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Interview
Jakob

Jakob

date
Monday 9th August, 2010 12:50PM

Jeff Boyle has quite a lot of exciting news for Jakob fans. After finally recovering from surgery on his arm, Boyle and his bandmates Jason Johnston and Marurice Beckett are back on the road as well as working on a new album. Or should that be albums?

How are you?

A bit crook actually. My daughter’s about 2 and a half and she goes to play groups and comes home with something all of the time. I’m going through that period where parents get their children’s colds. I haven’t built up immunity yet. I’ve had about three this year.

How was your Easter then?

Well, we played up in Auckland on Saturday night, and I was probably at the height of being sick, so it was a bit of a struggle. And I had gear problems and all sorts of things. It was a real battle that show, but it turned out to be pretty good in the end.

A while ago, you had to have surgery on your arm. What happened?

What it was, you’ve got two main bones going down your forearm, and one of them is your ulna bone. Do you know what that is?

I do not.

Okay, you know how you’ve got that lump on the outside edge of your wrist? That’s the end of your ulna bone and basically the ulna bone on my right arm just kept growing and as a result it pushed all of the bones in my hand. There’s a couple of bones that the pro’s call the “baby’s bum” I think, which is two round edged bones that are sitting right next to each other, wrapped around with ligament, and what it did was push those two apart and tore the ligament. Basically it got to the point where I couldn’t play guitar and I could barely even lift my daughter you know. So I had to get surgery on it.

So it that just something you’ve always had?

It’s something that I didn’t realise was going on. It just slowly and deceptively grew longer and longer and at one stage it grew long enough to push these two bones apart and wreak havoc. It wasn’t the result of anything, just a result of the bone not realising when to stop (laughs).

Wow. I have never heard of that problem before.

Neither had I, but the surgeon that did it said that he’d done 300 of these before, so I was like whoa, this has happened 300 times before (laughs)? Obviously it’s not that rare.

Is it pretty much healed now?

Pretty much. I don’t think it’ll ever be 100%. For example a few weeks ago we were doing some demos for a new song. We did three 10-12 hour sessions and it got really sore after doing that, so there is a limit to how far I can push it. Back in the day I could do weeks and weeks of 10 hour studio days, but I think I’m limited to the amount I can push it now and I’m guessing that I will be for the rest of my life. But playing a 1 hour 20 minute show is not a problem and that’s the main thing.

How did you spend most of your time when you were out injured?

Because it was my right wrist I couldn’t even use a computer. I couldn’t even write electronic music. I managed to do a little bit once I’d sussed out how to use my left hand. I had to use it for everything, cutting stuff and brushing my teeth. It’s amazing how much you take your main hand for granted. So I slowly learnt how to use a mouse with my left hand and did a bit of electronic stuff. Maurice started up his solo project (Desbot) while I was out of action and I did a few electronic things with him and we played a few shows with me on keys and samples. So I did a few little things, but because it was so hard to do anything musical without the use of my right hand, I sort of pulled back from it a bit. Before that we’d been touring extensively and my daughter was still really young so it was a really good chance to spend a whole year with her uninterrupted from touring. That was a silver lining.

You were originally going to start working on the new album in 2008, is that right?

Yeah, that’s the one.

Do you think your focus has changed from the album you were going to make in 2008 to the album you are making now?

There are still ideas that we’re working on from early 2008 actually, before all of the major touring we did that year. We did a couple of big tours in Europe with Isis, which was pretty monumental. Then we came back and did an Australian tour with Cog and Kora, who are a couple of great bands and fit into different genres. So we were in a really eclectic mindset when we got back from touring with such diverse bands. And like I said, we already had quite a few ideas before we even did those tours and we started to those ideas together when my wrist clapped out.

During the time I was out of action I would sit down and do some electronic stuff, so there is an electronic element to some of the new songs. Since I’ve started playing guitar again we’ve started working on new ideas that have sprung from these electronic ideas. Just before my wrist happened, I’d also been doing an album with Rhian Shian called Standing in Silence, which is a really beautiful album. I play lots of guitar and textures and that probably had a lot to do with how I was writing. Writing with Rhian rubbed off on some of the stuff I was writing with Jakob. So there’s a real element of all these different angles as opposed to what Solace was like. I think this new album is going to be a lot more eclectic, like our early stuff.

With Jason playing drums for Tiki Taane, Maurice working on Desbot and you helping out Rhian, has that influenced the Jakob’s dynamic?

Absolutely. It’d be funny because Jason would come back from touring with Tiki, and he’d definitely be playing a bit faster (laughs). It’s just natural, if you immerse yourself in an environment like that you tend to pick up what’s going on and it rubs off on you. You have to get into a mind set, because if you’re playing in front of a lot of people every night you sort of come back and you’re in that mode and you tend to push it through everything else you do. It’s been good, we’ve all done these different projects and had this time off from doing the Jakob thing and now we’ve come back to it with fresh minds and a really eclectic way of looking at the band as opposed to with Solace which was really focussed. Which isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, but I’m kind of liking how eclectic the new stuff is.

It must be exciting to have a fresh perspective...

Totally. Even with the rehearsals for our NZ shows we’ve been playing through the old songs and they’re feeling a little stale you know. Some of the Cale:Drew stuff and even some of Solace; we’ve played these hundreds of times now. But we’re playing one new song called Magna Carta, we played it at both the Auckland and Wellington Isis shows and we’ll be playing it at all the upcoming shows. It’s like a breath of fresh air whenever we rehearse or play it live. So it’s really great to be playing new stuff that invigorates you.

Is the aim of your NZ tour to get used to playing together again, or to road test your new material?

It’s pretty much getting used to playing again and trying to remind people that we’re around you know (laughs). When you haven’t been playing for a year and a half you feel like you’re out in the wilderness a little bit.

A lot of the new songs are still just ideas that we’re developing, as opposed to with Subset of Sets or Cale:Drew where we’d grab ideas and work them through quite quickly. It was more instinctive and natural.

Organic almost...

Yeah, really organic. Whereas when we started Solace it was a more developmental way of writing and we fell in love with that. It took us away from the archetypical Jakob thing. We could break into different sections and take it to a whole different angle and we enjoyed that process, so we’re pushing it even more now. We’re not giving ourselves any deadlines for finishing the songs on the new album. We’re just going to take it until we feel like we’ve got something pretty amazing. We don’t want to do anything half arsed. So we really want to keep developing it until we feel like it’s something new and fresh.

When you’ve been out for two years you start to wonder if you’re still relevant because the world has changed quite a bit in that time. You’re mindful of that fact, so you start to think, what are we like, are we still relevant? It’s a weird predicament to be in.

That’s the good thing about NZ though, there’s a community feel where you can go off and work with other people and then come back and feel like you never really left. Have you found that?

To a certain degree. We played those Isis shows in Auckland and Wellington and they were amazing. I mean it’s always wicked to play with those guys because they’re really good dudes and we’re really good friends with them now. We’ve played about 20 shows with Isis now and I’m a huge fan. Every time I see them they blow my lights out even more. Touring around Europe with them and seeing them every night, with huge crowds was just awesome. They’ve been a big inspiration, not just in music, but in the way they go about doing everything to do with their band. So yeah, it was really good to play with those guys and get back on the horse, because you have to step up if you’re going to do anything with them. Every aspect of that band is awesome, the music and artwork, they’re really inspirational to be around. So that was really great to play those shows. Particularly the Wellington show because it was the first one back and people really loved it and we really felt that. There were heaps on screams of “welcome back”, and “it’s about time” and all of that kind of carry on. It’s a really good feeling because until you’re actually out there doing it, there’s that thing in the back of your mind that makes you wonder if people still care, you know what I mean? It’s been really good. These last shows have made it feel like we haven’t been away. Hopefully they’re all like that.

After the NZ shows you’re back off the US to play with Isis again. Do you notice a lot of your own fans coming to those shows?

Yeah, totally man. If you check out the online stuff you can see there are lots of people excited about us getting over to the west coast because we’ve never actually been there before. I think there are quite a few people who have been waiting a long time for us to get over there. Aaron Harris (Isis drummer) and I have become really good friends and he keeps telling me that there’s a really good buzz for us getting over there so it’s looking really good. I’m really excited about it.

It must be an amazing prospect...

Yeah, totally. Just the fact that we’ll be hanging out with those dudes, hanging out on tour and them pulling pranks on us like they always do (laughs). It’ll be great man.

And it’ll be coming into summer over there too...

Yeah, Aaron was saying that it was already pretty hot over there, so I’m a bit worried about how hot it’s actually going to be. But yeah, it’s a really mouth watering prospect and I’m really looking forward to it.

After 12 years of being a band, how have your influences changed over that time, whether it be musically or otherwise?

Well, Jason and I have had children and that’s a massive change in mindset. It has a quite a major effect on your music too. I sometimes struggle to find new music that I’m interested in. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m becoming a grumpy old prick (laughs). I’m becoming more picky. Every so often I’ll bump into a band that’ll blow my lights out, but it’s nowhere near as often as when I was a young fella, when you’re like a sponge. My favourite bands are still the same, like Radiohead. I’ve been listening to In Rainbows recently. I saw Massive Attack last Friday and I was speechless for two hours afterwards. So to a certain degree the musical influences haven’t changed that much, it’s more like a lifestyle thing. I think it’s having kids and finally becoming an adult as opposed to a glorified teenager (laughs). I know it’s changed me and it’s probably changed Jason pretty drastically too.

 

I’m sure I’m pushing my luck here, but do you have a title for the new album?

Nah man, not even close (laughs). We’ve only got a couple of songs that we’ve completed and we’ve got about 20 songs on the go and who knows how long it’s going to take to develop them into an album. It could be a couple of months, it could be six months. We could end up with two albums, you never know. We’ve got a lot of ideas. We could condense them all into nine songs or they could end up being 22 songs on two albums that come out in quick succession. It’s really hard to tell. But I’m really excited about how everything sounds and there’s some really unique and diverse things happening as far as Jakob goes.

Thanks for having a chat Jeff. I hope you feel better soon.

Same (laughs).

Gareth Meade

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