PHOTOGRAPHY Moni Haworth
INTERVIEW Cole Kiburz
WORDS Julian de la Celle
FASHION Richie Davis (when noted)
Warbly Jets are not your average run of the mill Rock 'n' Roll foursome. They have a clear vision and they know exactly where they want to go - all the way to the top. They've got the talent and the charisma and now the next step is world domination. With their latest single "Alive" having been premiered last week on Matt Wilkinson's Apple Music Beats1 radio show, people are already starting to ask, "Who are Warbly Jets and where can we hear more?" We caught up with the boys to discuss the single, how they came together to create Warbly Jets and what's to come in the near future.
Cole Kiburz: So first of all, naturally, when people hear you guys they may assume or associate you with having a British sound, what makes the Warbly Jets an American rock band as opposed to a British rock band?
Julien: Our birth certificates [all laugh]. Next question.
Cole: There’s a bit of Primal Scream, a bit of Blur, who are some other musicians that you guys looked up to or were influenced by to start playing music?
Samuel: For me, I definitely didn’t grow up listening to the Brit pop stuff right off the bat, that was something I started to discover as I moved to New York from North Carolina where I grew up. As cliche as it may sound, I was a big fan of The Beatles, and grew up on them and my mom would play them for me when I was really young all through high school, I loved them.
Julien: My parents listened to The Smiths and Joy Division and all that, then I discovered Iggy Pop and David Bowie. I fell into this sensation of like John Lennon makes you want to play guitar, but Kurt Cobain makes you take it seriously as a teenager, you know?
Cole: When would you say you wanted to take the band in a direction that was more derivative of those specific influences, like Primal Scream and Blur, etc?
Samuel: That was a very specific moment that happened when Julien and I were both living in New York and playing in different bands around there. The way that we met actually was sharing bills playing in different bands. That was actually right when I started discovering a lot of the Brit pop stuff and he was already very well versed in it. So we’d talk about it in-between sets, hanging out, having beers and he’d kind of point me in the direction of stuff that I would become very into later on. Then when we started actually playing music together and later writing songs together it was a pretty conscious thing from the get go.
Julien: We made a decision to work together creatively and that was where the friendship really blossomed.
Cole: I think that being an artist in general, you kind of become a mix of everything you’ve ever consumed, but at the same time to really transcend and put your own staple you have to have a purpose with it and a palette that you’re pulling from.
Samuel: Well it’s like being a painter and choosing a palette of colors. Like “okay I don’t get to work with the full rainbow tonight, this time I’ll be working with greens and blues and whites and that’s what we’re doing.”
Dan: Especially now when everyone’s base of influence is so large. We have access to every bit of music ever created by any person ever at our finger tips, it’s super important when creating something to focus it in that way and pick which styles and which colors you want to paint with.
Cole: That’s a great point which kind of brings me onto my next question about your recording process for this debut album. I know that you guys did a lot of the work yourselves in creating it, which is amazing and I’d like you to elaborate on that, but I’m also curious as to if you stuck to more of a digital recording process or if there was any place there for analog recording as well?Samuel: I’ve been recording for a while, and started working in recording studios when I was, I think, 14. This whole process, only because the actual tape machine wasn’t working at the studio, we did on Pro Tools but even still it was very fully analog. I produced it and we all engineered it all together, I think I probably had my hands deeper in that than all of us, but also our friend Stefan at the Ultrasound Studios in Downtown helped out with getting the drum sounds and stuff. His process and the way he gets sounds is very analog using a lot of outboard gear. Even with the drums I remember we spent something like 8 hours just trying different things, which I guess isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things.
Julien: We’re not trying to start a war or anything. Digital or analog, use what you have the capability to use.
Samuel: Ultimately if you get the sound that’s all that matters. I think that there’s so many ways nowadays to get that sound. I love recording on tape, I do tape stuff all the time and I actually did a whole tape session today at a studio that didn’t even have a computer in it which was super fun! Also, it just depends on what kind of record you want to make, I mean, we didn’t really want to make a fussing around record with extra things happening or “happy accidents.” There weren’t really many accidents. Everything was mapped out and we knew what we wanted and we worked on it until it was how we wanted it to be.
Cole: Going back a little bit to when we were talking about influences, if you could spend 24 hours with somebody in some creative field, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you do with them?
Julien: I would like to play chess with Brian Eno. I don’t know if we could do that for a whole 24 hours but… I’d like to paint a shed with Meatloaf or something too.
Samuel: I think it would be epic to, like, roll back into Electric Lady for the first time after it was fully built with Jimi Hendrix. Hanging out with him, then check out the studio.
Cole: That’s a pretty great answer. I would probably choose that over painting a shed with Meatloaf [laughs]. So tell me more about your debut single “Alive.” Can you tell me more about it and why you chose that one?
Samuel: I think there’s lots of reasons and I could talk about that song for a long time. I think for me the main reason is lyrically, that song kind of sums up everything that at least I have been feeling and I think that everybody else has been feeling of just how you have to breakdown a hundred thousand times before you get to feel alive for one moment. The past two years of trial and error and just trials in general in life. The harshness of the world and what it is right now. Then the chorus being kind of that break through feeling of even though everything is so fucked up right now, at the same time we can all individually and collectively feel alive.
Julien: For me it’s a great launching point for a plethora of reasons, but it’s sort of explaining that we don’t need your circumstance, we’re here, get used to it.
Cole: For sure and I think that really resonates with me and I think it will resonate with a lot of people when they hear it. I know you guys touched a little bit on New York, but if you want to go through the history more on how you brought in the rest of the band and how that all came to be?
Julien: Sam and I basically decided to come out to LA to record in a studio and that fell through as soon as we got here so we had to kind of scramble and make our own way which helped out creatively, for sure. We met Dan and Justin through mutual friends and got them both involved. It also helped that they had a great chemistry developed from playing though the years and knowing each other for a long time. It’s been about a year and a half since all of that happened now! There’s also Stevie who plays with us live as an extra lead guitar player for lead guitar parts. He’s a great guy!
Samuel: We love Stevie, I just worked with him earlier today on another session.
Cole: In terms of when the four of you come together to write music, is it pretty diplomatic or is there somebody who traditionally takes the lead?
Samuel: Honestly, the four of us have never written a song together, all four of us, I mean. Coming from New York with Jules with around 40 songs, we had done a lot of writing already just the two of us. Everyone plays a very important role in this band though.
Cole: So you have the songs then it’s time to play live. I’ve always found it really important to have a live presence that’s more than just playing the songs but also putting on a show for the audience. How do you feel you guys best connect on stage and what do you strive for when playing live?
Julien: I mean, you always strive to sound as good as possible. That’s where a lot of the connection comes from, when you can actually dial in and be sonically aware of what you’re doing at all times and really perfect that. That’s when people can really feel the emotion. You can cut yourself up with a bottle or whatever, but at the end of the day it’s really about the sound. People don’t want to see statues, but people love Kraftwerk!
Samuel: I feel like what people have been really connecting with recently has just been the actual desire to connect with people. A lot of people get so sterile on stage and they don’t really care. They focus so much on what’s going on in their mind or what’s happening with their instrument.
Julien: I mean, there’s a level of energy that needs to be had on stage to be able to make people feel energetic in the crowd. They’re there to be entertained and to have a good time.
Cole: Are there any other emerging artists you guys are listening to right now or are maybe friends with that you are really into at the moment?
Samuel: As for as in the scene, there isn’t really anyone that I care about except for C.G. Roxanne & the Nightmares. They are the shit and I think that they are the future of Rock n Roll besides us. I love that band so much and I’m moving in with those boys tomorrow actually [laughs]. Marlon, Sam, Carlos, they’re all great. Marlon makes me actually feel something when I watch live music. I became a bit jaded when I moved here from New York because I was just so over these bands like Diiv and stuff like that. I don’t really understand the hype… but when I see a band like C.G. there’s no restraint, that’s what I dig in Rock n Roll. Another band that I’ve seen recently, and Julien turned me onto them a while ago, is Jagwar Ma. They were amazing at FYF. We met them there and they invited us out to see them at the Roxy and they’re the nicest guys too. Everything about it is great.
Cole: You guys are doing a lot of great things right now, what can we expect next from you guys now?
Samuel: Well, in the foreseeable future, we have some shows happening in the next couple of months. Towards the end of November we’re doing a tour to New York City and back, so that’ll be really fun!
Cole: You guys also just filmed a music video with Steven Johnson, right?
Julien: Yes, we did! That will be coming out in the next week or two.
UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
10.12 - LOS ANGELES, CA @ DIRTY LAUNDRY
10.25 - LOS ANGELES, CA @ THE REGENT *LA FEMME PRE-PARTY
11.10 - COSTA MESA, CA @ THE WAYFARER W/ C.G. ROXANNE AND THE NIGHTMARES
11.19 - SAN DIEGO, CA @ THE CASBAH W/ NIGHT BEATS & MYSTERY LIGHTS
1.22 - SALT LAKE CITY, UT @ URBAN LOUNGE W/ CIVIL LUST