Due to return to Australia next month for the stomper Gentlemen of the Road event curated by Mumford and Sons, Jake Bugg will be gearing up for his first show in quite some time. Not having caught up with the British musician since Bluesfest two years ago, Bugg has been relatively off-radar, working on new material after a long bout of touring around the world. He’s feeling the effects of a big night before when we chat, an opportunity he took to get out of the studio and relax somewhat.
“I let off some steam last night,” he laughs, almost wearily. “I saw my friend who I hadn’t seen for a while, we started on tequila and finished on champagne…”
The last few months have had the 21 year old in the studio furiously working on the final touches of what will be album Number Three and in recent weeks, he’s been really biting down on getting the material just right.
“I’m in my last week or two,” he says. “Just going through the final end bits that drive you a little mad. I haven’t been touring [this year], so it’ll be nice to have a change of scenery. Hopefully by then, my record will be done and finished, so maybe I’ll get a bit of a holiday!”
Quickly rising to becoming a significant player on the UK and European festival circuit off the back of his 2012 debut Jake Bugg, the ensuing year and a half kept Bugg on the road hitting all the major tour markets, all the while releasing sophomore album Shangri La in November of 2013. Making the decision to take a step back from performing live to concentrate on building on the impressions he was able to make with his studio releases was one that needed to happen.
“I took a little bit of a chill out, but songwriting is part of that.” he admits. “It’s my hobby. It’s productive and therapeutic at the same time. I don’t think I’d probably take this much time off again but then it’s not all time off, because I made the album. It’s pretty much finished now, it’s all been continuous.”
For the new record, Bugg describes how the creative process has differed from that of his previous two albums. Although Shangri La saw Bugg team up with Rick Rubin in LA, he notes that this current experience has seen him work largely on his own without any other songwriters or a production team as extended as that on his self-titled debut.
“I worked with one producer,” he says. “I think I’m only going to use two songs that we did. All the other tracks I produced myself, I haven’t used any writers. It’s been quite a solitary experience, to be honest. It’s not been the most exciting album making process, but I think there are some exciting songs to have come out it. I have people come and go in the studio; some artists don’t allow record people or managers sometimes in the studio, but I like to have opinions and take each one with a pinch of salt. If I’ve been listening to a song all day, you get to a point where you just don’t know if it sounds good or not.”
Coming out from the studio and emerging back on to the stage after almost a year away brings with it some nerves for Bugg, as we chat about the upcoming mega-show with Mumford and Sons, Future Islands, The Vaccines and more. Fans will be seeing him performing in stripped-back, acoustic mode, his only Australian show set up for this trip. With some new songs ready to go, he’s excited to talk about working in a different performance format but more so, the concept of getting back out on the road.
“To be honest,” he says. “I haven’t played a show all year, so I’ve got to get rehearsed. I’m going to play some new stuff, it’ll be fun. It’ll be cool to get back into the swing of it. I’ve got some rehearsing to do though, I don’t even think I know all the words to “Lightning Bolt” anymore! If I remember Bluesfest [correctly], it was a really cool crowd, I really enjoyed that. It was a cool festival.”
“It is a long journey and [the reception] makes it worth it.” Bugg says of travelling out to Australia. “It doesn’t feel like you’ve come all that way to play to a small crowd, it was great out there. Now, it’s just an acoustic show, but I look forward to getting the full production in next time, hopefully. That’ll be pretty cool, doing the festivals again. Now you’ve got me thinking about it, I’m missing playing them as well.”
Jake Bugg will be performing at the Gentlemen of the Road event at The Domain in Sydney alongside Mumford and Sons, Future Islands, The Vaccines, The Jungle Giants, Meg Mac and The Art of Sleeping, on November 14th.