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INTERVIEW: JET BAKER From BUSTER SHUFFLE!
BUSTER SHUFFLE gave a show-stopping performance at the 100 Club this month (12th June, 2012), and TOMORROW’S NEWS guest blogger James Greenwood managed to grab a chat with the band’s frontman, Jethro “Jet” Baker, backstage at the gig.
He talked about his inspirations for getting into the SKA music scene, and the pressure of having their first album compared to their new album, Do Nothing!
TN: How did you come up with the name “Buster Shuffle”?
Jet Baker [JET]: “Buster Shuffle was a term we used to use when we were going to dance. If we were in a club and we want to go have a little boogie, we “buster shuffle” and that was it. That was just a bit of local slang, I guess”
TN: What were your inspirations for getting into the SKA music scene?
JET: “We were just getting together with a few friends, and we liked a lot of rock ‘n’ roll, 50′s, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino. Then when we starting writing our own stuff, it seemed naturally to have a bit of a SKA theme. It wasn’t really conscious, but it really kind of quickly and organically. We didn’t get together and say ‘let’s be a SKA band’ – we kind of did rock ‘n’ roll with an English accent, and it sounded like SKA.
TN: You’ve compared to MADNESS, how do you feel about that?
JET: “Cool, yeah! I mean MADNESS are a great band – love ‘em. Suggs is on the guestlist tonight so we’ll see if he turns up.
TN: No pressure there then?
JET: “[Laughs] Yeah, I need to sort myself out! I don’t mind any comparisons about that. I mean, it’s definitely influenced us. but no more than like THE CLASH or THE SPECIALS or THE BLOCKHEADS. Understandably people draw that [comparison] MADNESS as the first one that we sound like to them, I guess.
TN: If you could be compared to someone, be it in SKA music or not, who would you like to align yourself to?
JET: “All those bands are great – they’re like heroes. THE CLASH are the ones that I like the most, for attitude and energy and all that. But then the MADNESS song writing is just brilliant. It’s a tricky one, but it’s definitely in that zone.
TN: Looking at the history of the SKA music scene, namely the original Jamaican scene in the 60s. Do you have any influence from that era?
JET: “Yeah, definitely. We’ve been gigging with a couple [of the original bands] at the London International SKA Festival. Dave Double Barrel, who had the first ever reggae hit number one in the U.K. and America, so meeting all those reggae legends was great. We lined up some other potential gigs with some classic Jamaican artists.
TN: Regarding your brand new album, ‘Do Nothing’, did you find it harder to write for this compilation?
JET: “Not harder to write. It’s been such a long time between the first one [album] and this one, I’ve had plenty of time to try to write organically and not rewrite the first album but a watered-down version. Maybe the second album is not as instant.
TN: Is there less pressure on the first record than on the second?
JET: “I would say there is definitely less pressure, because there’s nothing to compare it [the album] to. As soon as you’re on your second one, it’s being compared to the first one. Which is really new to me and new to us as a band, and them [critics and fans] saying ‘it’s a bit different. It’s a bit more punky and less SKA-ry’ and all those comments, you know, you do pay attention to them. There is definitely more expectation.
TN: Did your inspirations change?
JET: “The inspiration probably hasn’t changed, but I’d say the influences on the writing process is different, because I’ve been listening to different things. Maybe I was listening to the FLEET FOXES and I’ve got loads of unnecessary harmonies in the new album, or Stephen Street and how he produces stuff. It is going to reflect what you’re listening to all your life, but I still love those core bands.
TN: Is there a stand-out record on the new album that you’re most proud of?
JET: “The opening one, So Such Of Much, I really like. It just took a long time to write, and I wrote a chorus, and a verse three months later, and then the middle a few months later. It was something that wasn’t forced – it came natural at different stages.
TN: As far as the song-writing process goes, are you more of a ‘go to it, come back, go to it’ or do you sit down and write the song?
JET: “I can sit down and write, and blitz it, until I reach the point where I think I’m not happy, I’m not enjoying it or not enjoying the ideas. But I’ll record everything and I’ll just go back and review lost of different ideas, and just see how it all fits together. That’s the way I tend to do it. But sometimes I’ll write a whole song in one hit, and think ‘that’s great!’. Other times it’ll just be a verse that will sit around for months, and then chorus will come together. Sometimes two or three ideas.
TN: So what’s next for you? Have you got another album in the pipeline?
JET: “I’m still writing ideas, which is an ongoing thing. I’m trying to write on the road, and trying to write at home, but it’s just a busy summer .
TN: You’re also about to go on tour again in Germany?
JET: “Yep, we’re going all over Germany!”
TN: The Germans really like you, right?
JET: “They’re getting into us. We signed to a German part of EMI, which I think helps, and the German youngsters are totally into SKA. It seems that the whole of Europe is into British SKA music…
TN: Except Britain?
JET: “England, yeah! We [England] kind of reject it, but we’ve got people coming from Argentina and Italy tonight, and others from the Ukraine. There seems to be a lot of demand for us out of Europe, and yeah that’s what the next three or four months is basically going to be. We’ll be in the back of a Mercedes Splitter, going from city to city.
TN: It’s going to be an awesome summer for you!
JET: “Yeah, definitely!”
BUSTER SHUFFLE‘s brand new album, DO NOTHING, is out now, and available via your local, online or favourite music retailer!