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artists » William Rees and Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets

Mystery Jets guitarist Will at sound checkSince the release of Making Dens in 2006 Mystery Jets have been working their way towards something pretty special…


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Their latest album Twenty One takes the bands original sound and strips it down culminating in an album that is beginning to define what the band are about. Produced by electro producer Erol Alkan the 80s synth beats and 90s Britpop influence bleed through, with singles including the unbelievably catchy ‘Two Doors Down and ‘Young Love’, featuring the hauntingly beautiful voice of folk starlet Laura Marling.

Read on to find out more from the bands multi talented William Rees and Blaine Harrison

VOX: What made you get into music making?
Blaine: I think its just because from a very young age my dad was an inspiration for us putting the band together - he’s in the band but doesn’t play live anymore. Him feeding us videos and old records that he used to listen to when he was younger - initially that was what got me into it - probably in the same way that someone would get into football. He’s always followed music and played guitar.
Will: I started playing guitar at the age of seven. Blaine and I have been friends since we were really young and Blaine’s dad Henry played a big part in turning me on to music.

VOX: Who inspired you growing up and who inspires you now?
Will: Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew - guys that played with Bowie a lot and they did their own thing. Adrian Belew was in Talkin Heads for a bit and on the Remain In Light album - they are really experimental guitarists - its not blues rock or anything it’s really out there weird playing. Hendrix was a big influence when I was younger too. Now if there’s a guitarist I like then ill be into it but I mainly listen to music in general. When I was younger I was a real guitar geek so if a band had a guitarist I liked then id like the band - whereas now I don’t care because there are a lot of people that can do interesting things with a guitar without having played it for very long.  I think been a musician doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in one box  - there are different ways to do things. Musically my head is now more open. 

VOX: Can you explain what drew you to Vox and why you chose to use the AC30CC2?
Will:
I used to play through a Fender DeVille but the sound was just too bright but it was our producer that said try a vox…straight away the sound fattened out. It’s an amp that holds its own. When you’re in a band and there’s a lot of things going on the instruments try to shout the loudest. The Vox puts you in your place and that’s very important for you in a band. Live the Vox is just fantastic. I used it on the last album too.

VOX: how would you say Twenty One differs to Making dens (1st album) sound wise?
Blaine:
I think we tried to go for a slightly more compact sound. When we set out to make Twenty One we said that we all felt that listening to Making Dens there was sometimes lots of things going on when there could have been one thing. But it would have sounded like more because it would have been bolder. We just always wanted to add more and more. I think with Twenty One we didn’t want to simplify it in the sense that we were stupidifying it but we wanted to streamline it - to strip away the unnecessary and that was a lot to do with how the songs were going. They became a lot more like pop songs, than prog rock.
Will: Yes Twenty One is leaner and meaner!  We wanted to cut the fat away from our sound so its an album of songs - its all about melody and lyrics….. The last tracks were quite phsycadelic and 21 is more straightforward.

VOX: Where do you see your sound going in the future?
Blaine:
We will carry on pushing in a pop direction. Id like the new record to be the quintessential Mystery Jets record. In the way I want everything we’ve been trying to do over the years to come together. We’ve talked about in terms of recording setting some consistent sounds…. so having a guitar sound - have about 5 amps and whole load of pedals and just basically create this guitar sound and not touch it for the rest of the album and on every song you walk into it and that’s the sound in that room. And having a vocal sound - a certain series of gear a certain mic and that’s it we don’t change that. Same with drums…. right from the start get a drum sound that sounds great in a room and sounds great through the speakers and then just don’t touch it.  That’s what we want to try and do. In the past each song has sounded really different and for the next record I would like it be consistent sounding.
Will: On the next record we want more space in our sound - more landscape, more distance. So the songs aren’t immediate. Playing that live would be quite interesting because when you play big venues the songs bounce around so making it a bit more atmospheric would really work.

VOX: What’s your fan base like around the world and does it differ much from country to country?
Will:
It’s totally different everywhere. In Japan fans are very welcoming they give you presents and write you letters. We’ve only been to the US a bit but again really friendly and enthusiastic, upbeat and positive.
In the UK there’s this fan base that is generally young people that are into music making and there’s a lot of young girls that like us as well.
But in the UK there’s this lad culture which you don’t really see anywhere else in the world. Every now and then we get a few fans kicking off at gigs and it’s quite scary.
The best thing about touring though is seeing new places and just meeting so many good people - hundreds of people. Every time you go to anew country you can bet your going to meet some really cool people- that’s the best thing about it. Promoters, fans, there’s always good people around.

VOX: And what about for the future?
Blaine:
There’s still some promotion of the current album to finish, and we have some US and European gigs. Then were going to do a few of the festivals in the summer but we want to then concentrate on the new record. Its over half way written so possibly will be released end of this year - early 2010.

To listen to the mystery jets check out www.myspace.com/mysteryjets
Vox recommends Flakes and Young Love
By Grace Ryan

 

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