Tuesday, 1 May 2012

SAY Awards - We Were Promised Jetpacks - A Closer Look

It's been two weeks since The SAY Awards Long List was announced and hopefully you've been busy familiarising yourself with the unknown quantities that it threw up.  As there's also now less than two weeks until the all important public vote, and with the winner of said vote guaranteed a place on the Short List of ten albums, there's a lot at stake (£10,000 to be precise!)  As one of the 100 nominators for the SAY Awards, we were chuffed to see four of our five selections make the Long List.  And we've decided to give you the low-down on each of these four albums.

That isn't to say that the other 16 albums are not worthy of your vote or being the overall winner.  Indeed there's plenty of other worthy contenders in our eyes, and we'll come to them in due course.  We all have our favourites and these four albums happen to be mine.  That said the most important thing is to make up your own mind and you can do that over at the SAY Awards official site.

Without further ado, here's the first of our choices, 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' from We Were Promised Jetpacks.

'In The Pit Of The Stomach' is We Were Promised Jetpacks sophomore album, released on Fat Cat Records on 4th October 2011.  It was probably one of the albums I was most anticipating last year.  Opener 'Circles And Squares' has the same vibe as 'Quiet Little Voices', a favourite from debut 'These Four Walls'.  Preview track 'Act On Impulse' (which you can still download for free on the band's website) hooked my interest with its simplistic beat and showing off the band's penchant for long intros.  And the lead single 'Medicine' is as strong a song as the band have ever released.

The album continues in the same vein as debut 'These Four Walls', with Thompson's distinctive vocals often the power behind the songs.  That listeners are in tune with the brogue and gritty Scottish accent is due, in part, to the success of Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad, both of whom loom large over any Scottish indie output.  While 'These Four Walls' carried with it the vigour of youth and the raw edge of transferring songs which has long lived in live performances onto record, 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' is much more assured and confident.  'Sore Thumb' is another stand out track, reminiscent of Explosions In The Sky with it's winding and epic intro and the excellent 'Pear Tree' closes things off in spectacular style.  If 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' does anything, it shows that We Were Promised Jetpacks are here for the long haul.

Why should 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' win The SAY Award 2011?

This, ultimately, is the question that I had to ask myself when nominating the album, and one which you should ask when deciding to vote, or not vote, for it.  The answer I feel is that We Were Promised Jetpacks represent one of the biggest talents in Scotland that is likely to be marketable and popular the world over.  Can you image the next 'Biggest Band In The World' tag being attributed to these guys, and the impact that could have on the Scottish music community as a whole?  That may sound ridiculous, being that The SAY Awards are not about sales figures, and believe me I think 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' critically holds up against everything else on the list, but there is that tingling of pride at the thought.  I watched the highlights of We Were Promised Jetpacks playing Coachella and to see folk in California loving what these guys do, makes me want them to do it more, and to more people. 

Finally, if all of the above isn't enough, we caught up with the band to pose a few questions about the whole proceedings to them.  Special thanks to the guys for taking the time to answering.  Have a read below.

Hi, how are you? 

I am doing just great, thank you!

Congratulations on 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' being longlisted for The SAY Awards.  How do you view The SAY Awards as a whole?

Thank you!  It's nice to be nominated for any award let alone the Scottish Album of the Year!  We've been on tour for the past few weeks and only recently found out we were nominated so haven't actually had a chance to fully have a look at the awards but of what I understand and who is on the panel it sounds great!

Scots are notoriously self deprecating.  How important in your view is The SAY Awards in terms of highlighting the talent that spans across many genres here in Scotland?

After looking through the long list you can clearly see how different all of the albums are.  It doesn't stick to just one genre which I think would be the easy option, there are so many indie and rock bands in Scotland nowadays that you could easily pick 20 just from that genre. 

We have a tiny nation bursting with talent, yet not often do we shout about it.  Do you think a lack of a sense of self-importance helps nurture better music?

No.  I don't think that's true.  I think musicians who work hard and genuinely enjoy playing music make better music than people who just 'want to be in a band.' 

A lot of people, rightly or wrongly, don't see industry awards as a positive thing.  As musicians how affirming is it to have your work recognised with nominations and awards such as this?

As I said before, being nominated for any award is always a nice thing.  It shows that people are taking notice of what you are doing!  We don't get nominated for awards very often!

'In The Pit Of The Stomach' is of course your second album as a band, what are the resounding positive memories you have from creating this album?

Hearing Sore Thumb back for the first time was great, it turned out a lot better than we thought it would.  We never had plans for that song to make it on to the album and we recorded it with the idea of using it as a B-Side or a bonus track perhaps if it was good enough.  But after hours of trying to work out exactly how long each section was, what parts should go where it was a great feeling hearing it in it's entirety.

Take yourself out of the running, who would be your choice for The SAY Award 2011?

To be honest, there's a lot of albums on the list that I've been meaning to listen to and haven't gotten round to it yet, so I'm gonna sit on the fence for the moment and reserve judgement until I've listened to them all!  (In other words, I want us to win!)

As far as the future goes, what can we expect from We Were Promised Jetpacks?

We are currently in the latter stages of our US tour at the moment.  When we get back we will be touring Scotland (for the first time ever!)  It's strange, but we've never actually played a full tour of Scotland before, there's a lot of places we've never played before that we'll be visiting - Inverness, Dunfermline and Kilmarnock to name a few.  There's also gigs in Stirling, Coatbridge, Dundee and Aberdeen!  After that, hopefully a lot of sitting about!

Check out more from We Were Promised Jetpacks

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