Interview: Jake Bugg
- My guitar keeps me sane
- Iím very excited, but pretty stressed. Some apprehensive feelings, you just donít know how itís gonna go. I think Iíve just got used to the idea now, itís coming out no matter what, so.. just gonna see what happens.
This past year, Jake has not only recorded a brand new album, but also toured the world and played several festivals in the summer months. He tells us that the only way of making time for everything is using downtime constructively Ė and thereís a lot of downtime and waiting in this business:
- Iíve always got my guitar so thatís what keeps me sane! Iím someone that.. I either have to keep going or I have to take quite a bit of time off. Like, one day off, I donít know what to do with myself, he chuckles; Ė I start pacing around the hotel room at 9 oíclock in the evening because my body thinks itís time to go on stage.
Long periods of time off are a no show these days according to Jake, who felt like recording the new album was a mini-break: - It was kinda like a holiday cos I was there for two weeks and thatís the longest Iíve stayed in one place for the last two years. So I was just in one place and I was making music so that was my holiday, recording my second album.
Buggís new album was recorded in Malibu with Rick Rubin, and is named Shangri La after the studio they worked in. When this info was released, a lot of people were worried that both the location and the producer would have too much of an influence on Jakeís music, something he denies:
- But it certainly had an influence on me, to get all those ideas and songs and stuff that Iíd kept locked inside, to feel relaxed and get them out of me and to put them on a record, that place certainly helped for that I think. He [Rick] put the musicians around me, they inspired me a lot and were amazing players and so that was probably the main thing [he contributed with], and he was just very hands on. After every take heíd give you a little bit of advice, and it always made sense, it always brought something better to the song and.. my job is just to be the artist Ė and I know what I want, let that be known, but I think to also be open minded and to get a bit creative and hear some new ideas and just play the songs. Do what you do but do it good.
One of the songs Rick helped Jake get out, is the dark and pretty spooky song Kitchen Table, written in a dark time in Jakeís life:
- Yeah itís very spooky yeah! Well itís spooky to me.. I tried to say that to someone and they went ďitís not spooky?Ē.. so thank you for saying that! He laughs; Ė Itís very dark lyricallyÖ before I got signed I was in this relationship and it was a quite dark time. I always had the lyric ďI wrote a song by your kitchen tableĒ but I never finished it and it was something that was really bothering me. When we got into the studio Rick finally got all those dark thoughts out and into a song.
After a long pause to think, Jakes tells us about one song which ended up completely different to what he had initially imagined when writing it: - "A Song About Love". That came out quite different. It was a quite hard one to record because it was a weird timing thing that the musicians had to figure out, but I didnít know what it was, I just wrote the song, he smiles; Ė It came out completely different, but Iím happy with it!
The country style song "Storm Passes Away", which ends the album, also stickes out from the rest. Jake tells us that the way it was made was a little different to the rest:
- I wrote it in Nashville with Ian and Brendon Bentson. I said: ęSeeing as weíre in Nashville, should we write a litttle country song?Ľ, and I started playing. Ian laughed at me and said: ęumm.. what songís that?Ľ, and I just said: ęI donít know, Iím making it upĽ, and his face panicked! Jake laughs; Ė He grabbed the recorder and just let me keep playing, and I just kept singing ďstorm passes awayĒ for some reason Ė it was just subconscious. That song is one of those songs that didnít have any relevance at the time, but you can relate to it in a couple of daysí time or the next day or.. it can mean something for each day.
Many of the lyrics on Jakeís first album were about Nottingham and Clifton, where where grew up. Sons such as Trouble Town drew a quite claustrophobic and grim picture of his hometown, and on the new album, Jake was surprised to come home and discover he was stil unconciously writing songs about the past:
- Yeah it was interesting to see, because now Iím not someone who knows whatís going on there. After everything thatís happened and the crazy life I had, that old life seems quite strange to me now. Seeing it from a different perspective was quite interesting. I was now somebody on the outside looking in and it was crazy to see.
- Iíve changed. I have more to give, Iíve become more generous, but also more cynical because of all the bullshit that goes on in this industry sometimes. People donít really like it if you donít play their games sometimes and having toÖ because you meet new people all the time, you have such little time to work out if someone is genuine or not, Thatís something that youíre questioning all the time.
The last time Musikknyheter talked to Jake, he told us heís a vinyl fan, and when he arranges the tracklist on his albums, he does it as if the album was a vinyl: - You know six songs kind of had a different setting and feel to them as the other six songs. So I just put them in that order. Just having a vinyl in mind. Iíd say maybe the second side is a little bit more philosophical, rather than observational. The second side is a little more within myself and speaking out.
When the first single from Shangri La, "What Doesnít Kill You" was released, a lot of media reacted to Jake playing electric guitar both on the song and in the video, something Jake finds slightly humourous:
- Iíve always played electric guitars! They try to compare it to Bob Dylan, donít they. But Iíve always played electric guitar because I love Jimi Hendrix! So from the moment I got an acoustic [guitar], I wanted an electric, he laughs; Ė Iíd always play that in my bedroom, and I played [it] a lot on it on my first record, but itís just now people see it. I suppose putting that single, "What Doesnít Kill Youí" out first was quite deceptive, because itís a really heavy song and the rest of the albumís not really like that. Itís similar to "Slumville Sunrise" rather than the rest of the album.
The video for "Slumville Sunrise" is a thing worth mentioning. Directed by Shane Meadows, it has a colourful comedy vibe which we havenít earlier seen Jake touch on to:
- It was crazy when they sent the script, I was like: "Howís that gonna work??", and then I went and did it and I had a load of fun. Iíve never done any acting before, Iíve never done anything like that, and I had a really cool time, I enjoyed myself! It was ridiculous but it was a lot of fun!
(Published november '13)
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