UK indie rockers Mystery Jets are coming back to Australia with their new record Radlands for a little tour, including an appearance at the Fat As Butter Festival. I caught with guitarist William Rees to chat about the record, one of my favourites this year, and also about what it was like to record away from their London base.
Thanks for the chat, Will – how have you been?
I’m good thanks, how are you keeping?
Yeah I’m doing great. How’s your day or night, wherever you are?
It’s the morning here and I’ve just started to wake up, actually! So far, so good!
Excellent. So, Mystery Jets are already scheduled to appear at the Fat As Butter Festival over here later in the year, a bunch of headlining dates have also just been announced. People are keen to see the band again, how are you all feeling about bringing Radlands to Australia for a run?
We’re really excited; it’s the first time we’ve been out to Australia then…usually we come around New Year’s Eve, so it’s really exciting for us. I think people over your way are getting into it and I can’t wait; it’s always a pleasure going to Australia. We came over before [Pyramid Rock] in 2008 and we did the Falls Festival, which was brilliant, that was a lot of fun.
Considering it being the fourth album for the band, I enjoy how fresh the material on Radlands still sounds. Do you think relocating for the process helped the way it was shaped?
Definitely, yeah. I think the environment has a tremendous effect on how you write music and how you write full stop. We knew that when we were doing this album and before we started getting this record, that we needed to make something exciting and to keep it new for us, and we knew we weren’t going to be able to do that if we stayed in London. We left London and went to a place that we’d all been dreaming about, which was America.
There are Americana influences on the record that can’t be denied, but they work awesomely on Radlands. Being a British band, was there any apprehension about taking on musical traditions which I guess aren’t quintessentially ‘British’? Was the aim for this record to sound as far away from the ‘London’ scene as possible in this sense?
I mean, we weren’t trying to be anything that we’re not – we were just trying to do something that was exciting for us. I don’t think we were trying to deny what we are, we were just trying to do something that sounded new and cool to us and it comes from a real place because we like the music that we’re referencing. I think that if you really love the music that you’re trying to rip off or that you’re trying to draw references from, then you can make it work for you.
You can make it work so it doesn’t sound sort of trite, you know?
In general, how did you find living in America was different to living in England as a musician in terms of playing shows and having these periods of creativity?
Yeah, the differences were massive, but they were mainly because we don’t really know anybody out in Austin; we certainly didn’t when we moved there. We were living in a place that none of us knew and all of those things have a huge effect on how you live, because we spent our time exploring and having adventures and getting to know this fantastic city that is Austin, Texas. I mean, in London, because we’re from there, we can’t live that kind of life; we’ve got our families and our girlfriends and our friends and you know, it’s almost like a routine.
The band has been touring the record in the UK and elsewhere so far – how have you found performing the new material and how have you found the crowd reception developing over time?
I think it’s been good; I’d say that perhaps it’s taken a little while for people to get into Radlands. When we first started touring before the album came out, we thought there was a certain amount of songs we could play a night, maybe three or four, because we didn’t want to frighten the fans away! Now that the album’s out and people can live with it, I think people are enjoying it. I think people are really enjoying it because they have the album tracks as well, not just the singles. It feels really good, it feels like something people have taken to and really appreciate it.
Since you’ve been touring these songs and performing them repeatedly live, have you found that the ‘Radlands’ material developed slight changes in the transition from studio to live stage?
Yeah, that’s kind of always happened with us, actually. We tend to record the songs and once they’ve been on the stage for a little bit, they adapt to the live performance. I think that’s because when you play in front of a crowd, you have to be more dynamic and you can’t afford to be too subtle, you know? The songs are definitely shaping up.
It’s all sounding great! Once this Australian tour wraps up, where will Mystery Jets be heading next?
We’re going to do some writing I think, we want to get the next album ready quite quickly. We’ve got a gig coming up at the Royal Festival Hall in London and that’s at the end of November; that’s going to be quite a special Radlands show, we’re going to be bringing the guests who are on the album with us to perform at the concert.
It sounds like the rest of your year is going to be packed out! Exciting times though! Thanks for chatting with me Will, we can’t wait to see the band back over here.
Thank you; we’re as excited as you are to get to Australia, it’s going to be heaps of fun.
Awesome, have a great day!
Nice one, take care!
Information about Mystery Jets' upcoming Australian tour can be found at www.mysteryjets.com.