I sit down with Jubilee Riots and chat. And by “sit down with” I mean at my computer and email them a few questions. And by “them” I mean Trevor Lewington from Jubilee Riots.
The following answers come from questions asked by me. Enjoy.
Let’s start with a bang: Haggis Heads? Explain please.
Hey Chris, Trevor here from the band. Haggis Head was the name for a fan under our previous band name, Enter The Haggis. We’re now called Jubilee Riots so the term doesn’t apply so much, although we don’t care what fans call themselves (within reason) as long as they come to our shows.
Tell me about your latest album. You used Pledge Music (why). How was that experience? Give me the good, the bad, and the ugly?
We invited fans to send us their most interesting personal stories to inspire the songs on the album. About 900 pages of mail were sent to our PO box out in Maine where our bass player lives. He had the unenviable job of scanning everything and uploading it to a shared Dropbox folder so that everyone could see the letters and work on writing the songs. There were some funny stories, tales of overcoming adversity, and a lot of pretty depressing stuff too.
This was the third time we took the crowd funding approach. We did it ourselves the first time though our own website, tried Kickstarter the second time and decided to go with Pledge this time. Brian takes care of our online and tech stuff and felt that Pledge’s system was more geared towards the needs of musicians and would be easier for us and for fans to purchase packages. It worked out well thanks to the generosity of our fans but it’s hard to say at this point how sustainable a model crowd funding will be for bands longterm.
How do you use the studio? Home? Professional?
Recording high quality albums has always been a priority for us so we’ve always gone to professional studios. Our drummer, Bruce, has a home studio that we demoed at before recording Penny Black, which really helped us flesh our the arrangements. We recorded the album our in Portland, Maine, with Jonathan Wyman, a Portland-based producer. He had a lot of great vintage gear and was very quick with the engineering such that we could easily jump from one idea to the next and not have to get bogged down in technical logistics. The studio was in an old barn and a lot of the character of the space came from the old beams – unfortunately there were no cows left.
Are the songs complete or do you experiment?
We’ve always loved experimenting with different genres of music and a lot of different instruments. Craig started playing bagpipes and whistle in the band and now plays trumpet, keyboard, synth, harmonica, and guitar. All of the instruments allow us to colour the arrangements in drastically different ways so when we’re in the arranging phase the vibe of a song often changes drastically depending on what instruments are chosen. That said, once we figure out the best treatment for a song it doesn’t really change in a live setting. The only real experimentation comes from figuring out how to make the recorded music translate in a live environment because we often go for the wall-of-sound approach in the studio and then don’t have enough hands to play all of the instruments live.
Do you road test the tunes first?
Sometimes we do, but for this album we tried to hold back most of the songs until the album was released and we were officially touring it. We had released an album called The Modest Revolution a few months before we started writing Penny Black so we were already playing a bunch of new material and didn’t want to overload fans with the new stuff. As much as I’d rather play just the new music I understand fans wanting to hear the songs they know.
Which is you favourite track off the album and why?
“Two Bare Hands”. I like the message and it’s really fun to sing.
Tell me a random fact or story about the band.
Our bagpipe, trumpet (etc.) player, Craig, used to be an actor and was once the body double for Roger Daltrey in a TV series called “Pirate Tales.” Evidently they’re the exact same height.
And where can we find you? (if you hate social media just tell me to bugger off)
We always end with Simple Questions with Chris Bro: Don’t worry. Don’t think. The answers are inside you. Have fun.
What’s turning you on right now?
The Aretha Franklin, “Young, Gifted and Black.”
What piece of TV or Movie memorabilia would you like to own?
A functional hover-board from Back to the Future and a functional proton pack from Ghostbusters… I suppose I’d also require Val Kilmer’s sunglasses from Top Gun.
What should every woman know?
How to purchase our new album, Penny Black.
What should every man know?
3 part question: What made up character would you like to Be / Date / Hang out with? (answer one, all, or none)
I’d like to be Joliet Jake from Blues Brothers. He’s got an absolute disregard for authority and consequence that I could never have but also a heart of gold.
and we always end with a happy moment. Share with us any happy moment in your life.
I took my two little boys over to the family farm recently where my 94-year-old grandmother still runs the place. My dad drove the tractor up to the bush and towed a toboggan behind with my kids and grandmother on it. Amazing to see people three generations apart having so much fun together.
No, Thank you Trevor and best of luck.