Thursday, 28 July 2011

Spotlight: Black Jash

It is probably about time I did another interview thing, isn't it?
I can never think up interesting questions, so these don't roll round all that often. I've cheated a bit this time, but we'll get back to that.

Black Jash then. Hailing from Gretna, the first I heard of them was from Vic Galloway, when he picked them when a guest on Glasgow Podcart all the way back in February 2010. An EP was promptly purchased when available (5 Track, which you can get on iTunes) and enjoyed, with a mental note made to go see them sometime. Fate has so far conspired against me on the last count though. One day, one day... There has also been split cassette releases, with Male Pattern Band and If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home By Now.

The interview? Well as i said above, I cheated. Instead of doing it myself I roped in Kate from Charles of the Ritz to interview Bob of Black Jash. What? I'm a lazy man! Here's what happened.

I got asked to interview Black Jash and I shuddered half in nervous anticipation and half in sexual delight. I thought I'd better do my research, and by keeping a weather eye to Gretna's horizon, and my ear to the drum pounding ground, I was able to throw myself into a terrifying world full of sordid games, danger and Crap Alan's. I tried to contact all the members of theJash - the two drummers and the bassist, but all were "unavailable for comments" according to Bob, the lead singer and guitarist, the dirtiest of the bunch. The monarch of the Jash. When I asked him why the others declined to speak to the press, he muttered something about how they don't speak unless he says they can. He slurred his words as if he was the bastard love child of Elvis and Sid Vicious. Live, they are the most filthy, disgusting thing I've ever seen/heard. He pummels you with insults and swinging hips, demanding to know why you even bothered to show up to see them. One of a kind and Black Jash are the band that makes masochists of us all. I bribed Bob with Irn-Bru and a twenty deck of Mayfair for some answers to my questions.

Black Jash in repose, by Mike Griffiths

A lot of your songs are about Gretna. Is it really that much of a hell hole? Does it inspire you?

It's no more of a hell hole than anywhere else, there's good and bad wherever you go. It's not easy dealing with tourists and mildly racist comments from both sides of the border though. All the Deep Fryers think we're in England or may as well be and all the Morris Dancers vent their hatred for the whole country, of which borderers have very little say in, on you. Aye we're surrounded. To my recollection there are no Gretna specifics in our songs, it's more certain types of people that everyone has where they live, and every community has a Crap Alan or Black Jash. I don't hide my Gretna accent, maybe that's causing the confusion?

Who are Black Jash's main influences?

The Stooges, I'm a fan of proper frontmen like Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, GG Allin, Lux Interior and the like. I can't be on with meek tortured souls, I want a pure throbbing phallus. I like ODB, Wu-Tang and The Beastie Boys, I think the ego rappers have, getting on a microphone and telling everyone you're on it and openly saying everyone else is worse than you, is really admirable. It's hard to master doing that and not be hated on for the idiot you're being. Have I nailed it? Some folk say so. I hate myself so you're not going to get a valid answer from me. You'll have to come check me out and decide for yourself. Please give nonviolent criticism.

Who taught you how to dance?

I know you won't believe this but I've never had a lesson! I think my styles are genetic, having seen my Dad's moves at numerous family parties I’d have to say it's not him. My Mam used to go to dance schools and my Sister's in a dance group so I think it's off the good old Fife stock that I get my moves from. Fife for Life. I've always wiggled my hips on stage but in the early days I stopped myself when I realised I was doing it. After seeing Spawny from Big Ned openly does it I thought to myself "Hey, I've got a better arse than that, let’s show the ladies the goods available". I still do wish I was Spawny though.

How do you usually decide who to do the split tapes with? Is it a case of collaboration/admiration or do you just take what you can get?

It's admiration. The 'size' of the band is a factor too. I wouldn't send a gushing email to a band already with a record deal, they have to be unsigned and to my taste. It helps if they're from a different part of the country/world too, broadens each other’s fan bases and trying to shift that many cassettes in one town is sheer idiocy. They're the ideal format for a split. One side each, nobodies 'on top' either.

What are Black Jash’s world domination plans?

The Tortoise from The Tortoise and The Hare saga is a massive inspiration. Myself, Alex and Neill went to see the 'Transatlantic Feedback' film about the Monks at Indie Cinema 'Star & Shadow' in Newcastle and it changed my mind greatly about our imminent world domination. I'd much prefer to be stumbled upon by the next generation of music fans, or the one after that. That's why we release cassettes. Someone that finds one of our cassettes and listens to it hopefully will not know what era we're from and have to do a bit of homework, type the name into Ye Olde Google, to find out what we're about. So the plan is to plod on as we are, get fed up with each other, not talk for years then get a phone call pleading for us to reunite for a one off show, back catalogue reissue box set with mouse mat and usb storage pen in the shape of a pineapple, documentary and hopefully we'll get the Black Jash lighters made we've been saying we are going to for years.

Are you as much of a dick in real life as you are on stage?


What about local bands/musicians that you like? Any that compare to the Jash?

I just realised the other day that I haven't listened too much else but music made at Green Door Studios for about a year. Nothing else gets me going. So anyone that records there I rate everything else I don't. I'd be lying if I said anything other than Black Jash is my favourite, followed closely by Charles of the Ritz, the band I drum for. (If I was reading this I'd hate me too.) Why would I be in a band... nae front a band I didn't think was awesome? I'd be wasting my time and be unhappy. I know it's not the done thing to say it but it's not the done thing to wear bodyform bandit masks and I've done that.

Did you know your bassist looks like Jim Morrison?

His hair did a few years back. He also looks like Mick Jagger, Vernon Kay, Mica and Brian Ferry, he's got one of those faces you really want to punch, wait 'til it's slightly healed then punch again and again, then pay for him to get a new one. He's actually distantly related to Brian Ferry and Neil Armstrong. I couldn't do the frontman thing without Neill to be honest though, he's my rock. I envy how effortlessly cool he is and how I always get asked, before anyone asks how I am, how he is.

How did the idea for the two drummers come about?

After we stopped playing with Liam we went through a few one off shows with drummers. Sam from Casual Sex was my favourite. Brickyard sound technician extraordinaire Nic Jay was the closest we had to a constant drummer at the time. We had a gig in Carlisle where we the only band on the bill and I thought we should make i a bit extra special. Black Manajash Arkastra was created. Black Jash and Manatees combined. The line-up was Pauley, Alex and Nic on drums with Greg Wynne on white noise guitar and Neill and I doing our usual. We sounded massive, the vibrations made drunk girls sick and drunk boys head bang. Nic moved to Newcastle and Pauley and Alex just kept coming back to practises. I'm quite insecure about their presence in the band. Manatees are proper and I don't think we can compare in any way to them. Every time I get a phone call from those guys I think 'oh no here comes the bad news'. I like the primal sound we've got now. Drums are awesome. I've always wanted to be a drummer.

How much better are Charles of the Ritz?

I like that I just have to turn up for Charles of The Ritz. I hate gig promotion and the admin side of Black Jash. Organising one drummer is bad enough but two? Getting in touch with a recluse bass player also proves difficult. The Ritz have catchier choruses and appeal to more people. I think the 'Black' in our name closes more doors than it opens. It's not my fault; I didn't name Black Jash, Black Jash. We took the name from the local 'nutter'. The guy you'd shout stuff at to get a chase off. Everyone's been part of a wee gang that does that for funsies. The best fun I had as a youth were running away from people. It's the best kind of buzz I've ever had. Honestly I'm like shit off a shovel for about a hundred yards. Shouting scathing one liners on your feet is a talent I'm glad I've honed. Growing up is such a bummer.

What's in the future for Black Jash?

General jealousy of other bands that get better support slots and releases than us. Ideally more of the same. Having fun and playing gigs we'd pay to go and see anyways.

Will you buy me a drink? I'm skint.

What are you after? I'm not asking for a Rose Spritzer, Jagerbomb or a half though. (Jim: while you are up, I'll take a Guinness...)

Thanks Kate for doing my work for me, and Bob for answering the questions.

Black Jash: Facebook

Monday, 25 July 2011

News & Bits - July 25th

Welcome back to your regular Monday dose of me babbling. Always thrilling, isn't it?

New Releases:
Be Like Pablo - Spirit of Adventure/Oh, Emily! New double A side single, available from Bandcamp.
CUR$ES - Solar Temple. Debut album from Glasgow based producer & musician Niall Morris, available as a free download from Bandcamp.
Dam Mantle - We. Available from iTunes.
Dave Hughes - Despite the Blackout. This marks the first time Dave has released something through a label, with the album out through Corporate Records. Buy it here.
Galoshins - EP1. I keep missing Galoshins at gigs through a series of events meaning I'm either too late, or something stops me going at all. EP sounds good though, and I'll catch them eventually. You can buy it from Bandcamp.
Moustache of Insanity - Lynn Lowry. First single taken from the upcoming Album of Death album (I've said album too many times now), available as a free download from Bandcamp.

T Time (Again):
If you want to revisit any of the sets from the TBreak stage at T in the Park, or if like me you want to hear what you missed, you can listen to live recordings over at Radio Magnetic. Also, the TBreak site has a free download of one song from each set.

What's On This Week?
No gig guide this week, as you may have noticed. The guide is always harder to put together when you know you'll be too skint to go to much, so I gave it a week off. Here's some quick highlights instead.
Summer Nights carries on at King Tut's, with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all standing out as having good line ups.
Pin Up Nights is on Friday at The Flying Duck. Playing live this time round are Eddy & the T-Bolts, Camino Real and Fiction Faction.
Also on Friday at The Electric Circus in Edinburgh there's I Build Collapsible Mountains, Finn Lemarinel, Debutant and Johnny Rapeseed. There's an early start for this one, with doors opening at 5pm and the music carrying on till 10:30.
Late on Saturday at Bloc, kicking off at 11pm and carrying on till 3, is the latest New Life night with Betatone Distraction, The Great I Am and Phiktion playing live.
Sunday sees Jonnie Common launch his Master of None album at The Captain's Rest, with support from The Japanese War Effort and River of Slime.

Reopen The Doors!
I've jabbered on about The Year of Open Doors a fair bit before, but here's another wee plug for it. Cargo Publishing are releasing the paperback edition of the book with new art by Aidan Moffat and an introduction from Irvine Welsh on July 27th, a year to the day from the release of the first edition. To celebrate there is a launch night at The Arches on Wednesday with readings from Alan Bissett, Anneliese Mackintosh and Taggart star Colin McCredie, along with live music from Aidan Moffat, RM Hubbert and Doug Johnstone. Tickets for the launch are £4 and available from The Arches.

Beer News:
Last week Beerjacket announced that recording had been completed on his new album, today he has mentioned that it will be titled The White Feather Trail. More details to come, but new Beerjacket is very good news in my book, so I'm already quite excited.

A Reminder:
And finally, a quick reminder that I'm hoping back on to the self promotion horse. Aye Tunes Vs Peenko 4: The Revenge is now less than four weeks away. It takes place on August 20th at Stereo, with Adam Stafford, PAWS, Miaoux Miaoux and Mondegreen making up our bill. Tell us you are coming on Facebook here and buy advance tickets here. Alternately corner me at a gig over the next few weeks and I'll be more than happy to sell you a ticket.