[INTERVIEW] With ... Jack Perrett

Jack Perrett   Credit: Theodore Swaddling Photography 

 "My new song Portlife is just a bit of fun really, it isn’t too serious. But it is quite educational.You can learn a lot about Newport by listening to it."  

Not only did Huw Stephens give his nod of approval. The songs are infectiously melodic and fully formed, there is plenty of attitude, ambition and drive. Following a string of successfully completed live shows to enthusiastic reviews Jack Perrett decided it was time to return to the studio to record new material.  It's All Indie caught up with Newport's cool indie kid to hear all about the songs, the process of writing as well as hopes and plans for the future. Having only just finished a mini busking tour there was more than plenty to talk about.

“The busking tour went well. We had people coming to watch us because they had seen the video on Facebook and it was nice to play at the different locations mentioned in the song. The best venue was at El Siecos, people were singing along to Portlife which was great.”

You have also recorded a couple of new songs. What can you tell us about them, how would you describe the writing process?

“Yes I have got two new songs which are currently in the mixing process. One of them is called Like A Fever and the other one is called Going Nowhere. Both have a completely different sound. Like A Fever is a rocker whereas Going Nowhere is more of a ballad.” 

“Like A Fever started off with a guitar riff that I had for a while. The verses were part of another song I had. After jamming out some chords in the rehearsal room I thought the riff might be a good way to start the song and then the verses fitted well with the chord progression. Going Nowhere was co-written with Rhys my bass player. I had the melody and lyrics for the verse and chorus. Rhys came up with the riff at the start and he had a chorus which we then used as the middle eight of the song. Going Nowhere is probably my favourite song that I have been involved with and I can’t wait for people to hear it. It is the most complex song I have been involved with. There is a great bassline, great guitar riff, interesting backing vocals. There is also a key change in there too.”

To those unfamiliar with your work, when did you first become involved in music?

“I have always been into listening to music even when I was a kid. When I was about 16 I decided to try and learn to play the guitar as I had ten weeks off school following my GCSEs. So I borrowed a cheap guitar from my brothers’ mate and was persistent in practicing my favourite songs. As soon as I could string a few chords together I started writing my own songs.”

Your latest single Portlife is based on Blur’s Parklife, can you tell us what inspired you to record and release it? Did you have apply for copyright permission?

“I was playing an open mic night in Riverside Tavern in Newport and I covered Blur’s Parklife in my set. When I came off stage another Newport artist called Joe Kelly told me he liked the cover and thinks I should rename it Portlife. I thought that was a good idea to build on my local fan base in Newport. My thinking is by getting the people of Newport interested in my music, I can then branch out further afield. So I went away and rewrote the lyrics and also my bass player Rhys Jones rewrote his own version. We then put the best lines together and that was that.”

“Then we went to One Louder Studios in Newport to record the song. Focus Shift Films (also from Newport) were then asked to the video and they liked the song were happy to be a part of the project. The song is just a bit of fun really, it isn’t too serious. But it is quite educational. You can learn a lot about Newport by listening to Portlife. Because the song is a parody version I didn’t have to ask for permission or at least that is what I have been told (laughs).” 

From your own catalogue what song are you particularly proud of? 

“I have nine songs available for people to listen to online. I also have another two singles coming out in the next six months. I have quite a few which I haven’t recorded yet as well. I am proud of most of my songs to be fair. In The Morning is probably my favourite though. It was the first song that I really concentrated on the lyrics I think. Every word in that song has a meaning. I’ve Got It All But I Want More is up there too. It is such as basic song but I love playing it every time we play live and the crowd seem to too.”

How important do consider lyrics to be? Do you write a lyric before you have a melody or how do you like to work?

“Most of the time it is the lyrics that are last. Either I think of a certain topic to write a song about or if it’s just a set of words that don’t really have much meaning but just sound good together with the melody. Usually it starts off with a chord progression, then a vocal melody, then lyrics. And then any lead guitar, harmonies etc come later on.”  

Your songs offer a new take on iconic bands like The Stone Roses and Oasis (and more) but how did you go about bringing those influences to your music ensuring you keep your own sound?

“I think musically those inspirations are there to hear. But I do try to make all of my songs sound different. Drunk and Stoned for example is very Stone Roses whereas Got It All sounds like The Who I think. Lyrically I try and put the language and phrases that I use and that I hear my friends use. I am always trying to progress as a musician though. I am trying to learn how to play piano and the drums, although it is taking me a while (laughs).”

You worked with Steffan Pringle? What songs did he produce, mix or engineer?

“Yes I have worked with Steffan on all of my releases apart from Portlife. Steffan is really great, he can make you look at a song in a different way if you know what I mean. He comes up with ideas that I wouldn’t think of. It is nice to have someone like Steffan offering his opinion and fresh ideas on what direction to take when in the studio.”

Is there a record label you are interested in signing to?

“I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. Obviously it would be nice to have some financial backing from a label but I think artists can be less dependent on them nowadays. Heavenly Recordings seem like a great label though. It would be great to get on a tour with Boy Azooga. I think the next step for me is to get some sort of management and a booking agent on board, because it is hard to find the time to write, rehearse, gig and all of the admin stuff that goes with being a solo artist.”

What bands are you listening to at the moment and who do you admire?

“I have been listening to Boy Azooga’s ‘1,2, Kung Fu’ album a lot in the car recently. I also really like a band from Alloa in Scotland called Vida.” 

What gigs have you enjoyed most to date? What is  your experience of playing outside Wales?

“We played a sold out gig in Meze in Newport. That was my favourite. It was the first time most of the people there had seen me play with the band. It is always a good feeling playing your own songs and seeing the people in front of you singing them back to you. Yes I have done many gigs outside of Wales, both solo and with the band. I have played in London, Manchester and Hastings to name a few. I am more selective with playing outside of Wales at the moment because promoters don’t tend to want to pay you unless you bring a crowd. Which is pretty dull really, there aren’t many other jobs where you do it for nothing.”

Tell me how you go about picking songs ahead of a live set

“I have a pretty consistent setlist. Certain songs are great at different points of a set. For example my song I’ve Got It All But I Want More, I couldn’t see that anywhere else in the set apart from last. Whereas What You Saying? is a great opener. It is usually nice to start with three or four upbeat rockers. And then we playing Drunk And Stone to slow it down a bit. And then back to the rockers.”

How do you view the music scene in Newport? Is there a community?

“In all honesty the music scene in Newport is poor. There is not a lot going on and there aren’t many venues to play at, especially since TJ’s closed its doors. There are a lot of solo artists but not many bands around either. I have always found it hard to find band members, which is why I am a solo artist. It was never my plan to do it on my own but that is the only way I could get out there and play. Cardiff has got a great music scene going on though, there are some great bands coming out of Cardiff.”

What venues or locations would you like to play?

“I have got a gig in Tramshed in Cardiff coming up on Thursday 20th September which I am looking forward. I have always wanted to play there. It would just be great to get on tour when the next single comes out. To play to as many people in different cities all over the UK.”
Tell me about what you want to achieve in the future?

“I am hoping to get a tour of the UK on the go as a result of the release of Like A Fever around October and November time. Then see where that takes me.”  

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