Interview & Live Review: The Static Jacks – Manchester Roadhouse

the static jacksIt’s been an exciting couple of weeks for New Jersey band The Static Jacks with a support slot on the Wombats tour resulting in their biggest gig to date at Brixton Academy.

Fresh off that they are playing a few headline dates before their return to the States. These gigs are a chance for the band to cement their position as rising stars and also give them a chance to stretch out their performance and play a few more tracks off their debut album If You’re Young.

Manchester Roadhouse on a Sunday night can be a tough place to play for a band trying to win over people to their cause. It can be a fickle place and tonight is no different with just a small crowd of people milling around waiting to be entertained.

The Static Jacks rise to this challenge and seem to relish the opportunity to prove their worth and win over a few more fans. From the opening blast of Defend Rosie, a call to arms punk anthem in the making, they play as a tight unit intent on putting on the best show they can.

Girl Parts follows with its bratty chorus belying the rather nasty lyrics of the song. It is this element that makes The Static Jacks stand apart from their contemporaries. By infusing a sing along element with matters of a more perverse nature they hark back to the glory days of The Buzzcocks et al. Coupled in with this is a whirlwind energy that transforms their live show into something more choreographed.

Singer Ian Devaney (right) doesn’t keep still for a second and when he’s not contorted over the mike he is bashing a tambourine or clapping his hands. The rest of the band join in too with Henry Kaye and Michael Sui-Poi both trading guitar hero shapes giving the audience a breathless display of attitude.

Not wishing to rely solely on tracks from their debut album, the band take the opportunity to play a couple of new songs. Both Young Guns and Party Favours carry on the soul-punk feel of their debut set of songs proving that these are not just another flash in the pan band.

They even slow the set down for Mercy, Hallelujah, a highlight which allows the band to catch breath whilst showing the audience another side of their repertoire. It doesn’t go unappreciated and draws the biggest cheer of the night before they crash into the last two tracks My Parents Lied and single, Into the Sun, the former creating a minor stir with its irresistible hook.

It is at gigs like these that the true mettle of a band shows through. Up against the odds, The Static Jacks rise to the occasion by giving a great performance. They seemed more than happy with the crowd reaction with their attitude being one of converting over fans one at a time if that’s what it takes. On this performance it won’t be long before they are playing to packed venues across the country.

Catch them while you can at their most raw and visceral, you won’t be disappointed.
Top Pic © David Mcrindle

Part II Static Jacks interview

I met up with The Static Jacks to have a conversation about their experiences touring and the making of the album. As well as enjoying a vibrant chat about New Jersey luminaries such as Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny we concentrated on their trip to the UK in particular.

The Static Jacks

How’s the tour been going, what reception have you received from people who may not have heard you yet?
Ian: Tour has been splendid. A nice mix of tiny venues and massive venues, which I always appreciate. It’s important to have balance, for my ego’s sake, on both ends. New-people reception seems to be pretty good.

You’ll be looking forward to playing your own shows now I guess. How will these differ from the support slots?
Henry: We don’t have to hold back anymore in fear of upstaging the headliner. We’ll finally be able to use our pole dancers, circus performers and freak show. Think Motley Crue’s Rock And Roll Circus.

Has the experience of supporting big acts such as Wombats and Biffy Clyro changed the way you approach your live performance?
Henry: It definitely has changed our live performance. Michael isn’t too keen on playing live anymore unless there are 3,000 people in the room. We’ve all gotten pretty arena. Surf ‘N Turf before every show, with asparagus, potatoes and melted butter. The Wombats really showed us how to live.

Is there a different reaction from the audience in the UK than from the US?
Ian: A lot of times in the UK there seems to be a much larger applause-pause after songs, which throws us off. We’ll finish a song, then there will be like 5 seconds of silence, and then people will clap. I can’t figure it out. Maybe they hate us.

What are the inspirations behind the album. I’m thinking of maybe the New Jersey scene, did this have an impact on the type of music you make?
Ian: Not really. While we love our home state with all our hearts, there tended to be a bit too much pop-punk and emo for our tastes. There was a cool scene for a while out of the Ridgewood area that gave birth to bands like Titus Andronicus, Real Estate, and Vivian Girls, but we didn’t know that existed until it didn’t anymore.

Where do you find ideas for songs? How do you think these will develop in the future?
Ian: We generally get ideas from everyday shit in the lives of people in their early 20s like ourselves. Friends, relationships, existential crises, etc.

Whilst the songs are grounded in garage punk, there is an innate melody throughout. Is this something you strive for when writing the music? Do you feel this is important?
Ian: I think it’s pretty important yeah. Gotta have them hooks. I mean, some awesome bands get by without as much of it, but for us to get through the writing process I think we need plenty of melody.

What lies ahead now? Will you be concentrating on this album or getting on with the next one?
Henry: We tend to write new songs all of the time. And the way this band works we have songs flowing in from every member. Anything from just initial ideas or more fully realized songs. So we’re really always thinking about the next album. I’d say it’s probably about 85% written right now. We also have this EP we made right after finishing the first album that should be coming out shortly. I’m really excited for that release.

And finally, give me some rock n roll wisdom you may have picked up on this crazy ride!
Henry: Jacks Rule No. 13: No rub in the tub. Jacks Rule No. 22: No girls travelling in the van for more than four cities.
Ian: Jacks Rule No. 19: If you find yourself with an opportunity to record a robotic spoken-word track on an Alabama 3 song at 5 in the morning in a room above a bar in Brixton, take it.

Ian Devaney – Vocals
Henry Kaye – Guitar
Michael Sue-Poi – Guitar
Nick Brennan – Drums

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