Saturday 31 October 2009

Feature: Jaded Playboy

“The only people who are getting ahead in life are these sort of people who are at the top of the ivory tower or whatever, and everyone else just has to put up with that, and that’s what it’s about really, its just being ****ing sick of it”

Rock, in Scottish music today, is a dirty word. Bands will describe themselves as “indie” or even “pop” before they say the dreaded “R” word. It has negative connotations of unoriginality, outdated ideals, and bad AC/DC covers. Jaded Playboy, as a rock band, are fairly unsupported on the Edinburgh music circuit. They wave the flag for Seattle grunge and London punk, even if it means getting disappointed looks from Oasis fans and metal-heads alike.

Edinburgh four piece Jaded Playboy have been together since Winter 2007. The band are made up of three Edinburgh lads: guitarist Ross, bassist Kenny, and drummer Zander, and lead singer Scott, a former metal kid from Dorset and Bristol. “Like all good relationships,” Scott comments, “we got together at Christmas”.

The band are headed up by Ross, who takes the role of songwriter. “I don’t find anything in happy songs,” Ross confesses, “which might sound sort of… y’know”. He laughs as description escapes him. “But at the end of the day I find my inspiration in the darker side of life. So when I write a lyric that’s in that sort of vein then that’s when I feel ****ing alive, y’know?”

When put this simply, it's not too difficult to see where Jaded Playboy’s music come from. Forever focusing on the darker emotions, their music is born of the same spirit that sparked grunge, that sparked punk, that sparked metal, that even sparked rock and roll in the beginning.

Never is that more apparent than on the song ‘Lost Inside’. The lyrics are a political comment on people in power, who break promises and abuse their positions, and how the human condition is to pretend to have a good time and continue regardless. While the band themselves know they aren’t exactly starting a revolution, they use this song to vent their own frustration. “Even though you can’t start a revolt," Ross explains. "That’s our way of getting it out." “That is our pure release!” Singer Scott states. “We ****ing just let go on that song. It’s just ****ing do what you want. Hit your drums as hard as you want, do whatever you want on the bass, sing whatever you want. It’s our ‘get ourselves in the zone’ song… Turn all the shit in life into something decent”.

‘Lost Inside’ is the first track of Jaded Playboy’s new EP, recorded at Red Eye Studios in Clydebank. The four tracks are tied together by a theme that is reflected in the title ‘Broken Heartland’; a land of broken hearts. While the first track is about anger at the politics of our government and our society, the proceeding tracks ‘Hero to Zero’ and ‘I’m Not There’, bring the topic closer to home with an examination of failed relationships and dealing with the ‘why’s and ‘what now’s.

The artwork was designed by Brad George of Love/Hate Tattoos. The front cover is of a satellite view of a country shaped like a broken heart and tinted red, surrounded by a sea of black, representing the dual themes on the album of broken hearts and a country divided between the people in power and those who have to live with it. The CD itself is adorned with a much more tattoo-looking image, as if to prove the designer is used to designing tattoos, of a heart, roses, a gold key, and the band name and album written on the banner that would usually have a girls name or the word “Mum”.

The sound Jaded Playboy create on the stage is highly passionate. Ranging from distorted rock outs to chorus-tinged, lively bass showstoppers, all led by Scott’s very Brandon Boyd-like characterful voice, with all the boys looking like their having a good time up there. Over September and October, Jaded Playboy have been on tour all over Scotland, promoting their release at a grass roots level, and have received praise from the likes of BBC Scotland's Jim Gellatly and BFBS Worldwide Radio.

The final song on the EP, ‘Broken Heartland’, comes attached with a heart melting story too. Originally conceived as a full band number, the track evolved into an acoustic song, with Ross singing lead vocals. Right up until they were recording in the studio, Scott had never managed to nail the track. Ross was on his third attempt at the vocals, with Scott listening. Scott wasn’t in a good mood that day. He had split up with someone he cared a lot about, and something clicked. He finally understood the song, and the way it was supposed to be sung. It finally made sense. “There’s too much emotion in there,” Scott explains. “I’m usually like, all the other songs: massive energy, massive emotion and I put everything into it, and that song is just devoid, it’s absent, of any energy whatsoever. The only way you can sing it is if you just don’t give a sh** about it. Going pure apathy. That song is just pure apathy.”

Scott went into the vocal booth, sang the song, and hit the nail on the head. “That one take is the only time I’ve ever sung it properly. It's the first time I’d ever sung it properly and it's recorded and it's rough as ****: it's out of tune, it's out of key, it's all over the place, but I think it just added something to it. The fact that it was just... it's just someone that’s at the bottom and they can’t sing properly and it doesn’t matter if it's sung in tune. It's like someone’s talking to you over the song; I think that’s what we were trying to convey, it’s not meant to be a song that’s sung to you, it's just somebody telling you a story.”

Now that their promotional months are finished, Jaded Playboy are moving on. Writing new songs, choosing their next steps. More of the same. There’s rumours of an Argentina tour. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing where they take it next.

On his experiences of touring and being in the band, Scott tells me:

“We’re so happy we’re in a band. Don’t care if we make it, don’t care what happens, but its just cool meeting people in these bands, watching these bands for free, most of the people in the world are sat in watching ****ing Casualty or whatever people watch on telly, and we’re out making friends, watching great bands and living life”.

Myke Hall

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