[Interview] Jakob

Jakob, this amazing three-piece from Napier who delivers astonishing and powerful soundscapes since 1998, has given a chat to Les Papillons Derrière La Lune before their Wellington show at San Fran.

Jakob

After the soundcheck to prepare another unforgettable show at San Fran (Wellington), Jeff Boyle (guitars) – and a brief appearance from Maurice Beckett (bass) – spent time with us for a relax and really interesting chat where some exciting news will please all the fans of this fabulous international post rock band.

  • Jakob, it’s nearly 18 years of adventure. Would you try to summarize its history briefly?

Jeff: Well, we all met when we were skateboarding, sort of early teenagers, and we used to skateboard in a little skate park. So we skated together and we all shared common musical influences, you know. Well, kind of. Everyone liked different stuff but you still have common grounds there. And then, later on, when we were teens, we got a band together and we should be playing Tool’s covers and Helmet’s covers and stuff like that. Then we decided to have a break for a while and then back together around 1997-1998 and started doing what we’re doing now with Jakob. It’s pretty much that. And from there, we’ve been together for a couple of months, we’re just jamming on some ideas and it was all about keep it instrumental, not preconsive, you know. We tried to do something really natural and organic. Then, our friend Dave Holmes just inherited a studio, his father’s studio and he needed to know how to use it so basically he used us as guinea pigs! Then we decided to record these jams we had at the time which became our first EP and it was quite successful, we got a bunch of rewards. So we were “oh, maybe we got something here. Maybe we should keep going, you know!”.

  • From your first self-titled EP in 1999 till your last full album, Sines, which was released two years ago, we are submerged by magical soundscapes full of intensity. How do you see the evolution of your sound through these two decades?

Jeff: I think, if you listen to our first EP it’s quite raw, really really raw more heavy, I suppose. More heavy, sort of punky oriented maybe, especially me and Maurice we were listening more Godflesh and that kind of stuff back in those days, more raw, more brutal, I suppose. I think, over the albums there’s more refinement going on, I think we’re each other trying to push a bit more further what we can do with our instruments which is not easy because, you know, you can quite easily exhausted. So you always try and discover and find new ways of doing it. I think we’ve done it over the albums, maybe, hopefully!

  • By the way, your music could make an amazing and powerful soundtrack. Would you like to be involved in this kind of project?

Jeff: I’ve always wanted to do that! So many people said that to us, “you guys must be on movies”, and our music has been used for TV and couple of movies but nothing really major so far. But who knows! Hopefully, one day we could record something for it. We’ve got pretty wide taste in movies, as well. I think, something good would be nice! A really good movie! (laugh)

Les Pap’s: Yeah, because a soundtrack for a bad movie is not a good promotion, for sure!

Jeff: Wouldn’t be cool, man! (laugh)
Nice Day For An Earthquake was on a really great movie actually. I’ll try to remember the name but… ah! it’s out of my head. Oh man, I can’t remember! But yeah, it’s a pretty cool movie. A short film about a guy who got a kind of terminal illness and he goes over to France and meet a beautiful French girl. Yeah, a really interesting adventure and the director really wanted to use Nice Day For An Earthquake as the centre piece for the movie, which is really cool.

  • While many New Zealand bands choose to move to Auckland or even overseas, you, you’ve decided to stay in Napier, your hometown. I don’t know if it’s one of the reasons, but we still can feel lots of intesity and authenticity in your sound, which isn’t the case with artists moving away. What do you think about it?

Jeff: Oh, I mean it was intentional, we had few opportunities to move overseas when we first started sort of getting a international recognition but we decided to stay because it was home and by the time we did Solace which was the album really put us to the international, Jason had his first child and basically that decision we were staying here with our children. I had my first child not too long after that as well so we made the decision, a pretty conscious decision, back then. The world is shrinking because of the Internet, the world is much smaller especially for a musician, for a band and so, you know, we do what we can where we are and it seems we’ve done pretty well. We get up to Europe very often, we’re doing it twice in two years so you know it’s not a big thing. It’s no needs to move to London or L.A..

  • As a warm up before your European tour next month, you’re doing only two shows, in Wellington tonight and Auckland next week, which is really frustrating for your South Island fans. Have you planned to do a new Kiwi tour later on this year?

Jeff: Actually, we are thinking about doing a quite extented New Zealand tour later on. Not when we first get back. I think we’ll have a break, we’re working on some new songs and then release an EP, maybe…

Les Pap’s: That the next question!

Jeff: Oh! I’ll wait for that one, then! Just scratched that out! (laugh)
So yeah,  we’re attending on doing a small… oh no no, sorry! a more elaborate New Zealand tour later on the year. There’s been few new cities that we missed out for the last few years just because it hasn’t been convinient I suppose. Places like Hamilton, Palmerston North, Nelson but I think maybe later on the year, we’ll probably do a bigger tour.

  • So for know, you’re going to turn in Europe. A very intense tour during one month across many countries. How different the public is there compare to New Zealand where people are very friendly and supportive?

Jeff: The thing is, we don’t see anything but the really supportive side because we only walk into town, play a show and then go. We don’t really see the unsupportive side as if we were living there, you see what I mean? And because we’ve got an okay support base in most of Europe now after 18 years, we’re going to Berlin, we’re going to Warsaw, we’re going to London, we get massive amount of support.

Les Pap’s: I remember your show, last year in London, was sold out, it was very crowdy.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah! It’s how are most of our shows. We played in Warsaw, in Poland, it was amazing! People really really loved it. You can see they’re really passionate and there is a song, the last song of Solace called Saint and we were getting ask by the people just “please, please, can you play Saint” and you can see the people’s happiness, you see what I mean. They’re finally, after all these years, listening to the song they love in live, it’s incredible. It’s an amazing feeling.

  • Eastern Europe seems to be a good base for post rock/post metal music – artists and fans – but as well in New Zealand where there are plenty of very good bands such as Kerretta, Into Orbit, Triumphs, just for example. How do you see instrumental scene in New Zealand?

Jeff: Yeah, it’s interesting, there’s been a lot of bands come and go as well, there’s been some really great band Sora Shima from Hamilton, the guys are still around but they’re not doing it anymore, not too sure, they’re a great post rock band. It seems to be always some great instrumental post rock, slash/post rock band in New Zealand but it’s hard, big time, especially if you’re instrumental you really need some determination to last for for a long time but yeah, I’m always pretty happy with amazing bands being created in New Zealand. It’s such a small population with a high percentage of great musicians.

Les Pap’s: There must be something in New Zealand!

Jeff: Yeah! Maybe something in the water, I don’t know! (laugh)

  • In the past, before their split, you played alongside ISIS. Would you like to do a new worldwide tour as support act for an international band?

Jeff: Absolutely, yeah! We had lots of fun with those guys and we became really good friends. We played with some other really great bands like a really amazing French band called Kill The Thrill, incredible guys, an amazing band. And other bands like The Austerity Program or Tombs, some really great bands we used to play with. So doing that kind of thing is really high on our list. I think ever since the last tour that we did with ISIS, we’ve played a few shows with Tool which was another step up, we were playing in stadiums, you know. We grew up playing Tool’s covers in the high school band, you know, so to end up being asked to play with them personaly was like the dream comes true, it’s amazing! And again they’re great guys. We became mates with them and hanging with them when we were on tour which is an amazing experience, you know. But I think since then we worked on Sines and since we’ve released Sines, it’s been focusing on promoting the album and doing our own headlining tour. It will be our second Europe headlining tour next month but I mean we are playing at Roadburn festival in Tilburg with Neurosis, they picked us to play with them on the last night. But you know, who knows? it would be really nice to go on tour with them at some stage. And if it’s the case, I’d love to do again. Absolutely!

  • After your European tour, are you going back on the writing and recording process for a next project?

Jeff: Yeah, we were working on a new song just a couple of days ago which is actually really cool, it’s great. But we’re definitely planning on writing some new stuff and recording after we get back from Europe that’s pretty much what our big plan is. We’re trying at least to put a few songs together and maybe release an EP later on the year. Maybe! See how it goes, you know!

  • You got as well few side projects. What can you tell us about them?

Jeff: Yeah! These guys (pointing Maurice who was arriving) got a project called Without Borders and Maurice can tell you about it!

Maurice: Sophie! Nice to meet you. Hum, what was the question?

Maurice: Well it’sanother three pieces again, I think we tend to gravitate toward three pieces for some reason, it’s lots easier. But it’s lot more straight forward, rock’n’roll. And my partner, she plays guitar and sings.

  • And you, Jeff, any projects at the moment?

Jeff: Yeah, I’m trying to get like a kind of solo project together. I’ve got lots bunch of ideas.

  • While ago, you did something with Hamish Walker from Kerretta…

Jeff: Oh yeah, Mean. We did an album with Hamish Walker from Kerretta, there was long, long time ago. But I’ve done some work with Rhian Sheehan. I’ve worked with him on his last 2 albums and plan on writing a new one with him and his wife Raashi Sheehan. I think we’re gonna do something else pretty soon, he’s got a bunch of ideas that he’s going to show me, so maybe we’ll do something as well. But I really want to bring together these ideas that I have since like around 2003, so a long, long ago, everything till the other day. It’s a really eclectic stuff, really really different stuff. Nothing remind me of what we do with Jakob. Yeah hopefully I’ll have some times. Maybe!

  • Do those projects have any influence at some level on Jakob sound?

Jeff: I think our sound’s evolving all the time from what we’re doing outside Jakob, you know. I don’t think Jakob’s influences are necessarily just musical, the way we approach it changes a little bit as well, maybe. So yeah, of course, when you start doing other things, you learn new skills or you learn a new way of working. So yeah, of course, it does! (laugh)

  • So you’re playing at San Fran once again. Are we going to discover a new material tonight?

Jeff: Uh…. no no! I was really hoping we get something together for these shows but not quite unfortunately. Sorry!

Thanks a lot for this chat!

****

To our European readers, Jakob will be playing around Europe in April/May. Do not miss them!

Jakob

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