With guitar rock back on the rise in the UK, courtesy of Sam Fender and the timely return of the Arctic Monkeys, we speak to Jack, Henry and Tom about the music that made them, evolving as a band, tour life and getting experimental.
How did you all get into music?
JF: I got into music at a really early age and then it got serious around 13/14, from seeing my mates in bands at school wanting to join in. Me and Tom met at school and a couple of years later we met Henry. It started off with me and Tom doing bits then Henry joined then [former guitarist] George and it’s been good times ever since.
For those who haven’t heard you, how would you describe your sound?
JF: That’s always the hardest question.
TR: We’re classed as an indie band, but I wouldn’t say we’re an indie band.
HB: We end up between rocky and indie.
JF: I think our sound keeps changing because we all have different tastes and pull from different places. No disrespect to some bands but a lot set out to sound like someone else – like The Smiths, so every song they write, they’ll want to try and make it sound like them. We don’t write a song saying ‘It’s got to sound like this’, it just happens.
So what are the different influences you pull from?
TR: When I was in primary school I was big into Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin; and then into high school it was Oasis and rock but the one band for me was the Arctic Monkeys who were coming through just as I went to high school. I wanted to drum like Matt Helders.
HB: The first band that really got me into music was the Foo Fighters but then in terms of playing style I look up to The Who the most.
JF: In the house, it was always The Verve, The Jam, Stereophonics. David Gray as well, some of his tracks are so experimental, like some of the instruments I’ve never heard on anything else.
If people go and see you live, they’ll see you don’t do any covers which is pretty rare for an up-and-coming band. Why is that? (I’ve seen you play for 45 minutes and do all original material).
TR: That was a self-indulgent set that night.
JF: We’ve never done a covers set, even at the beginning. You want to stick to your guns rather than always doing someone else’s material. The only cover we really do is ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’ and that sort of came from nowhere. It’s a good tune and not many bands do it either cause it’s seen as cheesy but it really gets the crowd going.
Can you talk a little bit about your songwriting process?
JF: Most of the time I start writing the songs with an acoustic guitar. I usually get the melody first on a guitar or piano, then get the lads to listen to it and we adapt and see where we can go with it. There’s a lot of improvisation involved, I’ll start playing and the lads will jump in, and we’ll see where we go. We’ll play a lot before we take the song into the studio and often it’ll change a lot. We could have a song we’ll be playing live and by the time we release it it’ll sound completely different.
I usually write the hook first and go from there but honestly we have so many different styles we want to apply but never have the time in our sets. Like we have the songs you can listen to in Spotify but then new stuff we have coming up is very piano driven and it’s going to sound so different but it’s just having the time to get it into sets.
I’m really looking forward to people hearing the new stuff ‘cause I think it’s going to really shock a lot of people. We’ve got a lot of good songs in the bank but often with a set you have to pick your best six or seven songs and it’s hard to fit these in. It can be impractical too, we’ve not got a million roadies, some of the stages are small and trying to fit a keyboard on there isn’t easy.
‘Phoenix’, your most recent single, I think is the best thing you’ve ever done. How do you feel you’re evolving as a band?
JF: To be honest, we just do what we want and don’t think about trying to please anybody else apart from ourselves. When we’re writing, we obviously hope everybody else likes it, but you’ve got to do it for you before anybody else.
TR: We’ve been doing this a good few years, the experience and maturity we’ve gained, especially with gigs, has been massive. When we first set out, it was sort of an excuse to go and have a drink and stuff whereas now it’s serious, it’s a job.
Now is a good time for indie bands, the Arctic Monkeys are coming back, Sam Fender is doing big things. How do you feel about that and your time as a band amongst that?
JF: I think it always comes back around. I think there’ll be a big surge again. I hope we’re gonna be in that mix. If you would have asked me a few years ago, I would say we’re probably not good enough to mix it up with them, but we’re just getting better and better. We’d just stop if we thought we weren’t quite up to scratch, but I personally couldn’t because it’s the only thing that gives me enjoyment and that’s what life’s about.
You had a big gig recently where you supported McFly in front of 3,000 people. What was that like?
TR: Honestly? The best moment of my life. It’s a proud moment. If we never do anything else, we’ve already achieved more than I ever thought we would. It’s something I never thought possible, especially growing up around here. It’s given us more confidence and determination because we did it, got a good response from it, and know we can do it again.
The thing with that gig as well, I got so worked up about playing in front of that many people; their fans are hardcore and I was thinking, ‘How are they going to respond to us because we’re slightly different?’ I’m not saying every single person in there loved us, but the majority were into it.
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Have you seen a difference on social media since that gig?
JF: Our streams on Spotify doubled, we have loads more followers. We actually sold out of merch that night so that was good. It was nice because we went back to Bridlington a few weeks later and there were people there purely because of that gig. I really appreciate it, they’ve listened to us, taken time out and come back.
Where do you want to be in 12 months, or two years?
JF: We just want to keep going as a band and keep getting better and doing bigger gigs. I’ve even come to a point now where, especially after lockdown, it feels like we’ve completely restarted and the music seems more mature. It’s getting better, there’s good chemistry, our gigs have been great. The last year has been insane, doing our first ever tour, 10 gigs in 10 days in a van that was smaller than what we thought.
HB: There was a chair in the van literally called ‘The Backbreaker’.
What did Kieron, your rhythm guitarist, add to the band when he joined?
JF: Definitely star stage presence because he loves showing off. He loves to speak and interact with the crowd, which is great because we usually like to crack on with the music. He’s just brought something completely different. We didn’t want to try and replace George and have just another great guitar player – that’s not to say Kieron isn’t a great guitar player, he just brings another side to it as well.
I think Kieron’s helped with the songs too because he’s predominantly a frontman as well and now he’s playing rhythm guitar. We’ve known him a long time.
And what have you got coming up soon?
JF: We’ve got a mini tour coming up, then probably next year in April, we’ve got another big tour again.
We’ve also got a single ready to go. We’re just trying to work on the video now. We’re going to take our time releasing it, compared to ‘Phoenix’, for instance; I loved it but there was no real plan into promoting it, we just released it. This time, we want to put a plan in place and some effort into getting out of there.
The Jack Fletcher Band are playing a number of venues across the country, later this month and early next, including London, Manchester and Birmingham. Click here to find out more and buy tickets.