Thursday, 17 December 2009

Life in the cock-pit.

Today i awoke to find bird shit on my window. It reminded me of the time a bird actually managed to land its spoonful of poop on my hand, and how my mother comforted me by saying it was lucky. This was years ago in some long-since concreted over park, i was around the 7 year mark and probably stood no taller than your very knees. Ever since this moment i've felt singled out, always looking over my shoulder or watching the skies, making sure that the crafty bird isn't hovering above me, waiting for the right moment to relax its tiny bowels and cover me in crap. The bird hasn't been quite as lucky since then either, never quite scoring a direct hit, but my life has been ghosted by the presence of bird shit, you'd only have to look on the roof of the mystery jet's van for the evidence. Whether its a sign of good luck or not though, i do feel lucky to be making a third record, and even if its not because of “luck” directly (good record label,charming managers and you kind people) i can't help feeling this haunting of bird mess dating back to that fateful day in the park has something to do with it.

Anyway, leaving birds and shit aside i want to give you a brief idea what exactly it is the mystery jets have been up to. We've been making our third record, in fact you could say we've nearly finished the thing, having recorded 11 or so songs. It's been committed to tape in a large spaceship of a building, in a sleepy suburb of west London and i think we all feel like we're making something good. I like to think of it as “21”'s older, bolder brother, though in reality there's nothing particularly brotherly about it.... it certainly isn't a christian rock record spouting creeds on the brotherhood of man. On production duties is Chris Thomas a very talented (and patient) fellow, whose virtually made more great albums than years he's lived. I'd never heard of him when Rough Trade suggested him as a producer at the start of the year, it was only when i wikipedia'd him that i realised i'd actually been listening to his records most of my musical life and that his name was in the small print on many of the cd's that live on my shelf. Add to this recipe a host of great engineers and a mysterious caretaker who leaves fresh pastries for us in the studio each morning (non-one has actually met him/her yet) and you might start to grasp what our summer/autumn has been all about. Obviously we've ventured out to play the odd festival, Benicassim and Field day being the most debauched of them all, but mainly the focus of our collective attentions has been on making music. “Widescreen” is my favourite word to describe the album as it stands so far, its a word that doesn't apply to all the tracks but definitely most, and i like the visual nature and sense of space the word has,it makes me think of endless Nevada desert-scapes and views from the cabin windows of aircraft. That's not to say we've made a gargantuan record of colossal emotion and epic proportion, but we're certainly trying.
The third album seems to be the one where bands really define themselves, they know their processes of song-writing well enough to do it brilliantly but not too well for it to be boring. I think in a lot of ways we've made a record that bridges the gap between Making Dens and Twenty One. Some of the sonic textures of our new album remind me of what we attempted to do with our first, the wild arrangements and psychedelic sounds... yet the autobiographical nature that defined twenty one's lyrics is an element that's quite prevalent in this new album. I don't think it will give you a very good idea of how our album sounds if you were to take the lyrics of Two Doors Down and drop them over the top of Zoo Time, but you'd be getting might accidentally create a genre busting tune that unites yacht-rock with prog-rock as well.
Anyway, i've made a mixtape for you all. It's a collection of songs that Chris Thomas has produced over the last 3 decades, some of them you may know, some you may not...the last track by the way, is an extremely guilty pleasure, more guilty than say chocolate or bondage. ENJOY!



Wednesday, 11 November 2009


Hey y'all. Sorry its been a while.
Big post coming up later this week. In the meantime though, see what you think about this:

Im always suspicious when a new band like Hurts turns up completely unanounced and out of the blue. Especially when they look like burberry models yet appear to be able to write near perfect O.M.D style pop bombs like "Wonderful life". weird right?
Actualy no. Turns out it was penned by the guy who wrote "wannabe".
Theyre Good at quiffs though.

Next years THE XX?? or
Next years JEDWARD??
you decide.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Von den toten auferstehen


When we first sat down to discuss plans for the third album (never thought id get to say those words), something which came up straight away was the idea of playing the record live in front of people, before we went in and 'committed it to tape' as they say in the industry. The notion being that more often than not, songs put down too early in their existence go on to change -usually for the better- once they are taken on the road. Somehow the magic of live performance shapes and molds them into something quite different to what they were at birth.
The argument against the idea however, is that ticket-buying crowds expecting to see a mystery jets show might feel wildly disappointed to walk away from a gig full of semi-formed songs they have never heard before. And most understandably too. Enter the Crystal wolf Hunters.

Both an amalgamation and a parody of the huge, scene-friendly, plaid shirt-clad flux of hipster bands of the past couple of years, the Crystal wolf Hunters alias was to become our perfect guise. One part gemstone with mythical healing powers, one part fierce carnal predator, and one part er....Hunter. Unfortunately the similarities in the initial 'Crystal Wolf Fighters' name to that of the related -and pretty awesome- 'Crystal fighters' weren't rectified till after the Flyers were printed...sorry our bad, lads.

Next came the idea of Berlin. I dont know what it is about the place, but ever since i a spotty teenager, i have wanted to go there. It might have been discovering Heroes (the bowie record, not the hit sci-fi sitcom), or watching swarms of heroin sniffing adolescents flock to see him play in Christiane F. Either way, the place has always been top of my, and indeed the Jet's list of places to decamp to for a long old time.
The other reason Berlin seemed the perfect fit, shameful as I feel to admit it, was because in all our years of bussing and touring all over the shop, we had only stopped off to play there just once before. And that was way back in 2006 anyway (when we opened for the Arctics around Europe), so our relative anonymity there seemed most conveniently probable.

And so it was. With no bottomless budget to speak of, our old ex-church of england R-registration Transit rammed with amps and synths, and a small crew of two (our manager's masterful assistant Chris behind the wheel, and Henry on filming and hype man duties), we rolled into town, and set up shop at the newly opened Michelberger hotel on Warshauer strasse. Opened early especially for our visit, the Michelberger became the ultimate party crash pad for our stay, and with only six guests in the whole place (us), I have to say we could have got away with murder. In fact we kind of did.

PHOTOS courtesy of our friends Johannes, Dimitri and Stephan at Playberlin.
loads more up at NOW!

Mostly, we played wherever people would have us, but none of it would have been possible without our friend (and original !wowow! kid) johannes, who made all of the arrangements for the tour. I say 'tour', although in my experience a tour usually comprises of lots of waking up hung-over on sleeper busses in strange towns. I dont know if a word has been invented for playing 5 shows in 4 days in the same city. Anyone?

Spread across a mish mash of gay club nights (hot), art show openings (sweaty) and a vice barbecue (way hip), the shows were all completely different from one another, but in a variety of ways all amazing and way more fun than i think any of us could have imagined. The feeling of having to win over a crowd of strangers isn't at all a foreign one, but one which was massively enhanced by the fact that we barely knew what we were doing let alone if the audience could tell.
The new songs (of which there were 7 by the final show at the White trash fast food cafe) grew and morphed and mutated across the week, and by the end really felt like they had began to glue together in a beautiful way.
At this stage i dont think i could say exactly how the album will sound with any kind of certainty, but what is noticeable is how the songs have benefited from being played in sequence. And i wouldn't be at all surprised if the sequence we played them in at the shows might even end up how we shape the album when we wrap it up(we are are starting our second session tomorrow...can't wait.).



To end with, i thought i'd big up a few hot spots we repeatedly enjoyed in the duration of our stay -

Once upon-a-time rough part of town, close to the river (and the still-visible remnants of the wall). Long since gentrified and occupied by trendies and Yummy Mummies, Kreuzberg is still where the best parties in town happen. Johannes' 'TAM TAM' party was held here in a huge semi-derrelict warehouse building next to the river. The afterparty was held in the bar below, situated next door to an amazing public pool which actually floats on the river and is invaded most nights by drunks who rarely come out without large gashes across their foreheads.
Kreuzberg is also home to some of the gnarliest street meat joints out there. Of particular note is a makeshift chickenshack on the corner of Gorlitzer park (i think i got that right), where a huge glass window displays rack upon rack of slow roasting chicken carcasses. We turned up here for a late breakfast one afternoon but quickly found that spicy wings weren't on the menu. Instead, 3 euros and 50 cents bought you half a fucking bird and more chips than you could shake a stick at. Admittedly half of mine ended up in the trash can, but a wonderful idea all the same.

Panorama bar
Famous for its' resemblance to Nosferatu's eerie Castle as much as for it's opening hours (friday evening till midday on the following monday), Panorama bar is for some people the only real reason to visit Berlin. While for others, it is the only reason to never leave. The spiritual home of Minimal Techno, It is often said that what goes on in Panorama bar stays in Panorama bar. So much could be said for my friend barney (fake name for obvious reasons) who got lost on the way to the lavatory and found himself in a cold dark room, alone but for the sound of humans performing blasphemous acts upon one another and the feeling that something ghastly would happen to him if he didn't leave immediately. Suffice to say he had trouble finding the way back out.
Enough said.

Bar 25.
Arguably the crowning jewel of Berlin's 'alternative' clubscene, Bar 25 is a place designed specifically for the fearless. Sprawled out across the banks of the Spree in a series of wooden beach shacks, this party hot spot makes Trash City at Glastonbury look like the Early Learning Centre. Though it was operating a one in-one out policy when we got there (at silly o' clock), we eventually got in and promptly found ourselves surrounded by some of the most terrifying and blood curdling characters i have ever laid eyes on.
Grown, tattooed men weeping into one anothers arms under willow trees. Fervent mulleted lovers, fumbling semi nude behind the curtains of photobooths. And zombie-like Barmen who returned three, four, five times with the wrong drinks and the wrong change (i think i actually left with more than i came in with!).
Mondays mornings have never looked so good.

X Blaine

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Four men on a farm.


We've travelled westwardly across the country, along stretches of tarmac and stone, through tunnels and traffic jams, passed road signs, roundabouts and rest stops, all in search of some lusher more naturalistic way of living. The time came to reverse the phone call fury,laptop living london life that we know too well, and find out exactly what it is that attracts people to put on mud flecked wellingtons, rise and shine at the crack of dawn and massage the udders of a cow in need of milking.
Lifes all about surprises, trying things you'd never imagine and putting yourself in precarious positions. For some that can mean sky diving or back packing across jungly terrain, for others it might simply mean purchasing the new jack penate album (which sounds like it was made in jungly/tropical conditions and packs more of a surprise than both of the last two things just mentioned) For us its meant taking ourselves and all our musical equipment to a secluded corner of south Cornwall, deep into a valley that times forgot, and ensconcing ourselves in music, chicken feeding and various other country pursuits.
Picture bubbling brooks, and breezy meadows, knee high grass thats as springy as a trampoline, and views that belong in the pages of Country life or on the yellowing paper of an old postcard. Imagine winding lanes, and blind driving through tunnels made by the branches of trees, grey stone cottages and road signs with words like “trevallick” and “Wartha”, it would be easy to think you were in a totally foreign country, with a language as nonnegotiable as dutch, but this is the english country side and this is where we are! A small cottage with a garden and a large stretch of grassy land has become our home from home, and we share this space with three sheep, six (now five) hens and a cat. Each member of the band has taken on different duties to keep our country venture running smoothly, and i think its fair to say we've each blossomed into a right bunch of country gents. Kapil looks after the hens, rising in the early morn to scatter seed and mumble warm sentiments to his feathery friends. Blaine shepherds his sheep, which requires very little effort as they munch away on the grass in the field, totally unaware of his attempts to befriend them. Kai has become the resident chef, cooking up omelettes, pasta dishes and our morning porridge, and with his bleach blond head of hair, one could easily be persuaded they were being cooked for by a younger less tantrum prone Gordon Ramsey. As for me, my duties are to feed the resident cat Daisy, and do my best to keep her happy. She is generally a very happy cat, but i've noticed in recent evenings a certain cruel streak in her. She brings these tiny little door mice into the kitchen, and bullies them till they are so scared they can't even muster the will to move. Then she kills them.
Speaking of violence, there also happen to be two cockerels couped up with the other chickens and its been quite a revelation living in close proximity with these very male creatures. For a start they cocka-doodle-do their little heads off as the suns beginning to rise, which, seeing as England 's going through a rare summer of sunshine, happens to be very early in the morning, and secondly these gracious and elegant looking cockerels are continually proving that appearances deceive, by viciously attacking myself and blaine between intervals of humping the life out of their poor hens. One of them, who we nick-named “Randy”, was so keen on his fighting that he soon began to turn on the other male of the tribe, pecking at his little red face, and leaping on him when he wasn't looking. The spectacle was at first quite amusing, we all gathered around these two fluttery fighters like we were at an eighteenth century cock-fight, some of us with fists in the air chanting “Randy, Randy!”. It very quickly however, turned into something pretty horrific and scary. Blood was trickling off the ends of their beaks, and streaking down their feathers, a strange almost-growl was emitting from their throats as they lowered their heads to butt each other, and the general feeling that something was very wrong spread among us. Like a bunch of useless referees we did our best to keep them apart, reasoning with them and attempting to establish some sort of peace, but they were having none of it and the bloodshed continued. Eventually we managed to get one of the cockerels back into the coup, where he was out of the others way, but with continual cocka-doodle-dooing coming from the pair of them, it didn't look like the battle was over. Later on that day,a local farmer dropped by, and told us in the nicest possible way that there was only one thing to do. Eat one of them. It was hard to imagine that this living creature, full of energy and running around in a field, might be in our bellies in a few hours time. It was something none of us had ever come close to dealing with. Coming from London, or any other town or city for that matter, food isn't something we tend to think too much about, it just needs to taste nice and be reasonably healthy depending on what you're into. Out here, we were at the top of the food chain, staring down at poor Randy, whose chances of ever growing old and having grand-children looked increasingly slim. Eventually the farmer did the deed, and Randy became a taste on our lips and a subject talked about in the past tense. None of us felt we had the courage to kill this wild bird, and in a way that is the one thing i regret. If you eat meat, it is important to know where it comes from and how its killed, and i think in an ideal world we would all kill the things we ate, that, if anything, justifies it.
Musically speaking we have managed to be quite prolific down here. We've honed and chiselled away at nine new songs, and feel confident that we are taking steps in a new direction. It would be very difficult for me to summarise where we are heading too, as each song seems so different to us, having its own miniature universe of influences and references, but a word thats being thrown around the rehearsal room a lot is “Widescreen”. I think we are trying to spread the sound out, give it a sense of landscape, make it more visual perhaps, but saying that, what you intend your music to be, often isn't how it turns out to be, so without filling you up with too many words that will only mislead, heres a list of whats been dominating the ipods.

Erol Alkan's Disco 3000 podcast.
Diskolos smylonylon: (Anything and everything from Todd Hart's Blog, Oxfam Dalston shop)
Blur: Modern life is rubbish
ELO: El Dorado
Robert Wyatt: Old Rotten Hat
Cocteau Twins: Treasure
Sparks: No.1 in Heaven
John Cale: Paris 1919
Lissy Trullie: Self-taught learner

If you manage to get yourselves to any festivals this year (Benicassim, V fest, Field day, Under age festival) you might well catch some scratchy versions of new songs like “2 late 2 talk” “The girl is gone” “Jesus turn the other cheek” and “Flash a hungry smile”, if not, have a nice summer whatever you find yourself doing.
All our love,
william. X

Friday, 15 May 2009



The worst thing about being a musician is the time off. Seriously. Sure, being on the road has its ups and downs, but the one thing you never really have to deal with is boredom. Generally speaking, time spent at 'home' can be filed under different categories, relating to how you are communally intending to spend your free time.
Theres' "rehearsing time", "recording time" and there's "writing time", but never really such a thing as time off.
The implications of a performing 'artist's career path are such that any free time should, ideally, be used for gestation. A time to dream up wild and imaginative ways to further and expand one's creative output.
But in truth, most of one's time is spent sitting on the sofa or in front of a computer screen, sheepishly observing one's peers making their honest livings and feeling all the more exceptionally guilty for it.

So, in order to prove (to myself more than anyone else) that I have made some profitable use out of the past couple of moths since we have been back home, i thought i would take a break from the recent 'trends in alternative music' thread and do a video post.

First off, a band William recently turned me onto, following in the vein of some of the more psychedelic disco inspired sounds we have been getting on down to lately. SPARKS.
Equally as recognizable for thier 'third reich-meets-Withnail and I' looks as for their completely unpredictable, genre-bending recorded output, Sparks' career has covered over 5 decades and amounts to 11 studio LPs.
Although stylistically speaking they have left virtually no stone unturned, they are, arguably, best recognized for their Electro-pop sounding material made with Giorgio "i feel love" Morroder at the tail end of the 70s.
"Tryouts for the human race" is the first track off their "No1 in heaven" record and is, as im sure you'll agree, positively crackers.

Here they are on Top of the Pops in 1979.

A brief look back into history warns us that collaborations in pop music can be rather hit or miss. For every Pet shop boys featuring Dusty Springfield (magic!), there is a Santana featuring Rob thomas (fail!).
FOURTET has made some of the best electronic music of the past ten years, and has killed it on the multiple occasions i've seen him live too. I still have fond memories of my university days when myself and fellow students would spend sundays evenings hotboxing my room watching Chris Morris Boxsets to the soundtrack of 'Rounds'.

BURIAL, to his credit, pretty much single handedly revived dubstep, for which he either deserves a whole lot of high fives or slaps in the face, depending on your school or thought.
But together? AT THE SAME TIME?! I have to say i'm not sold. I don't know if its the Lip synching Dog or the kaleidoscope inspired visuals in this (hopefully fan made) promo video, but something here just ain't right.
As a rule, music that can trigger flashbacks to happy memories in my life, is good music in my book. But this shit is triggering flashbacks to memories that either haven't happened yet or aren't mine and im not sure it's a place i want to visit to tell the truth. I'm seeing sweaty men with mullets dancing with wolves in a deserted squat somewhere - possibly Hackney Wick. The Suns coming up. The children are coming out to play. I want to go home. HELP.

One of the few achievements of my young life which i am most proud was Pat sharp agreeing to do the radio talkover adverts for two doors down. Looking back however, i cant help but wish we asked Noel Edmunds.
THIN LIZZY were a band who enjoyed such a fortune when they appeared on top of the Pops in 1973 for the first time(then presented by a permed young Mr Edmunds), with their rendition of traditional Irish folk song "Whiskey in the Jar".
Growing up, i was never really into rock music with a capital R(and capital W), and until recently had wrongly - and ashamedly - dismissed thin lizzy as a Chugging hair metal stadium band from the eighties. And how very wrong i was. To be fair, they are widely recognized as being the fathers of the twin guitar solo, but before recruiting Gay Moore in the late seventies, Thin lizzy were a critically acclaimed and credible outfit, and incorporated a lot of different elements into their sound. John Peel himself is commonly credited as giving the band their first break early on in Radio 1's history at the start of the seventies.
In spite of their success pretty much everywhere in the world, Lizzy went through many awkward personnel changes in their career, and finally split ways at reading festival in 1983. Talk of a reunion in 1986 was quickly put to rest when lead singer Phil Lynott died from multiple organ failure due to drug dependency.

Pretty sad ending. But Unfortunately the worst is yet to come.

BADFINGER were not, as i had yet again unfairly dismissed them, a punk ska skater band from the west coast of America, but in fact a pop band from Britain, formed in the late sixties. At the time hailed by the national press as the Beatles successors', for one reason or another, Badfinger never quite hit the dizzy heights that they seemed destined for. One reason probably being that Pop music made rather a bold leap forward in the seventies into disco and cock rock, leaving a lot of the blues and folk inspired bands behind in the dark.
But the more obvious reason Badfinger never succeeded in reaching their potential is rather more Sinister.
Pete Ham, the band's lead singer and principal songwriter took his own life in 1975, drawing the bands career to sudden holt. And rather horrifically, bass player Tom Evans followed suite in 1983.

Although their first single, "Come and get it" had been written for them by Paul McCartney, the majority of people don't even know that Badfinger's most well known song, "Without you" was written by them. Made famous by Harry Neilson (and later Mariah Carey plus every other X factor asshole since), the song and its lyrics seem to spookily and ironicaly pre-empt the band's own sad ending.


God Bless and good night


Tuesday, 5 May 2009


No. 78
Ginger drummers.

It is often said that if you look hard enough, patterns appear all around us. Arguably, some perhaps only appear where you want them too. But others are simply indisputable.
Something that occurred to me recently is how many bands i like have ginger drummers. Growing up, one was very easily persuaded that having ginger hair was an impairment. Like wearing glasses. Or having a way with computers. All of which slowly morph into distinguishing attributes as one grows older with age, but seem very much like handicaps in the harsh battlefield of the school playground. Being shortsighted had it's advantages as it offered a certain air of intellect - Completing other children's homework was generally a preferable penalty to having the shit kicked out of you during morning break. And knowing your way around the schools' IT network well enough to unsuspectedly download enough hardcore pornography to satisfy your tormentor' s needs had many merits too.
But being Ginger?

Believe it or not, It is common belief that the great red-heads are dying out. According to wikipedia, red hair appears in people with two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16 which causes a change in the MC1R protein. And recurrences are on the decrease. But when is science ever right? If i believed everything i read on the internet, i'd be living in a padded cell in an nuclear war underground bunker at the bottom of my mum's garden in deepest darkest Dordogne with only a shotgun for company.

Historically speaking, Red heads were always amongst the most audacious of breeds anyway. From the Barbaric Vikings slaughtering and raping everything in their way, to the ferocious Highlanders, to the Irish settlers fighting it out to the death with the Italians in 'Gangs of New York', gingers have always given us a bang for our buck.
Hell, I was even a ginger drummer myself once upon a time...

x B

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


No. 77.
Bands named after / containing the names of animals.

Is it it me, or has the music world spawned an uncontrollably grotesque infatuation with the animal kingdom? It would appear that what began life as a Williamsburg practice space in-joke has grown so massively out of proportion that any body who's any body has a mutant furry-friend inspired side project going on nowadays.
In the 90s, it was all about buzzwords. Onomatopoeias were good. Blur, Elastica, lush, Sleeper, space. People's Christian names were good ones too. Anybody's would do really, but the more cliche and unimaginative the better. Ash, Gene, James, Arnold. Gary would have been a good one. Working-man names for bands with good old fashioned values.
Everything went a bit British Invasion in the early Noughties, although most of the NME penned 'New rock revolution' was coming from the east coast of America. It turned out that putting 'the' before your band name wasn't so bad after all, and saved you from having to start pillaging the names of your favorite soap characters for inspiration. Like any trend, there were good results (The eighties matchbox b-line disaster, The Rapture), and there were questionable results (The Hives, The Vines...).

The most curious thing about 'animal bands' is how everyone seems to favor the same three or four species. Most popular, I found, after an intense Google-thon were Bears.

Sea bear, Minus the bear, Bearsuit, Bear Vs Shark, Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear, Bear in Heaven, Bearforce, The Bear Quartet, Huggy Bear (vintage Bear band), Polar Bear, Golden Bear, Polar Bear club, Base Ball Bear, Bear Colony, Volcano the Bear, Bear on Bear, Vanity Bear. And quite simply Bear, to name a few.

Close behind were wolves..
AIDS wolf, wolf eyes, wolf and cub, wolf parade, sea wolf, Peter and the wolf, Patrick Wolf, Wolf Mother (RIP), Guitar Wolf, Peanut butter wolf, We are wolves, Wolf colonel, Super wolf, Alpha Wolf and yes, you guessed it, Wolf.

And last but not least, hoofed animals.
Band of Horses, Horse the Band, Sparklehorse, Hoggboy (remember them!) They shoot horses don't they, Snowpony, The Seahorses, The Pony express, The Goats, The Unicorns, Caribou, Deerhunter, Deerhoof, Dear and the headlights, The Mountaingoats, Lamb, Lambchop. Etc.

I remember walking down Parkway in Camden a few years back and noticing how looking though the 'upcoming shows' listings inside the Dublin Castle was akin to Flicking though a book of Baby names from a miserable mining town in the 1980s.
Fast-forward 8 or 9 years and browsing through the ever successful pitchfork website is like reading an inventory from Noah's Ark.
Its not that there's anything wrong with naming bands after animals, I just find it amusing how everyone seems to pick the same ones. Come on guys, how about some originality! Why are no noise bands named after Tapirs? Shoegaze bands after Bush babies?! To be fair, I guess theres something mighty and ferocious about a wolf or a bear, they are predators and dare to venture to the deepest, darkest corners of the forest. And i guess, if anything, playing the guitar with a drumstick, singing trough a fuzz box and playing in downtown shit-holes is the closest thing to the Homo Sapien's equivalent. And then there's the issue of camouflage....

New trend next week!

x B M J

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

New year. New deal. New record.

DEAR ALL. I wish to bring to light the announcement that we, Mystery Jets, have indeed left our previous contract with 679 recordings. We worked with some talented and inspiring people, enjoyed our time there and parted on an amicable note. But ultimately what occurred was a catch 22 situation with a major label. When we first signed, 679 was its own entity. They occupied a beautiful office in a leafy backstreet in Camden town, and we shared a pretty fierce roster with the likes of the Futureheads, Death from above and The Streets. Fast forward four years, and the label occupies nothing more than a six foot-high metal storage cabinet on the third floor of the Atlantic offices in High Street Kengington. And all we share is a shelf with some dusty old Kano promo cds.

John Lennon once famously said that he liked to imagine domestic objects that he could buy with the profits made from his songs, so as to give himself motivation to keep writing. It was once even (allegedly) said that he and Paul wrote 'Eight Days A Week' specifically so that John would be able to afford an extension to his house. "Sometimes we sat down and said 'right! Today we're going to write a swimming pool'."

Comparatively, record sales today aren't a scrape on what they were in the Beatles' day. Therefore, I think I can justify saying that in the eyes of a major label like Atlantic, Mystery Jets (and many of our contemporaries who have encountered similar obstacles, and who I have listed below) were effectively 'writing kebabs'.

Luckily I like Good Shoes.
And I like The Futureheads.
And I like The Horrors.
And I like Patrick Wolf.
And I also like kebabs.

On another note, it is with utter joy and excitement that I would like to announce our new home- Rough Trade Records.
We signed last week and took a photo to mark the occasion too.

Rough Trade records is a whole world unto itself. In the past thirty years it has been home to the likes of the Cure, the Smiths, the Strokes, the Libertines and the Arcade fire. And that's only scraping the surface. It also even more importantly carved the way for many of the independent labels we love and buy records from today. So I think its more than fair to say we are looking forward to what lies in front of us in the year ahead.

Photograph by Russ Tannen

Aside from the final dates in February in the UK and the States, our sights are firmly set on making the third record. Demos are being thrown around like beach balls, as are, less thrillingly, phrases like 'driving music!' and ' French new wave soundtracks!'. I can only speak for myself when I say there's a lot of Springsteen, Cars and late-police being played out round here. That said, I will however, never allow a Sting CD in this house.


For those of you who are not familiar with the heritage of Rough Trade, let wonder-kid Jeff Lewis make the introduction:
To Paraphrase Jeff himself -
"Don't let the record label take you out to lunch, every sip of soup's gonna be recouped"

Read what founder Jeff Travis had to say himself on rough trade's website here:

X Blaine

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Last night saw over 15 artists gather for one final farewell at the aptly titled Demolition Ball at the London Astoria.
As i sit here writing this, the lights are being pulled down from their rigging, the tiles are being lifted, and salvaged from the roof, and the floorboards are being pulled one by one, from where they have lied for the past 82 years.
All this (also combined with the loss of the adjacent Astoria 2 and classic dive, the metro club) for what exactly, we ask? For the Crossrail extention to Tottenham court tube station, some 30 feet beneath the ground.

My first ever experience of live music, that i can remember, was when i was eleven. I attended a show at the Astoria 2 (then known as the LA 2) which featured all but one of the ex-members of eighties new wave band Japan. There was ivy draped over the PA system and up the walls, dry ice up to everyones abdomens (and up to my head) and the fucking loudest sounding guitars i had ever heard, and have still probably ever heard. It was mesmerising.

Anyone seen the hairspray?

The mystery jets played the astoria 5 times in total. The first (and second) shows, and perhaps the most memorable, were in april of 2005 in support of the Futureheads and thier epic Hounds of love Uk tour. At the time, we had never played in a room which had a balcony in it. It was a huge deal for us. Rumour had it that johnny Marr had come to see us play, so we were all, obviously, on our very, very best behaviour.

We also played there for an NME awards show supporting CSS in spring of last year.
But Closest to our hearts by a long mile, was our performance there on October 23rd last year, for the homecoming of our year long tour in support of 21. Golden Silvers, one of my favorite bands in a long time, opened, and we were joined on stage by the Elysian quartet for a mid-set rendition of Umbrellahead and Bleeding love.
Performing at the Astoria is a dream for anyone who has played in bands or grown up in London.
And thats exactly what that day was.

On wednesday night the Astoria opened its doors one final time to upwards of 2000 lucky young kids.
We had been talking for several weeks amongst ourselves about how we wanted to go down and rip off some signs or steal some door knobs as a way of remembering the place as it once was. So it was a huge suprise, and indeed a magnificent moment when i recieved a text message from Drew Mconnel, of Babyshambles, at about 11pm on Tuesday night asking if we wanted to be a part of the last show.
Twenty four hours later, William, myself and Henry walked out onto the stage and performed a short accoustic set of Flakes and Young love. Ive got to say, it was the shortest and most beautiful 7 minutes of my life.

young love at the demolition ball 16/01/09

Its a sad day for music when the industry, and everyone in it, has to say goodbye to something so significant and totemic as the Astoria. But its an even sadder day for London, as its loosing something which has been so close to its heart and pride for the past 8 decades. And all for a few hundred yards of train track.
If you ask me, whoever it was that finally bent over and allowed this to happen deserves nothing less than a good slap in the face.

X O Blaine

To end on an up note, Henry took his chances and paid a visit to the place (with a builders' jacket and a step ladder) in the early hours of thursday morning and got the our letters from above the entrance (which had been sitting there since we played in October). Which is pretty damn cool wouldnt you say?

looks like 25 years of spelling out the G.A.Y night has taken it's toll..

Thursday, 15 January 2009


Pulling into the car park of the small northern french town of Nantes, the sight of a small army of young french girls already grouped up around the front entrance to the venue takes me by suprise. I had an idea of the kooks popularity in europe, but the kind of mania that has surrounded them this whole tour was completely beyond what i had expected.
The crowd were prodominently young teenage girls, some with thier boyfriends, others came in groups accompanied by the odd sheepish looking guardian sipping a cold kronenbourg somewhere near the back of the room.
The reaction to our set was quite a suprise. The kids formed circle pits and crowdsurfed if we played anything with a pulse to it, and greeted us with a sea of glowing mobile phones (the 21 century's answer to the cigarette lighter) when we played flakes.
After the show we got off on a good foot with the kooks and hit a small bar in town where we ran up a massive bar bill.
Shorty before it was time to leave i realised i had no means of contributing my part to the tab, and concequently, any tab for the remainder of the tour as i had left my card behind the bar at the churchill arms in Notting Hill gate the afternoon before. Bummer.
So i went out side and decided i might as well break my first personal rule of the tour and take a puff on william's crudely-crafted roll up (i'd not touched one since september 11th ). Bad i dea. Got back to the bus, puked in my bunk, good times.

In toulouse, we hooked up with our friends the Dodoz, who have since recorded a very impressive cover version of veiled in grey. We originaly met these guys about a year ago at paris's top dancing spot, la fleche d'or. Jules, the taller of the band's two frontmen speaks the queens english and seems to have been blessed with her manners too. His bandmate however, Vincent, is undisputedly (though he will hate me for saying so) the spitting image of the popular actor Gael Garcia Bernal. Could be worse dude.

Generally speaking the german leg of the tour ran like clockwork. The german kids clap if you tell them to clap and keep thier mouths politely shut while you play. No kids being stretchered off site for raving too hard or having thier stomachs pumped by the local rescue workers as a concequence of dehydration , but i think we can all just about live with that.
The munich venue was insane. A vast airplane hanger, perhaps the size of the main hall at Alexandra palace. The roof was situated so high above the rafters it was invisible. As was the back wall of the room. I wanted to get some nostalgic looking shots on my lomo camera of us standing in the middle of the empty hall after the gig with everyones trash around us but the lighting wasnt sufficient.

In Dusseldorf, i decided to pay a visit to the zoo to try and dust away some tour fatigue and hopefully find some inspiration for the third record from some fellow marsupials. And i have to say, for future reference,if you could find anything more psychedelic than sitting before a pack of thirty blue-bottomed Baboons ravaging and shitting on each other for a whole hour and a half, i'd love to hear it. These guys were vicious little fuckers too. At one point a pair of chunky looking females (i didnt know bulldykes were prevalent social sterotypes in the monkey kingdom) sat down right in front of me and proceeded to pick all the scabs of thier bite marks, which they'd casually flick at the glass. But anytime i appeared to be showing too much interest, they would both lunge out in the direction of my face and let off an awful piercing shriek. Which, given the moral wrongness of zoos in general, i have no difficulty in understanding.
Most of these little guys have spent their entire monkey lives become experts at amusing horrid little child tourists.
I mean most clowns take american Express these days for fucks sake. These guys are still paid in bananas.

I was pleased with how our stage clothes took to the light this tour. I am proud to say that Sequin jackets have replaced the pastel suits. Not in the sense that we have created a box around ourselves as a way of giving people something easy and palatable to digest. But in the way that i now look at the clothes we wear as a sort of reflection on whats' going on in our heads. Which is really the only kind of statement (fashion or artistic) worth making.
With the pastel suits we were litrerally wearing our musical influences on our sleeves, but by the end we had pushed it to a point where i think it must have been obvious that some degree of irony was at work, as it was within the way we initially presented the record. With the sparkles, there is more than a nod to the disco era and its kitch glamour, for which credit must be given to william and his growing collection of italo records. There is also the iconic images of a young, glamed-up and androgenous Brian eno in the early Roxy press shots...

For a town we have played infinitely more times than any other city outside the Uk, paris has been somewhat discouragingly slow to find a place in its' heart for the mystery jets. When we first arrived, we thought it might be a key bonus that we spoke the language, and have concequently conducted all our press there in french, as we were told les rock dieux Placebo and Muse had done before us. And who could argue?
But three years on, France still has some catching up to do with Australia, where we'd not even played until last week!
However, the show at the Zenith was a convincing sign that things are picking up, and that there are perhaps indeed french school children out there, creating a small space in thier compact disc collections (and in thier hearts) between thier muses and thier nicklebacks for les mystery jets.
We played with White lies, and CSS as well as the kooks so there was a sort of festival feeling in the air, which no doubt contributed to the success of the show too. Of paticular note was how well a change of name and in style has worked for the White lies boys (we've known one another since the West london all-ages days). They look sharp as any of the other tools in the shed and 'unfinished buisiness' is a probably the best opener ive heard in donkeys' years too. Big thumbs up.

As any musician who has even had the most modest taste of the touring life will tell you, an amsterdam show is more often than not the high point of most european tours(excuse the pun). Its easy for friends to fly out for the weekend, narcotics (for those so inclined) are a phone call /5 minute walk away and more than anything, you couldnt find a more beautiful place to have a day off.
The gig kicked ass (if my memory serves me well) and the subsequent celebrations were pretty fun too. We have a friend called 'Handsome dan' who lives adjacent to one of the many canals, and who has never failed to show us a good time when weve been there for a gig.
Last time we were there it involved pedalos and pineapple express. Admittedly this time, it was more centered around watching videos of hungarian traditional guitar music on youtube and drawring all over our tour managers sleeping face, but first class fun no less.

There are few things in life queerer than the sight of a pale-fleshed twenty-something young woman squeezed into a dress made for someone half her size, walking home at three in the morning along the seafront in a coastal town (in four inch heels) on a sunday night in the middle of december.You got to love the brits.

The Regional shows over the next few days were a lot of fun, and the crowds were great, but in all honesty, it was no secret that everyone was really dying to get back to london and rest up before the last couple of big nights at Brixton.
Considering the acclaim it recieved from critics, we found the roundhouse a bit of a dissapointment. The accoustics are distractingly offset by the shape of the room, and due to the size of the stage (tiny) its hard to get into what poor musicians call 'the zone' in quite the same way. But really, Come on guys.
After the first night went a little by the wayside, we decided to invent a band-only term which, when uttered on stage, would act kind of like a pull-up-your-socks-boys button. Only to be used in extreme circumstances, so as to not weaken it's long term effect, the word is actually a calling sign taken from one of the band's favorite childhood disney cartoons. The name of which, i would be a fool to repeat. Guesses on the back of a postcard.

Inspired by the appoaching seasonal festivities and precious family time, everyone on board all three tourbuses was agreed that it was of utter importance that the Brixton shows were to be the best ones of the year, by a long shot. And looking back, i think they might very well have been.
'Secret santa' , for those of you not lucky enough to have ever played, is a tradition enjoyed by all walks of people. Office folk, primary school children and all kinds of other non-christian groups. However on this occasion, the rules came under ferocious scrutiny due to a certain member of mystery jets' (whos name i will refrain from mentioning) background spent in summer camps, where secret santa was a highlight of the recreational winter gathering.
Apparently, by some peoples' rules, the only secret part of the game is not not knowing what your going to recieve. But once you have openend your gift, it is that persons' right to announce them as your 'giftee'. However, unless im mistaken, the whole point of christmas is not knowing what your going to recieve (unless, like william, you buy yourself presents). The point of secret santa surely is that you never find out who picked your name from out of the hat.
Thus, when you discover you have effectively been 'skanked' (aka been bought something under the set price recomendation, like a singing AA battery operated black father christmas -mentioning no names kapil) you wont know who's door to go knocking on.

is where the heart is. There is nothing quite like the feeling of waking up on the morning of a big london show in your own bed. You actually feel inspired in a way quite unlike the experience of waking fully clothed in your bunk five minutes before soundcheck in a Morrison's carpark somewhere near Stockton. Simple things like brushing your teeth, and emptying your pockets of unfamiliar-looking currencies and phone numbers and facebook adresses become a joy. Getting on the tube and sharing those short fifteen minutes with the inhabitants of the real world with thier shiny shoes and winking blackrerries, theres just something about it.
Which reminds me of something i was thinking about earlier..
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to speak in italics?

X O Blaine