By Chyrisse Tabone, Tampa, Florida
Photos: By Amanda Cunningham, London, UK
Jettblack: Will Stapleton – Vocals/Guitar; Jon Dow – Vocals/Guitar; Matt Oliver – Drums; Tom Wright – Bass/vocals
Being an American, I was not familiar with Jettblack and was thrilled to discover this no- nonsense, take-no-prisoners band which hails from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. The music has a classic, hard rock sound and makes me nostalgic for the 80s when big-haired, mascara-laden, anthemic bands filled large arenas with heavy guitar riffs and catchy sing-a-long melodies. This is the kind of music that creates memories for the Millennial generation. The songs are well-crafted and executed with fury.
Jettblack just released their third CD Disguise and has been spending the last month touring all over the UK. The reviews have been outstanding! Please read Amanda Cunningham of Rock At Night’s review of their recent London concert at The Underworld. Like their new single “Explode,” so did they, but in a good way.
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Check out Rock At Night’s interview with Tom Wright (bass/vocals) of Jettblack:
ROCK AT NIGHT: I understand that Jettblack evolved from your former band Skirtbox. How did this come about and how is Jettblack different?
TOM: Well we started playing together when we were all still at school and Skirtbox was that band. We played the music we were into at the time which was more of a skate punk vibe. We still loved solos so we made sure we had a lot of fancy (well what we thought was fancy at the time) guitar work in there. Over the years the music we wrote changed and it got to a point it was so different from what we had started as that it was oa good time to change the name. So we changed to Jettblack about 6 or seven years ago.
ROCK AT NIGHT: What bands did you listen to growing up and who are your influences?
TOM: We all started off listening to the classic metal bands like Metallica, Skid Row, Pantera, Megadeth, Extreme, Mr Big all the big metal/rock bands of the late 80’s and 90’s then we all started skateboarding and we got really in to the California punk stuff except for Jon, he always hated that stuff. But at the same time we have all been very open minded to all sorts of music so outside of rock, metal and punk there is a lot of stuff we love. Matt likes his Hip hop, Tom likes blues, country, ambient stuff, Will is a big fan of film scores, and Jon doesn’t listen to anything .<laugh> We really do take our influences from everything we see or hear.
ROCK AT NIGHT: Who does the songwriting and how would you describe your music? What message are you trying to get across, if any?
TOM: Will did most of the writing for the latest album with Jon writing a few songs and then we all finish them together in the studio, refining each one. Most of ours songs used to be about girls and partying but the new album is a bit different and there is a mix of themes in there that have nothing to do with girls or partying. The new album is definitely (as much as we hate to say it) grown up. Still up beat but it is a lot more in your face, no frills rock/metal but still has the Jettblack hallmark.
ROCK AT NIGHT: I see you just introduced a new CD Disguises and a single “Explode.” You are promoting it with a UK tour. Any plans to tour abroad?
TOM: Yes, the single is out and is free to download from our website (www.jettblackuk.com) and the album is out on the 6th April. We love touring anywhere that will have us. We hope to tour as many places as we can with the new album so we will wait and see what we can get sorted but we will definitely be touring the new album so keep your eyes peeled.
ROCK AT NIGHT: Since I play music, I’m always interested in knowing about gear. Do you favor any kind of guitars, amps, or effects?
TOM: We favour the equipment that works and that we can afford haha! Matt has always used Yamaha drums and Zildjan cymbals. Tom loves his Fender basses and has been playing through an ampeg and sans amp, on the latest album we used a mix of Orange and Marshall heads for the guitars with some vintage Gibsons and Yamaha guitars. And live Jon and Will both play ESP or LTD guitars with a couple of Ibanez Prestige as back-ups.
Pedal wise we like to keep it as simple as possible to try and eliminate any possible technical issues so we just have the basic delays and eq pedals supplies by Boss. Like i said it is a very simple set up. In the studio we used a few crazy pedals like the memory man pedal and the EBow and hopefully when we start playing those songs we will start taking those sounds out with us.
ROCK AT NIGHT: I read you did some all acoustic sets recently. Any plans to explore more acoustic directions or release an acoustic CD?
TOM: We are lucky that some of our songs lend themselves to an acoustic vibe so we have done a few sets over the years and released a few on our B-side record “Black Gold” and a few acoustic tracks on other singles as special editions. I’m sure we will probably carry on releasing them as B-sides, but obviously we love playing them loud and heavy.
ROCK AT NIGHT: Is there anything you would want people out there to know about the band or its music?
TOM: We don’t keep much back from the fans you get what you see, four guys who love doing what they do and love the music they create. We aren’t interested in being pigeon-holed or any sort of bullshit. We just want to play music and have as much fun as possible.
From Raining Rock CD
Get Your Hands Dirty (2010) and Raining Rock (2012) and Disguises (2015)
• 2010: Get Your Hands Dirty
• 2010: Two Hot Girls
• 2010: When It Comes To Lovin
• 2010: War Between US
• 2011: Not Even Love
• 2011: Slip It On
• 2012: Raining Rock
• 2012: Prison of Love
• 2012: Black Gold
• 2012: Less Torque, More Thrust
• 2012: Never Gonna Give It Up
• 2012: Something About This Girl
• 2015: Disguises
I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse