The most interesting music always comes out of the provinces rather than the big cities. The fact that there is no such thing as a scene allows these bands to get lost in the music rather than being caught up in any specific scene or clique. Jarcrew comes from the valleys of South Wales, slap bang in the middle of Swansea and Cardiff, but far enough removed from each. In a country where the Sunday paper has a revolving frontcover featuring Catherine Zeta Jones, Charlotte Church and Anthony Hopkins you could say there's very little inspiration, but out of this Jarcrew have invented their own little world and existence based on small town life. We caught up with Kelson (vocals) and Rod (drums) on their first headlining tour before the band head back to the studio to record their second album.
Q: Considering you first sent us the album over as part of In The City in September 2002, it's unbelievable that this is Jarcrew's first ever headline tour.
Kelson: It does seem ages. When you first start off I think you have to just go out there and support whoever you can and see what bands are playing, but it gets to that point I guess where it becomes very worrying because if you keep supporting you're just going to be known as a the support band. I know loads of bands that are deemed as a support band now and we thought we'd just put our balls on the line and see if we can pull people in.
Q: You guys are on the more leftfield side of the Welsh Scene. If we've got Lostprophets and Funeral For A Friend in one camp, then it's you guys and McLusky (ED: Not really Welsh, but adopted Welsh boys) on the other side isn't it?
Rod: I think the only Welsh band that we like is Super Furry Animals who are a bit more weirder than the other bands.
Q: In Cardiff isn't the music scene purely based around Nu-Metal and anything else is pushed aside?
Kelson: Yeah, I know man. Where we live there's no music scene passe...people don't go to gigs. The only gigs that they do go to are covers bands in local pubs. But when we went to Swansea the majority of people went to see music, but the same genre of music. Even if people are going to Nu-Metal gigs, at least they're going to gigs - it's better than robbing old grannies!!!
Q: What is the town you live in like, is it just the typical image of a provincial town?
Kelson: It's just your typical valley town. It used to be a mining town and just has a post office, a Spar, loads of pubs, the basics like your Woolworths and your Tesco's...and strangely enough a golf course. We never took up golf cos if we would have it might have been very different, we could have been the first professional Welsh Golf players.
Q: Where does your sound come from. Partly electro, partly punk, but still avoiding the cliched London tags of electro-punk?
Kelson: We like really weird shit so it's not just music that has influenced us. We transfer it over the only way we can into music. It doesn't sound that weird to us, but to outsiders they may consider it.
Rod: It's more space rock than anything, just like spaced out sounds that are normally used in dub music and then put in a rock context. I think where we live and come from is a big influence. Just being in the middle of nowhere. A band that live in the city will be a bit more clued up, whereas were a bit more like country bumpkins...
Kelson: ...I think it's made us work a little bit harder as well. I guess my vision is if there was a band in the city, they'd take rejection really bad at first but because there's so many options in the city other than being in a band that they could take that rejection and go wherever else they wanted to go. With us and the lack of jobs the only thing you can pretty much do is to play in a band. There's not much choice really. Were in the middle of Cardiff and Swansea and it's just in the sticks where people are still trying to figure out life.
Q: Did you grow up with that Manic's mentality? I.e Everything in Blackwood is a pile of rubble and shit?
Kelson: We were like that, kind of negative about it at first and we just wanted to get away from it and stuff. But if we didn't live there and take everything in around us, we wouldn't be who we are now. So as much as we could slag it off, without there we wouldn't be the people and there wouldn't do the music that we do, so it's got it's pro's and cons. We go to the City and the big town like London and that's just as shit, London is full of shit!!!
Q: The album has just been re-released recently, it's kind of weird but this all feels like deja-vu to us?
Kelson: It's bizarre man. We got signed by a record label who liked the album, but didn't feel like it got enough distribution first time round and thought for what it was it could have been a bit better sonically and stuff. When we recorded it, it was done very cheap and we just went in every day for a week and recorded it so they basically gave us a load of money to go in and remaster and remix it. It's just really a stop gap between the 1st and new album were gonna do rather than there just be nothing.
Q: How do you keep the energy up after doing the same songs for so long?
Kelson: There's nothing like playing live even if there's two people in. The first gig we ever played there was no one there. We organized it ourselves, thought it was going to be huge naive boys we are and showed up and played it and no-one came. 3 people turned up half way through our set so we played our set again. We've always enjoyed playing regardless of whether we play the same songs, but it does get to the points where you're setting yourself no fresh challenges and you just want to get out and play something new.
Q: In Wales there's the whole thing about doing Welsh Language albums where overnight you can come a superstar just for singing in Welsh. You never wanted to do that?
Rod: A lot of people used to tell us that. It was like "Do a song in Welsh, you'll get shit loads of money and all the Welsh TV will back you" but there's only one of us who speaks Welsh so it's a bit of shame. I guess we could always do a instrumental and call it something Welsh.
Q: So how far advanced is the next album? Can we expect it soon?
Kelson: The idea is we just crack open our heads with ideas and get it recorded soon. I think the whole idea is we'll do the album and then do the festivals so I think realistically the album needs to be out in May or something. It's a bit heavy cos we haven't written one song yet, but I think that's a good thing cos we don't normally work against pressure. We normally just take it in our own stride and this time it will be like one of those homework things where you leave it to the last moment and do it all the night before.
I think the criticism of the first album was that because they'd seen us live they thought the album would be the same. But we didn't really want to go into the studio and do what we do live, it just seemed what's the point. You've got the album and then the live shows. We know we can do a better album this time, we've just got to get it written now.
The album "Jarcrew" is out now on Gut Records
The band are currently recording their second album
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