Scotland’s best export in years, We Were Promised Jetpacks, return to Colorado
:: We Were Promised Jetpacks::
By Dan Rutherford
The music industry’s outspoken critics seem unified in the complaint that “Paying your dues and following the ‘old rules’ no longer breaks a new artist.” Well, if that is indeed the case, someone forgot to send the memo to We Were Promised Jetpacks, arguably Scotland’s hottest music export in the last year.
From their origins and how they were signed to their highly acclaimed debut record, they have proven that in an age of defying the status quo, the antiquated proven path can still be fruitful.
Touted by many as the bright spot of 2009’s Monolith Festival, the band is currently zigzagging the U.S. on their first headlining tour, and took a few minutes with The Marquee to chat about their expectation
We Were Promised Jetpacks started performing in the comfortable confines of their high school’s “battle of the bands” competition nearly seven years ago but never saw a potential career path, as band member Michael Palmer put it. “Some years later we realized that it was possible that we could do it for a job, so we started trying a bit harder,” he said.
Fast-forward through the band’s move to Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, and continued refinement of their sound to the day when a staff member of Fat Cat Records came across the band’s myspace page and instantly saw promise. Soon after, We Were Promised Jetpacks became the third steed in Fat Cat’s growing indie rock stable.
Wasting no time, the label packaged the band on a North American tour with labelmates Frightened Rabbit, giving U.S. audiences their first taste of We Were Promised Jet Pack’s pulsing sound. The tour also served as school for the new band, with Fat Cat teaching their newest signee what it takes to tour the often overwhelming U.S. market. “The biggest problem, I suppose, is the length of the tour. It doesn’t make sense not to go the whole way around,” said Palmer. “It’s great and we’re not complaining. But home can seem pretty far away some days.”
By the time the band’s debut full-length These Four Walls was available, many were already familiar with the band and several of the album’s eleven tracks. The re-recorded material and the new tracks gracefully mash the proven and uber-successful sounds of Franz Ferdinand-esqe post punk, Belle & Sebastian during softer moments, and never escape the pop sensibilities of early U2. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise, We Were Promised Jetpacks are a pop band and These Four Walls is unquestionably a pop record, and a very good one at that.
The foundation of this winning formula is the anthemic lyrics from vocalist Adam Thompson coupled with his heartfelt delivery and trademark Scottish drawl, as well as the band’s machine-like rhythm section.
These constants send listeners on a sonic rollercoaster with Thompson and crew as the ride’s architects. Repetitive play of their first single “Quiet Little Voices” and album-opener “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” will leave listeners frantic. The momentary chaos can only be likened to the drunken late-night dance parties that unfold after the bars have closed and you’re not ready to call it a night. While on the opposite end of the spectrum, the instrumentation on songs like “Conductor” slice at your heartstrings with razor-sharp precision, drudging up those temporary moments of rage that fuel cutting up all memories of past lovers and realizing your mistakes just seconds later.
Whether these emotional tugs-of-war are concocted or drawn out of the band’s own personal demons is irrelevant because they helped fuel the album’s success, seeing it land on Billboard’s Heat Seeker Chart and listed on countless “Best of 2009” reviews.
With a growing fanbase in America, WWPJ may have found a better home for their music here, across the Atlantic. When comparing the band’s shows in the UK to those stateside, Palmer referred to their shows outside of their hometown and London as “pretty small, actually… nobody pretty much cares. We get far more in terms of attendance over here than we do at home.”
If recent soldout shows at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom do not confirm the fact they’ve hooked U.S. fans then nothing can. To capitalize on this success, Palmer pointed out, “We did a new EP that you can buy at our shows on this tour. It’ll be downloadable soon, for those who can’t make it along too. We’re pretty excited about it.”
Those who were lucky enough to catch WWPJ’s Colorado performance last summer will undoubtedly agree with Palmer’s description of their show as “something heartfelt and loud as fuck,” which is reason enough to attend their show. But do not sleep on this opportunity as it could be your last, at least for the short-term. “We have no plans past the summer. We’re hoping to do some writing, so everything will have to be worked around that,” Palmer said.
:: We Were Promised Jetpacks::
:: hi-dive :: March 6 ::
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• Frightened Rabbit
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