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Blaine Harrison - Mystery Jets PDF Print E-mail
Written by Floatation Suite   
26 10 2011
ImageSince their beginnings as a family project on the mysterious Eel Pie Island, Mystery Jets have remained one of the most intriguing and exciting propositions in British music. Formed in the early '90s when the group's shock-headed frontman, Blaine Harrison, was only 12, the band have gone on to release three albums, spanning various genres. Ahead of Sunderland's very own Split Festival, we caught up with front man Blaine Harrison to talk djing, the early 70s and the making of their new album. Exciting.

How's it going with the Mystery Jets?

Yeah, it's going good. We're just playing a few shows and writing and recording the next album, that's been our summer really.

You formed the band when you were twelve, how did it come about? It's quite an unusual set up, what with your dad being in the band.
ImageWe've always played guitars since we were kids and I guess both myself and William, who started the band, we grew up with records we kind of wanted to imitate when we quite young. I think that's how you do it when you're young, you hear something and you say "I want to make something that sounds like that" and then you do and you realise actually it's not about copying, it's about turning your influences to something that's yours and that's what we realised when we formed the band. It was such a long time ago now. So yeah, it's been a journey.

I guess in a sense it's as hard as ever to write songs, probably still as hard as when you were twelve years old but what do you do have is a more developed sense of direction and also the vocabulary you have to play with is bigger. I think on this record, it feels a lot more heavyweight than maybe what we had on our first couple of albums. In terms of the themes as well, I think we're finding ourselves writing about stuff I don't think a 19 year old probably would be writing about.

You seemed to have carved quite a cool niche out for yourselves, in that you've been around for a while and done a few albums, but at the same time a lot of bands have come and gone in that period and you've got a nice hardcore, cult following of fans, and you seem to be able to do things at your own speed at your own time. Is that a fair assumption to make?
Yes, I think so. With each record, listeners, our followers, I guess you could call it, is changing as our sound changes and I think that's completely normal. Obviously you don't want to create a bland record that's going to appeal to everyone. We've never written stuff by numbers, we've always gone off on tangents because that's what excites us. Inevitably, different people are into different things. As you said some bands have come and gone since we came about seven or eight years ago, I think the thing for us is we've always felt like Mystery Jets is like an umbrella for anything we want to do. I've never felt like there was a specific template for what the band does, I've always felt it should incorporate anything that any of us as individuals or as a group want to get involved in. Over the years that's been so many different things, I feel like what we're about is creating a back catalogue that summarises everything that we like about the world around us, and pop music and whatever it is we decide to do.

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Obviously you've had completely different sounds on some of your albums, different producers from different backgrounds. What can we expect from your new stuff?
I'd like people not to have expectations in a sense, because we don't have expectations. We're just kind of writing. I think after the last record we felt like we really wanted to rip up the book, our last two albums we're very closely related in what they were about and what we were listening to at the time, with this next one, I guess all I want to say is it's going to be a departure. I'd like to say a radical departure. At the end of the day, it's always going to sound like us because we're singing on it, we're playing on it but I'd like to think... it's almost like learning a new language, it's still going to be you speaking, in your accent but you're using different vocabulary and I kinda think that's how making albums should be. I think we always want to morph into something new and this record won't be any different to that.
 
That sounds good. It sounds like, from a creative point of view, you've all got time and space to develop and express yourself within the band.
Yeah. We don't want to leave it too long though; we certainly don't want to rush the album, but at the same time, there's often this two years gap between records, which I think is a shame because actually so much happens to you in two years in your own life. We'd love to work faster, but I think just because of the natural pace of our creative process means sometimes we all work together, sometimes we all run off on our own, sometimes we won't speak to each other for two weeks, sometimes we're together every day. So it's always an interesting experience, pulling the songs together for a record, but that's where we're at right now, in that zone and it's going well.

You made a reference to Television's Marquee Moon on Two Doors Down. Is the mid 70s a period of time where you draw a lot of inspiration from, or is just loads of different genres?
ImageI think everywhere really. It's such a hard question, you know. To be honest, I've been quite musically fasting on this record, it sounds like a weird idea, but I've actively avoided buying new music and new records because I don't always feel it's constructive to be constantly bombarded by new music and new sounds and I think sometimes if you work in a vacuum you can create something devoid of influence, which can be really exciting. So I'm kind of working on that, just making something that's maybe references itself more than other bands or other eras. But saying that, I love 70s, it was an incredibly self indulgent time for musicians. A lot of quite far out, introspective records came out of that, Television's Marquee Moon being one of them. I'm into all sorts of stuff.

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What kind of stuff do you play when you're djing?
We do different types of set. I kind of just play whatever I'm listening to that day really. Bands wise, to be honest, I'd just play anything I think of. I think for me, for DJ sets I like the idea of playing songs that you'd forgotten about, stuff that you remember, but you could never say the title of it, or who the band was, the kind of stuff I remember listening to on car journeys with my parents on holidays when I was a kid, not necessarily just cheesy stuff but songs that aren't really in your consciousness. I like the idea of going to a set where you can hear all those songs.

Cool, thanks for your time.
No problem.
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