but it sounds cushty doesn’t it?
Keith: Make the most of today …
- When you have a bunch of songs to choose from, what are your main principles in deciding which songs will make it to the album and which won’t?
Dali: It’s all about the feeling ov the song if it feels right we go with it and the look in the bands face when it does ya get a sort ov high we all do
Max: The songs that work best as a collective.
Richie: Basically each song needs to compliment the next and also the last, whether it be upbeat or slow, but sometimes it is slightly hard because if you’re going upbeat then do we keep it upbeat then maybe throw a slow ballad inbetween just to settle the mood or don’t we… hard one to say really.
Al: It’s not always about which tracks are better tracks…..the album has to flow….we tend to have about 20 to choose from and we just try and get the album to flow….there’s still tracks we’ve never released that are really good tracks they just don’t work in the story….an album should take you on a journey. You don’t want to go on a nice journey to Cronwall via Glasgow……you just wanna get to Cornwall if that makes any sense at all.
Keith: It’s down to which songs go together in the most complimentary order. That involves pacing, key changes and rotation of lead vocalists – not as easy as it sounds. There were a couple of good songs left off the album because they didn’t fit into the jigsaw.
- What does the songwriting process for The Jar Family look like?
Dali: For me it’s constant every where I go what I do I write stuff down him whistle record on the phone. Then surrounded by the noise ov my kids try to get the tune down lol a song can spring from the stupidest to the most gut wrenching ov situations I haven a clue about the boys they are the same write a song acoustically then fling it in the jar :)
Max: Making pasta.
Richie: 6 strings, a guitar, a pen and paper…. boom hehe
Al: We write alone at home, we’ve never written a song together….there’s five songwriters and we all write our stuff in our own time and come to the TJF table with them and we go from there. It’s not something I can do with other people around as I’d just annoy them…play, stop, write a few sentences, play, stop, write…etc….not a spectator sport really haha
Keith: A big ball of wool that needs to be knitted into a nice sweater.
- How did the album launch for ‘Jarmalade’ go?
Dali: Unbelievable felt like celebrities packed out London and our home town and the rival football teams town lol
Max: Great, i wish i tried some cake.
Richie: Ah it was mega, our hometown fans love it so much it makes it special for us, amazing day and amazing launch.
Al: Was class yeah, the whole week around it was class. Hartlepool made us feel like the Beatles for the day, London loved it and Darlington was another great night. It’s fantastic to see so many people loving the songs and singing them back and stuff, it’s massive….where else could you get a buzz like that?
Keith: Very well indeed. We did a press launch in London followed by an album launch in Hartlepool – the band’s home town. We did an album signing and unplugged show in a friend’s café and had queues around the block.
- How did you like bringing the new songs onto the stage and in to a live environment?
Dali: I was buzzing to get them out for the crowd reaction and the listeners views and realised they loved it.
Max: Fun to play and see the audience react to them, most already know the words.
Richie: There’s nothing better than a live performance especially when people tell you it’s more intriguing than the album version and new songs always go down well, wether we make mistakes or not, we still just luv to have fun on stage.
Al: Haha, personally I’m delighted! I’ve been singing Poolie Strut live for 5 years now, ever since I was doing open mics….it was one of our main songs and our home town sort of adopted it, the foot club playing on match days etc…but I’ve been busting to start playing new stuff and I know all the lads feel the same, we all have tons of songs waiting to go in the jar!
Keith: Very much so – onward and upwards and all that.
- The Jar Family tour a lot! What, do you think, is the main impact touring so much has had on the band?
Dali: Brought us closer together the thing I find is the more back to back gigs we do each one is better than the one before which keeps every one on a high.
Max: Grey hairs, and alot of guitar strings past and gone.
Richie: The personal bonding, without being on the road together as a band you would not get any of this, it’s not all about the stage presence, this is why we travel as a group at all times.
Al: Planting seeds all over the country, then going back to water the plants…..it’s not easy and we live on fresh air half the time but we’re a live band…we want to play live, anywhere….we’ll play wherever there’s loads of people who love music……and if we make one or two fans its job done and it’s a seed planted in that town or city…
Keith: Unity. It doesn’t come easily and should never be undervalued.
- What’s your favourite way to kill time on the road?
Dali: Clash ov the clans and going to the gym when there’s a one near also we watch a lot ov movies.
Max: Looking out the window.
Richie: Depending on the length of the journey, I would say either “sleeping” or updating our social media pages with either pictues or status’ so our fans know whats going on.
- You call your genre ‘industrial folk’. What was the road to this sound like? How did it develop and evolve? How did the idea to put very diverse tracks, which sound so organic together though, on one album come about?
Dali: The industrial folk come about at a folk festival we were playing it was thought about and decided that night I think and the more we thought about it it does represent what we are hard working folk who live surrounded by industry chemical plants nuclear power stations and there’s no jobs for any one lol. Our sound grew all by its self we just put little bits in to each song and it works it started as 5 song writers playing solo with very little input from other members which we started becoming a band over time introducing new instruments n stuff harmonies which kieth helped us with the rest was just invented :)
Max: We didnt set out to be different, we just seemed to work the way it ended up best, no one decided we should ‘try’ and be a little edgy, these things just happen.
Richie: Another tuff question, to be honest, I think it was always there, just took a while to be established.
Al: We just dont go mad over thinking it all….we get together we put a few new songs on the table and we jam them….some of them just happen straight away, you just know it’s gonna be a good track, others can sound not so good but then become good tracks, just depends….but if they sound good when jamming…we go with it, that simple.
Keith: Industrial Folk is music for the common man by the common man mixed with that Northern grit from an industrial heritage. Not necessarily pretty but moving. The diversity comes from having five singer/songwriters.
- Apart from the album release, what were your special highlights of the summer 2013?
Dali: All the gigs with big crowds specially the ones where they wanted more which was all ov them :)
Max: SUSHI and Scotland.
Richie: In the words of Max Bianco “PD’s” haha you just gotta be there… Nah only jokin… Ermmm, just the fact of being asked to play anywhere big or small, is special especially when you travel to places and people you ain’t ever seen before turn out in Jar Family t-shirts etc and sing your songs back to you… What could be more special than this.
Al: Best gig was Cornwall with The Proclaimers….played on the beach to a couple of thousand people, hottest day of the year just as the sun was going down and we rocked it, the crowd loved it, that was epic stuff for us and also The Dashwood Arms Beer Festival in High Wycombe…..was just a little beer fest but what a night, and the landlord and staff are top class…..real music lovers!
Keith: Festivals without mud!