Thursday, 23 January 2014

JAWS at Exeter Cavern 22/01/14 : Squats, Nights out with Miley and a Caterpillar cake

Cavern’s own ‘KINK’ night; wooing students and kindred alternative musical sprits sparsely scattered over the west-country wide.  ‘The Big V’ play supporting in a splay of blackened red and glitter and forcibly feisty female vocals with subtle undertones of Portishead. ‘The Boy is Easily Broken’ we are told, attempting to set the scene for a throng of violent revellers to some avail. 
Yet deep in the burrows of the venue we find the Birmingham collective JAWS nestling, somewhat wearily following an 8 song set, ‘Stay in’ ‘Toucan’ and ‘Gold’ rousing crowds to a flurry of faux-american pop liberally laced with synths. 
They gather tentatively round the ‘VIP’ broom cupboard and comparatively luxurious toilet. Spirits are high with the birthday bassist Jake beaming after a spectacle of anthemic 90s infused ‘surf-pop’ numbers, cast adrift to Devonian shores. 
Ultimately in a style wholly true to myself I decidedly squat myself next to bubbling guitarist Alex Hudson, the bleached mushroom of delight and quietly inquiring as to ‘wouldn’t you rather just stand?’ and a cautious ‘mind the fire extinguisher’. Admittedly, first impressions were of surprising chivalry. 
‘Never been to Exeter, never in my life.. it’s alright though, a good show.’ Connor Schofield the lead singer acknowledges. A ha! I note the soft lull of the black county. Synonymous with the emerging B-town alternative scene, JAWS have supported the likes of contemporaries Swim Deep and Peace though I am firmly assured prior to the gig by a man posing at the merchandise stall with a tiny fringe that JAWS are the firmly righteous successors. ‘You learn from them I mean they were our first two tours. From that aspect you’re influenced yeah but musically not so much- you learn to be a bit more of a professional.’
They themselves formed in February 2012, a consequence of attending music college and living in Birmingham and ‘jos jammin together’. The band acknowledge Soundcloud as a vital vehicle for propelling artists in a media saturated world, they themselves taking to it as a medium for opening up their audience. This is one they themselves recognize as a young base around the ages of 16 often with a limited income to splurge on an LP (let alone be old enough to have any godforsaken idea what an LP is?).
Having spent a solid five minutes explaining the pronunciation of the collective sat before me to colleagues at various intervals throughout the day (‘It’s jaws. Not jewels. JAWS. J-A-W-S’ - followed by a frankly violent movement of my lower mouth in a gestural act) naturally, I was eager to uncover the motive behind this. 
‘Couldn’t think of a name.. wrote a load of s*** names and then watched James Bond, writing all the character names down; James, Moneypenny, Bond, Man with the golden finger, and then jaws. It was a rushed decision because we had this song we wanted to put online. If we could change our name we’d be called Geach and the Three Nuts.. or Geach and the Morons?’ a unanimous appreciation for Geach and his beauteous name is shared.
The online presence and the necessity for bands to maintain an air of internet savvy-ness is one that is prevalent and also significant to the genre, the rise of social networking sites playing a major role in publicity. ‘It’s the easiest and most accessible way to stream music for anyone putting music out’ Alex chirps, 'If you're a new band it's the best thing in the world, put your songs straight onto the internet and it can instantly go viral, it's all positive..literally anyone can have a Soundcloud account’.
Light and dark, whilst JAWS have benefitted hugely from online publicity, the simultaneous rise of music piracy looms over them. 
‘It’s sorta like you’re being mugged. But we would not be in the Cavern, under the holes if people didn’t stream or illegally download our music’. This date is first on the bill for a string of UK dates we are told following several UK festivals last year (reading was ‘surreal man’ and appropriate recognition was given for the heavenly feline-meets-NASA attire as donned by Mr. Schofield)
‘They’re listening to your music and the point of making music is for it to be heard so, you’re obviously losing money but more people are hearing you. You can always make it back through gig tickets but i don’t think it’s made a massive difference. ‘nowadays accept it, don’t make a big deal out of it, embrace the public demand!’.
A topic close to the bone and one I am eager to explore, the conversation steers towards the importance of a band’s look in relation to how one listens. ‘We didn’t have press shots or pictures for I think like six months. I don’t listen to a band and think ‘Oh what haircut’s he got?’ I mean it’s sad because it actually does matter but to me it doesn’t interest me at all’. They smirk, like a gaggle of school boys as Jake remarks ‘I just wore a pair of denim shorts and a baggy teeshirt.’ followed by a nonchalant ‘yolo’.
So, it shouldn’t matter but it does. ‘I mean most of the time all One Direction are on about is Harry Styles’ So if say a band looking like One Direction made the kind of music JAWS do how would they feel about that? There is a rising ambience of voiced opinions from an ensemble that initially took me as almost introvert. Miley? Soon deemed a legend. ‘Good on a night out.’ ‘The only people what care are the f****** mums!’ ‘I kinda think she’s fit but I don’t want to admit it’  the birthday boy is swiftly named and shamed and we proceed.
Talk soon wavers back towards flamboyancy, ‘I’ve got this trippy, crazy ass jumper but it’s like skin tight because my step mum doesn't know what size I am’ and Hudson grins sheepishly. There is definitely something audibly alluring and mellifluous in hearing the phrase ‘crazy ass’ spoken in a brummy dialect. ‘but, but music IS before image’ Schofield sharply interjects, clarifying the revelation of an enjoyment of image, ‘you need to write your songs before you decided what you’re gunna wear on stage’.
Heads up for 2014? ‘A band called Green Day?’ ‘CHVRCHES, Baby Pink especially they’re our boys. Superfood are gunna be the biggest band..’ ‘SUPERFOOD ARE GUNNA HEADLINE GLASTONBURY!’. This year? I am met with an assertive ‘YES’. ‘Laced! and Drenge will get way bigger than they are already’. 
In terms of writing JAWS have finished recording the album and are provisionally set for release in late summer. Though still essentially unsigned their music is promoted through the ‘Rattlepop’ label and EPs Milkshake and GOLD are available to purchase digitally as well as in vinyl format.

special thanks to the endearing accomplice Jessica Eason - you save my bacon.