AU Presents: The Jane Bradfords
The Jane Bradfords' commander-in-chief Deci Gallen talks apprehensions and ambitions after the release of the band's first album
The time is nigh for Belfast electro-rockers The Jane Bradfords. The much-touted act has just released their self-titled debut album on Simple Tapestry records. It’s a milestone moment for a band that has already garnered considerable critical kudos, enjoying the attention of Huw Stephens and playing shows alongside CSS, Cold War Kids and LCD Soundsystem.
To the uninitiated, how would you describe the music of The Jane Bradfords?
I think you had better describe us because anytime I try it seems to be completely off the mark! In terms of my influences and the people I respect and admire, well, we just never end up sounding like them. The most common comparisons are LCD Soundsystem, The National, New Order and Joy Division, the Magnetic Fields and even Echo & The Bunnymen. I think the most basic thing that people seem to hear is an 80s sound, which is strange because I was aiming for mid-90s indie. Seem to have missed by about a decade.
Given that this is your debut album do you feel apprehensive regarding its release?
It’s really weird. I spent so much time with the record, but actually finished writing about six months ago. So, from my perspective, I’ve already started moved on and have been writing new stuff. But, everyone else will be hearing most of this material for the first time and I’m certainly nervous about that. You do wonder what people will think and say.
What sort of responses have you been receiving so far?
They’ve been really positive. The bloggers are liking it and picking up on different tracks, plus they’re saying that it flows like an album. That was my first and foremost intention. It was created to sound like a cohesive album rather than a set of songs written over one or two years. Every song has its place.
The early reaction to the record does seem to be almost uniformly positive, but, inevitably, there will be negative reviews. Is that something you’re prepared for?
I’m sure there will be negative reaction. So long as it’s reasoned and based on the music rather than people simply being bitchy, I’m open to that.
In your lyrics do you tend to go for autobiographical reflections, or do you prefer to relate what you observe happening around you?
It’s a mix, some songs are autobiographical others are observational, I’ll not tell you which are which! With the new stuff I’m writing it seems to be a lot more observational. I do hope that people like the lyrics; I think that the lyrics, the subject matter and the emotion are just as important as the hooks.
You’ve got a distinctive vocal technique, it has the potential to alienate as many people as it charms, does that concern you?
There’s that counterpoint between the dark, deep vocal and the more upbeat and poppy backing. I wanted the vocals to be interesting, the reaction that we’ve got so far suggests that people either love, or hate it and that pleases me. I deliberately pitched myself low to get that more baritone, Jim Morrison style, almost lazy vocal. It works for some people and not for others, I’m sticking with it.
You say that you don’t mind whether people love or loathe your vocal, just so long as they have some reaction. Extending that to the band as a whole, is indifference the fate you fear most for The Jane Bradfords?
The amount of music being produced, the amount of music that is so easily accessible, you need something to make you stand out. I’d rather people didn’t dislike us, but at least if they did they’d be paying attention. There are so many bands coming out now and it’s so difficult to tell them apart on the radio. All my favourite acts are distinctive, especially when you look at their vocals and lyrics.
How much of a commitment does it take to try and make a success of the band and how do you intend to progress things?
I think just gig loads more and try and raise our profile that way. What more can you do when you’re an unsigned band on your own? People outside of the group mightn’t realise just how hard it is. This is a full-time job, I’m basically working from 10am to 6, or 7pm.
Earlier you said that you’ve already begun work on the new record. What direction might it take?
I’m definitely thinking we could use a lot more instruments and fewer synths. I want to branch out.
How ambitious are you?
All I want is to be able to do this for a living. At the moment I’m having to DJ four or five nights a week to subsidize me being able to make music. It would be great to be able to get up in the morning and only have to concentrate on creating music and then, at night, to be able to perform that music. I have no aspirations for worldwide fame, I don’t even want to be a buzz band and certainly all the bands that I’m really into don’t operate that way. If the Jane Bradfords are ever going to become something big it’s only going to happen over time and through hard work. I don’t write to achieve instant success and I don’t think we have a sound that would be conducive to obtaining that kind of acclaim.
You seem to have a clear understanding of what’s realistically possible. Have your experiences working in and around the industry in various guises tempered your ambitions to any great degree?
It definitely showed me how shit it is for bands who are just starting out. I remember interviewing Jamie T before it all took off for him and he became a label bitch and he was asking me all about being a music journalist, he was amazed that you could get paid to speak to all these incredible musicians. Also, with a lot of the other bands I spoke to, I learned that they couldn’t just do the music full-time and that the band members had to hold down other jobs as well. If I could get to the position where I can make music fulltime then I’d feel blessed. However, I’d never want to compromise on what I’m doing to achieve that.
Do you feel disappointed with the contemporary music scene; do you feel that too many bands are prepared to compromise?
Well, you look at bands like the Wombats and the Hoosiers, dross like that I’d want no part of. I think the music being produced on the other side of the Atlantic is much more to my liking, but the current British indie scene is dire. It’s very narrow-minded and there’s just too much shite.
In terms of live performance what have you got coming up?
Well we’ve just been confirmed as support for the 1990s, yet another strange act in our eclectic collection of support slots. We’ve been offered some amazing supports in the past and had to turn them down because of work, or other commitments. We’re getting loads of gig offers from all sorts of places including American offers. I really want to bring the band down to Dublin, get a few more southern gigs and shows in the rest of the UK. It is something we’ve probably neglected in the past.
What can people expect when they see The Jane Bradfords live?
The live shows are really energetic, we put a lot into them. If the crowds are right we usually get a pretty good response - you can stand and listen or dance and be stupid.
Would you rather that people first encounter the band through the album or via live performance?
That’s difficult to answer because the way the band is structured our live shows and the album are two very different propositions. Certainly we’re more immediately accessible live, it comes across as more uptempo and upbeat. The record tends to start more slowly and build.
What’s the situation regarding label or management interest, is that something you’re courting at this stage?
At this point it’s more a case of A&Rs approaching us. I haven’t sent off any demos or copies of the album to labels, to be honest at this stage I’d rather we weren’t picked up. It would be better if it happened further down the line when I’m more assured in what I’m doing. To be picked up now would mean major pressure, I don’t want that at this point, for now I just want to enjoy making music.
The Jane Bradford's debut album is available via iTunes, Napster, Amazon MP3 and the band's website from April 7.