London based band, Mystery Jets, have been delighting listeners since 2003. The band is composed of Blaine Harrison (vocals, guitar and keyboards), William Rees (guitar, vocals), Jack Flanagan (bass) and Kapil Trivedi (drums). The band has been roaming the music scene for nearly 15 years, and has been steadily growing its fan base album after album. Throughout the band’s discography you can see their sound diversify, mature, and evolve while still maintaining their quintessentially youthful vibe. We recently had the opportunity to talk to Mystery Jets frontman Blaine Harrison. Check it out.
Rapid Fire Questions
1. Favorite Ninja Turtle?
The first turtles movie was mine and William’s favourite film growing up. He was a Donatello guy and I was Rafael all the way. His character had a dimension to it in that first movie that set him apart. He had a certain sadness about him, comunicated very poetically in a way that is uncommon in kids movies.
2. Your go to place to eat at while on tour?
When we tour in Japan, the first thing we do straight out of the airport is hunt down the nearest Moss Burger. In LA it’s In ‘n’ Out (obviously). In new york it’s KAtz deli (although I don’t eat meat now so I just have to chill and watch the guys slop the hot salt beef into their faces). In Austin it’s homeslice. In London it’s got to be Temple of Seitan in Hackney (unreal vegan friend chicken). In Holland it’s Bagel and beans. In Italy it’s the obligatory Autogrill motorway eatery, and in france we just have to starve.
3. ( This is a secret question that only I and Mystery Jets will ever know)
4. My friend Joey once destroyed a man. Should I fear him?
No you should be especially nice to him and do whatever he asks you to do.
5. Can you please do a cover of Dancing Queen and post it on youtube?
I was actually just learning the chords to Dancing queen just the other day because I wanted to rip the chord sequence from the bridge for something. When I first moved to LDN I used to go to a club called trash every monday night and just lose my shit It was the last song of the night every week and it’s a sad song and because it’s in a minor key which set it apart from a lot of the other big disco hits of it’s day. Did you know MGMT sample it on time to pretend? Indie anecdote of the day for you there.
6. Mustaches: Rad, Dad, or Sad?
I was never a fan until I grew one last year and I surprised myself in how follically active I actually was. It put a spring in my step, it makes you feel very, very virile. That’s not something to laugh at.
7. How come every other planet has a name for each of their moons, but ours is just “the moon” ?
Pretty cool huh. And have you also noticed we gave all the other planets quicky names like ‘uranus’ and ‘pluto’ and then decided that we would just play it cool and go for ‘earth’. Well played guys.
8. Like the other planets probably make fun of us for that.
We took the timeless approach, I think it will pay off if we don’t fast forward our own extinction with nukes in the next eighteen months.
9. What would you rename the moon?
I feel like renaming anything is bad luck. Boats sink if you rename them. Imagine if the moon sank. No cheese ever again.
10. If you guys are ever in the Dallas area, can I take you out for pizza?
I’m really sorry but we’ve all got girlfriends.
Isaac Gutierrez for Born Loser.: Can you tell us a bit about Mystery Jets for those who may not be familiar with the band?
Blaine of Mystery Jets: Henry started the Jets with william and I in 1994. It was right after our ninth birthdays. Will got a black squire stratocaster and I got a beautiful pearl beverly drum kit and we played our first show on my tenth birthday in my back garden in france. We sucked.
Isaac: So I was doing some research on your hometown of Eel Pie Island, and it’s actually really cool. I’ll add a link so people can look it up. What was it like growing up there?
Blaine: It’s quite unlinke anywhere in London. It’s an island in the middle of the river thames that is only accessible by a footbridge and is populated by ship yards, boat dwellers and artists of all breeds. My dad moved there when I was in my teens and it’s really where the band put our mark on the map. We held free parties there for a period or around two years but they had gotten so big by the end that we were shut down by the council and served with a £20,000 noise abatement should we endeavour to hold another one. Had crowdfunding existed back then we would have fought to the bitter end.
Isaac: So I understand that you’ve known each other since you were pretty young. Are there any good stories that you remember from when you were kids?
Blaine: Our first UK tour was the summer of our final year at high school. We booked the shows ourselves but because we were so wet behind the ears we couldn’t guarantee any tickets so ended up playing some pretty shitty places; family grill pubs and pool bars that weren’t depending on us to get actual human beings through the doors for the most part. We had to bankroll the whole thing out of our individual savings so couldn’t afford hotels or to eat properly. We would park up for the night just on the edge of town and spread out a big ground mat in the field and sleep on that, and then in the morning would go to the supermarket and all eat our one meal of the day straight out of a shopping trolley. It sounds so primitive thinking about it now but we were happy as pigs in shit!
Isaac: What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Blaine: Initially pop, then mostly prog rock, then back to pop. Beach boys led to Beatles, which led to Floyd, which led to Crimson, which led to Gabriel, which led to Bush etc.
Isaac: Do you have any instruments that are special to you?
Blaine: My pride and joy is my 1973 Martin D41. It has the vertical Martin logo, brazilian rosewood neck and pearl inlays all round the deck. I named it Shakey after my hero Neil Young. All my guitars are special to me. If you told me my house was on fire and I could only save one, I would choose to burn with all of them.
Isaac: So I’m from Texas, and I love Texas with all my heart. I know that you guys recorded your album “Radlands” in a home recording studio near Austin. What was that experience like? Do you have any interesting stories about your time in Texas?
Blaine: Originally half the band wanted to record (the album that became Radlands) in New Orleans and the other half of the band wanted to record in LA. We eventually met in the middle and settled for Austin, bang in the middle of the two. We first came to Austin to play SXSW in about 2006 right around our first album coming out so it had always had a place in our hearts. To make Radlands we purposely flew out with only the bare essentials to force ourselves to work with instruments that were unfamiliar to us, and find sounds that were new. It’s the record I’m most proud of in a lot of ways.
Isaac: Is there a city or country that you always look forward to visiting while you’re on tour?
Blaine: I love touring mainland Europe. You wake up each day in a different country with a new culture outside your front door, a new language, new smells and new tastes to grow accustomed to each day, which is impossible obviously. Every day is new.
Isaac: Do you have a memorable onstage moment?
Blaine: I fell asleep onstage in Tokyo once. We had been gifted a very expensive bottle of Mescal by the record label and proceeded to drink the entire bottle in the break before coming back on for the encore. I was super jetlagged and must have just blacked out because all I remember hearing is a huge boom as my head smashed against the microphone and looking up to see a thousand smiling faces staring at me. I completely forgot what song we were playing and had to lip read the audience to figure out what lyrics I was meant to be singing. When I came offstage I went to the bathroom to splash water on my face when I woke up in there two hours later the entire band had left the venue and my phone screen was full of missed international calls and texts asking me if i was still alive. That was some strong shit.
Isaac: When you’re writing, do you keep your potential audience in mind, or do you just write about personal experiences knowing that it will connect to listeners?
Blaine: If the subject of a song doesn’t come from or connect with my own realm of experience I probably won’t be able to find myself in it, and I can’t inhabit it, it’s highly likely I won’t be able to communicate it to an audience in a way that allows them to lose themselves in it. It all trickles down. You just know when it’s right.
Isaac: What do you miss the most when you’re on tour?
Blaine: Nothing. I would tour the entire time if I could. It’s pure bliss. 100% escapism.
Isaac: What do you do for fun while on the road?
Blaine: For about 4 or 5 years the first thing I would do on a day off was to find the nearest zoo and go straight to the monkey enclosure and just sit with the chimps all day. It was like watching a microcosm of the human world. Cleaning each other, turning their backs on members of the group who were being punished, and throwing their own shit at them if they got angry. Isn’t it ironic that we deem entire species in the animal kingdom as being inferior in intelligence simply because we can’t understand the sounds coming out of their mouths? Makes you question who the real idiots are.
Isaac: What is something that most people wouldn’t know about you guys?
Blaine: I sold our guitarist william on ebay about 10 years ago to a middle aged super fan from Brighton. I think he went for around £90. Article below:
Mystery Jets' guitarist sold online - NME
Isaac: Who are your influences both in and outside of music?
Blaine: My favourite director is the Polish film maker Krystov Kieslovsky. His ‘three colours trilogy’ and ‘decalog’ series were a huge influece on me at a young age. Telling a narrative chronologically is rarely the most interesting or truthful way of telling a story. Life is lived in paralell in your subconcious, and more often than not, that version of events is far more interesting than the one captured by your logical mind.
Isaac: Do you have a specific moment where you realized that you wanted to pursue music?
Blaine: Yes. Playing with William and Henry in my back garden on my tenth birthday. I am constantly trying to reconnect with that feeling whenever I pick up an instrument to this day. It was my first high and you chase your first high for the rest of your life.
Isaac: What do you want to accomplish with or through your music?
Blaine:All I want is for someone to hear my song on the radio and say -
‘Ohh, I know what that guy was feeling... when he wrote that".
Sorry I had to quote The wedding singer there.
Isaac: What would you say has been the biggest obstacle in your musical career, and how have you overcome that obstacle?
Blaine: You can’t buy us and we’re probably quite hard to sell too. Bands are like chocolates. Hang around for long enough and the only ones left will be the weird nutty ones and the ones with fillings that aren’t the taste of the day. They’ve always been my favourites.
Isaac: What advice would you give people pursuing their dreams in music?
Blaine: If you want to make money and don’t mind sacrificing your dreams go into advertising.
If you want to make dreams and don’t mind sacrificing money go into music.
Isaac: And to wrap things up, what can we expect to see from Mystery Jets in the near future?
Blaine: There is a record on the horizon, a movie, and a big tour to go with it.
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