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BOTW Interview: Jaws

We caught up with our current BOTW, Birmingham four-piece Jaws, ahead of an intimate London show at Dalston’s Birthdays. Against a backdrop of Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ – appropriately enough, given the group’s Brummie heritage – the much-hyped quartet filled us in on their love of prawn cocktail crisps, aspirations of having Morgan Freeman as a pre-gig motivational speaker and vomit-drenched memories of Download festival.

PlanetNotion: So, it’s been a really big year for you guys; the singles you’ve released have been very well received so far. Has it taken you by surprise at all?
Connor: Yeah, definitely. When I started the band, I didn’t really expect anything. I just thought that I’d get a couple of gigs, nothing like this. I don’t want to sound like we think we’re famous or anything, but I didn’t expect to be where I am now.
Jake: It’s been a bit mental.

PN: And, people have been making a big deal about Birmingham for the last year or two. I’m sure you’re sick to death of hearing ‘Peace, Swim Deep, Jaws’, but have you felt much pressure with Birmingham being so heralded at the moment?
C: I haven’t really felt pressure personally, but there’s definitely more of it now than at any time because there are so many bands coming out of Birmingham. It’s like there’s a queue of bands just forming, new bands coming through that I’m sure you’ll hear about.

PN: You guys are quite good friends with Swim Deep and Peace. How did you all get to know each other?
C: Well, I met Peace and Swim Deep because I got them to play at my birthday party two years ago. Since then, I’ve formed Jaws and we’ve played shows together and been on tour together and stuff like that, so we’ve become better friends.

PN: Has it helped you guys along having a sense of community with them?
C: Yeah, definitely, because those two are way ahead of anyone else and it’s bridging the gap between being a small band and having bigger, better contacts.
J: And it’s cool because their fans are picking up on us as well, which is wicked.
C: If it weren’t for those two, our development would have been a lot slower than it has been. You wouldn’t be interviewing us now if it weren’t for them.

PN: The video for ‘Friend Like You’ is composed of tour footage from the last year. What have been your favourite moments on the road so far?
J: Most of the laughs have been in the van.
Ed: Banter.
J: Vanter.
C: I don’t know if it’s a favourite moment, but one that will stick out for me for the rest of my life is when we played in Leeds someone got on stage and started brushing their teeth and didn’t stop. Even after we’d finished playing, they carried on brushing their teeth on stage.
J: Most of our best memories have come from Leeds anyway. I remember we’d just got out the van and were having a Jaws vs. Swim Deep kick-about, and this bald guy – I think it was his house that we were kicking a ball up against – comes up and he was like [mimics thick Yorkshire accent] ‘Y’all want to stop that now’.
C: So we ended up getting threatened, and afterwards he went back inside his house and just started playing Slayer on guitar.

PN: I’m glad you managed to get the tooth-brushing incident into the interview. And, you’ve chosen to release Milkshake as a bumper EP, including the singles from last year. What was it that made you want to do that, as opposed to just releasing ‘Friend Like You’ and ‘Breeze’ as a single on their own?
C: Well, since we did the first single, and then while ‘Surround You’ was in the PR cycle over that Christmas period, we got a lot more known and then we went on tour and did the new single. So, it’s like, we got a lot of fans in that space and I felt, rather than do a single, and a single, and another single, it’d be better to put your foot on the ground and do an EP.
Alex: That gets the b-sides listened to as well. When we put a-sides out, we like to choose the best two songs to put forward onto a single; so, with this EP being a-side, b-side, a-side, b-side, etc, it all gets listened to equally.
C: It’s the six best songs that we’ve got right now, probably.
E: It’s also good for people to get a physical copy.
C: If anyone got into us now, it’s a good introduction to us. It’s what we sound like, or, at least, it’s what we’ve evolved into over the last year.
E: I’m never gonna play it; it’s just going to be on my wall for the next 10 years.
C: If you hear a band on the radio, and you just search for them and find an odd song here and an odd song there, it doesn’t look very good, but if you look online and an EP appears then you can go buy it or download it, and you’ve got six songs there and you know it’s part of something and it’s organised.

PN: That makes sense. After Milkshake drops, any plans for a full-length? Or, is that not something that you’re really thinking about right now?
J: We’ve got songs that are intended for an eventual album, but there are no set-in-stone plans for one.
C: I’m not actually sure what will happen next.
A: I reckon somewhere down the line, there will be an album.
C: There will be another ten albums, obviously [laughs]. Just right now, there’s no plan. I think we’re just enjoying playing the Milkshake EP right now. I think our first show was a year ago Tuesday, so…

PN: When I was thinking about Milkshake as a title for an EP, a question that sprung to my mind was, if you had no budget restrictions whatsoever, what would you put on your rider?
J: Every time I get asked what I’d like on a rider, I ask for some Scotch Whiskey but it never appears. Maybe rings with skulls on at every gig.
E: We used to ask for fans to bring us prawn cocktail crisps on the tour we did with Swim Deep.
C: And they actually brought some.
J: We got loads.

PN: Did you not get sick of them by the end of it?
C: I’ll never get sick of prawn cocktail crisps. Oh, also, anything ultimately sour like atomic sweets.
J: I want a life-size Godzilla.
A: A motivational speaker to get us ready for each show, preferably Barack Obama.
J: Or Morgan Freeman. Before every gig, [impersonates Morgan Freeman] ‘you guys have been together less than a year…’

PN: Moving on… What’s the strangest way you’ve ever heard your music described?
E: Someone said we sound like the Arctic Monkeys. That was weird.
J: A lot of my friends come up to me and say our music is the best to get stoned to.
C: I don’t like that. I don’t like drugs. That’s not weird because I can see why you’d say that but it’s weird because none of us do drugs.

PN: With festival season just around the corner, I was wondering if there were any festivals that you have a particular affection for?
E: My first festival was Download. So, I think that will always have a place in my heart because it was the first time I saw Slayer and Iron Maiden. Oh, and Black Sabbath, too.
C: I have a love-hate relationship with Reading Festival. I’ve always wanted to go but it’s always the people that I don’t like that seem to go instead of me. And, they don’t shut up about it. They’ll tweet ‘at Reading Festival’ and then ‘OMG one day left of Reading Festival’, and then ‘on the way back from Reading Festival’, and then the next day ‘post-Reading Festival blues’, and then next weekend ‘OMG I wish I was still at Reading’. They don’t shut up about it until the next Reading Festival and then it happens all over again.
A: Glastonbury for me. It was the first festival at which I got to see Beyoncé being an independent woman [starts singing ‘Irreplaceable’].
J: I’ve never been to a festival because I don’t like spending money. I’d really like to go to Isle of Wight Festival, though, because every year’s just been the best line-up.
C: Who’s playing this year?
J: I don’t know [laughs]. I wanted to go when Beady Eye played…
C+E: Of course, you did.
J: I didn’t even know who Miles Kane was then. I’m the only one in this band who likes Liam Gallagher; everyone else wants to kill him.
C: I like him…on opposite day.

PN: Any particularly fond festival memories outside of horrible Reading tweets?
E: Well, last year at Download, I bought a box of wine and took it out so it was just this bag of wine and carried it around with me. We went on the rides before any of the bands were on, and I was just about to go on this particular one [makes a pendulum motion with his arm] and I threw up all over my friends. I went on the ride all covered in sick.
A:Didn’t you say you had the bag of wine still in hand.
J: Didn’t you tell me you were on a ride and Black Veil Brides were playing.
E: Yeah, every time we went up [on the ride], all we could hear was booing and then we’d come back down and it was ‘aaaaah’ [mimicking metal scream].
A: We took a massive 30-foot flag with a dick on the end of it to Glastonbury. It was robbed.

PN: With a name like Jaws, I have to ask, what was it that made you want to name yourselves after a Bond villain?
E: Ooh, as if he got that.
C: I was thinking ‘alright, I need a band name’ and I couldn’t think of anything and then I was thinking of all these characters…
A: What was that Simpsons characters we were going to be called?
C: We were going to be called Flanders, and then Nelson, and, I don’t know, Springfield; I was just thinking of so many stupid names.
J: Weren’t we going to be called Cameron?
C: We were going to be called Cameron after the guy from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but then I saw Jaws and I just thought ‘oh, okay, that’s it’ and I just knew. Not in a weird way, I just thought ‘I don’t disagree with this, and it’s alright’.

PN: Are any of you Bond fans?
C: I’ve seen them all.
J: I like Dr. No, but I’ve only watched a few…

PN: I was going to ask what your favourite Bond Films were?
C: Not Skyfall; I didn’t like that one.
J: Dr. No.
E: I think my favourite one was Die Another Day. I think the first time I ever watched a Bond film was with Pierce Brosnan and he’s always been my favourite Bond.
A: I liked Man With the Golden Gun.
C: That was the one that had the dude with the robotic crocodile arm isn’t it?
J: Bit racy.
C: Bit racy.

PN: Finally, tell us something we don’t know about you.
W: Basically, Ed’s got a massive knife and fork collection but he always removes the spoons because he thinks that it’s bad luck after his pet hamster got ran over when it ran away from him as he was holding a spoon. That may or may not be true.

- Alex Cull

Jaws’ Milkshake EP – which includes ‘Friend Like You’ – is released April 22 on Rattlepop.You can pre-order it here.

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