It’s been quite a year for Mystery Jets. Having moved to Austin to record their fourth studio album last October, they returned to the UK earlier this year with the realisation that bassist Kai Fish had taken more than a step back from the band (he was later to depart). Over the past seven years the Londoners have evolved from being an electro-pop band who charmed us with their multi coloured shirts and eclectic lyrics, before changing course and endearing us with the more refined and stylised Serotonin in 2010.
New album Radlands is due for release on April 27th, the band’s first concept record. It has allowed them to mature as song writers, as they have stripped down their sound; removing the heavy synth sound of their previous record, and instead concentrating on crafting songs as opposed to hit singles.
It also marks the start of a new era for the band with a new line-up (due in Dublin for the Camden Crawl Festival in May) as Matt Parks comes in on pedal steel and Peter Cochrane takes over on bass guitar for Kai, resulting in a fresher sound and what appears to be a more relaxed demeanour. Gone is the media swagger and instead you get a real sense of pride for this album, as guitarist Will Rees displays when he describes how much they enjoyed crafting the new album in Texas.
“It was a great experience as we rented a house and set up a mini studio in the sitting room with loads of old rented equipment, amplifiers and microphones and recorded our new album. I really enjoyed doing it in a place which is your home as opposed to a recording studio because you feel like there are no time constraints, no rules and no one watching over you. For us it was a much more structured approach to recording”.
Did recording in the US influence Radlands?
“Yes, I think it influenced it in a big way as it helped us to relax with the song writing and not feel like we had to try and write singles. It gave us the space to develop and unravel the music”.
How would you describe the sound?
“It captures lots of different types of country, country rock, and rootsie style of American music, as, at the time we were listening to a great deal of Crosby, Stills and Nash and Neil Young. One of the big ways this album is different is that there are not any synthesizers on it. Serotonin pretty much had synthesizers on every song, but we completely abandoned them this time and made a record that really just has vocals, electric and acoustic guitar. We wanted to make a pop record. We were very interested in ‘70s rock music at the point and it had similar ambitions to Electric Light Orchestra, Supertramp or Fleetwood Mac. With the new record we wanted to do something that was much more naked and we were not trying to cover different sounds. Writing and recording in America allowed us to present the band in its rawest form”.
What has the crowd’s reaction been to the new songs during your UK Tour?
“I think the new album is something that people will be deliberating a little bit about and getting to know. It is not quite as immediate as our previous records, but saying that people seem to really like it. They have been dancing along to some of the songs and listening to some of the quieter album tracks. It is always difficult at this point when the album is not out yet as people do not know it and they do not know what to expect so it is always a bit frightening for us playing new stuff.”
Any favourite tracks yet?
At the moment I like playing the album’s title track Radland as it is quite a solid piece of music. It starts out very quietly before building and growing into this powerful chorus. I really enjoy that one as it always wakes me up and makes me want to play. However it does tend to change depending on how well they go down.
How have you found the transition of touring without Kai?
“Weirdly it has been a very smooth transition, the playing side of it anyways. It was scarier for everyone at the start of the year when we realised that Kai was not going to be involved in it, because Kai was irreplaceable. There is no one that can do what he does in that way. So we all freaked out basically but thankfully we have met some good people who can really play and believe in the record”.
All good in the Mystery Jets’ camp then?
“It feels like this is a new chapter for the band, as it is such a different sounding album for us. The new blood in the band gives us a whole new chemistry and I do not think we can be compared to what we were doing a year ago, as we now look and sound so different”.
Mystery Jets play the Camden Crawl Dublin on Saturday 12th May, venue to be announced on the day. Tickets are on sale now priced €40 for the weekend, €25 per day.