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Interviewed by
Di McCauley
Wednesday 22nd April, 2015 11:20AM

Last week, post-rock band Jakob were announced as the 2015 winners of the esteemed Taite Music Prize for their avidly awaited fourth album, Sines. The award, which was established in 2009 and comes with a $10,000 cash prize along with free recording time, aims to acknowledge originality, creativity, and musicianship for a collection of music contained within one album.

Formed in 1998 by Jeff Boyle (guitar), Maurice Beckett (bass) and Jason Johnston (drums), Jakob has carved out a reputation over the years for their driven, intensely emotive, haunting yet loud dreamscapes of shimmering sound. Music an aurora might make, if an aurora could be heard. Following Solace which came out in 2006, Sines was a long time in the making – a gruelling journey of bad timing, bad luck, serious hand injuries, their label shutting up shop, recording delays and equipment failure meant Sines seemed destined to not happen at all. So it is a fitting conclusion that the record has rewarded Jakob’s sheer determination and tenacity to complete it by earning the Taite Prize.

Having just completed a handful of New Zealand shows, the Napier-based group are now heading on their highly-anticipated tour of UK and Europe. But prior to flying out, guitarist Jeff Boyle made the time for a quick chat after their stellar Auckland show to talk about winning prizes, skipping language barriers and coming in from the cold...

UTR: That was amazing. What an incredible sendoff gig for you guys...

JB: Yeah, definitely pleased. The last time we played here, it was a pretty cool crowd, and this time it’s no different, and after winning the Taite Music Prize, well that really helps to get the hype and the interest going.

Congratulations on winning the Taite Music Prize. As a band, you’ve been working away for years and years. Is there any particular reason why you think you won with Sines?

I’m not particularly sure to be honest. It was a long, hard, arduous process recording Sines, for many reasons. We had some seriously major setbacks - hand injuries, label closures, funding and recording delays. This album was a result of repeatedly picking through everything with a fine tooth comb, finetuning and trying to be as eclectic and imaginative as we could. This album caught industry attention, even though it’s been awhile in the making. Every time we got to a certain place, got the momentum and the circumstances to make Sines, something, such as our hand injuries, would happen. So we’d have to kick back for awhile and let things heal, mourn the momentum loss and then get ready to start again. That’s basically why it took so long to get to the point where we could just get on and record our album. Once we could, though, it was as easy as getting back on a bike again.

Aside from the actual prize itself, what does it personally mean for you to win the Taite Music Prize?

It’s nice to have the recognition from the New Zealand music industry. It’s just really really awesome and humbling to be appreciated and to be recognised by our industry. Even though we’ve been playing for 17 years, we’ve always felt a bit like outsiders. We're an instrumental band, we don’t play anything like a pop song, so that’s kind of understandable. I think we’ve been quiet achievers though, over the years, and we’ve done some pretty good things. Overseas we’ve toured with some amazing bands – Cog, Isis and Tool for instance. So it’s just really nice to be acknowledged here, back in New Zealand, as well.

You’ve been Jakob for nearly half your lives now, did you ever think you’d still be playing to packed out venues and winning a prestigious New Zealand award this far in?

Well I always hoped, but never assumed, that Jakob would be going for a long time. We were friends in high school, skateboarders, long before we formed our band. Like any band, there’s been some trying times for us, but I think because we’re such great friends first, that foundation has always helped us out, helped us to hang in there. Even though our music isn’t the main part of our life so much now - we’ve got families, children, our full-time jobs – we have our fan base still staunchly with us, which is great.

You have a serious fan base over in Europe – are they predominantly ex-pat Kiwis or Europeans too?

Being an instrumental band we don’t have any language barrier, so there’s nothing getting in our way in that regard, to reach to anyone in any culture.We’ve had an avid fan base over in Europe for quite some time now, definitely more than just New Zealander fans overseas. We had to cancel a tour in Europe a couple of years ago because of a hand injury, and there was a lot of hype built up over that, so this tour is definitely long overdue and being quite keenly waited for.

We’re heading to the UK first – Brighton, London and Leeds, and then up to Glasgow. Then we go over to tour Germany, Austria, Croatia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Poland, back to Germany, culminating in Belgium where we’re part of the post rock Dunk! Festival, in May. From various websites, such as LastFM, where they have fan profiles and show how many plays our songs are getting, we can gauge where our fans are. There’s a huge fan base from countries including Russia, Germany, Poland , all over that area. There’s tens of thousands of people on these sites, and they’re all there, listening to us, which is pretty cool.

The album has been on hold for so long, did it feel different finally getting together again to record Sines? Did it feel a little bit out of practice?


To be honest, because there was such a long time between albums, many people thought we’d stopped. It’s a big illusion. We never stopped. After our album Solace was released, 2006, we kept on touring. We did three tours with Cog in Australia, they were the biggest band in the country at the time, playing really big shows each night. We toured with LA band Isis, did an amazing European tour with them in 2008, and also their last ever tour in America in 2010. We played with Tool in 2011, and then again in 2013. So far this year, we have played Auckland’s Laneway Festival, and we supported Royal Blood when they played in Wellington. So that’s definitely not too bad. We were doing some really amazing things, we weren’t getting out of practice, or anything like that, at all. Finally, of course, there was other life happening for us all, as life does, outside of our album’s sphere of existence. It just took a lot longer to make our album than anticipated.



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