“It’s a language that everyone understands” – Jack Jones, Trampolene.
Friday 12 August was my first ever gig at Buskers the well known live music venue in Dundee, I was looking forward to going to this venue that I had heard about. It’s nice, seems to be a converted church, it’s a decent size too. I went to see the unique yet also classic rock and roll of Welsh band Trampolene. Support was provided by Scottish acts Neil Morrison, Real Life Entertainment and Vertiglow (as I was doing the interview I only caught bits of their sets but what I saw was decent, especially Neil Morrison, he reminded me of Jake Bugg).
Trampolene (Wayne Thomas, Rob Steele and Jack Jones) are a band whose career is now gathering momentum at an incredible speed after lots of hard work building up a presence and a fanbase around the UK. Their resumé is impressive having in the past supported legends such as Paul Weller and the Buzzcocks, played at the Isle Of Wight and Glastonbury Festivals and had a residency at Koko/Club NME in London. I saw them for the first time last September when they headlined the iconic King Tut’s in Glasgow as part of a This Feeling showcase. Since then they have played at Glastonbury again and various other festivals, they have featured in NME occasionally and had 2 songs (It’s Not Rock And Roll and The Gangway) played on Radio 1 by champions of new music DJ’s Huw Stephens and Greg James and on Radio X too.
Jack Jones their frontman is also a poet who recites his social commentary poetry at Trampolene gigs (trust me it’s great, sometimes humourous, sometimes hard hitting and insightful), who’s taken his skills and material and used them as the resident tour poet for the The Libertines, touring with them in many places from Manchester to Vienna. He also toured with Pete Doherty on Pete’s solo tour as poet, sometimes singing some songs and playing guitar. Jack was also a part of The Libertines secret London gig where there was speculation it may be their last for a while. Jack wrote an article published in the Guardian newspaper too about social media. He also writes fantastic ‘Bedtime Diaries’ which are very descriptive and entertaining; you feel you are there with him on his musical journey, he has quite a gift for words.
The icing on the cake came just before the gig at Buskers when Trampolene found out that The Gangway EP (Pocket Album Number 4) had made it into the charts in the UK, France and the Netherlands (and now Lithuania too). ‘To Be A Libertine’ a poem on the EP which brilliantly features all 4 of The Libertines and some Libertines fans was also retweeted on Twitter by Dynamo. All of this has been achieved with no slick marketing, it’s almost all down to just social media and word of mouth plus of course some radio airplay; with no gigging in any of these European countries either. They are also popular in Mexico and Japan were an album was also released a while ago. As if it couldn’t get any better for the band Trampolene have within the last couple of days announced they are headlining the Jack Rocks This Feeling stage at the Leeds Festival at the end of August.
I went to Buskers really looking forward to seeing them again because they had impressed me at King Tut’s when I saw them for the first time (I didn’t know anything about them then). Almost right away I noticed there was a double microphone stand (quite cosy) and the Welsh flag draped over it (cool). Jack kicked off proceedings with one of his poems to which the crowd responded well. At the end of the poem there was a slight amusing pause as Rob and Wayne missed their cue to come on leaving Jack waiting on the stage explaining the problem; then from the wings coolly strolled a nonchalant Wayne and Rob, looking unruffled by it all! The band in their naturally cool style were willing, ready and able to entertain a lively and curious Scottish crowd. There then followed a fantastic rock and roll show that reminded me why I like this band. Look out for my Unsigned Music Awards review of this gig too.
Before the boys went on stage we had an in depth interview with topics discussed ranging from the Guess Who game to charting in other countries and the uniqueness of Trampolene. So after a chat about the journey north to Dundee, and banter about their questionable diet (e.g. wine gums for breakfast) we were ready to begin the Q & A…..
Trampolene – The Q & A
So you’re back in Scotland at Buskers in Dundee after playing King Tut’s last September, have you played anywhere else in Scotland?
W – You did the Barrowlands with Pete (to Jack).
J – Yeah I suppose that counts doesn’t it?
S – It’s a bit of a legendary venue.
J – Yeah it’s so amazing! I couldn’t believe it. People talked about it and I heard stories, but when I saw it I was like ‘wow’, it’s special, it seemed so old school, but still so….
S – Were the crowd a bit mental?
J – Absolutely crazy, absolutely crazy! I can see why people are daunted by the thought of stepping up to the crowd but I was excited! I got heckled there actually.
S – Did you? How do you deal with hecklers?
J – Tell them to f**k off (smiles at W & R). No you know what I think I had a good retort that day, usually I stumble like an idiot but I think I said something like “I’m having fun, so up yours!” or “shut up” or something.
S – Do you two (W & R) ever answer hecklers or leave it to Jack?
W – I’m deaf like! (laughter from all).I can barely hear the music! I was jealous of him (nods to Jack) with Pete as he had pound coins thrown at him! Wouldn’t mind pound coins thrown at me like!
S – Get money into the bargain!
J – Especially if it doesn’t catch you in the eye, people keep throwing them, don’t know why, people just been throwing them when I do ‘Poundland’.
S – Take the money Jack!
J – Haven’t been caught on the face, shoulder, knee, stomach, none in the face.
S – Let’s not tempt fate!
J – I don’t mind taking one in the face, I probably deserve one in the face, the amount of 2p coins I’ve pinged on peoples’ heads! (laughter).
Jack we know your talents are music and poetry, do you have any hidden talents? I’m coming to you two next (to W & R).
J – Yeah I play the diablo. I love the diablo (looks at camera) for anyone who doesn’t know it’s like 2 egg like saucer things and you spin it. I can play that, I learnt that when I was living in Australia, when I was a kid. I was missing my friends and a man called Joe bought me the diablo. I sat on the verandah for like 10 hours a day practising. I was actually inspired by a tramp who I saw doing it.He was throwing it up in the air and making loads of money. I thought that’s so cool, I wanted to be better than him. So I practised .
S – Do you think you became better than him?
J – Yeah I did, because after like 6 months I went back to where this guy was . “C’mon what’s happening”, had a ‘diablo off ‘. Blew him away with my skills. I could do the ‘lift’ which is a really cool move where you flip the sticks like in a straight line. It shoots up really fast, defies gravity really, so that one won me the match.
S – I didn’t see that one coming!
J – Yeah sorry! (smiles).
S – What about you Wayne, any hidden talents?
W – Are you familiar with the board game Guess Who?
S – Yes? (cautiously) (Jack has cracked up laughing during this exchange).
W – Mostly, until recently I’ve been pretty good at if you named anyone on the board I could describe what they look like.
S – I can’t think of anyone (frantically trying to remember the board). Is there a Sue?
W – There is a Sue! ( Jack laughs again).
S – What does Sue look like?
W – She has quite a slim face, she’s got brown eyes. I’d say she looks late 30’s or pushing 40 but she looks good for her age. (R & J are laughing).
S – You know I’m going to check that out don’t you?
R – Google it!
W – She’s got don’t know if it’s dyed blonde, but it’s white hair. She’s got red lippy on as well.
S – I’ll be checking. I picked a good one then! (all laugh).
W – My mum’s name’s Sue as well.
J – We love Sue.
S – Rob, what about you?
R – I can’t think of one to be honest! Can you boys?
S – Really?
R – I’ve been wracking my brains since you asked Jack! (all laugh). I’m a massive let down!
J – He can play football pretty well, but is that a hidden talent?
S – Well it’s a talent that’s the main thing!
J – What about finding Wetherspoons?
R – F**k there you are! (laughter from all). It’s one of the first things I look for when we get a gig actually! Distance between the venue, the hotel and the ‘Spoons.
S – So where is the Wetherspoons here?
R – It’s a 7 minute walk north east! Not even lying! (lots of laughter from all).
S – I will check!
W – Google that as well!
J – Google it, you might find Sue in the Wetherspoons playing the diablo!
W – That would be the dream!
S – I would take a photo of that!
Moving onto what I’ve just mentioned about your talent with songs and poetry. They’re really about social commentary and you talk about the world around us. Now is there any times when you think ‘that’s too controversial’ or ‘I better not write that’ or do you just write what you think?
J – No I never think, no I never think it’s too…..I just do what I feel I have to say. If it feels important, nothing I’ve ever said has felt controversial to me.
S – Have you ever upset anyone?
J – When we played ‘Ketamine’ I suppose to me it’s normal people’s life, my life,well not really my life, well Wayne’s life!
W – Ketamine’s not my life! What you saying?!
J – Well it’s not his life, but it’s just something we know and everyone talks about it. For me it’s not a controversial thing. We were playing in Manchester and I was doing the poem and the guy who owned the bar turned off the PA. He was so offended by it.
S – So you have offended someone.
J – Yeah, I guess so. But ….
R – I think what offends a lot of people doesn’t offend us.
S – It’s real life isn’t it?
J – Yeah.
W – Some people are offended by sugar free drinks! I’m one of them (deadpan face) (laughter).
S – First world problems.
J – Yeah, no exactly!
R– Make sure you got that on camera that’s a keeper!
W – Controversial music affects different people….
R – It’s so true!
J – I want to listen, grow up with a band, be part of a band who say things real about my own life.
S – On the flip side I want to listen to you about things that are real life. You’re connecting with us. I want to listen to a band who’re in the real world.
J – If you’re not being true, what’s the point?
S – You don’t want to listen to people who have no idea what life’s really about.
J – We all have different slants on everything I suppose so.
So talking about your music you’ve got Pocket Album Number 4 and I heard it’s gone straight into the charts in the UK and France, so congratulations!
J – (looking at Rob) High Five! (in an accent).
S – Can you tell us a wee bit more about that album?
W – (to Rob) Is that a good french accent is it?
J – I thought it was Borat!
W – Hasn’t it gone straight into Kazakhstan’s chart!
S – Is it weird to hear that it’s doing well in countries you haven’t visited yet?
W – (looking at Jack) We have been to France haven’t we?
J – We went once actually.
R – It was a surprise.
J – I’m quite amazed actually. If we were like signed with big marketing I’d expect it. It would be like right this is what has to happen, we’ve got certain things we have to do, blah de blah….It’s actually just come from people, there’s no money, there’s nothing but us.
S – That’s what’s brilliant about it.
W – It’s all on download as well.
J – Yeah people are like ‘is there vinyl out?’ Yeah when I can afford to buy one. I’d love to bring vinyl out like!
R – We got a text from our manager saying it’s number this in this chart and we’re like ‘what?'(amazed face).
J – I’m absolutely blown away by it.
S – It means your name is spreading out there without you having to do much marketing. It’s word of mouth isn’t it? Social media.
J – Something innit?
J – I’ve never not believed that we were great ever. I’ve always believed that we would do something like that.
S – I think you’re doing it the best way, building it up gradually, getting your name out there.
Jack, we were talking about you being a bit of a traveller and you loving the touring. Do you two (to W & R) like the touring?
R – Love it (Wayne nods).
S – Do you get a bit fed up? (Wayne shakes his head).
R – Not at all. It’s a massive part of it for us. Especially the stage we’re at. Time to spread the seeds if you like.
J – (looking a bit perplexed) Spread the seeds!
R – Not literally! (laughs).
J – (to camera) Spread the disease.
Thinking about managing the band. Is it hard to be creative and deal with the business side, like social media or do you enjoy that? Do you have a lot of help organising gigs?
W – There’s a lot harder things people can deal with.
J – I used to think I was too cool for school and that was when Trampolene had no social personality in a kind of internet way you would say, but then I changed my mind about all that, and realised that. The band changed when I started doing poems, started embracing the audience, just felt like talking more to people online. When I started playing I never spoke a word did I? (looks at Wayne). Just played loud, turned away from the audience.
S – Do you know that’s one of my pet hates?
J – Yeah, I hate that. I was just a little bitch, at least I feel much more creative and better and happier as a human, like I’m doing the right things.
S – Have to say you’re pretty good at your social media. I know a lot of musicians don’t like doing stuff like that. They want to concentrate on the creative side but they forget to reach out to people?
J – You know in a band called Catfish & The Bottlemen they did it really well. You know you can like a band much more than their actual music.
S – I interviewed one of their founders recently, Billy Bibby.
J – Yeah, you can like them more for their personality now and I think that’s really common. And you’ll find a lot of bands who write extraordinary music, kind of arrogance around them, struggle a lot more in this day and age. I’ve never done anything that I didn’t feel was part of our truth and what we wanted to do. So I dunno, don’t know what I’m saying anymore! (they had been on the road for 14 hours to get to Dundee!).
S – That’s fine!
J – Did I answer your question?
S– Yeah, kind of!
J – I love doing the social media now. I adore everything on there.
S – And you sometimes get involved Wayne?
J – Yeah, he loves it!
W – I have no memories, if I’ve done stuff, I have no idea! (laughter).
S – I’ve seen you sign stuff, write something and sign it!
W – I don’t know the passwords to my own social media so don’t do much of my own stuff.
S – Just Trampolene.
S – (to Rob) What about you?
R – I don’t get involved too much with the promotion stuff mainly because…
W – (interrupts Rob) Jack loves it too much.
R – Jack’s a Ninja and he’s all over it!
W – Keeps locking us out, changes the password so we can’t mess with it.
R – Changes the password every 5 minutes!
J – I change the password so no one can get in (smiles), end to end control!
R – I do think it’s massive especially these days.
J – It’s an art in itself.
R – Yeah.
J – And you have to think about it that way and treat it that way or you get left behind that’s simple fact.
S – You’ve got to think about what appeals to people.
J – Well no, you’ve got to find a way of representing yourself on that platform in a way that you feel is like, you don’t sell out or nothing, but you just find a way.
S – To show people who you are?
J – Yeah, it’s like song writing that’s the way I think you have to think about it.
W – It’s made it different at shows and stuff. People come up to you and it’s like you’ve met them and chatted to them.
J – Yeah, it’s awesome innit, like that.
S – I think social media suits you, because I think you’re just like a frustrated writer aren’t you? You like to write in different formats?
J – I’m frustrated in many ways. I’m like constant frustration bubble! It’s perfect for me to just let it out every now and then – you’re right I am a frustrated writer! I’m probably so many adjectives for the word writer I can’t even list them all.
S – You’re a good writer though. I like your Bedtime Diaries, they’re good.
J – (feigns embarrassment, puts hand up to face) Oh babe, don’t make me blush in front of my face!
S – No you’re really descriptive and you feel you’re right there with you when you’re writing it.
J – That’s cool.
S – I want to see these two writing more!
W – (shakes his head) Don’t do words, me.
J – Wayne’s actually made a solo record with soundscapes and stuff. I’m not joking.
W – I leave the words to Jack.
J – It’s f*****g cool. I’ve heard it, it’s amazing. I can’t wait to hear the full thing. I’ll probably do all the write ups.
S – Probably, just let him be your PR person.
W – I’ll do the retweets! (laughter)
So you’ve got a few dates left on this current tour including I see a festival in Leeds and you’ve got a home gig in Swansea as well. Thinking back to what we were talking about with your music spreading out, do you plan to go to mainland Europe and do some gigging there?
J – I want to go literally everywhere, all over the world and never come home, even though I do have a home and they do have a home. I’d just love to go everywhere for years and years and years. I’d love it, that’s the dream isn’t it? See as much of the world as you can before it changes beyond belief in the next 100o years.
S – Or before you’re too old to travel about?
J – I’d love to, people message us a lot from like Mexico.
W – Japan. We get loads of these messages.
S – You need to go there!
J – Like what’s gonna happen when we go there? Like what is gonna happen? (looks at Rob).
S – It’s gonna go mental!
R – There was an album released in Japan without us really knowing about it. We haven’t even got an album here but it was released in Japan.We were like ‘ok, cool’.
S – That will be like a collector’s album.
R – You can buy it here but it’s like 40 quid.
J – I think it’s 80 quid.
R – Is it?!
W – Imports.
J – £12 a song.
W – Pound’s dropped as well.
J – Yeah pound’s dropped. Yeah it’s probably 140,000 Euro now or thereabout anyway!
S – When you’re really big that will be a collector’s item and go for thousands.
R – We’ve just found out we’ve charted in Holland as well. I’ve never even been to Holland. (Looks at Jack) Have you been?
J – I have.
W – Yeah he’s been, came with me like!
R – The ‘Dam?
W – Yeah.
J – That was a weekend and a half!
W – Tasty, fruity like!
S – So now you can go back and play to your fans there that have bought your music.
J – I would love to and I promise them, to stay true to us, because there’s no one like us, I promise them there’s no one like us. So you should hang on for us and we’ll be there I promise. When people actually wake up and realise what’s happening, somehow….If they can give us halfers on the flights like, so we can actually afford it or whatever.
R – Get there problems.
J – (repeats) Getting our gear, don’t know how that works! Loyalty will always be remembered in this band.
R – Once we work that one out we’re on it.
Right here’s a fun question for you…..So each one of you ‘music is important in the world because…..’
R – it brings people together, common interest (others laugh).
R – deep, cheesy!
S – Jack?
J – It’s a language that everyone understands.
S – Wayne?
R – Gotta go out there son! (Jack covers his face).
W – (stumped for a minute) Vibrations always put a smile on people’s faces. (other 2 crack up laughing and Jack claps).
R – Amazing!
J – He did it!
Finally to finish things off describe the band in 3 words and give us a message for your fans?
W – 3 words eac or 1 word each?
S – 3 words each.
J – Who’s going first? Rob?
R – Describe Trampolene in 3 words?
S – 3 words.
R – Don’t know if I can do it in 300 words! Boys you have to help me out with it.
W – All the best, I’m gonna go last! (lots of laughing).
S – I would let Jack go first then?
J – 3 words? Em, I would say passion would be one and I would say perserverance would be one, maybe courage?
R – I would say unique if I can have that word.
J – What was the other bit?
S – Message for the fans. You can do that as a collective.
J – Alright cool.
W – How many words you said now boys?
R – We’ve done 4.
J – I’ve said 3.
W – Alright so there’s 2 left. You can just chuck them out when they come to you?
J– Yeah just chuck them out.
W – Organic!
J – Oh Planet Organic, good one!
W – Yeah I thought I’d chuck that in there!
J – I like that!
S – Loud?
J – There’s also quiet and there’s tender (starts to sing Tender is the night).
S – So a message for your fans to finish off?
J – (Looks at Wayne) Have you got a couple more words?
W – I’m s**t with words, organic’s the best I can come up with! (lots of laughter from all).
S – Organic’s good!
J – It’s pretty good though innit?!
S – Yeah it’s good, I like it!
J – Em, patient, never said (looks at Wayne), is that a good one?
W – What just cos you’re constantly in the hospital (Jack has Crohn’s Disease), you have to say the word patient?
J – Yeah NHS Gold Member.
S – Quirky?
J – Quirky, true – truth and beauty – Leonard Cohen’s words they are. I dunno, message for the fans?
W – Do you wanna give a message for the fans mate?
J – Alright mate! Fans, millions and millions of the Rocks fans, who’re lining the streets of Dundee!
S – They’re out there and in the Netherlands, France, Japan and Mexico!
J – Yeah the Netherlands.
W – Hold onto your seat we’re on our way!
J – Hold on, hold on, we’re coming for you, and when we get there it’s gonna be one hell of a night! God that worked didn’t it? ( surprised look, looks at Shona). And thank you of course! And I promise I’ll do right by you, I promise.
S – Thank you!
A big thank you to the irrepressible, slightly naughty,very funny, warm and friendly Trampolene for being so lovely and open with this interview. Thanks for being so honest and making it one of my most entertaining interviews!
With all their skills and slightly off the wall uniqueness this band are definitely going to make it in my opinion. The plaudits coming their way from media such as the Guardian, the Independent and NME are well deserved. They are a band with swagger and attitude and a cult following who’s fans quote their lyrics because the words are so cool (definitely happens, I’ve seen it). They have something interesting to say and as far as I can gather from my time spent with them, are in it for the love of music (think they’re broke most of the time!) and have a down to earth and friendly style that shows an appreciation for their fans.If you like these attributes in your favourite bands then Trampolene are the band for you. They still have some dates left of their tour including festivals so there’s still time to go and see what all the interest is about and you’ll be able to say you saw them before they were massive!
Thanks also to Jenny, the honorary 4th Owl, for being my gig buddy and assistant on the night!
One final word – I did check Wayne and Rob’s facts. Sue is actually Susan in the Guess who game and she looks exactly as Wayne described her. There is a Wetherspoons nearby as Rob said. Well done boys!
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