RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW MANCHESTER BAND JIJ
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
Thanks for having us! You’ve covered a lot of friends of ours and some of our favourite bands like Sinclair and The Feral Kings so we’re excited to join the club!
Introduce us you / all to the members and your musical history.
James (Lead Vocals / Guitar) = I was aged 11 when I first picked up the guitar, from starting right-handed, to playing it upside down and then finding my rhythm with a left-handed guitar. I was a shy kid and that solitude allowed me the greatest depths to dive into this new adventure, and it was the the bible of many classic rock bands that filled the halls of my home are what refined and shaped my identity to this day, with a year of intensely studying Slash’s guitar playing that led me to the player I am today. It’s hard finding bandmates in a school where people were only ever interested in becoming the next Arctic Monkeys or Bring Me The Horizon when you want to be Aerosmith. But alas, as every musician knows, it’s a long and winding road to becoming comfortable in your own skin and in many ways I still regularly feel like that journey has only just begun. Many years have passed, with many attempts to find the gang of warriors that will travel the world and spread a unified message of Rock, which brings me to where I am today with JiJ.
Chris (Guitar) = I always wanted to learn guitar as a kid but missed out on learning in school because it was first come first serve, so naturally I ended up on the cornet instead! It wasn’t until my mate got a guitar in Uni where I thought “yeah I want to do that!”. I got a guitar and started having lessons and it a sparked my passion for guitar which has stayed with me ever since. I went back to college to study music and that’s where I started performing live in bands for the first time and caught the gigging bug! Music was always around when I was growing up, my dad would have Iron Maiden and Motorhead playing through his headphones so loud I could hear it from across the room! My mums iPod consisted of Linkin Park, Korn, Slipknot and Shania Twain, so needless to say being into rock and metal was inevitable!
Liam (Bass) = I’m Liam, I play bass and do backing vocals, and I also do most of the graphical stuff (website, socials posters and artwork) myself. I developed a love for music and the idea of making my own music when I was a kid, but I didn’t get a lesson on bass until 2003 in secondary school. I formed a band, but in school you never really get any further than assemblies. I took a hiatus in 2008ish because I couldn’t see it going anywhere and went down the avenue of amateur production with some electronic chillout music. I didn’t pick up a bass again until around 2017 when I was approached by Chris to play for JiJ. I’ve since rediscovered my abilities and have also worked on trying to teach myself some elements of instrument production which I haven’t done much of before.
John (Drums) = I first starting my journey as a musician when I was 13, when I got my first drum kit. Not long after that I wanted to start writing my own music, so armed with a copy of FL Studio I made my first forays into song writing, however my initial compositions were predictably rubbish. I’d publish these songs online and with each one I’d learn something new. During this time I played drums in a few short-lived musical projects at school, but I eventually formed a band which I played guitar in for a couple of years, for which I produced my first full length album. Whereas I am now back playing drums in JiJ, it’s that journey that has laid the foundation for me as a music producer, musician and songwriter for JiJ.
Name me your 3 favourite Albums?
James = Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction, Alice In Chains – Dirt and Def Leppard – Hysteria. 3 classic records that are just hit after hit, musically exciting and I can find new layers of appreciation after each listen.
Liam = System Of A Down – Toxicity, Incubus – Make Yourself and RATM’s debut basically cemented my love for heavy rock when I discovered them.
John = TesseracT are my favourite band, I could really put any of their albums here but if I had to pick one it would be Sonder, Dave Grohl has probably had the biggest impact on me musically, notably Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. And one album which has had a huge impact on me personally is Twenty One Pilots – Trench.
Chris = Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory, Iron Maiden – Book Of Souls, Slash & Myles Kennedy – World On Fire
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
James = The Memory Remains by Metallica is a really early childhood memory for me, I used to sit and watch whatever concert DVD my dad would put on while he did the weekend work when I was 4 or 5, in this case the S&M show with the Orchestra. It was such a hit of adrenaline that I’d never really experienced before at that age and this dark and edgy riff combined with the haunting vocals that Marianne Faithfull provides in the bridge was such a wild mix of emotions that was far more appealing than any other thing I’d heard up until that point. It was a life goal completed when I got to hear Metallica play it live and to this day, I still really want to be James Hetfield.
Liam = My first CD was Nickelback’s ‘Silver Side Up’. My parents bought it for me as a birthday present, and it formed that desire within me to search for more music. It’s led me to lots of different paths since, including prog metal and post-hardcore.
Chris = I remember listening to One Step Closer by Linkin Park on Kerrang! for the first time and it was an absolute game changer. The nu metal scene was lightning in a bottle and was the catalyst to becoming obsessed with music of many different genres!
John = In terms of being a fan of rock music, it was Good Charlotte’s The Young and the Hopeless that got me started. Although it terms of playing music, it was Dave Grohl’s performance on No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age that convinced me I wanted to start playing drums, the energy in the drums on that track really resonated with me. Following hearing that song, I annoyed my parents about it enough to buy me a drum kit, and now here we are!
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
Perspective can be quite a complex outlook to consider at the best of times, we started this band before COVID, and we’ve had to fight our trials and tribulations like any other act does, many bands we were friends with didn’t even make it through the pandemic. It’s also taken a lot longer to record music, which has all meant we’ve got to know each other a lot more and become tighter not only as a musical unit but as a brotherhood, that only the way being in a band can provide. We understand as a small independent band how tough it is to break through, but we just love writing and playing music together which is the most important thing for us, and wherever it takes us we’re just enjoying the journey.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
We need to look out for each other. Too many people have the attitude of “well if I’m having a good time, I don’t care what other people think” but Live Music is a sanctuary for all, and Sanctuaries are inclusive by nature. Now more than ever people need the escape of live music, and we should remember that we’re all human and everyone needs that 1 and half hours outside of normal life to be themselves so we shouldn’t be selfish enough to take away each other’s right to relax. I feel with rock and metal music in particular there is strong community vibe, more than other genres, and anyone at gigs who look to endanger women, or anyone really, do not belong in that community and need to be removed entirely.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
It’s all about experimentation and fearlessness. Very few people get it right first time, so you have to be open to new ways. At the end of the day, you just need to catch someone’s eye and then it’s a victory.
But be fearless and take pride in your work. Don’t be afraid to post a little too much on Facebook every now and again. If you have something you’re proud about and you want the world to know, tell them! If you have confidence, you have it all.
What’s your thought on Spotify monopoly on the music industry?
Streaming is a tool and Spotify has helped us to discover so many new favorite bands and while CD’s and the like will never truly go away, we’ve bought so many albums off the back of a quick Spotify listen. It has also made it much easier for independent artists to get their music out there, without the need for a label backing them.
However, this has meant there is an increased perception that music is a service that should be provided, and the time, money and passion that musicians put into their work does not always get fully appreciated. Times must change, and now that streaming is the norm, this dedication to our craft should be more fairly rewarded by streaming services. We hear a lot from large artists complaining about this issue, but it’s the smallest artists that are hit hardest, meaning the ability for artists to bridge the gap between music being a hobby or a profession will only keep getting harder. Music is now worth less than a cup of coffee according to artist royalty rates for top streaming services and yet the satisfaction lasts a lot longer from hearing your favourite band than any caffeine hit ever will.
While Underground Music will never truly die, hard work will always be rewarded and rock bands live to be the underdog, the door to the next Stadium filling Foo Fighters-type band will be incredibly difficult to open.
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
We’re not alone out there, but we are definitely not ready to experience the cataclysmic change that aliens visiting earth would have on our civilisation while we are all still killing eachother.
Also the Royal Family are all lizards.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Lots of guitar pedals and video games.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Early in the band’s history we would be happy to accept any gig offers that came our way, but promoters would often book us with bands that don’t sound at all like us. The reaction can be so polarising, at first it can be really funny being the band that plays a Motorhead cover to a crowd of people there to see someone who sounds like The 1975, but that wears off fast and quickly gets demoralizing. We learned that lesson pretty quickly.
Also have you ever tried to do a gig when you’ve lost your voice? Don’t.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about?
James doesn’t eat meat, Liam has 2 children, Chris isn’t actually from Yorkshire and John isn’t actually a farmer.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
Our goal is to take an arena rock show and bring it to any size stage. We are bombastic and energetic, we hit you with everything that we’ve got, be it our sledgehammer riffs or thundering rhythm section. We bounce off the walls as we’re so energetic. While we don’t quite have the money for fancy lights and pyro just yet, we are the show.
But above all else we’re here to make you have a good time and to get you singing along, because listening to a room full of people singing together is one of the best feelings in the world that we wish you could bottle up.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
We’re releasing a new album on Friday 30th June called The Dying Light and it’s going to be available everywhere as well as via CD. It’s our 2nd record and our first record with John and it feels like a level up from our first outing. It’s a dream to be a band where all 4 people have creative identities and it feels like we’ve been able to stretch the borders of our sound and expand into something new with real ease and with an even stronger sense of identity than the first one.
‘Dying Of The Light’, ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Rise’ are all out now and really show off multiple sides of our personality, yet it feels nice to have an album where any song could truly be a single and have not even all of our styles represented in our choices.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
Our goal in life is to be diverse. We love Aerosmith as much as we love Karnivool; we love Gojira as much as we love Oasis. There is nothing to stop us from writing a blues rock song one day, writing a Nickelback rip-off the next and then becoming Metallica afterward.
There is only two rules though: That we can be as adventurous as we want to be and that it still has to be catchy enough to singalong too.
While that diversity has been really well represented on TheDying Light, it only goes to further extremes in our growing demo pile which we all can’t wait to dive back into very soon.
What was the recording process like?
John, our drummer, produced, mixed, mastered and engineered the entire thing digitally and it was the first time that the other 3 of us really had any experience with that side of the recording world as we did our first record at Silver Lining Studios with Owen Alec Ashworth.
It was a learning experience as COVID-19 accelerated the need for us to all get home recording equipment that we needed to learn how to use before we even got to learn how to record and properly produce ourselves before sending it to John, which as you can imagine wasn’t always so smooth for some of us beginners.
As the pandemic winded down Chris got into a nasty accident that meant he had to have surgery on his leg which left us set back even further while he recovered.
Some songs have a shelf life and once you pass them, you rarely will ever approach them with the same enthusiasm. But as we stuck with these songs, they only grew on us further and we feel more and more pride with this body of work.
As Noel Gallagher once said, the best songs already exist out there somewhere and you just have to catch them. It’s always a wonderful thing as an artist to be able to look at a song like that full of pride and question how it ever truly became yours.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
The biggest lessons have been communication and patience. Life will find a way and anything worth sticking at will always present its reward at the end. We’ve only refined our dynamic further as a band in the same way a football team would and at the end of the day, some things matter and some things just aren’t worth losing sleep over.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
It doesn’t feel like anything is missing, we’ve sat with these songs long enough to know how to complete them and we can take pride over this body of work. Recording music is essentially a time capsule of where you were as a musician at that point, and we don’t want to change that.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Thank you for reading and we hope you love The Dying Light as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. You can find everything about us at www.linktr.ee/jijmcr and hope to see you at a show!