Interview / Review: The Janice Graham Band On Debut Single ‘Murder’

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Over the three years since The Janice Graham Band formed in Manchester, the group has stacked up a collection of favourable reviews and write-ups, as well as receiving the thumbs-up from Manchester peers such as ex-Stone Rose Mani and Clint Boon. This recognition has been replicated on the live scene, with an acclaimed Isle Of Wight festival gig further enhancing their growing reputation.

“We are thankful to all the reviewers who write these nice things about us and we are doubly thankful to the people who keep on turning up to our gigs,” drummer Tom Scott told Live4ever in a recent interview. “The festivals we played were good to play, but I personally don’t enjoy spending sleepless nights in a tent in a field filled with strangers. Don’t know how the rest of the lads feel about that, but the receptions we get at gigs are great. We are just glad people are willing to give four scruffy, out-of-place and slightly socially inept lads the time of day.”

Since forming, rehearsing, and performing their debut gig in the same South Manchester garage back in 2008, The Janice Graham Band have been cultivating a sound so saturated with soul it’d make Motown records blush. Now the four-piece are looking to make some serious steps off the driveway – a month and a half on from their Isle of Wight Festival appearance, the four-piece will be releasing their debut single ‘Murder’ along with b-side ‘Assassiner’ this September, with their LP ‘It’s Not Me’ to follow in January 2012.

“Our songs generally progress from an individual’s idea, this was the case with ‘Murder’,” vocalist Joe Jones told us of the origins of the single. “I came with a chord progression and the main skeleton of the lyrics, which was developed with the band.  It is a dark song which is part of a bigger darker album. It is there to reveal things that try and hide away in the corners of the mind, this country or even the world.”

“We sat in Josh’s (trumpet) room when we first started out,” Scott continues. “Joe had the chords and a few of the lyrics, then I helped finish the rest. When we first wrote the song it was a skiffle number, but it got changed to have a reggae/ska feel.”

A quick listen to ‘Murder’ makes it pretty clear that Joe Jones and crew have dragged their gritty, romantic roots along with them. At just over three and a half minutes, the track makes no effort to hide the fact this is a band who love to kick out the jams. From the wild, echo-heavy cries that open up the track’s dubbed-out body to the menacing, horn driven funk of the outro (complete with pleasingly leering gang-chants), it ripples with the excited spontaneity of musicians perfectly in sync with each other.

“Yes the lyrics are relatively brutal,” says Jones on those gritty themes. “But this song is not there to make you feel at ease. It is a song written with a bigger idea in mind.  It is a part of an album which pulls no punches lyrically or musically. We are in the process of recording, which follows the life of a central character who is struggling to keep his head above the waters of sanity, who is struggling to keep his life within the constraints of an ideal England.”

“The song isn’t about any one individual, it’s a song that portrays the enfuriating mundanity of a middle aged, middle class, middle England every man,” Scott tells us. “It fits in with the concept of the album we are working on;  the break down of a perfectly normal man that every one knows, that’s the angle we are going for.”

As if to prove a point, b-Side ‘Assassiner’ cheekily lifts the funk of the a-side’s outro and transforms it into an effect-drenched, spacey hip-hop workout, giving trumpet player Josh Hunt a chance to show off his lyrical chops. Jones’ frothing-at-the-mouth growls and yelps prowl through the sound like a criminal clawing at the remains of his own sanity, looking for trouble.

So will the single’s blend of funk, guitars and aggression highlight their unique sound to new fans? “I am glad we have our own style but I thought everybody did,” says Jones. “Hopefully ‘Murder’ will reflect this and won’t scare everyone off,” “we hope the single will draw more fans, but you never know how these thing are going to pan out,” considers Scott.

thejanicegrahamband2Individuality? Uniqueness? On listening to ‘Murder’, it’s hard not to press on further with the sense that The Janice Graham Band are set to forge a path which will take them on a journey far beyond the average-indie so prevalent in today’s scene.

“You have to play the music that you have to play, and we are just playing our music,” Jones tells Live4ever. “It’s harder to go out and fashion yourself at Topman in order to be the next indie band. I can’t be bothered with that.”

“We just keeping doing our thing, grafting over songs and getting the live set as tight as we can,” Scott comments. “To say we are individual is a bit much though, we are just four lads doing what we like to do and hoping some other people will like it as well.”

For any new band, time in studio is of the essence. A time to strive for creation, and to find a formula which marries a desire for inventiveness with productivity. “We are as productive as we can be,” Jones comments. “Sometimes we become too inventive and keen to try new things so we always have to control ourselves. We prefer to play live, it suits us.”

“The laying down of the instruments was the easy part, it’s ever thing after that which is difficult,” Scott remembers. ” The mixing is a long process and it can change from day to day. You just have to do it until you think it’s right. Sometimes you can over cook it and wind up having to start from scratch, but with ‘Murder’ it was fairly simple.

For a band with an average age of 21, there’s some dark stuff going on here – mail-order brides, prostitution, murder – The Janice Graham Band are obviously keen to deal with the raw reality they’ve come from in the same way they deal with their music – head on with a grin, and a refusal to compromise.

Keep up to date with all things Janice Graham on their official website, as well as Facebook and MySpace.

(Words: Carl Stanley & Xavier Boucherat)

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One Response

  1. Kirsty Cessford 23 July, 2011

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