After five years between his second and third studio albums, Jamie T has turned around fourth LP Trick in half that time. We chatted to him about getting back into the swing of releasing and touring his music, as well as developing as an artist and always pushing himself to do something new.
Carry On The Grudge’s release was always kind of going to be about you returning after a bit of time away. Did you feel less pressure with Trick now after getting that monkey off your back?
Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. Happy to be back in the momentum of doing records and I think that’s probably why this one’s out a lot quicker. I think that’s a fair thing to say.
You dropped the EP (Magnolia Melancholia) kind of straight after Carry On The Grudge as well. Was that always planned or did you still have some songs you wanted to share?
I think a bit of both. I always kind of liked to do EPs, it’s a good respite between albums ‘cause albums are big fucking onslaughts, it’s hard to write twelve tracks. When you’re on track two you’re like, “Fucking hell,” so an EP is a really great way of putting out stuff that wouldn’t have made the record, but I really enjoy. Some of my favourite songs that I’ve ever released have been on EPs. I mean, I don’t know if I’m going to do one after this one because there’s already a bit less material around, but I don’t know yet, I haven’t really decided.
Do you find you’ve got a freedom to do it especially now that streaming services are a big thing because it’s more accessible for people to get to the EP without massive publicity campaigns?
Well I think EPs, for me, were always about core fans really. Giving core fans some stuff, because with albums I’m always keen to try and move things on quite a lot bit that doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t write songs that I did when I was younger. It’s kind of a good way to keep the core fans enjoying stuff they’ve heard before and keeping myself kind of happy as well, as a songwriter. If I ever listen back to anything, I rarely listen to albums, I always end up listening to the EP stuff.
I guess Arctic Monkeys do a very similar thing and they always seem to have EP tracks that fans go back to. Was that a pattern you followed, or it’s just kind of fallen that way for you?
I think it’s seemed to be the same, really. I love the Arctic Monkeys, I agree, one of my favourite Arctic Monkeys tracks is a track called “Nettles” which is on one of their EPs, which I love and I’ve always wanted to see it played live but never seen it. I think the other thing is they’re a good band to look at generally through their career. They’ve always done the right things; I love to look at the trajectory, it’s quite interesting. So, yeah, it wasn’t intentional but they’re a band that I admire a lot and am inspired by and always want to know what they’re releasing.
And the artwork you had for Carry On The Grudge and now Trick, it’s very similar- the same artist maybe?
Not the same artist but I suppose they’re kind of similar in the renaissance style. I think probably, subconsciously, I had that Trick image, it’s a painting that I’ve had framed in my house for a few years and on Carry On The Grudge, I was trying to get something like that and hadn’t really put the things together. So kind of subconsciously, I did it again.
You toured pretty extensively off the back of Carry On The Grudge as well after quite a bit of time off. Have you found that touring’s changed for you?
You become more comfortable in your routine. I don’t get home from tour anymore and feel like I’m going to fucking die, which I used to feel when we were 19, 20 on the road. But you kind of work out how to do it a bit better. I like touring more now than I did then. Someone’s always telling you where to go; it seems like an annoyance but it’s just a bit like, “Oh okay, we’re going there and someone will put a guitar on you”.
And your live band has changed since your last major tour, hasn’t it?
That’s right, yeah. Matt Jones, the keys player, was in the original band The Pacemakers, but the rest of them are a new outfit that I’ve put together.
“Tinfoil Boy” and “Power Over Men” have been a bit polarising amongst your fans. Is that something that you find encouraging, because they’re powerful enough to force people either way?
I think, yeah, we’ve always made it a thing to release some singles that throw people a little bit. I think you’ve got to do stuff like that; you’ve got to do interesting things and move it on. If someone fucking hates a record, at least they’re still firmly enough about it to be like, “I fucking hate it!” It’s better than people ignoring it. You’re never going to please everyone, especially when you’ve got a back-catalogue that people seem to feel a personal thing to, which I’m so proud of but I can’t live my life by that.
I can’t write for people who like the shit I was doing when I was 19, I’d fucking lose my mind. I’ve just got to do what I want to do and hopefully people like it. It just constantly surprises me that people are so dumbfounded when you release records that sound different. I find it so funny how the modern generation are still like, “What’s he doing?” It’s like they’ve never heard of any of those great artists who we all try and emulate, who changed so much. Like Dylan or Bowie. These guys never did the same thing twice. I find it kind of amusing, but you can’t think about it too much.
But at least it’s strong enough that they go really heavily either way I suppose.
Yeah and the thing is, quite often people will be like, “I fucking hate that track,” but then they see it live and go, “I get it.” You never know. You can’t please everyone.
Well, the record as a whole is amazing and there are a couple on there that almost throw back to early stuff that you’ve done.
I think the record is what it is. Your first release is always going to throw people and I think anyone who knows what we’ve done should not judge a record on the first song you hear. There’s a bit of stuff there for everyone to a point. There’s a bit of stuff that reminds me of really early stuff we’ve done with the fast kind of rapping stuff and then there’s some newer things like “Tinfoil Boy”, which I think is a bit of a fresh sound for us, so I’m hoping it will be okay for everyone to get into.
And how involved are you in the creative process of the videos that have just come out?
What happened with “Tinfoil Boy” was I came up with an idea and pitched it to my friend Tom Beard and he came back to me with a new idea that was based around my idea. The second video was more my idea and Tom kind of put his spin on it a bit, so it’s kind of always a collaboration between myself and Tom. Those have been the last two, anyway.
I’m kind of starting to get more involved in the music video stuff because I kind of fucking hate it, but I think that if it comes from me it’ll be a bit more what it’s meant to be. I fucking hate music videos but it’s something that at least I can be annoyed with myself if I do it myself, rather than someone else.
And just really quickly, you’ve just been announced on the Falls Festival lineup. Are you keen to head back to Australia for the second time in two years?
Yeah of course. I can’t remember how many times we’ve been out there now, but it’s been a few years since we did the Falls Festival, I’ve got really fond memories of it and it was real good times. I can’t wait, I love coming back to Australia. Every time I tour it I enjoy it more and more, so it’s always a pleasure when I come back.
Trick is released on September 2nd and Jamie T plays Falls Festival this December and in January.
December 28th – December 31st: LORNE, VIC | 18+
December 29th – December 31st: MARION BAY, TAS | All Ages
December 31st – January 2nd: BYRON BAY, NSW | 18+
January 7th – January 8th: FREMANTLE, WA | 18+