Words & Photography by Dev Place
Southampton’s music scene can often appear to be a mixed bag. The city is rich in individuals who are highly involved in their ‘scenes’, and really enthusiastic about a range of genres. However, no one seems to have cracked the magic formula. For example The Joiners, an iconic venue, is hosting killer acts each and every week; yet, one night can be packed, with people literally bouncing off of walls, or, it can be half-full, with plenty of breathing space.
When talking to Jetski Babylon, even they couldn’t pinpoint what it was. The first thing that escaped their mouths when asking about Southampton music was of course, Craig David. In recent years, the biggest success story to leave Southampton has been emo-revivalists Creeper. A huge triumph for the alt scene on the south coast that can often seem neglected. Otherwise, Southampton’s big names are Band Of Skulls or Bury Tomorrow. And that’s nice, but sometimes there’s a little voice screaming “but where are the inbetweeners? Where are the bands that aren’t heavy but aren’t pop?”.
Jetski Babylon may be the band to fill that void. Consider them a pic and mix of music- soothing yet powerful vocals, blasting backbeats of drums, and distorted but melodic licks from guitars, supported by a hardy bassline. It’s a cocktail of harmonious and heavy, particularly on new tracks ‘Hollow’ and ‘Nine’. The band agree that their influences stretch far and wide. They all met on their music production/promotion courses at University, but when asked about their tastes being similar, the response was a resounding “no.”
“It doesn’t make sense for us all to write though, because we all have such fucking strong opinions”George Gallivan (bassist)
Olly chimes in, “I really like Coldplay!”, which is followed by a little chuckle from the rest of the room. It’s almost like accusations being thrown about, with, “Tom really likes The Story So Far!” and, “Max like Architects!”. It’s clear there’s some serious odd combinations going on. Hence bassist George adding, “It doesn’t make sense for us all to write though, because we all have such fucking strong opinions. We’d never get a song done. Max is the key songwriter, he writes good tunes.”
“It’s healthy to argue though”, Olly adds. “If no one argues then that’s like, come on now. What do you care? I don’t know if I’d even call that arguing, we’re just like, feeling it.”
Despite the differing opinions, they’re an incredibly productive band. They’ve released an EP and several singles in the past year, and are heading straight back to the ranch to record more. Olly says “this is going to be some of the best music we’ve recorded”– followed by a chorus of “definitely” and “yeah” from the rest of the band. There’s always something in the works with Jetski, with intentions to tour in September, and possibly venture to Europe.
Despite this ambition and anthemic sounds, the roots of the band are still unpretentious and somewhat reserved. Drummer Tom Webb spoke on the lyrics of Tuesday Nights: “I know Tuesday Nights is about everyone going off to uni and Olly kind of being left on his own”.
Olly adds, “yeah, that year for me was really like, depressing. I was on my own, had to do my work and I didn’t really even have anyone to talk to me. About halfway through it I sort of thought, oh you know what, come on, get a grip. I kind of snapped out of it and went forward to be very positive, very motivated, and put everything into music really.”
“To say like, music is a drug to me…Everyday I have to be listening to something.”
That enthusiasm shows tonight. Olly jolts himself around stage, a real performer, clearly taking pleasure out of the crowd’s reaction to the new material. The audience belt with the band for ‘Tuesday Nights’ and happily start push-pitting on Olly’s demand. Guitarists Max and Joe cut through the set, doing those same anthemic leads that we hear on record justice live. The room is full of uncensored energy and enthusiasm, which is nice to see in a venue where cool kids usually tap their feet and nod their heads to The Libertines during an indie club night. The atmosphere of the night is a testament to the potential of the band and where their next move will take them.
By Dev Place