Jules Jackson (seen here on the right), guitarist and vocalist with The Big Moon chats with Kevin Cooper about playing Glastonbury, the controversial video to single Silent Movie Susie, the release of their debut album and their forthcoming tour of the UK
The Big Moon are a four piece band from London who appeared out of nowhere over a year ago, with the fittingly titled Eureka Moment, and they have not looked back since.
Having supported the likes of The Maccabees and Ezra Furman, bassist Celia Archer, drummer Fern Ford, guitarist Soph Nathan and guitarist and lead vocalist Jules Jackson are set to tour the UK ahead of the release of their debut album.
Whilst getting ready for their tour, the wacky Jules Jackson took time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what she had to say.
Hi Jules how are you today?
Hi Kevin, I’m very well thank you. How are you?
I’m really good thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.
It’s no problem, I’m actually having a nice time. All is great (laughter).
So just how is life treating you today?
Life is treating me very well thank you. Everything is going really well; the band is great and other things in my life are pretty great at the moment. I actually feel like I am peaking at the moment (laughter). I honestly do not think that things could get any better for me personally. I probably shouldn’t be saying this but things are so good at the moment that I am patiently waiting for something to go wrong (laughter).
In that case you must look out for three things going wrong, as these things always come along in threes (laughter).
Yes I had, bugger I had forgotten about that (laughter).
How did the four of you in the band all meet, how did you get together?
I really wanted to start a band because I was working as a waitress……
In a cocktail bar?
(Laughter) very good, but sadly no. I am not going to say where because that wouldn’t be nice of me but I was really miserable and despite searching I simply couldn’t find another job. I thought that the only thing that I could do really well was play the guitar so it was at that point that I decided that I was going to try really hard to start a band. So I started asking all of my friends if they knew anyone who could play any instruments at all who wanted to be in a band. I also put up posters looking for other likeminded people to join me. We all just seemed to meet through friends of friends of friends (laughter). I have to tell you that the four of us really do have weird degrees of separation for example Celia is like my friend’s boyfriends, managers, mothers, sister or something like that (laughter). Things like that (hysterical laughter).
And things are all working out well for you at the minute?
Yes I have to say that all is fine.
You released Silent Movie Susie on 23rd September, are you all happy with just how well it has been received?
Yes we are and it is amazing how so many people have taken the song to heart. We are really excited because the song has just been accepted for the Radio One playlist which is just fantastic. That is really good, it’s massive. Radio One is still the biggest radio station in the country so that means that possibly millions of new ears are going to hear it and hopefully like it. That is really exciting.
So that can only mean that the BBC must have pigeon holed you already in order to know what playlist to put you on (laughter).
(Hysterical laughter) yes that must be right. It is basically a new music playlist but the problem with that is just how long can you be new for (laughter). Soon enough they are going to have to pick a better pigeon hole for us.
It’s a shame but that is what the British media love to do, rightly or wrongly they love to pigeon hole everyone.
(Laughter) I love a good pigeon hole if I am honest with you. I can remember when we used to have them at school; all of the teachers had their own pigeon hole which was basically just a plastic tray which people could put messages for the teachers in (laughter).
I have to ask you whose idea was it for the rather naughty Barbie and Ken esque video for Silent Movie Susie?
That was our very good friend Louie Bhose who has made a few of our videos actually. It was totally his idea and he loves working with miniatures. I feel that we have talked about that as an idea before, but for this song it just seemed perfect. The video has caused some controversy and on YouTube there is a message which simply says “You Are Pervert” (laughter). Another one says “I don’t understand, Barbie had a dildo please explain” (laughter). However, a lot of people are saying that the video is totally amazing because it reflects their life. I love it and I am really proud of that video. We sent the song over to Louis to see just what he could come up with.
Whilst he was out and about he found this doll on a market stall and sent us some videos of him playing out little scenes with her, and to be honest we all found it to be totally hilarious. We thought about it and decided to turn it into a whole story to accompany the song. We just sat in a cafe thinking of things that would be funny if they were done by a doll, which turns out is pretty much everything (laughter). It was very difficult making the final choice of what she would get up to but we found the whole process so funny that we are hoping to make a full length film someday (laughter). I have to say that I think that the whole thing looks totally amazing.
At one point whilst I was watching the video I expected one of the Tracy Brothers from Thunderbirds to walk in at any time (laughter).
(Laughter) or perhaps Captain Scarlet (laughter).
Is there an album on the horizon?
We have lots of ideas about releasing an album, in fact we have finished recording an album and we are in the process of mixing it as we speak. We have finished doing all of the recording bits and now we are making it nice; trying to make it perfect. We are currently turning all of the knobs up and down and pushing things left and right (laughter). We have around another five days of knob pushing and then the album will be done. We are hoping to release it early next year but as yet we do not have a definite date. That will all depend upon a lot of things.
What can you tell me about the album?
Well for one it has got lots of new songs on it. It has got some more mainly kind of chilled songs on it that people won’t have heard before because when we play live we usually play for thirty five minutes which isn’t really enough time for us to be self-indulgent and play a slow song or a slow jam. However, there is room on the album for us to do these things. There are lots of harmony driven tracks on it plus lots of screaming (laughter). For some reason I have gotten into screaming recently. Well, it’s not really screaming, it’s just me barking like a dog every now and again (laughter). And I have to say that I think that it sounds really good and I am really happy with it.
And how was the recording process?
Before we went in to the studio obviously we all knew exactly how all of the songs went and we knew how to play them because we have been playing them for years. We know them all inside out. However, it is not until you actually get around to recording them and chose definitively how they are going to sound, for example deciding what guitar tone you are going to use, how you are going to sing the lead vocal, the phrasing that you are going to use; you then realise that it is similar to you acting a part. You keep making these definitive choices until you finally have the perfect definitive version of the song.
Then suddenly you find that you have ten or eleven songs that have all of these personalities that they didn’t have before. It really is such an amazing feeling when you make the songs into what they should be. However, that was a very new feeling to us because before actually recording we didn’t really have that much time working in the studio. In fact, we only had ten days and I was worried that wouldn’t be enough time. But then it all came together really easily and sounded good really quickly. It was loads of fun (laughter).
Tell me about the blow-up toys (laughter).
(Laughter) who the hell has told you about that (laughter). Whilst we were in the studio recording the album we filled it with blow-up tropical toys (laughter). We had inflatable palm trees and bananas (laughter). It just made going to the studio that much more fun. You could play with an inflatable banana if you so wished whilst you were singing a song; it was really, really nice. That was basically the routine.
Do you have a title for the album as yet?
No, not yet, do you have any ideas (laughter). No, we don’t know what to call it yet or what order to put the songs on there. Someone recently told me that the hardest thing about making an album was putting the tracks in order. Let me tell you that is total bullshit (laughter). There is no way that is the hardest part of making an album (laughter). What about writing the songs, what about working out how to play them, what about practicing them, what about playing them live. Putting them in order is easy peasy (Laughter). I might just put them in alphabetical order and see what happens (laughter).
A lot of artists tell me that they spend hours putting the tracks into what they feel is the right order and then what annoys them is people will go onto iTunes and pick one or two tracks. They don’t listen to the whole album anymore.
Yes I know, I am one of those really annoying people (laughter). I will just put it on shuffle or skip to the songs that I like. What I really love to do is to make a playlist or a mixtape. I really can’t stand to listen to the same person’s voice over and over again. There are so many artists that I love but I probably couldn’t get through a whole album just listening to that one voice on every song. I will totally understand if people can’t do that with our voices (laughter). It is, in my opinion all about finding the right song for the mood, it is the same as being a DJ. I may be making an album but I don’t know what your mood is. I want people to find the right song for that moment.
However if you want to create a proper playlist then you will have to buy yourself a cassette recorder (laughter).
(Laughter) that’s right. Perhaps I will buy one with two decks in it so that I can record from one deck to the other (laughter). I used to do that when I was little and listening to Magic FM a lot with my best friend Hannah. Her big sister had one of those tape machines and we would record a Natalie Imbruglia song off the radio and then record one word from that song onto the second tape deck. If you remember her song Torn she sang about lying naked on the floor so we would just cut the word naked out and make another tape that was just the word naked, naked, naked, naked over and over again (laughter). We would always be cutting the tapes up and trying to remix them but in a really stupid kind of way (laughter).
Will you be putting the album out on vinyl?
Of course we will, that’s what people do isn’t it (laughter). Yes I have to say that I think we will. I don’t have the exact figures but I’m sure that we will have a limited run of the album on vinyl. We don’t want it to be just digital, we really do want to see it out there on vinyl. We want it to be in some sort of special packaging with some nice artwork on the front and it will have songs on it which can be played somehow, with a machine (laughter).
You are about to go out on tour here in the UK once again. Are you looking forward to that?
Yes, I really am looking forward to it a lot. We have been having a lot of rehearsals for the tour, playing lots of the new songs which is really cool. It’s great for us to be going out on tour after we have recorded the new album because now all of the songs feel ready to be played. We feel really comfortable playing them all at the moment. Everyone is feeling really confident especially as we haven’t been on a proper tour since April because we have just been playing a few festivals and stuff and recording. So it will be really nice to just get out on the road, drive the van, hang out and forget about the real world for a month or so (laughter).
You have mentioned festivals how was it playing Glastonbury?
Playing at Glastonbury was just a dream come true basically, apart from all of the mud (laughter). We had a great time. We played three shows which were all pretty well supported which was nice because one of the shows was at the top of a steep muddy hill. We were a little worried that no one would come but loads of people made the effort to scramble up a muddy hill in the rain to see us, which was really great. It was my first time going to Glastonbury ever so it was really nice for me to go and to be in a band there. It really felt like an important moment for me.
I have heard a rumour that The Bodega Social Club here in Nottingham are going to start charging you rent because of the amount of time that you spend there. You are back here on the 1st December.
(Laughter) we love playing at The Bodega up there in Nottingham and I have to say that you are quite right, I think that we have played The Bodega more times than we have played any other venue here in the UK (laughter). I think that this will be our seventh time playing there (laughter). Seriously, we all really love it there. We have all now got Bodega T-shirts (laughter). The last time that we were there the staff kindly gave us some really cool Bodega merchandise (laughter). It is a really great venue.
You may have a T-shirt but did you try the beer downstairs?
The beer downstairs, do they have their own special kind of beer (laughter).
Well it’s funny that you should say that but yes they have their own beer and lager for sale downstairs and its just £2 per pint (laughter).
Is it called Bodega Lager?
Yes it is and it is really nice.
Wow, I will definitely be trying that when we get there in December. It sounds really interesting (laughter).
You and the band have recently signed to Fiction Records. How does that feel, is it a nice fit?
Yes, I have to say that they are great. It still is a really small label with a lot of really cool bands. There is around six people working there (laughter). They are all brilliant at what they do, they are really encouraging and they really do just let us do what we want which is the best thing. You hear horror stories about bands that get bullied into doing things or they are forced into releasing albums which they don’t want to release. Even when Fiction were signing us, they told us that they wanted us to make the kind of music that we wanted to make. They then asked us how big we wanted to be.
They told us that if we wanted to be as big as, for example Coldplay, then they would help us to achieve that. They told us that whatever we wanted to achieve then they were happy to help; it really is amazing. They really are like guardian angels.
On that note Jules let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been interesting.
You are very welcome Kevin and perhaps we can share a pint of Bodega lager when I get to Nottingham. Bye for now.